From Carson to Phoenix to Owen and beyond, we Eau Clairians love our parks – all 35 of ’em. The parks’ quality is due in large part to the hard work of the folks at the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department, and that work was honored by their peers this month at the National Recreation and Park Association annual convention in Charlotte, N.C. Each year, the professional group gives awards to departments that “demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development, and agency recognition.” Eau Claire was one of four gold medal finalists in its population group (30,001 and 75,000); the top honor, however, went to the Kettering, Ohio, parks department. “Understandably, we’re feeling a little disappointed right now, but it’s still an honor to have made it this far. We’d also like to congratulate the City of Kettering and all the finalists,” Phil Fieber, Eau Claire Parks, Recreation, and Forestry director said in a press release. “They all have great programs, and to be included among them as a top four finalist is quite an honor and puts our department and our community in very select company. I’m still very proud of our staff and the work they do, as well as our community for supporting us in this journey.” Kudos to Fieber & Co. for their efforts; why not celebrate with a picnic in the park?
With Halloween fast approaching many of us turn our attention to stories of things that are, shall we say, more than natural. And while many of you relish in tales of ghouls and monsters, let's not forget that other box of paranormal treats – the humble UFO encounter.
And if you're looking for local UFO lore, fear not. Hurtling towards us at the speed of awesome is UFO Wisconsin’s (kinda) interactive UFO Reports by County map. It details Wisconsin UFO reports. By county. The last sighting they have for Eau Claire County is 2005, but Chippewa County has an ’08 sighting.
Warning: UFO Wisconsin’s web design is everything you'd hope for from website about UFOs.
I believe all the reports listed are made directly to UFO Wisconsin and they’re … well, many of them sound kinda crazy. They’re just straight up reports from people like you and me, and they run the gamut from “weird lights moving fast in the distance” to “oh, yeah, aliens visit my backyard all the time.” For me, believability isn’t really part of the equation. It’s just fun to hear your neighbors talk about this stuff.
Hey, remember when the ol' Greyhound bus station used to snuggle up next to The State Theatre (where they showed movies – not plays – and had a bowling alley in the basement)? And remember when the Moose Lodge was just plopped on top of the bus station like it was no big deal? Of course you don't! Well, most of you don't. That photo up above is from the mid 1940s.
The State Theatre's sign is all curly. You just don't see curly signs like that anymore.
Steve Johnson posted the image to the You Know You Are From Eau Claire When... Facebook page last week, and we asked Eldbjorg Tobin (who maintains the Chippewa Valley Museum’s collection of historic photos) to date it. Eldbjorg tells us the photo was taken sometime between 1945 and 1946, a time when movie theaters, bowling alleys, clubs, and bus stations where somehow shoehorned into just one part of a single city block.
As you may have heard, local legend Bob Dawson passed away on Monday (October 20). He was 90 years old. Countless Chippewa Vallians knew him as "Sheriff Bob," the star of WEAU's iconic Sheriff Bob kids' show from 1954 to 1978. The idea of a local, Chippewa Valley kids' show seems kind of novel here in 2014, but at the time, kids were able to attend live tapings and watch from home for glimpses of friends and neighbors. The show was broadcast throughout western Wisconsin.
Beyond his 24-year run as Sheriff Bob, the always humble Dawson hosted a number of other shows on WEAU, and would often visit children at local hospitals as his Sheriff persona. You can see WEAU's tribute to Dawson here.
A few years ago, local filmmakers Rob Mattison and Bill Olson produced a great documentary on Sheriff Bob for Chippewa Valley's Community Television. Check out part one:
Keep reading to see parts two and three!