Tuesday, Apr. 7th, 2009

High School no more.

The old High School on Main looks both beautiful and frightening, almost Burton-esque. The impressive overgrowth of vines and the ominious nuclear reminder makes this intimidating structure one of the most memorable facets of downtown eau claire.

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40 School Jobs Gone

OK, so last night, the School Board slashed over 40 jobs and made a bunch of drastic-ish tweaks to save a grand total of $2 million, fight against the following year’s looming $4.1 million budget deficit. From WEAU.com ...

  • It was a packed house at district headquarters; many of the people in the audience wore yellow to show their support for the 35 support staff and school assistants whose jobs were on the line. The majority of those in yellow filed out shortly after the board voted six to one to cut the positions and also to cut five custodians and one maintenance worker. Board President Carol Craig apologized to the crowd as they walked out the door. The president of the classified support staff says she's in shock over the cuts.

Apologizing to people as walk out the door is never a good sign. For a full run down of what got cut, that WEAU.com story has a detailed list.

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Monday, Apr. 6th, 2009

48-Hours to Film It

The stage is set – or at least the theme is set – for the next 48-Hour Video Project. The prop and line of dialogue will be revealed on April 17, but one thing’s for sure: the open-ended theme is “Anything But Monsters,” flying in the face of many themes past. So interpret that as you will. For those not familiar with the ever-growing Community Television contest, all you need to do is show up at Banbury Place, Suite 405, at 7pm on April 17 with $5 in hand. From there you have 48 hours to complete a video between one and 10 minutes in length, and handing it over at the same location. A free screening and awards ceremony will either take place at UWEC’s Davies Center or The State Theatre. Contact Rob Mattison (839-5067) for more information.

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Daredevil rolls out new album!

We’ve got big, exciting news to bring you on the Daredevil Christopher Wright front today! As V1 covered back in January, the trio’s full length album In Deference to a Broken Back is being released on Amble Down Records this May. Of course, since our write-up, DCW’s gotten some well-deserved national press from an impressive list of sites and magazines like Daytrotter, Hard to Find a Friend, and Said the Gramophone. Well now we’re bringing you the skinny on two release shows, an awesome pre-order deal and an exclusive stream of the entire album brought to you by who else?, VolumeOne.org. Let’s break this thing down right here:

One night, two release shows!

  • Friday, May 15
  • One early, all ages show at the Grand Little Theatre with Cedarwell.
  • One late, 21+ show at the House of Rock with Cedarwell and The Small Cities.

Now if you just can’t hold back the astronomical urge to hold the album in your hands, you can pre-order it here from Amble Down and they’ll ship it out right to your doorstep on May 1. Pre-orders also come with a free digital download of all 11 tracks starting on April 15!

And if you’re still feeling greedy, we’ll give you even more. You can hear In Deference in its entirety right here. (Or just click on the picture of Jon, Jason and Jesse right below the calendar of events on the V1 homepage and use the incredibly easy, big play buttons to hear each song.)

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Saving the Star

In case you didn’t know, one of the Twin Cities’ huge newspapers is in pretty big trouble. The company that owns the Star Tribune filed for bankruptcy in January, starting a chain of massive layoffs at the paper. This is, of course, happening all over the country. But now the Strib’s writers are banding together to try and help the paper (and their paycheck, I suppose). They’re starting a campaign to find brand new and local ownership. They’re even hitting the Twins’ opener. From TwinCities.com (which is the other big Twin Cities paper’s website)…

  • Organizers plan to hand out 500 printer's caps and score sheets with a message that reads "Save the Strib — it's about our community" at the Twins home opener Monday at the Metrodome.
  • There's also a [yet to  launch] Web site and a Facebook page that has nearly 1,200 friends.

Perhaps Facebook can do the trick. But I doubt it. I like the Star Tribune a lot, but do you really think websites and free hats can drum up a buyer for an entire major newspaper?

I'm assuming the Pioneer Press is pretty giddy right now.

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Saturday, Apr. 4th, 2009

Saturday: Jiggs + Potter = Awesome

Tonight you get a Jiggs-Potter double whammy at Memorial High School – it’s the Eau Claire Jazz Fest in full effect, yo. Tenor saxophonist Chris Potter has been described by the Detroit Free Press as, “…easily the most compelling saxophonist of his generation.” Potter performed on Steely Dan’s Grammy-nominated album and was also nominated for his own Grammy award for “Best Instrumental Jazz Solo” on Joanne Brackeen’s Pink Elephant Magic. He is the youngest recipient ever to receive the annual Danish Jazzpar Prize. At age 17, trombonist Oliver “Jiggs” Whigham was a featured soloist and first trombone in the Glenn Miller Orchestra. In 1979, he was named Professor and Head of the Jazz Department at Cologne University College of Music, the first appointment of its kind in Germany. He is currently a soloist and clinician worldwide, conductor of the BBC Big Band in Great Britain and artistic director of the Berlin Jazz Orchestra. Details!

Also on Saturday: Indianhead Kennel Club Dog Show, Community Yoga, Honey Bee's Honey-Do List, Winter Farmer's Market, Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Show, Savoring the Arts, Eau Claire Area Ring, 24-Hour Project, Oliver!, Wake Up Poland + The Cloud Hymn, WASP, Haunted Chippewa History Tour, Hot Buttered Rum + EverGreen Grass Band.

And on Sunday: Art and Music Jam, Jam on Toast + Randy Sabien with UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I, and Ballroom, Latin and Swing Dancing.

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Washington and Farwell at Dusk

Corner of Washington and Farwell, last December, at dusk. Taken from right near the pawn shop, to be exact. I'm always darting around downtown, but rarely take the opportunity to pause for a minute or two to capture the feeling.

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Thursday, Apr. 2nd, 2009

Pillow Fought!

Lots of you fine people showed up to last night’s pillow fight, and we can’t thank you enough! Check out some great photos taken by Frank H. Robinson. And here’s a snippet from L-T editorial page editor Tom Giffey’s latest column

  • "I like hitting people," explained a teenager dressed as Batman as I inspected his pillow.
  • But doesn't a crime-fighting superhero already get to hit people?
  • "All the time, but I just don't get enough of it," answered the Caped Crusader, who revealed his secret identity as Chris Kust, 16, of Eau Claire.
  • Heavily padded violence wasn't the only draw …

Watch for some video footage on tomorrow’s Big Week!

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Sent To The Cameron Dam
April 4, 1905

Sent To The Cameron Dam
Advance Guard of Log Driving Crew Near Home of Dietz
– Eau Claire Weekly Telegram | April 4, 1905

Chippewa Falls- The advance guard of a log driving crew has been sent to the Cameron dam on the Thornapple river and is lodged in a camp where members of the sheriff’s posse are said to have been fired at by John F. Dietz last April. Dietz means to stand out for $10,000 demanded from the lumber company before he is willing to consider peace. Such a treaty is said to be out of the question and the lumber company feel it is up to the United States authorities to perform their duty and remove Dietz and thus carry out the edicts of the courts

Chad's Take: I love Wisconsin Characters

One of the best things about digging up old newspaper stories is discovering all the amazing events that occurred in the community. One such case is the story of the outlaw John F. Dietz, or as he was also known, John Deitz, John Dietz, John F. Deitz, and John H. Deitz who was one of the most colorful characters of Wisconsin.

In 1904, Mr. Dietz and his family purchased some land on the Thornapple River near Cameron. Among the trees and hills of his land Dietz also discovered that the Cameron Dam was located on his property. Dietz stated that the lumber company owed him payment for using the river to transport their logs. Dietz spent four years guarding the river, refusing to allow logs to pass through. Equipped with his gun Dietz was involved in many confrontations with the law during this time.

News of the confrontations spread and lead to Dietz becoming a national folk hero for standing up to the lumber barons. Finally in 1910, Dietz’s home was surrounded by a large posse. During the battle two of his children were wounded along with the death of a sheriff’s deputy. Dietz was arrested and convicted on the murder charges and sentenced to life in prison. However, Dietz’s status as a folk here kept building and the public support for him kept rising to the point when the public pressure forced the Governor to pardon him. In 1921, after serving ten years in prison Dietz was released and died three years later in 1924.

I just love reading stories of truly unique people and it seems like the Chippewa Valley had plenty of them. You might want to remember this story because the next time you throw a stick in the water to see it float down the river, as you may owe John Dietz a toll.

** For additional information on John Dietz check out this great site:

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