Shortcuts | July 21, 2011

condensed local news about civic and cultural goings-on

V1 Staff


Eau Claire Kid Gets To Hang Out With NASA Astronauts

Some of us dream of working with NASA when we got older – the same way some dream of being firemen or princesses – but eventually those dreams fade. Who knows if Eau Claire native Jordan Wachs ever dreamed it, but he most certainly is getting the opportunity. An engineering and physics major, Wachs is going to school at UW-Madison where he and his team designed and built the contest-winning space habitat for astronauts. The project was dubbed Badger X-Loft and was a 16-by-13-foot, two-story structure made from lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum. Besides winning the competition, Wachs was able to lounge with NASA astronauts in the second story of the space habitat during the judging of the competition. After graduation in August, Wachs will work for Rockwell Collins doing design work for business jets.  

Memoriral Grad's Bid to become Miss Teen USA

There’s probably a good chunk of girls who at one point in their lives have thought, “I’d like to be Miss America.” But not many grow up and get the chance (or necessarily care anymore), so they watch the pageants at home. Well one Eau Claire native wasn’t on the sidelines, as Memorial High grad Victoria Johnston competed in the Miss Teen USA competition in mid-July. Unfortunately, at the time that this went to print, the results weren’t in for the Bahamas-held competition, but Johnston competed against 49 other representatives from across the country after she won the Miss Teen Wisconsin title back in September. We have our fingers crossed, so if she wins we totally helped. 

The Biggest Downtown Redesign Meeting Ever

It’s been a few months since the last public input meeting for Eau Claire’s downtown streets and riverfront project, and for good reason. Ayres Associates and the city have been preparing preliminary design ideas. And on Aug. 4 at 5pm in the RCU Headquarters (Phoenix Park), we’ll get to see images depicting Barstow, Eau Claire Street, and our riverbank – sketches that could be our reality for the next 50 years. These are not intended to be final plans, Public Works Director Brian Amundson said, but to get your reactions to them. “The pros, the cons, the advantages, and disadvantages,” he said. “And based on the input from that we’ll revise and modify the ideas and prepare what we’ll probably call ‘a preferred plan.’ ” That plan would include cost estimates, be brought forward for final public comments, and then seek ultimate approval from city council. 

UW Tuition Is On The Rise

There will be a 5.5 percent increase in undergraduate tuition for the upcoming 2011-12 school year. Not exactly something that any student (numbering at about 182,000) and their families would like to see, but the UW-System officials said that it is necessary in order to maintain academic excellence for students. The UW System’s 26 four-year and two-year schools will be seeing a variety of tuition increases ranging from $300 a year for UW-Green Bay to $400 a year at UW-Madison and Milwaukee. In the Chippewa Valley, UW-Stout will fall into this range with a $347 increase while UW-Eau Claire will see an even larger, $611 hike ($300 of that will be from the Blugold Commitment program). The UW-System will be receiving $250 million less in state aid as part of the budget signed by Gov. Scott Walker. The tuition hike will bring in $75 million, which means that the schools have to find a way to cut the remaining $175 million.  

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