Tuesday, Sep. 15th, 2009

UPDATED: Carson Park dorm a no go

We talked about the “Carson Park Tower Group” on last Friday’s Big Week – the group that wants to build a seven story private dormitory by Carson Park, right behind the (totally awesome) Menomonie Street Dairy Queen. The idea is to take on (and monetize) UWEC’s student dorm overflow, which right now is handled by local hotels. The weird part is that former Wis. senator – and current fabulous beard wearer – Dave Zien is their spokesman. Not familiar with Dave Zien? Here’s what internationally respected news source BikerNet.com has to say:

  • He was a Wisconsin Senator for 18 years, beginning in 1988. He’s been inducted into every Motorcycle Hall of Fame in this country. Dave is a Purple Heart Vietnam veteran, a motorcycle freedom fighter until he dies and a genius. He’s one of the most passionate men I’ve ever met, and his fervor is directly centered on the following: Motorcycling, America, Veterans, God, family and Guns. Read more! (Seriously, read more.)

Anyways, according to WQOW.com, the Dairy Queen Tower is not going to might not happen (read the comments below). Last night, Eau Claire’s plan commission voted down a request to rezone the proposed property (6-2). The commission said the project would involve “too many changes” before it would jive with the city's comprehensive plan. In other words, a big friggin’ tower in front of the city’s largest park is a no-no.

But man, can you imagine how many Dilly Bars that Dairy Queen could sell with a seven story dorm right behind it? It boggles the mind. I wonder where the “Carson Park Tower Group” will look next?

P.S. See if you can spot 10 things wrong one giant thing wrong with the picture above.

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Monday, Sep. 14th, 2009

Fanny Hill: Just kidding!

Hey, remember when Fanny Hill said it was closing down its theater operation, citing poor attendance due to the woeful economy? Well … just kidding! Apparently they’ve enjoyed enough of an increase in show attendance since late July to say they’re strongly considering running shows in 2010. Not sure what happened in just a couple of months to produce such a surge in attendance. We won’t act like a bunch of doubting Thomases (Thomasi?) and suggest that maybe people started buying tickets because they figured it was their last chance – instead, we’ll just be happy that our local dinner theater might give it a go after all. From the L-T:

  • "We are planning for 2010 shows but are not ready at this time to say 100 percent that we will be able to produce and perform them," co-owner Dennis Heyde said Friday in an e-mail to the Leader-Telegram. "If the increased trend continues, we will perform."
  • Executive Director Don Hodgins said he is relieved the theater is getting a second chance. He and his wife, Lois, have operated Fanny Hill Dinner Theatre for more than 30 years. "Theater is so much a fabric of the community," he said.

Fanny Hill’s website lists a bunch of shows for 2010, so they’re at least planning for it. But don’t forget, as far as we know, they whole property is still up for sale. So if you’ve got $1.3 million laying around, and you're bored … just think about it.

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Ellsworth kid wants to be governor

To be honest, I expected one of the Leinenkugel brothers to run in Wisconsin’s next gubernatorial race – what with their strong local ties and nice hair – but sadly, 2010 just isn’t the year. I mean, Dick’s already Wisconsin’s Secretary of Commerce (which I’m sure is an important job), so how hard would it be to parlay the Leinenkugel family’s Chippewa Valley beer royalty into a statewide political one? Sounds easy to me.

But I’ll keep dreaming. Just like Jared Christiansen, the 17 year old kid from Ellsworth who recently tossed his hat into the governor race ring. Man, when I was 17, I was still laughing at the word “gubernatorial,” which I totally don’t do anymore. According to WQOW.com

  • Despite being only 17, Christiansen says he is ready for the state's top job.
  • "I'm very responsible, my parents are actually over-the-road truck drivers so they're gone 2 weeks at a time and I have to take care of the house, clean the house, I have three pets, I do my own schooling at home and I work 40 hours a week as a manager at McDonald's," says Christiansen, democratic governor candidate.
  • … He says his priorities are to create jobs, expand education and keep taxes down, but his biggest focus is on health care.

Well, good luck to Jared, but we’ll be watching Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton’s campaign pretty closely, since she’s the chair of the Wisconsin Arts Board and all. Not sure what it might mean for arts in Wisconsin if Barb gets elected, but it’ll probably mean more than if this guy got the job. And check out who wants Barb’s job.

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Friday, Sep. 11th, 2009

This Weekend: Go get Active & Alive in Altoona

This weekend, Active & Alive in Altoona is hosting their 2nd annual health and wellness “hobby fair.” It’s actually pretty cool that Altoona has this – a small town, community-wide wellness event. It runs on Sunday from noon to 4pm at the Hobb's Sports Complex (2300 Spooner Ave.). They’ll have lots of food, like grilled chicken and fruit kabobs, and they’ll be giving away prizes like a TREK 7000 bike and a one year gym membership. (It’s all healthy stuff, get it?) Also, the first of four community walks (one for the next four Saturdays) – meet at the 10th Street Park pavilion today at 8:30am. And there’ll be all the normal fair stuff like vendors, activities, and exhibits. Admission is free. Here’s the website.

Side event! Part of the fair is a kickball game on Sunday pitting Volume One against the City of Altoona. Yep, we’re that good. Not really. We’ll be playing Altoona city officials and staff. So come down to the Cinder City Park, on Spooner Ave. at 1pm and witness the kickball fireworks firsthand.

Also on Saturday: a winery’s Fall Fest, a Yu-Gi-Oh tournament, a Rosemary Clooney show, Yeshuapolooza, the 10th Annual Clearwater Beer Festival, a New North String Band show, a Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra show, a performance of Always... Patsy Cline, and a rock triple punch: South Farwell + The Excellent Adventure + The Jim Pullman Band.

And on Sunday: Ellen Mahaffy's photo exhibition, celebrate domestic partnerships with Fair Wisconsin, an NFL grill out bash with the Swing Crew, The "World Famous" Lipizzaner Stallions (2 shows), and showings of Terror From Beneath the Earth.

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The Big Week, Episode 48:
Live llama shaving footage!

In this episode, we talk about a sucker punch for the unemployed, the Carson Park tower, and we've got a live report from the Central Wisconsin Sate Fair. Also, we give away a $50 Cadeaux gift certificate and 2 free movie tickets to Micon Cinemas. If you'd like to enter a contest, go here.

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Thursday, Sep. 10th, 2009

And This Is A Real Fish Story
September 8, 1909

And This Is A Real Fish Story
Five-Pound Bass Leaps a Suicidal Episode. It Happened at Lake Hallie and is Told by Descendants of Geo. Washington.
Eau Claire Leader | September 8, 1909

What do you know about that? A five-pound bass voluntarily jumps into a boat at Lake Hallie, and allows itself to be caught! Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But it’s gospel truth. Monday evening, while Charles W. Lincoln, a barber at 614 Water Street, was rowing with a friend, this eccentric five-pound bass unpremeditatingly committed suicide.

Mr. Lincoln had been quietly rowing along, neither he nor his friend were talking. Everything was still. Suddenly, a splash and a bang startled the rowers. Mr. Lincoln quickly looked around and saw the fish struggling under the seat in the front end of the boat. After a tussle he captured it, and brought it to shore.

A great number of people at Electric Park examined the fish and were interested by the story. Now, this may sound rather like a modern day fish fact, but ask any real enthusiast, ask any old hunter and fisher who frequents the northern woods for big game, and they will tell you that fish, at night time often jump into boats! The fish are attracted by some glittering object, a jeweled pin, a liver cigar case, a pair of gold rimmed glasses, or a sparkling diamond ring. There’s the proof, and we positively believe in Mr. Lincoln’s story.

Chad’s Take – A whopper of a story.

I happen to know many people who love to fish. A couple of my uncles are avid fisherman, and they have been known to throw around a few lures in Lake Hallie. In fact, over the years I have been privy to quite a few humorous fishing stories form both friends and family that all took place at Lake Hallie. Usually these misadventures contain some surprisingly oddball incident that, if nothing else, makes an interesting tale to tell at one of the many nearby Lake Hallie saloons. It is with this background history that the above story does not strike me as overly odd. I have come across many accounts of fish voluntarily jumping into the boats of surprised anglers.

Yet what really caught my attention in this article was the fact that the men brought their easily obtained fish down to the Electric Park (Now Lake Hallie Park) to show it to curious sightseers. The Electric Park was an amusement park that was located right next to Lake Hallie. During 1916, residents could grab a round trip train ride from Chippewa Falls to Electric Park for 11 cents. Those in Eau Claire could ride to the park and back for only a dime. Unfortunately the park closed up shop when the rail stopped its routes. But for many years you could simply hop the train and head out to Electric Park to ride the Ferris wheel, play some ball, enjoy some food, see suicidal fish, and maybe even come face to face with one of the traveling circus freaks, but these are stories best told in the Lake Hallie saloons.

Keep an eye out…

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BREAKING: City mapmakers focus on sidewalks

Usually, when we need to make fun of the things that rile up local citizens, our go-to joke is something to do with sidewalk ordinances. Well, the City of Eau Claire seems to be taking all that riled-up-ness seriously. They’re creating a “sidewalk map” detailing … wait for it … the city’s sidewalks. It’ll show every single sidewalk we have, as well as where we plan on building more. Planners say the map will help in a number of areas. First off, it’ll help us to know what destinations we can actually get to on foot. Secondly, it’ll warn homeowners about big slabs of concrete coming their way. And lastly, it’ll help the city see where more walkways are needed. From WEAU.com

  • Senior Planner Pat Ivory says the map makes it very clear where sidewalks are needed; for example, across from Oakwood Mall where the sidewalk literally ends. But, a city councilman says it could also stop sidewalk wars in the future.
  • "Sidewalks are one of the more interesting things that the city council deals with, depending on your point of view," says City Council Vice President Dave Duax. …
  • He hopes the map will help prepare homeowners when one could be coming.
  • "What they don't like is when they just planted that tree a year ago, then along comes the city and says 'we're putting a sidewalk in this year.' and they go 'wait a minute!'" Duax says.

Wait a minute! I’m not sure a map will make homeowners any less pissed off about changes to their landscaping, even if they can plan around it in advance. But if they can make the map readily available to the public, it might get more people walking. As far as this being  "one of the more interesting things that the city council deals with" ... um. Heh.

Working with the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, planners have a draft of the map which you can download here (PDF). Check it out.

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Local Winner: James Kust

A big shout out to our homie James Kust – the UWEC student who won $100 in Topper’s Pizza by stopping by Volume One’s tent at the Campus Community Connection event yesterday. As you can see, James lives a pretty hardcore life, and we can only assume that he’ll be enjoying his pizza in a fairly hardcore manner. Congrats, James.

People, this is what connecting students to the greater Eau Claire community is all about.

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Wednesday, Sep. 9th, 2009

Thursday: Contemporary photography show at UWEC

Caught wind of a great art opening that somehow missed the current issue’s calendar of events – UWEC’s Residual Reality artist reception. The exhibition “highlights a lineage of artists – both mentors and students – who use photography to invent visual images that are not documents of the world. While they do deal with existence and observation of the concrete world, they use photography in ways that challenge process, rules, and forms.”

The reception is on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7pm in UWEC’s Foster Gallery. Details. We’ve gotten a few sneak peeks of the art and it’s fantastic. Above you see “Claire” from Min Kim Park’s Zumarella series.

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Tuesday, Sep. 8th, 2009

Heyde Center doing its job

Despite our current economic climate of “holy crap the world’s ending,” one kind of bright spot in the local arts scene is the Heyde Center for the Arts over in Chippewa Falls. The center recently released its annual report, and if those artsy number crunchers can be trusted, it shows that the arts are alive and doing relatively well over there. The CVCA and center contributed approximately $26,000 to the state and local economy, while the economic impact of local spending by the Heyde Center audiences over the past year was $196,000.

Obviously, $26,000 isn’t going to make Chippewa Falls an economic utopia, but for a non-college town that size, it’s a respectable wad of cash – and it’s some pretty tasty icing on the cake, the cake being all the music, art, and drama served up by the Heyde Center in that time frame.

Some other Heyde stats … the center welcomed nearly 9,000 people, a slight decline from the previous year, for 52 performances (35 local, nine regional, five national, and three international).

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