Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previouly 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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In this day of computers and emails, receiving a handwritten, personal letter can be a special thing. Patty Schachtner, Somerset school nurse, helped organize the letter-writing campaign in the schools with Gina Knutson, Carol Jones, Gail Buell and Randy Calleja as a part of the Leadership Trust Initiative, a course sponsored by the New Richmond Area Community Foundation. The group organized community letters for New Richmond eighth-graders one week before the Somerset eighth-graders received theirs.
The smell permeating the entire St. Croix Central Elementary building is a reminder of the smoke damage that has rendered many of the school's classroom items unusable. This, combined with the fact that teachers have not been able to retrieve many items from their classrooms, put the school in need of supplies for its students. However, thanks to an outpouring of community and area support, SCC Elementary does not need school supplies any longer. "It's overwhelming, it really is," school district Superintendent David Bradley said.
On Friday afternoon, May 3, teachers in white face masks and blue rubber gloves walked through the dim halls of St. Croix Central Elementary School. Tears fell, even as water dripped from the ceiling of what was left of the office area. The staff, stepping over soggy ceiling tiles, were allowed to enter the building and view the damage, as well as retrieve some personal items from their classrooms. Some staff had not yet seen their classrooms. Adrianne Lemberg, Title I reading teacher, saw her classroom, for the first time since the fire, on Friday.
Fifth-graders are usually not excited about writing poetry, said Katie Tate, St. Croix Central Middle School fifth grade teacher. But this year, Tate's class was very excited about their poetry project. "They sat every afternoon for an hour with a laptop on their desk," Tate said. "It didn't get old for them." Instead of approximately 40-page poetry books, Tate's 26 students created poetry websites this year. "It just makes an ordinary project more fun," Tate said. The idea for the websites was suggested to Tate by SCCMS media specialist Amanda Olson.
Dr. Heidi Weisert-Peatow has been hired as the new St. Croix Central Elementary School principal, following current principal Steve Sanders's retirement, effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year. "I'm very excited to come and I'm very excited to meet everybody," Weisert-Peatow said. Weisert-Peatow is a graduate of Concordia College is St. Paul, Minn. and completed her education master's coursework at Oregon State University. She then moved to Washington to teach in the Seattle area for many years.
On April 12, the SCC eighth grade choir had a new performance experience. The group performed "The Star Spangled Banner" at the start of a Harlem Globetrotters game in the Target Center in Minneapolis. "I thought it went very well," Schmitt said. "The kids were really excited and had a fun time and I thought they sang very well." Schmitt said Target Center representatives sent her a letter two years ago to invite one of the middle school choirs to perform the national anthem for a Harlem Globetrotters game, but the group was unable to go at the time.
Hammond musician Mike Murtha of Trigger Happy has become a published author. Murtha's book, "Stranger in a Small Town," is the story of a high school boy named Chris whose family moves to a fictional small town in Iowa from New York. Chris, Murtha said, is a very creative boy. "He's into the arts, guitar, vocal, taken voice lessons, theater," Murtha said.
On Tuesday, April 2, and Friday, April 5, the Autism Awareness Committee for the Somerset School District held two events in honor of Autism Awareness Month, which is celebrated nationally every April. Beckah Whitlock began the committee in the fall of 2012 as a way to increase autism awareness in Somerset, to which she and her husband moved because they felt Somerset School District's special education accommodations would help their three autistic sons. The Autism Awareness committee's efforts are a way of giving back to the community and the district, Whitlock said. The first event, Tues
A recent United States Supreme Court decision prompted evidence to be suppressed and charges to be dropped against a suspected burglar in February. The Supreme Court's decision in the case of the United States vs. Jones ruled that police need to obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracking device to a suspect's vehicle. This decision recently prompted a St. Croix County judge to rule in favor of suppressing evidence in a local burglary case. The defendant, Joseph Kleschult, was charged with three counts of burglary and two counts of theft.
After watching the St. Croix County suicide rate grow from no suicides in 2007 to 18 in 2011, St. Croix County Medical Examiner Patty Schachtner and St. Croix Conty Adult Community support Services social worker Kesha Marson both decided action needed to be taken. The two women worked together to form what they describe as a grassroots organization, dedicated to preventing suicide in St. Croix County. Schachtner said the group began with several phone calls from suicide survivors, or people who have experienced the suicide death of a loved one.