Thursday, Aug. 21st, 2014

City to Post Office: Set Up a Forwarding Address

The Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority has marked the U.S. Postal Service’s request for a six-month lease extension “return to sender,” which means the downtown post office will have to find a new home by the end of September. Getting the post office out of its current location at 126 N. Barstow St. is key to building a new downtown parking ramp, which in turn is key to accommodating the employees of several big downtown employers as well as visitors to nearby Phoenix Park and other downtown amenities.

In April, the postal service – knowing its current lease expired Sept. 30 – announced it would move its Eau Claire operations a few blocks away to 225 E. Madison St., a space previously occupied by a short-lived downtown grocer, Charly’s Market. However, postal officials recently asked for a six-month lease extension.

According to today’s Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire City Manager Russ Van Gompel said, “We are willing to work with (the post office), but we aren’t willing to extend their lease for six months.” According to the L-T:

 RDA members voted 5-0 against the six-month extension, saying it would delay the parking ramp project.

“You have to weigh the inconvenience (of a delay) to everyone else,” RDA member Jeff Halloin said about extending the lease.

The RDA purchased the post office in November to make space for a parking ramp to accommodate JAMF Software and RCU employees. The RCU corporate office is nearby, next to Phoenix Park, as is the new JAMF building nearing completion.

RDA members said they are willing to work with post office officials but said the agency is responsible for reapplying for a shorter extension if they decide to do so.

“Now the ball is in their court,” RDA member Marty Green said.

 Check out the full L-T story here.

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Wednesday, Aug. 20th, 2014

5 Weird nominees from the 2014 Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll

I'm gonna wail on my biceps, then hit the microfilm machine.
"I'm gonna wail on my biceps then hit the microfilm machine."

You fine readers have added hundreds of great nominees to our 2014 Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll ... and a few really weird ones – see below. Remember: the deadline for voting in this year's poll is midnight August 22.

1. BEST PLACE TO GET FIT: L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library

V1’s annual online poll is reader-driven, which means you can add your own nominees if your favorites aren’t listed. This can lead to unusual choices, such as Eau Claire’s public library finding itself listed among gyms, trails, and parks where you sweat off the pounds. The library, by contrast, is a great place to get mentally fit, though we suppose climbing the stairs and toting heavy volumes may give you a workout, too.

2. BEST SLEDDING HILL:  "Behind our house – private"

Here’s a tip: A nomination like this is sure to fail. First, we don’t know where your house is, so we can’t check out this supposedly awesome sledding run. Second, it’s private, so you wouldn’t even let us use it if we pulled into your driveway with our toboggan. You may indeed have the best sledding hill, but I guess we’ll never know, will we?


Unless we’re mistaken, Warren Sapp isn’t an up-and-coming Chippewa Valley funnyman, but a football hall-of-famer who played defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders in the 1990s and 2000s. In other words, he’s famous for knocking people down, not complaining about airline food and Twitter.

4. BEST LOCAL BREWERY: Summit Brewing Co.

We’re hopping mad (get it, hops?) that someone would: A) consider a Minnesota brewery “local,” and B) would consider any Minnesota beer superior to what’s brewed on this side of the state line. What’s next, saying the Vikings are the best local sports team?

5. BEST PLACE TO TAKE YOUR KIDS: "the graveyard"

OK, this one is just creepy. Unless you’re a member of the Addams family or an avid genealogist searching for great-great-granddaddy’s tombstone, graveyards aren’t always particularly kid-friendly – unless you’re trying to pull the old scare-your-kids-with-visions-of-their-own-mortality trick. In that case, well played, parents.

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Monday, Aug. 18th, 2014

UWEC will seek Confluence funds through state grant, not UW System

Things are changing on S. Barstow Street downtown. The last business to be located in this, um, hole was Obsession Chocolate. More facades will be coming down this week ...
Things are changing along S. Barstow St. near the Eau Claire River – the location for the proposed Confluence Project. The last business to be located in what's now a big gap was Obsession Chocolates. (Photo taken Aug. 14)

The road toward building the Confluence performing arts center has been a long one, and it will soon take a new twist: UW-Eau Claire won’t be seeking its share of the public-private arts center’s cost through the UW System budget. Instead, state funding will be pursued through a separate mechanism called a “non-state grant.” What’s that, exactly? Such grants typically are used for projects that benefit the public but that are outside state agencies, in the past, that’s included a Medical College of Wisconsin project and a Green Bay convention center. At their meeting in Oshkosh Thursday, Aug. 21, the UW System Board of Regents is expected to pass a resolution authorizing System President Ray Cross to work with the state Department of Administration to get the funding in the state’s 2015-17 budget. Originally, UWEC had planned to seek $25 million directly from the UW System. The new request will still go through the typical state budget process – including passing muster at the state building commission, the governor’s office, and the state Legislature – but the funds will come in the form of a grant to the downtown performing arts building’s owner, which would be a yet-to-be-created private entity, not the state or UWEC. The change in funding was first suggested in June by Gov. Scott Walker, who supports the project. As previously planned, private donations and local governments will pay the remainder of the performing arts center’s price tag.

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‘High Bridge’ Restoration Project OK’d


The so-called “high bridge” that towers over the Chippewa River just downstream from the Xcel Energy dam in Eau Claire will soon be part of the city’s extensive trail system. On Aug. 12, the Eau Claire City Council voted unanimously to accept a $1.15 million bid to transform the 19th-century iron railroad bridge, which hasn’t been used for decades, into a 21st-century thoroughfare for bicyclists and pedestrians. The work will be more expensive than originally envisioned, however: A few years ago, the city budgeted about $600,000 for the project, but inflation in construction costs caused that figure to balloon. The good news: A $494,000 state grant will cover a good chunk of the original estimated cost. The bad news: That leaves another half a million dollars the city will have to pull out of an account set aside for bridge repair. City engineer David Solberg told the council that the city should be able to trim the cost down a little by using surplus parts from a previous bridge project as well as modifying some materials in the bid. Eventually, the bridge will be linked to the rest of the city’s trail system via a yet-to-be-built path along Forest Street toward Phoenix Park. In the meantime, construction by Pember Companies of Menomonie will begin in the fall, and by next year the bridge will give Eau Clairians a great new way – with a really great new view – of crossing the river.

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Sunday, Aug. 17th, 2014

Sunday Event Picks (August 17)

Last day! Today's the last ay of 5th Annual Eau Claire Big Rig Truck & Tractor Show
Last day! Today's the last day of the 5th Annual Eau Claire Big Rig Truck Show. Details below!

From early in the morning and into the night – a lot of fine quality events occurring on Sunday. Wanna know what they are? Of course you do. Our picks are below. Check out the rest of Sunday here.

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