News
Waddling Duck. May 20 ….

Waddling Duck.

May 20

At the May 11 River Falls City Council meeting, the council unanimously voted to select the Pierce County Journal as the city’s official newspaper.

A 28-year-old Colfax man led police on a high-speed vehicle chase late Tuesday, May 4, crashed, ditched his vehicle and fled on foot before being captured in a town of Kinnickinnic woods early May 5. After being evaluated at an area hospital, he escaped from police custody and led officers on another foot chase before being arrested in a River Falls neighborhood.

Sisters Elizabeth Gergen, Annie Valentine and Angela Magee weren’t going to let down their grandma! After there was no Prescott Daze festival last year, the three have stepped up to run the popular festival, held the weekend after Labor Day.

River Falls Chief Deputy Jon Aubart didn’t want a big fuss made for his last day with the department on Friday, May 14. As he went about his duties, colleagues good-naturedly ribbed him about getting his photo taken. As he provided a tour of the new police station at 2815 Prairie Drive, it was obvious the man behind the badge was proud of his department and profession, though modest about his own accomplishments.

More than 50 citizens logged into the Pierce County Board’s health committee meeting Wednesday, May 12, up in arms about the public health mask-wearing advisory, vaccines, a COVID-19 investigation lead job description and how state and federal allocated funds are being spent. Utter chaos was the theme as audio problems persisted, citizens shouted, interrupted with comments and hurled accusations.

May 27

River Falls High School Theatre’s rendition of “Urinetown” is opening this week, and tickets are selling quickly. If you’re in need of a night out filled with fun, laughs and great acting, check out this satirical musical.

With Memorial Day weekend soon arriving, towns across Pierce County are preparing for more Memorial Day events than last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Every American Legion located within Pierce County plans to host an event on Memorial Day with most of these events being open to the public.

As Pierce County 4-H celebrates 100 years in 2021, 4-H 100 Year Celebration Committee Chair Beth Ingli has been seeking out some of those who were 4-H members in the early days. Algot Anderson, of Beldenville, was a member of the Clay Corner Crackerjacks 4-H club in the 1940's.

Ellsworth Public Works Department employees Michael Moldenhauer and Brady Murphy (driving) hung banners on Main Street honoring the Ellsworth High School Class of 2021 on Friday, May 21. The graduation ceremony will be held Friday, May 28 at 7 p.m.

June June 3

At 6:54 a.m. Tuesday, May 25, the house located at 166 E. Main St. in Ellsworth was reported to be on fire, according to an Ellsworth Police Department news release. No one was inside at the time.

After two motions about the path to take with mask-wearing failed at the Monday, May 24 River Falls School Board meeting, the board called another special session for Thursday, May 27 where after much deliberation, it voted 6-1 to make masks optional beginning June 7 for all PK-12 students and staff.

Ellsworth and Prescott high schools celebrated their graduations Friday night. Ellsworth held its ceremony outdoors at Fuller Symes Field, while Prescott opted for its traditional indoor ceremony.

June 10

Prescott High School Class of 2021 graduate Trenten Williamson has had a big year. Not many people can say they’ve gone viral on Tik Tok, gone viral on Facebook, and been on “Today with Hoda and Jenna.” Not to mention beating the odds of a medical diagnosis that was supposed to keep you from reaching high school, let alone graduating.

A 31-year-old Minnesota man named Alvin S. Kpeleweh is facing charges in Pierce County Circuit Court for allegedly attempting to abduct a 5year-old child in River Falls on June 1. He allegedly offered the child candy and grabbed her in front of her mother, who was getting the mail.

In the summer of 2018, Ellsworth High School student Makayla Runyon’s whole world changed when her home burned completely to the ground. The fire took many things from Runyon and her family. She moved to live with her grandparents afterwards and that is where the writing process for her upcoming novel, “Blood Bound,” began.

Dailyn Wold spoke powerfully to the River Falls High School Class of 2021 on Friday, June 4 at David Smith Stadium. She challenged her classmates to not be so busy making impressions that they miss out on living.

June 17

Big Dog Daddy’s Roadhouse owner John Grabrick and 12 customers were inside the Bay City bar on Sunday, June 13 when someone smelled smoke and the power went out. When Grabrick went outside to check the meter, he saw flames shooting out of the back of the roof.

The Prescott School Board voted Tuesday, June 8 to make masks optional for all students and staff indoors and outdoors in all district facilities and grounds effective June 9.

Tucked among the trees on the bluffs above the small town of Bay City is Swede Pickings, an old fruit farm in a new stage of life. The farm, originally planted almost 30 years ago, has ignited the interest of Madeline Maurer and her husband Karsten, a statistics professor from Ohio.

When Dave Skinner and Troy Szotkowski retired from the public safety field in 2015, neither man was quite ready to stop serving others and providing quality training when it comes to safety and security risks in the modern world. The pair came together shortly after their retirements to create a consulting firm, Applied Countermeasures Group, or ACG.

June 24

Last year, in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce unveiled its Cheese Curd unFest, a drive-thru festival. Volunteers served the famous Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery hand-breaded cheese curds to a line of cars that didn’t diminish until the final curd hit the oil. Faced to organize the large-scale event with health restrictions still in place at the time, the Ellsworth Drive-Thru Cheese Curd unFestival 2021 was unveiled.

If you love oldschool arcade games, homemade pizza and the homey feel of a pizza shop/community hangout, you need to check out downtown Ellsworth’s latest addition: The Pizza Arcade.

The Prescott City Council and Police Department have affirmed that for the Fourth of July Weekend, the city will enforce stricter citations on firework complainants after the increase in complaints within the city limits over the last two years.

Blind Munchies coffee shop opened a River Falls location at 115 W. Cascade Ave. in August 2019. It’s conveniently located near campus. The business itself is a non-profit run through Street Level Ministries, a Christian organization based in Menomonie that has expanded as a student faith organization at the UWRiver Falls, UW-Stout, and UW-Superior campuses.

July July 1

The Prescott and Ellsworth track teams brought home championship medals from the WIAA Division 2 State Track & Field Meet Friday: The Prescott 400-meter relay team of Abby Severson, Tori Benck, Jessie Urman and Grace Carlson and the Ellsworth 400 and 800-meter relay champs Shane Lange, Max Grand, Ashten Quade and Bo Hines.

At its June 28 meeting, the Prescott City Council voted 6-1 to institute a 1 a.m. bar close effective Tuesday, June 29 as an emergency maneuver to curb late-night bar brawls downtown ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

South Fork Café has been owned and operated by Dawn and Chris Berendes for 20 years. They closed the doors on June 24. The café has been sold to a new owner and will remain as a restaurant on Main Street, called the Table on Main.

July 8

Expanded musical acts, more family friendly activities and a unique reverse parade are taking center stage for the 2021 comeback of River Falls Days, set for July 15-18.

Douglas J. Hanken, 26, Prescott, allegedly burglarized a Prescott home while high on drugs, cut himself, and set the house on fire to hide the blood evidence on Aug. 21, 2020.

When full-time Pierce County/UW-Extension Agriculture Agent Greg Andrews retired in 2016, it left a hole in the agricultural education fabric of the county. Prior to Andrews’ retirement (he began his role in 1985), Pierce County had not been without an ag agent in nearly a century. The Pierce County Agriculture & Extension Education Committee will vote on a new model proposed by UW-Madison Extension to provide a more regional approach to agriculture agent coverage. The next meeting is at 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 16.

Police Sergeant Jeff Sather is retiring from the River Falls Police Department after 25 years of service. Sather has served on the police force in River Falls for most of his career. His last day with the department is July 16.

July 15

The Ellsworth Public Library’s move to the former BMO Harris Bank building at 388 W. Main St. is becoming more real, especially after an architect presented a conceptual layout for the building’s interior at the Monday, July 12 Ellsworth Village Board meeting.

The Spring Valley Elementary School building located downtown (S200 Sabin Ave.) officially closed to the public after a furniture sale on July 10. The original portion of the building, built in 1929, originally housed grades K-12.

Across the region, state and country many small cities and villages have been experiencing firefighter shortages. Due to the system that many small-town fire departments use, many or all of the firefighters are volunteers.

July 22

“Fiber Fixes Everything.”

President and CEO Nate Boettcher wore a button boasting that phrase Wednesday, July 14 as Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services unveiled its plans to start offering high speed internet service. By fall, residents in rural parts of Pierce County will start to learn all about the fiber fix.

After two hours of questions and debate, the Agriculture & Extension Education Committee voted 3-2 to forward a proposed agriculture staffing plan model to the county’s Finance & Personnel Committee for consideration.

Back in May, an unexpected trade happened in Major League Baseball that left residents in River Falls wondering why. The first ever River Falls High School graduate to break into MLB, J.P. Feyereisen, was traded from his home state Milwaukee Brewers to the Tampa Bay Rays for shortstop Willy Adames.

Elmwood invites everyone to the 42nd annual UFO Days town party July 22-25, which honors the area’s history of the unexplained.

July 29

KARE-11 news reporter Boyd Huppert is probably the most wellknown journalist born and raised in Pierce County. As Huppert has grown in his career since starting his journey at the University of Wisconsin- River Falls in the early 1980s, he now finds himself transitioning into a new part of his career: Passing on what he has learned to a new generation of journalists.

The Prescott Hall of Fame Committee is pleased to announce the induction of Roy Finley, Char Maggee, and Nick Schommer into the Prescott Hall of Fame. The Fourth Annual Hall of Fame Banquet will be held in the Prescott High School Commons on Saturday, Oct. 9.

As Pierce County 4-H Youth Development Agent Frank Ginther sits in the River Falls Culver’s reminiscing about his long career, anyone with eyes can see how much the county’s youth and success mean to him. His face lights up as he recounts his adventures leading the county’s 4-H programs and youth development initiatives for the past 30 years.

August Aug. 5

On July 27, the Great River Road officially received an All-American road designation through the National Scenic Byways program at a ceremony held at Freedom Park in Prescott. The process of achieving this status took several months of planning and proposals.

When you hear of Rock Elm United Methodist Church, you’d be remiss if you didn’t think of its creamy, homemade ice cream. After all, a tradition that’s lasted for 126 years is rare and should be celebrated.

The Prescott American Legion’s famous fried chicken dinners are back! The Legion Post 61 has been a beehive of activity this summer, with contractors and veteran member muscle making updates and changes. With COVID-19 shutting down the dinners which were the sole fundraiser for Post 61, members and the community stepped forward with funds and sweat equity to help get the Legion facility ready.

Pierce County 911 dispatcher and Jailer Sgt. Sandy Larson is retiring after 36 years with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department; her official last day is Aug. 4.

Aug. 12

The City of Prescott has hired a new city administrator. Matt Wolf officially started in his new role on Aug 2. Wolf is originally from New Prague, Minn. and has traveled for much of his life. He joined the Peace Corps and served in Fiji and he said that is how he became interested in community planning and development.

St. Francis School in Ellsworth welcomed a new principal to their school this summer. Mary Cormican started July 1 and is eager to start the school year. The school’s first day of the regular school year is Sept 1.

Baseball is a sport for everyone; the Challengers League is an organization based in western Wisconsin whose mission is to include people in the game that are normally left out of the competitive side of baseball.

As of the July 28 Prescott School Board meeting, the district plans to make masking optional for students and staff this fall and implement fiveday- a-week in-person learning for all grade levels. However, the final decisions will be made at the Aug. 18 school board meeting.

Aug. 19

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Engineer Geoff Rasmussen from CBS Squared, Inc. provided an overview of the Ellsworth Main Street construction project Tuesday, Aug. 10 at Ellsworth Village Hall.

On the morning of Friday, Aug. 5, the River Falls community lost one of the founding members of the UWRiver Falls campus radio station. J. Michael Norman died at the age of 74.

The Most Admired Senior Citizens are chosen each year for their community service, dedication to helping neighbors and for all-around contributions to making Pierce County a great place to live. This year’s honorees were Peggy Rother of Maiden Rock and Joanne Baier of Elmwood.

Aug. 26

A family argument turned violent on the afternoon of Aug. 11 on Elm Street in River Falls when two men allegedly began shooting at one another when a verbal altercation escalated. As a result, one man received minor gunshot wounds and three men are facing felony charges in Pierce County Circuit Court. The shooting took place in a school zone, not far from River Falls Montessori School.

With the results of the 2020 Census being released to the public in the month of August, counties across America can begin the once-in-adecade redistricting process. Pierce County’s Redistricting Committee met Wednesday, Aug. 18 to begin the redistricting process locally.

Rush River Scenic, a set design and development company, gives a twist on local business here in Pierce County. The company was started in 1996 by Nils and Jennifer Rahm and is located in a secluded area north of Ellsworth. In this studio, Nils Rahm builds sets for Fortune 500 companies such as 3M, Target, Red Bull and many more.

A perfect sunset and toast for 15 incredible years marked the anniversary of what is known as the “gem of Prescott.” Freedom Park's “Sunset Soiree” Saturday night is the biggest fundraiser for the Prescott visitor and educational center.

September Sept. 2

As Pierce County Public Health Officer AZ Snyder stood before the River Falls City Council Aug. 24 per its request for a COVID-19 update as case numbers rise locally and nationally, she admitted she was disappointed to be back. After 27 years in the Ellsworth community, Julee Petrovic has decided that Jule’s Cleaners will be closing its doors as she has chosen to retire. The building is still for sale and no one has officially taken over the business.

River Falls is set to welcome a new coffee shop in October. Waystone Coffee Company will be located downtown on Walnut Street and will incorporate a fantasy theme into the drinks, food and décor. Pierce County residents have the opportunity to see a top-notch performance – for free – this week, as the Sod House Theater brings its own production of “Arla Mae’s Booyah Wagon” to Freedom Park.

Sept. 9

The Pierce County Land Management Committee approved amendments to the Pierce County Code regarding accessory residences at its Aug. 18 meeting. These changes limit the allowable size of an accessory residence if it

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office log, two juveniles started an accidental fire at 4:39 p.m. Thursday, May 13 at the Bay City Village Park playground, leaving the equipment melted and scorched. Ellsworth Fire doused the blaze and the kids were located..

Ellsworth High School Class of 2022 Valedictorian Cecelia Groh spoke to her classmates May 28, basing her address off a quote by Winston Churchill.

The Prescott and Ellsworth track teams brought home championship medals from the WIAA Division 2 State Track & Field Meet Friday. Above, the Prescott 400-meter relay team of (kneeling, from left) Abby Severson and Tori Benck and (standing) Jessie Urman and Grace Carlson atop the podium. Below, the Ellsworth 400 and 800-meter relay champs: (kneeling) Shane Lange and Max Grand; (standing) Ashten Quade and Bo Hines dominated at the state meet.

Pierce County 4-HYouth Development Agent Frank Ginther retired July 6 after serving Pierce County since 1993.

On the morning of Friday, Aug. 5, the River Falls community lost one of the founding members of the UW-River Falls campus radio station. J. Michael Norman died at the age of 74.

The scene of what remains of Big Dog Daddy’s Roadhouse in Bay City after two fires leveled the structure Sunday, June 13.

On July 27, the Great River Road officially received an All-American road designation through the National Scenic Byways program at a ceremony held at Freedom Park in Prescott. The process of achieving this status took several months of planning and proposals..

January 11, 2022