The city of Eau Claire wants to give you $500 to spend! What a deal! There’s a catch, of course, namely that the money is imaginary. But just because you won’t be able to burn through the dough on discount Halloween candy doesn’t mean spending it won’t be fun (and, trust us, you don’t need any more fun-sized candy bars). The offer is part of an online survey about the city’s proposed 2015 Program of Services (i.e., the city budget). Residents are invited to go to www.EauClaireWI.gov/E2C2 and to click on “Input for the 2015 Program of Services.” They’ll then be able to divvy up their theoretical cash among 14 budget areas, from police to parks to street maintenance. Users can also add comments about their decisions. The online survey will be open through Monday, Nov. 10, the same day that the Eau Claire City Council holds a public hearing on the budget at 7pm in City Hall. (The council will vote on the budget Nov. 11.) Taking a few minutes to spend some virtual dollars will provide helpful input for the city leaders who spend the real ones.
There's a special magic to the mathematical equations that rule our universe. And make no mistake – that math scales down to little ol' Eau Claire. So here's a handful of equations that rule our local life.
There are an impressive 392 miles of water mains in Eau Claire, according to the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, a thick compilation of city stats. Laid end-to-end, the water mains could Slip ’N Slide you almost to Kansas City, Mo. By comparison, there are 344.6 miles of streets – enough to get you to Omaha.
If you live near a fire station or are the parent of an emergency-vehicle obsessed toddler, it may seem like fire trucks are everywhere. Not so: There are 10 firefighting vehicles and six ambulances in the city. Combined, that’s fewer than the 19 unmarked cars the police department maintains. So watch out bad boys – it’s the sirens you don’t hear that are gonna come for you.
It’s not surprising that big industrial plants are the city’s largest water customers. At its two plants in Eau Claire, Nestle slurped up 246 million gallons last year – or nearly twice as much at the No. 2 user, Hutchinson Technology Inc., which used 135 million gallons. For the record, Silver Spring used 17 million gallons, enough to wash away plenty of horseradish-induced tears.
Mayo Clinic Health System is by far the largest employer in Eau Claire (and among the biggest in this part of the state). Its 3,540 employees are roughly equal to the number of workers at the city of Eau Claire (522), UW-Eau Claire (1,387), and UnitedHealth Group (1,590) combined!
OK, this is a pretty goofy equation, but stick with us: If you take Eau Claire’s estimated population (66,580) and subtract last year’s attendance at the city pool (60,345), the result is surprisingly close to the number of emergency medical calls in 2013 (6,480). This doesn’t exactly mean that swimming laps at Fairfax will keep the ambulance at bay – but it wouldn’t hurt, right?
Have you, like John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction, ever dreamed of sitting down in a movie theater with a beer in your hand? You may soon have that cinematic dream fulfilled – with a slice a pizza on the side. Micon Cinemas has numerous changes planed for its Downtown Cinema, 315 S. Barstow St., including serving beer, wine, and an expanded food menu for patrons seeking movie-going experience not currently offered in the Chippewa Valley. The Eau Claire City Council is scheduled to vote Oct. 28 on granting the theater the necessary liquor licenses, a move the city’s License Review Committee had already recommended. Getting permission to serve beer and wine is only one step in the plans owners Mike and Connie Olson have for the budget cinema. According to plans filed with the city, they want to renovate the theater’s lobby, concession area, and projection room; widen aisles, make seating more spacious, and add tables in the theater area; as well as add a kitchen, digital projectors, and handicapped restrooms, among other upgrades. The Olsons hope the changes help generate enough revenue to cover the $100,000 cost of upgrading to digital projectors for the theater’s two screens. In addition, the Olsons have said they’re considering bringing movies to the Downtown Cinema – such as indie and award-winning flicks – that aren’t otherwise screened in the Chippewa Valley. In other words, serving beer isn’t the only change that’s brewing.