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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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.
At one point, Beckah Whitlock said she didn't think she'd get to hear her son Kaleb speak, let alone say "I love you, Mom." Kaleb received a standard immunization when he was 1 year old. The immunization triggered a predisposition Kaleb had towards autism, Beckah said, and a week later, Beckah Whitlock said Kaleb started showing signs of the disorder. "He stopped walking, he stopped talking, he stopped looking at us, he did not want to be held," Beckah said.
The cast members of the St. Croix Central High School play are getting ready for their performances Friday, Oct. 26, and Sunday, Oct. 28. But even after months of rehearsing, their director Roxi Wakeen said she doesn't know exactly what will happen in each performance. The play, "When Cash Meets Cow," is an improvisational dinner theater performance, and as such, there are portions of the play that the actors make up on the spot. Wakeen said there is a script for the play, but it's not your average script. "It's kind of like having an outline," Wakeen said.
In the midst of the road construction on Wisconsin Highway 65 and Interstate 94 in Roberts, a new gas station has also been under construction. The new Pilot Flying J Travel Plaza opened on Monday, Oct. 22, in Roberts on 70th Avenue near the exchange of I-94 and Highway 65.
Children trick-or-treated around Christ Lutheran Church's lower-level on Sunday, Oct. 21, at the church's first-ever Harvest Halloween event. Kids found tricks and treats at card tables set up in the lower-level. There was also soup and cupcake decorating available. The event was an opportunity for kids to trick-or-treat in a safe environment. Sherry Gjonnes, part of the committee that put on the Harvest Halloween event, said both children and adults attended the event in costume. "There were people in costume in church," said Gjonnes.