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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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.
Each week, Shelly Clay gives a special bag to one of her second grade students. The student takes the bag home and uses the materials inside to design his or her own science experiment, usually with the help of their parents. The children practice at home and perform their experiments for the class on Friday. "They have to be prepared to walk us through what's happening and why it's happening," Clay said.
Christine Pommerening used a knitting loom her grandmother had given her as a Christmas present to create a hat for her mother's friend, who was ill with cancer. Pommerening is now using her loom as a part of her Silver Award project. Pommerening and fellow Troop 53789 members Bailey Olsen and MacKenzie Collins, as well as Juliette Girl Scout (a Girl Scout independent of a troop) Myah Olson, are holding "Cancer Caps With Love," an event to create caps for cancer patients, 10 a.m. Sunday, April 28, in the Roberts Village Park Building.
Somerset Village President Jeffrey Johnson proclaimed April Autism Awareness Month in Somerset at the village's regular board meeting Tuesday, March 26. In his proclamation, Johnson said autism, a developmental disorder affecting social, learning and behavioral skills, has increased in prevalence in recent years. As many as one in 88 children in the United States are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Somerset School District is heading up an awareness effort to educate the community about autism. Johnson's proclamation is in recognition of that effort.
She may have been born April 1, but Katherine Karras is no April Fool. Karras, born April 1, 1913, just reached her 100th birthday on Monday. Her sense of humor is still going strong. "When people ask me how did you get to be 100, I say I kept on breathing," Karras said. She also advised would-be centerians to keep learning. Karras she took college classes into her 80s. Another piece of her success, she said, has been her writing. Karras wrote feature stories for the Pioneer Press and Milwaukee Journal for years.
Six-year-old Evan Gardner loves to color. His parents, Tim and Nicole Gardner, said that was what inspired his design for his Pinewood Derby car, Crayola. Tim Gardner said the car was simple to make. It is painted green-and-yellow, in the manner of a Crayola crayon box. Tim and Evan Gardner carved out a small hollow space to fit four Crayola crayons as a part of the decoration. "He loves to color," Nicole Gardner said. "So that's what he wanted to do." Evan Gardner won the trophy for the most creative design at Cub Scout Pack 161's annual Pinewood Derby on Saturday, March 23.
Third-quarter book reports for some St. Croix Central Middle School students were a bit unusual. Students in Karen Loenser's sixth grade literacy class created "Digital Book Talks," instead of traditional written book reports. "One thing that was really, really neat was the time the kids were engaged," Loenser said. "They were on task 100 percent of the time. It's pretty amazing." Loenser said projects like this help students learn better, because they engage multiple senses. She said the project involved students speaking, listening, reading, writing and working collaboratively.
After 25 years as chairman of the Hammond Town Board, Ken Peterson has decided to retire. "I've had enough years as a public servant and I'll be 80 years old next summer," Peterson said. Peterson has lived in the Town of Hammond all his life, and has been a part of the board for 34 years, including the 25 he served as chairman. Peterson said he has seen much growth in the Town of Hammond since he joined the board in 1979.
The Hazel Mackin Community Library was decorated in bright green Shamrocks, for an event that brought a little taste of Ireland to Roberts. Author Erin Hart and her husband, musician-turned-author Paddy O'Brien, held an event March 7, filled with storytelling and traditional Irish music. Hart and O'Brien have been presenting events at libraries for years. Hart said she started speaking at libraries after her first book was published. "When they found out my husband was a musician...they were really excited by that," Hart said.
Somerset High School's third annual Polar Daze assembly was Friday, March 8. The Polar Daze celebration featured a talent show, with performances by the finalists; remarks from the captains of the winter and spring sports teams and the announcement of the class spirit point competition winners. Clues to a riddle were given away every day at lunch. Derek Schutte solved the riddle.