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"There are not two farms the same," said Dan Johnson, son of Orin and Nancy Johnson and one of four family members who work the family farm. Johnson's Dairy sits just west of the city on County Road MM, nestled into 465 acres. Dan explains that there are as many farming techniques as there are farms. Some farms are bigger or more modern, but one thing remains consistent among them all: They do things differently. Dan, Annette and their two kids, Kelsey who's 9 and Cody who's 12, live a stone's throw from Dan's parents.
Hunting season helps control the area's growing deer population, but is it effective enough? Troy Kusilek doesn't think so. "The hunters aren't really getting the job done," he said. "A lot of times they're just wounding the deer." For example, nobody wants an injured deer showing up to die on their property, possibly upsetting youngsters.
It's now been a year since I moved to this area from Texas. The anniversary came and went quietly, but not without some reflection about how the upper Midwest compares to Dallas. I'll take summers here over summers there. We ran our window-unit air conditioner only a handful of times, and not once did I sweat while running the hair dryer. People here aren't grouchy and delirious from three months of unrelenting 100-plus-degree heat. Winter here presents a bigger challenge, but I think my blood is thickening. I can walk to the mailbox or garage without outerwear.
The city's been looking for a way to provide better access to and from the original River Falls Industrial Park. An extension of Benson Street might be the solution. Soon engineers will start studying the possibility of extending Benson Street up to Quarry Road. Benson Street now dead ends just past Troy Street. The park lies north of town and east of Main Street, between Summit Street and Quarry Road. Drivers can now only get into the area by turning off of Main Street onto either Summit Street or Mound View Road.
Looking at "innards" just got faster, easier and more detailed than it's ever been at River Falls Area Hospital. The hospital bought a new machine this summer that brings higher technology and more accuracy than before. The new computerized tomography (CT) scanner looks like a giant, white donut. Patients lie down and slide through the middle of the donut, and the machine takes detailed pictures of whatever parts or organs need to be examined.
"We just love creating something that people enjoy," said Gary Betlach. He and his wife, Marilyn, have been carving wood together for about seven years of the 17 they've been married. It started as a hobby and evolved into part-time work. Gary recently retired from the Hudson post office after 30 years. Marilyn used to work at River Falls Area Hospital and has done medical transcription work at home in recent years. Now, they work together in business as the Couple Carvers.
It all started in a basement 10 years ago when PressEnter owners Steve and Deena Reisman had the idea of starting a business. Steve had already been hosting a bulletin board system (BBS) service, back in the "dark ages" when e-mails were stored then sent. They didn't travel instantaneously back then like they do now. When he heard about River Falls wanting to bring Internet access to the city, he said to Deena "Hey, why don't we do that?" She replied, "Sure, dear.
The chainsaw-wielding Couple Carvers, Marilyn and Gary Betlach, know people remember their monkeys. Marley or Charlie often came with them to showings in River Falls and other areas. The couple has a married daughter named Rachel and two grandsons living in Maplewood, Minn., and another married daughter named Jenny who lives in Baldwin. But Marley and Charlie became like their children through a unique and interesting program. "Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled," is a program and institute based in Boston, Mass.
Comforts of Home asked City Council at Tuesday night's meeting to consider reducing impact fees for its new senior and assisted living development named SouthPointe. The request seemed more about who uses how much of what impact fees pay for - infrastructure like water pipes, sewer lines, roadways, parks, library usage and fire service - than anything else. In this case, Comforts of Home asked for a impact-fee reduction of roughly $92,000 -going from $138,925 to $46,271. The new seniors housing units will be built be at the corner of County Road FF and Hwy.
Some soldiers who recently returned to River Falls will join the American Legion Post 121 as it commemorates Veterans Day on Friday morning. As the Journal reported last week, the Legion makes rounds to all the schools every Veterans Day, ending at UW-River Falls. A few of the troops who just got back will be there as the Legion group gathers on the lawn of UW-RF's North Hall at the flagpole. The ceremony will include an invocation, flag raising, a rifle volley and the playing of taps. Come springtime, a big community picnic will be held to honor troops who served in Iraq.