Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.
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Although it began due to a tragedy, Panther Camp turned out to be a never-to-be-forgotten experience for the approximately 700 students and teachers who spent the last part of the 2012-13 school year there. "There's only 700 people that did this, all the kids and the staff, we have something in common, a link forever," Principal Steve Sanders said. After a Tuesday, April 30, fire displaced the students and staff of St. Croix Central Elementary, the school district scrambled to find an alternative school location so students could get back to classes as soon as possible.
The identity of the recipient of this year's "Good Neighbor" award didn't remain a secret for long after Roberts Lions Club President Mike Bowman began his speech. "He's dedicated his last 30 years to this community as a great leader, a great mentor," Bowman said. "It's amazing what this guy's devotion has been to the community." Steve Sanders, St. Croix Central Elementary principal, received the 2013 "Good Neighbor" award. As he announced Sanders as the recipient, Bowman praised Sanders' leadership within the Roberts community. Bowman acknowledged the recent difficulties the St.
David Bradley wasn't ready to retire five years ago, when he started working as St. Croix Central School District superintendent. But he is now. Bradley began his career in Iowa, working for 11 years as a vocal music instructor followed by 22 years in school administration. Bradley said the step from music instruction to administration was natural to him, because he's always enjoyed leadership roles. "My mom tells me I've always liked to tell people what to do," Bradley said.
In honor of her 30-year career at St. Croix Central High School, SCC declared May 22 "Joyce Helmueller Day," and held a pep fest at the high school in Helmueller's honor. Helmueller, a high school secretary, said she was surprised and honored by the celebration. She said she isn't one to seek out attention. "I felt like it wasn't just about me," Helmueller said in a May 23 interview.
Joyce Helmueller knew it was time to retire this year. She had been thinking about retirement for a few years, she said, but hadn't been ready. Now, it's time. "I have a lot of mixed feelings about it, but I'm ready," Helmueller said. "I'm ready for a new adventure in my life." The 2012-13 school year has been Helmueller's 30th year at St. Croix Central. She began her career as secretary for the SCC athletic director.
After she heard about the April 30 fire that closed St. Croix Central Elementary School for the rest of the school year, Jennifer Kling wanted to help. "I really felt for what all the teachers and kids would be going through," Kling said. Kling said she decided to organize a benefit to raise money for SCC.
When Brad Nemec received an email asking him to be grand marshal for the Pea Soup Days parade, he said he was surprised. "It's an honor, and it's very humbling," Nemec said. Nemec said he and his wife, Sandy, will lead the Pea Soup Days Parade as grand marshals this year. They were chosen in recognition of their service to the Somerset community. The Nemecs have been involved in various church councils as well as the Somerset School District for many years. Brad Nemec said he has a "pay-it-forward" life philosophy. "If I can do something, then (I) do it," Brad Nemec said.
Normally, Roberts Police Chief Dan Burgess leads off the Roberts Good Neighbor Days parade from his squad car, and proceeds to direct traffic and keep parade goers safe. But this year, Burgess will have a different role. He has been named 2013 Good Neighbor Days parade grand marshal. Burgess said the honor came as a complete surprise. "I was shocked," Burgess said.
Although he said the April 30 fire that closed St. Croix Central Elementary School has been a challenge to deal with, Steve Sanders said the overwhelming community support for SCC's alternate elementary location, "Panther Camp," has given him a positive note on which to end his career. "I don't know if I even have words to describe it," Sanders said. "It's just unbelievable to me. We're still receiving packages." Sanders is set to retire after 29 years as an educator in the St.