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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What do you get when you have students, endless amounts of snow and spray bottles filled with paint? You get winter weather works of art. Fourth grade students in Jason Rohde's art class have been taking their creativity to the great outdoors, building and painting sculptures in the snow around the elementary school. Rohde said six years ago he "got the idea from the Nazca Lines in Peru and the Effigy Mounds in Iowa." The idea is a hit with students and they weren't shy about expressing how fun outside classes are.
Yoga is often associated with quiet, focus and serenity. Not words often associated with 3- to 5-year-olds. The Hammond Library's story-time group is trying incorporate calming yoga movements in its new program "Active Kids with Yoga for Kids." The group meets every Thursday, Jan. 13 through Feb. 24, at 10:30 a.m., at the Trinity Lutheran Church, at 1250 Broadway St., in Hammond.
The blank brick wall on the south side of the Hammond Library could become home to a mural highlighting a few well-known events in Hammond. For months Erin McComb and Paulette Anderson have been working on creating a "brand" or positive image of Hammond. The two feel that a mural on the side of the library featuring the Heart of St. Croix County, Yellowstone Trail, Running of the Llamas and Hammond Heartland Days would provide a well-rounded "story" of Hammond, ranging from "historical, social, quirky and geographical," according to McComb.
The recent shooting in Arizona has made many in the St. Croix Central School District question whether the schools are prepared to handle a crisis. During the public comment time at the Jan. 17 school board meeting, student Joshua Peterson asked the board if the district was doing an effective job training staff to respond to health and safety issues in the schools. The three school principals as well as Shannon Donnelly, middle school special education teacher, have been working on a crisis management plan for the district.
Last spring teachers at St. Croix Central Elementary School received training on a new reading assessment system. This fall the assessment program was put into action and has been showing positive results since. All kindergarten through fifth grade, and one sixth grade class, have been using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. The assessment is used initially for placement purposes, but is also used throughout the school year to monitor student progress.
This year St. Croix Central Community Education has the resolution solution for getting and staying fit in 2011. Residents in Hammond and Roberts can't use the excuse that there are no places to get fit around the area, because the St. Croix Central Community Education activities list is overflowing with fun ways to get healthy this year without breaking the bank. "I believe that when you find a workout that is fun, energizing, creative and convenient, the excuses just disappear," said Fitness to Go owner Tera Busker.
The impact fee moratorium was the big topic of discussion at the Monday night Village of Hammond Board meeting. "I think we should still go along with the moratorium," said Village President Vince Trudell, at the start of the discussion.
The Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ has long filled people's hearts with faith. Starting Jan. 20, UCC will be filling mouths with food and their ears with the sound of music, as it starts it's "Music and a Meal" program. Starting on Thursday, Jan. 20, and continuing the third Thursday of every month, UCC will host friends and neighbors from central St. Croix County for a free meal and music, from local individuals, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Would you tailgate an ambulance? How about a police car? If it's common sense to be courteous to vehicles that keep our communities safe, why wouldn't motorists give snowplow drivers the same respect? "You don't have to pull over like for a police car or an ambulance coming, but if (snowplows) are engaged in winter maintenance activities, and have their lights on, be careful," said County Highway Commissioner Tim Ramberg. Motorists have heard it before, stay a safe distance away from winter maintenance vehicles. But year after year plow drivers say the same thing.
Dirk Vrieze, 30, of Hammond, has a not-so-traditional Christmas day tradition. For the past six years the Vrieze family has had a demolition derby on Christmas morning. Immediately after opening presents the Vriezes and around 250 spectators head to Dirk's dad's farm land at the corner of County Road E and 200th Street for a chilly morning of crashed cars and good company. The derby usually starts at 10 a.m.