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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On Tuesday Oct. 30, a group of guitarists gathered in a room at St. Croix Central Middle School and played and sang music ranging from "Amazing Grace" and "You Are My Sunshine" to a typical 1950s chord progression. Four members of the group didn't know how to play a guitar when the class began. Mike Murtha's community education "Beginning Guitar" class was filled with adults. For the class' last lesson, Murtha, a member of the band "Trigger Happy," invited his brother Joe Murtha and Karl Ausland, both fellow Trigger Happy members, to play with his students. "Joe suggested it," Murtha said.
Fairytales won't end quite the usual way in the St. Croix Central Middle School fifth and sixth grade play, "Unhappily Ever After." The play, a musical, is about a counselor who has opened an office to see how various fairy tale characters are getting along with each other. He discovers that nobody has lived "happily ever after".
It was while he was watching a Disney movie with his family that Mark Brown discovered the metaphor for one of the speeches he delivers to middle school and high school students all over the country. Brown used the characters of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" to illustrate the dangers of bullying in his speech "Words Count," which he presented to St. Croix Central Middle School on Wednesday, Oct. 24, during an all-school assembly. Brown's speech centers on a moment in the film when the character Gaston has talked the villagers into storming the castle to kill the Beast.
After requests from parents for more leadership training and teachers asking for help organizing student club meetings, St. Croix Central High School teacher and FFA advisor Bill Emery decided to do something to help SCCHS students boost their leadership skills. "I thought I'd take on the challenge of orchestrating a leadership workshop for the entire school," Emery said.
Around two or three times a month, the Hammond Village Park is vandalized in some way, said Hammond Police Chief Rick Coltrain. Coltrain said most of the vandalism is minor, like broken soap dispensers and minor damage to picnic tables. The park bathrooms, Coltrain said, take most of the abuse, from the broken soap dispensers to the occasional broken toilet. He said the bathrooms' glass block windows, which let in light but can't be seen through, have been broken so many times that one of them is just boarded up.
Halloween is approaching and Hammond and Roberts are getting ready to celebrate the holiday with events for people of all ages. For children, the Hammond Community Library is holding its annual "Night at the Library" event. This year's theme is "Haunted Business Expo," featuring exhibits like "Mummy's Fortune," "Dr. Frank's Lab," "Haunted pictures," "Monster shipping," "Broomstick's Pub" and more. Library Director Michelle Johnson said the event should be fun for all and not frightening for small children. Night at the Library is Saturday, Oct. 27 from 6-8 p.m.
Simonets furniture outlet in Stillwater, Minn. has opened a new outlet store in Somerset. "We thought we'd bring some furniture out here," said Brad Wheeler, the manager of the new Somerset location. With the Stillwater bridge closed, Wheeler said Simonets wanted to open a larger location in Somerset so they could stock more furniture for their customers in western Wisconsin. Wheeler said 20 percent of Simonets' business comes from those western Wisconsin customers.
The Hammond Library and Sandy Brecht Photography teamed up to bring a new event to Hammond on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event, a fall festival, included games, cupcake decorating, food and drink and photos by Sandy Brecht Photography. Michelle Johnson, director of the Hammond Public Library, said the event was a success. Johnson put together a story-walk for the event, which she said was very popular.
Some Hammond residents may have to drive a bit farther to go to the bank, starting in early 2013. On Oct. 17, Associated Bank announced it was consolidating 12 of its branches in Wisconsin and Illinois. The Hammond branch is among those that will be closed and consolidated with other locations. The 12 branches being closed are in addition to the 21 branches in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota that were closed earlier this year. Associated Bank said a continuing increase in online banking was one of the factors that prompted the decision to consolidate.
After more than a year of searching and considering more than 75 candidates, Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ has selected a new pastor. Rev. Melinda Feller was chosen by a committee of nine Roberts UCC members and recommended for the position of pastor to the congregation. "Once we met Pastor Melinda, we knew God was calling us to partner in ministry with her," said Lori Jurek, member of the Roberts UCC search committee.