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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A new plant shop has sprouted at 940 Davis St., in Hammond. On May 5 Beyond the Garden Gate will be open for business. Owner Liz Beukema plans on bringing personality and plenty of plant knowledge to her gardening business. Beukema, also the owner of Constant Color Perennials, knows her plants well. Beukema grew up in the greenhouse business in Rhode Island and was a science major studying plant genetics in college.
The St. Croix Central High School sewing, career foods, landscape and shop classes are putting on a fashion show for more than just showcasing their work. Around 30 high-schoolers have been preparing for the school's first fashion show to benefit children with cancer. The fashion show for cancer, scheduled for Saturday, May 7, at 1 p.m. was the students' idea. When Family and Consumer Science teacher Crystal Bell suggested her sewing classes host an event to showcase their work, her students had a few stipulations.
When it comes to forensics, St. Croix Central senior Krysta Fisher has all the characteristics of perfection. Fisher achieved her fourth perfect score in prose at State Forensics, on April 15-16, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fisher said she participates in the speech and acting club because she has a passion for speaking. Fisher said participating in forensics in middle school helped her overcome shyness and prepare her for forensics at the high school level. She also credits her friends, family, teammates and coach, Heather Jourdeans, for pushing her to be her best.
The St. Croix Central School District is losing 10 percent of its teaching staff due to retirements this year. April 15 was the last day teachers could announce retirement and qualify for the local retirement benefit that is in the district's master contract; 11 SCC teachers are retiring this year. The average number of retirees in recent years has been around three.
A couple weeks ago the St. Croix Central School District began piloting a new program to promote student and teacher communication and collaboration over the Internet. Half a dozen students in Nicholas Haug's business class began using Live@edu , an online Microsoft communication and collaboration program that is free to K-12 educators.
In January the St. Croix Central School District re-evaluated its crisis plan, part of the plan included having a "crisis kit" in each school classroom. After months of planning, the crisis kits are almost ready to be distributed to classrooms.
After years of planning and months of construction, the Hazel Mackin Library found a new home at 311 West Warren St., in Roberts, with the help of generous donations and dedicated volunteers. Library Director Brenda Hackman said National Volunteer Week, commemorated April 19-25, is about "Celebrating people in action." Hackman said the theme captures the meaning behind this signature week -- "honoring the individuals who dedicate themselves to taking action such as Peter Close does and solving problems in their communities.
According to the 2010 audit in March, the Village of Hammond has seen a sewer deficit of $322,821 over the last three years. Former Village President Vince Trudell mentioned the deficit in his "goodbye" speech at the April 11 regular board meeting. In his speech Trudell said, "The recent finding of an over $300,000 deficit in sewer funding means there are going to be some tough decisions ahead.
St. Croix Central Middle School students with severe communication deficits will soon be using iPads in an effort to communicate more effectively and increase independence. A month ago, Shannon Donnelly, special education teacher at St. Croix Central Middle School, was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Baldwin-Woodville Area Community Foundation, as St. Croix Central provides the educational services for Baldwin-Woodville students with mild to severe cognitive disabilities.
Receiving a St. Croix Valley Foundation Music Education Grant was music to Michelle Schmitt's ears. Schmitt, the St. Croix Central Elementary and Middle School vocal music teacher, applied for the grant in October 2010 and in December received $4,140 to purchase some "rocking" instruments for her classroom. "With the grant, I hired the Whitesidewalls to perform at our school (their first school performance), and bought four electric guitars, two bass guitars, amps, a drum set, as well as the accessories that go with these instruments.