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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 School 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.
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.