Thursday, Nov. 20th, 2014

New in the Shop: Local Legends Tees

Volume One and The Local Store have launched a new series of limited-edition, vintage-style tees featuring the logos of famous former Chippewa Valley businesses we all knew and loved. We’re calling the series Local Legends – these are the designs YOU voted for last month. We took your top three design picks and created the handsome tees you see today. 

We've got Kerms Super Foods, London Square Mall, and Woo's Pagoda – click the links to buy online, or stop into The Local Store for one of these vintage limited edition tees! High quality tees with custom designs, $22 each.

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Danger Zone! Blue Angels back for 2015 Chippewa Valley Airshow

The Blue Angels defy death at the 201o Chippewa Valley Airshow.
The Blue Angels defy death at the 2010 Chippewa Valley Airshow.

The roar of freedom you will hear next Independence Day won’t just be fireworks: It will be the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the legendary aerobatic performance team, who will take part in the 2015 Chippewa Valley Airshow. A pair of pilots visited with organizers at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Nov. 18 and confirmed that the team will be part of the airshow next July 4-5. “We were confident in the Boy Scout’s ability to produce the show and decided to announce this afternoon our intentions to perform in Eau Claire in 2015,” said Capt. Jeff Kuss, Blue Angel No. 7, and narrator for the 2015 Blue Angel season. Matt Hill, executive for the Boy Scouts’ Chippewa Valley Council, said organizers are “beyond thrilled” about the Blue Angels’ participation. The Blue Angels had planned to perform in Eau Claire in 2013, but their season was truncated because of federal budget cuts. The loss of the Blue Angels, in turn, led to the cancellation of the 2013 air show. The 2015 airshow will be a major fundraiser for both the Boy Scouts and other community groups that help produce the event. Organizers say that further announcements about performing acts and event details will be announced in the coming weeks. To keep up with the latest, you can find the airshow’s Facebook page.

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Tuesday, Nov. 18th, 2014

The Return of Bruce the Spruce!

As holiday legend tells it, many years ago (in the '80s) children of the Chippewa Valley could venture into the London Square Mall at Christmastime, and deep within the heart of Prange’s department store, they could find a talking Christmas tree. And with this tree, they could share their hopes and dreams for the holiday season. The tree's name? Bruce the Spruce. (Read more!) Some kids were awestruck. Others were terrified. The older ones were bored. And now, those of you who remember and believe (or just like awesome t-shirts) can relive the spruce-scented magic with a limited edition tee from The Local Store! Last year's run of Bruce tees sold out quickly – so don't wait. 

$22, in the shop and online here. 

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Sunday, Nov. 16th, 2014

Sunday Event Picks (Nov. 16)

Head over to the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts today for An Evening with Rodgers and Hammerstein. Details below!
Head over to the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts today for An Evening with Rodgers and Hammerstein. Details below!

From early in the morning and into the night – a lot of fine quality events occurring on Sunday. Wanna know what they are? Of course you do. Our picks are below. Check out the rest of Sunday here.

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Saturday, Nov. 15th, 2014

Saturday Event Picks (Nov. 15)

Behold! The Mentalist Christopher Carter will amaze The Heyde Center today. Details below.
Behold! The Mentalist Christopher Carter will amaze The Heyde Center today. Details below.

From early in the morning and into the night – a lot of fine quality events occurring on Saturday. Wanna know what they are? Of course you do. Our picks are below. Check out the rest of Saturday here.

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25% OFF bulk orders!

The Local Store features a business-only discount program for organizations who buy holiday items or gift baskets for their staff, clients, or partners. Up to 25% OFF bulk orders, starting at just 12 items. Everything is Wisconsin- and Chippewa Valley-focused, so it's a great way for an organization to show some local pride. Pick from gift-worthy and fun, locally-branded items like caramels, pancake mixes, beer bread, hot cocoa, glassware, mugs, candles, soaps, Wis. cutting boards and much more. And lots of combinations of gift baskets at a variety of discounted prices. Custom ones too!

Click the here to see the Special Business Only Catalog. But there's MUCH more to choose from in the store too, so stop in soon to plan!

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Friday, Nov. 14th, 2014

New HAWK Signal Keeps Out an Eagle Eye for Pedestrians, Bicyclists

Eau Claire City Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle and the city's new HAWK light.
Eau Claire City Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle and the city's new HAWK light.

The HAWK has landed in Eau Claire! If you have yet soar beneath its magical wings of safety, allow us to explain: The HAWK is a unique kind of pedestrian-activated traffic signal that, in this case, will allow walkers, runners, and bicyclists to safely cross Menomonie Street on the Chippewa River State Trail, between County Materials and Dairy Queen. Previously, there was no traffic signal at the intersection, simply a zebra-striped pedestrian crossing which required trail users to wait until either: 1. Drivers stopped on their own (rare); or 2. A gap in the traffic allowed them to scurry across (more common).

On Wednesday, however, a city crew installed a HAWK, which stands for High Intensity Activated Crosswalk. (Well, sort of: The actual acronym would be HIAC, which doesn’t sound nearly as cool.) Last spring, City Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle successfully proposed installing the device – the first of its kind in town – when the Eau Claire City Council voted on the Menomonie Street reconstruction project. The road was rebuilt this summer, and Emmanuelle enthusiastically trumpeted the installation of the HAWK on her Facebook page Wednesday:

Maybe you've shared the same experience as I have: you are on your bike or feet and the drivers don’t stop! Well, hopefully that will be changing on Menomonie Street.

I was able to see the first HAWK signal usage: the HAWK button was activated (like a crosswalk button), and cars stopped! This bicyclist was able to stay on his bike and then hop right on to the trail.

I will admit, I jumped up and down with excitement. IT WORKED!!!

Not only will the HAWK make the trail crossing easier to use, but it also will likely make it safer: HAWKs have been shown to reduce pedestrian crashes by 69 percent, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation study. The study describes the devices this way: “The purpose of a HAWK is to stop vehicles to allow pedestrians to cross the roadway and then permit drivers to proceed as soon as the pedestrians have passed.” Most of the time, the HAWK traffic signals are dark and the intersection is clear for vehicle traffic. Unlike a typical set of traffic lights, there’s no green light to tell cars to go; only yellow and red lights that activate on as needed. However, when a pedestrian or bicyclist hits the button to cross the street, drivers first see a blinking yellow light, then a steady yellow light, then a steady red light telling them to stop. At that point, a “walk” signal turns on, and bicyclists and pedestrians can cross the road. (In this case, there’s a good chance they’re heading to Dairy Queen. Or maybe that’s just me.) Once the “countdown” clock for pedestrians activates – warning them that their time to cross is running out – the lights for drivers begin to blink red, allowing them to proceed with caution once pedestrians have crossed the street. Once the countdown timer expires, the traffic lights go dark again and drivers can proceed as usual. If all that sounds confusing, check out this handy video for a visual explanation, then drive, bike, and walk safely.

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Thursday, Nov. 13th, 2014

Eau Claire scores new Sculpture Tour sculpture

Sports + Art
Sportsart! Look closer.

Considering the freezing temperatures and unseasonable blanket of snow covering the Chippewa Valley, perhaps it’s appropriate that the newly announced winner of the People’s Choice Award for Sculpture Tour Eau Claire portrays a winter athlete. “Going for the Goal,” by Colorado artist Dee Clements, is a bronze sculpture of a hockey-stick wielding boy whizzing along on one skate. (Presumably the puck is already sailing toward its target.) Since this year’s crop of Sculpture Tour art was installed around the city last spring, “Going for the Goal” has been displayed on South Barstow Street near its intersection with Main Street. As with previous years’ People’s Choice winners, the sculpture will be purchased and donated to the city for permanent display.

Other winners from this year’s tour, which features 32 sculptures, are as follows: The Best of Show Award goes to “Lakota Sun” by Shawn Morin from Ohio; the Best of Bronze Award is “T-Table” by Robert Gehrke from Wisconsin; the Best of Other Material is “Prairie Ship” (metal/reclaimed agrarian materials) by Greg Mueller from South Carolina; the Honorable Mention Bronze is “Boy Reading” by Eluisa Altman from New Jersey.

Sculpture Tour Eau Claire also announced a fundraising campaign to purchase another bronze sculpture, “Grand Slam,” so it can be installed at the new baseball and softball complex at Jeffers Park. (As you may have guessed, this sculpture is of a lil’ batter with a mighty swing.) To learn more, go to, then click on “Lasting Impact” and “Sculpture Tour,” or call the foundation at (715) 552-3801.

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Wednesday, Nov. 12th, 2014

Eau Claire Community Foundation highlights local philanthropy

Running November 12-18, the Eau Claire Community Foundation will join more than 700 similar organizations across across the country for Community Foundation Week. For 25 years, the effort has raised awareness about the increasingly important role of these philanthropic organizations in fostering local collaboration to address civic and economic challenges.

The Eau Claire Community Foundation currently holds over 170 funds and has allowed donors to distribute almost $400,000 in grants to Eau Claire area nonprofits so far in 2014.

“Community foundations impact lives, solve problems, and improve futures,” said ECCF Executive Director Sue Bornick in a press release this week. “As many residents grapple with limited resources and a growing need for services, we are more determined than ever to bring our community partners together to find innovative and effective solutions for some of our most challenging social problems.”

Community foundations are independent, public entities that steward philanthropic resources from institutional and individual donors to local nonprofits that are the heart of strong, vibrant communities. The Eau Claire Community Foundation currently holds over 170 funds and has allowed donors to distribute almost $400,000 in grants to Eau Claire area nonprofits so far in 2014.

Community foundations represent one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy. Every state in the United States is home to at least one community foundation – large and small, urban and rural – working to advance solutions on a wide range of social issues.

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Symbolic Ground-Breaking for Downtown Eau Claire’s Biggest Project Ever

After two and a half years of planning, public debate, political campaigning, demolition, and preparation, ground was broken – at least symbolically – on Tuesday for the first phase of the Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire.

“Since May of 2012, we have been slogging through this project, and today is a time to celebrate,” City Council President Kerry Kincaid told a crowd of several hundred people crammed into the lobby of the State Theatre. A few minutes later, Kincaid and a dozen other business, university, and community leaders donned hard hats and grabbed shovels to pose for photos in front of a massive image of the soon-to-be-built Haymarket Landing.

Kerry Kincaid

The $25 million project, the most expensive in downtown Eau Claire’s history, will include a combination of retail and commercial space on the first floor with five stories of apartments above. It will be built in the recently demolished block of South Barstow Street overlooking the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers. The privately built Haymarket Landing is intended as a companion to a $50 million Confluence performing arts center slated to be built next door. (The performing arts center is a joint project of UW-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council.)

A fresh blanket of snow prevented a literal groundbreaking, so as they have at many points in the arduous process of bringing the Confluence Project into reality, supporters had to turn to alternate plans, bringing the ceremony indoors. Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, one of the project’s partners, noted that the snowfall was symbolic of the many twists and turns the project has taken.

Haymarket Landing is being built by Haymarket Concepts, a partnership composed of Commonweal Development, Market & Johnson, and Blugold Real Estate, a UWEC Foundation subsidiary. While the 119 apartments at Haymarket Landing will be marketed toward college students, as well as others who might want to live downtown, the facility will be privately owned and operated. The apartments will help alleviated the shortage of on-campus housing, said UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt. “We think this location is going to be perfect,” he added.

Paul Kohler, chairman of the board of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, told the audience that projects like this one – which involve collaboration among businesses, the university, and local government – are the face of future community development. “This is a game-changer, not just for downtown, but for the whole Chippewa Valley,” he said.

In a press release, Dan Clumpner of Commonweal Development noted that property tax revenue generated by Haymarket Landing will help fund the performing arts center and an adjacent public plaza. “This groundbreaking marks the beginning of a win-win-win for the overall Confluence Project and a continued downtown Eau Claire comeback,” he said.

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