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River Falls has been nationally recognized as “bike friendly community” by the League of American Bicyclists. The declaration reflects on how the city and biking groups encourage citizens to bike through support from law enforcement to make the streets safe for bicyclists and careful planning to provide trails and opportunities to bike. “For being such a small town, I don’t know any other town that has the quite the biking experience we have or the options,” said Isaac Curtis, owner of Crank Worx Bike Shop in River Falls.
PLUM CITY -- Some leaders hold megaphones or stand atop soapboxes, but for one Plum City High School senior silence is golden. Heather Von Holtum, who will walk in the Plum City High School graduation ceremony this weekend, has been called a silent leader by teachers and coaches. "Her results speak for themselves, in the classroom and on the track," said Josh Bentley, a math teacher and one of Von Holtum's track and field coaches.
ELLSWORTH -- Four years ago, a teacher made a presentation to a class of freshmen about the special education program at Ellsworth High School. "I (wanted) to be a part of that," Katie Deiss said. The next September Deiss walked into the special education classroom for her first day volunteering with the students. "I was scared out of my mind," she recalled. Now, as Deiss prepares to walk across the stage for her high school graduation May 24, she said that working in the special education classroom has been one of the most important things she has done as a student.
For the city of Red Wing, volunteer efforts usually peak during the summer. This year, as the city heads into that busy time of year, they will have a little help coordinating all those volunteers.
Stepps Up's purpose remains the same but the focus has shifted. The program that was created to help non-profits grow became known for its multiple training sessions that anyone in the community was welcome to attend free of charge. The real focus of the program is "capacity building," however. "So it's more than just those training sessions, but we plan on doing at least three a year," said Maureen Nelson, executive director. One of the programs Nelson said she hopes to see come to Red Wing is Ruby Paynes's Aha!
The man who organized Red Wing Fire Department's 2012 Fill the Boot campaign received an award for his efforts. Matt Lenz received the Fill the Boot Game Changer Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association in late April. This award is "for individuals who essentially turned a 180 with their organizations," Lenz said. Last September was the first time firefighters stood on street corners with their boots to collect money for the MDA. That not only turned the department 180 degrees, but gave firefighters a direction with this organization.
The first project of Red Wing's four-part solar energy plan has been completed. The solar panels that were installed a month ago atop the fire station are now generating electricity. Jay McCleary, deputy director of Red Wing Public Works, said the project "went pretty smooth." Officials first seriously discussed using solar energy in 2011. Less than two years later, the city is producing solar energy. "It is part of the strategic plan and comprehensive plan which have stated a goal that we would like to see the city reduce our need for nonrenewable energy," McCleary said.
The click of the keyboard and soundless tap of a smartphone can open up new options for Red Wing's citizens. The technology the city's Public Works Department has introduced include a YourGov app for smartphones, a geographic information systems mapping system that is both online and on smartphones, and GPS devices that monitor snow plow salt use and position. Patrick Ramaker, infrastructure specialist, said that Public Works has always been open to trying new technology and seeing how it can benefit them. These are three that they have been working with recently.
Flat Stanley is a children's book character who was a normal boy, but got flattened by his bulletin board one night was he was asleep. "'Gosh!' said Arthur. 'Stanley's flat!' 'As a pancake,' said Mr. Lambchop.
A teacher at Burnside Elementary School has been nominated for Fox 9's Top Teacher Award. Neil Lahammer has been teaching in Red Wing for six years and taught elsewhere five years before that. He is currently a third-grade teacher. "I was speechless.