Thursday, Sep. 4th, 2014

Eau Claire Transit Ponders Replacing Bus Art

If you’ve noticed there’s less mobile art along Eau Claire’s public transit routes, you’re not imagining things. Over the summer, one of the three Eau Claire Transit hybrid buses wrapped in UW-Eau Claire student art was damaged in an accident, and repairing the bus entailed removing part of the plastic wrap containing the artwork. Replacing the entire wrap would have cost $6,500, money the transit system doesn’t have, said transit manager Mike Branco. As a result, Branco decided to have the entire wrap removed. That leaves two buses still illustrated with images created by UWEC students in early 2013. Branco says he’s in the early stages of working with the university to create new art – potentially by children – to cover the bare bus. If that project is successful, he’d like to see new art on the other two buses. The original wraps were only intended to last about two years, so they will have to be removed or replaced sooner or later.

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Wednesday, Sep. 3rd, 2014

5 horrible picnic spots in the Chippewa Valley

Hey, check out this bear just chillaxing at the Irvine Park Zoo. He looks laid back, but will totally hog the potato salad.
Hey, check out this bear just chillaxing at the Irvine Park Zoo. He looks laid back
but will totally hog the potato salad.

Summer's coming to a close, but that doesn't mean there aren't a basket-load of good picnicking days left. To help you out on your next excursion to the land of checkered  blanks and bug spray, here's a list of local places to NOT have your picnic. Just don't do it. Ever. Have fun.

1. Eau Claire Wastewater Treatment Plant

Sure, it’s on a big piece of city-owned land and there are pools there, but this is not the kind of place you’ll want to enjoy a summer evening on your red-checkered blanket. Whatever you’ve got in your picnic basket, it’s unlikely to pair well with the sights, sounds, and smells of 5.6 million gallons of churning wastewater.

2. Irvine Park Zoo Bear Caves

The appeal of lounging on the rocks inside the Chippewa Falls-based park's bear habitat is certainly appealing, but picnics typically involve eating lunch, not being eaten for lunch. True, the hairy, be-clawed denizens of Irvine Park aren’t guaranteed to eat you, but it’s advisable to enjoy your bologna sandwiches on the outside of the glass just to be safe.

Not great.
Not great.

3. Shores of Lake Menomin

This picturesque lake in the middle of Menomonie turns grotesque when the blue-green algae blooms. On the plus side, the stinking, stomach-churning masses of cyanobacteria may help you stick to your diet – or at least turn you off to kale-infused smoothies.

4. Chippewa Valley Regional Airport Runway

Pluses: Lots of open space and easy access to the rest of the world. Minuses: Noise, lack of shade, and jets careening toward you at high speeds. Really, if all you want is a bite to eat while watching the planes, may we recommend the airport restaurant, The Farm on Starr?

5. Former Huebsch Laundry Building

Voted one of the ugliest spots in our annual Best of the Chippewa Valley poll, the crumbling brick monolith on North Dewey Street is kinda cool if you’re into urban decay. Still, trespassing is a crime and it would be much more comfortable to nibble your pasta salad in nearby Phoenix Park than to dine here in the weedy parking lot.

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Tuesday, Sep. 2nd, 2014

Friday, Sept. 5: Special Deals and Events!

The Local Store is celebrating the return of another school year (and UW-Eau Claire's "UW Meets EC" night) as we welcome hundreds of students into The Local Store on Friday, September 5. Check out our special deals and events:

All Day Deal: As part of "First Fridays in Downtown Eau Claire" – Buy 1, Get 1 Half Off on our Wisconsin and Eau Claire art prints and posters

Student Only Deal: With a Student ID – Get a $5 Local Store gift card with any purchase over $25

Also on Friday, check out our fine friends from Ambient Inks screen printing awesome t-shirts right before your eyes – right in the Volume One parking lot, kitty corner from the store!

And that night, join us for a special in-store performance from local indie-rockers Reverii (7pm). Fresh off a performance at the 7th Street Entry (attached to the historic First Ave venue in Minneapolis, Minn.), this up-and-coming band is already making waves within and beyond the Chippewa Valley.

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Monday, Sep. 1st, 2014

5 Eau Claire landmarks that used to be somewhere else

The Waldemar Ager House
The Waldemar Ager House at 514 W. Madison St. didn't used to be there.

The word "landmark" kind of implies a certain amount of permanence, right? Well, there are a number of long-time local institutions that didn't start out were we find them today. Such as ...

1. The Public Library

Years before it was officially a city, Eau Claire had a library. In 1860, a group of Eau Claire pioneers created a “library” that was kept in a case in the Mahler and Putnam store on Eau Claire Street. It wasn’t a truly public library, however: Membership was 50 cents and checking out a book for two weeks set you back a nickel. Today, the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library is free to everyone, and it hasn’t moved far in 154 years: It’s still on Eau Claire Street.

2. The Eau Claire County Courthouse

What’s now called Wilson Park in downtown Eau Claire – i.e., the place where Volume One hosts Chalkfest each August – was the site of Eau Claire County’s first courthouse, a wood frame building built in 1862. The second courthouse was built a decade later near the site where the current 1970s-era courthouse and 2010s-era jail now stand on Oxford Avenue.

3. Sacred Heart Hospital

The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis opened their first hospital inside the home of Mrs. J. Fitzpatrick on Putnam Street in 1889. The following year, a proper hospital was built on North Dewey Street. Unlike the previous structures on this list, this building still stands: The Colonial/Neo-Gothic revival structure in now part of the Eau Claire Academy, an adolescent treatment center.

4. The Waldemar Ager House

Norwegian immigrant Waldemar Ager was a noted author and journalist in late 19th- and early 20th-century Eau Claire. In 1902, he bought a Victorian-style cottage at the corner of Chesnut and Whipple streets. It eventually became a Luther Hospital resale shop. When the hospital expanded in the 1990s, it donated the house to the Waldemar Ager Association, which moved it a few blocks to 514 W. Madison St., where it can be visited today.

5. The Chippewa River

OK, this one is sort of a trick answer, but it’s true. Sometime in the distant past, the Chippewa River decided to take a shortcut, leaving one of its bendiest bends behind, forming an oxbow lake. What we now call Half Moon Lake was cut off from the rest of the river.

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Sunday, Aug. 31st, 2014
Saturday, Aug. 30th, 2014
Thursday, Aug. 28th, 2014

Here's what the Confluence mixed use building might look like

Image: Commonweal Wheel Development
Click for a closer look. | Image: Commonweal Development

Now that demolition is almost complete on the future site of the Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire, we’re getting a better idea at what might be built there, and debates about its appearance have begun. A new architectural rendering from Commonweal Development shows a six-story multiuse building that will include 34,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor – including space for restaurants (as many as three) and offices – as well as 119 units of student-oriented housing and underground parking. While the design is by no means final, it gives the public a clearer idea of what the privately built, privately funded part of the Confluence Project will look like. (Meanwhile, the drive continues to fund the proposed public-private performing arts center next door.)

The developer’s plan still must get the OK from a pair of city panels. First up is the Waterways and Parks Commission, which studied plans Wednesday (Aug. 27), asked questions, and decided to collect more information before making up its collective mind. Dan Clumpner of Commonweal Development said commission members as well as residents who spoke at the meeting focused on how the new building would fit in with Barstow Street’s historic architecture,  how the structure would look from the nearby Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers, and how planned pedestrian and bike paths would connect with existing trails. Clumpner said Commonweal will address these and other concerns at a future Waterways and Parks Commission meeting as well as before the Plan Commission, which is tentatively expected to consider the project on Sept. 15. While the Waterways and Parks Commission’s eventual decision will be advisory, the Plan Commission has jurisdiction to approve, reject, or ask for changes to the site plan.

The buildings on the future multiuse site have been demolished in recent weeks, with the last of them – 2 S. Barstow St., also known as the “mural building” for the paintings that covered its boarded-up windows in recent years – slated to come down in the next few days. Clumpner says site prep work and construction are schedule to start this fall, with a completion date for the multiuse building planned for June 2016.

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Cheeseheads take the cake!

ESPN has made it official – the Green Bay Packers have the best fans in the NFL. According to a recent post, market researcher Nielsen Scarborough ranked the fans of every NFL team in a number of categories and the loyal Cheeseheads came out – decidedly – on top.

Scarborough’s research showed that only 16 percent of adults living in Green Bay are not fans of the team. But, as we all know, it’s not just the Green Bay citizens that bleed yellow and green. The Packers have an incredible 4.4 million followers on Facebook and 701,000 on Twitter. Clearly, their fan base reaches far beyond even Wisconsin – proof that Packer fans are one of a kind. And, all statistics aside, what other NFL fan base could touch a Cheesehead tailgate?

Pack fans were followed in ranking by the Denver Broncos and the New Orleans Saints, but we can’t say we’re surprised that Wisconsin takes the top spot. After all, you don’t win 13 championships without some intensely loyal fans backing you up.

Win Packers Tickets!

Volume One and Mega Co-Op are teaming up to give away a pair of FREE (and fantastic) Packers tickets for the 2014 home opener against the New York Jets on Sept. 14 at legendary Lambeau Field. Deadline: Midnight September 11

>> Go here and enter to win!

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Wednesday, Aug. 27th, 2014

6 Wisconsin definitions ... from Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary is a word-defining website where the public writes the definitions, and I meticulously read through the 66 definitions available for “Wisconsin” ... and have learned a great many things. For instance, according to definition 45, Wisconsin is "much like a unicorn and doesn’t exist." The complete list is not for the faint of heart, so here is a spattering of homemade definitions and examples supplied by anonymous internet users to give you a taste. 

Definition 27: THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH!!

Used in a Sentence: Where were you last week? The best place on Earth! You must have been in Wisconsin.
The Takeaway
: Wisconsin is globally renowned and there’s probably someone in Iceland talking about us right now and referring to us as “the best place on Earth!”  

Definition 44: Illinois' Largest State Park. A great place to visit when you've done all the cool things in Chicago.

Used in a Sentence: "Hey, let's get in the VistaCruiser and go to Wisconsin this weekend: they still have trees!"
The Takeaway
: Wisconsin has trees.

Definition 54: A Province within the United States of a America

Used in a Sentence: I ate cheese in Wisconsin.
The Takeaway
: Not only are we a state, but a province as well. And we have cheese.

Definition 42: THE MOST UNDER-APPRECIATED STATE IN THE U.S.A! We make the cheese and the milk AND THE CREAM PUFFS!... the Jonas Brothers Favorite State to come to on tour!

The Takeaway: If the Jonas Brothers like it, there really is no question.

Definition 43: …They make Miller beer, Harley motorcycles, and light switches…

Used in a Sentence: I'd take WI over Florida anyday. But I'd probably take the U.P. over Wisconsin.
The Takeaway
: Despite the other definition clearing stating Wisconsin is cooler than Michigan, it appears that didn’t include the U.P.

Definition 3: Shut up..Wisconsin is cool

Used in a Sentence: It's cool in's cooler than Michigan.
The Takeaway
: Some people love Wisconsin so much, they feel no need to explain themselves. 

Bonus Feature!

Words Related to Wisconsin: Milwaukee, Beer, Cheese, Illinois, Packers, Midwest, Drunk

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Tuesday, Aug. 26th, 2014

The United States ... ranked by beer

Infographics don't lie. Image.
Infographics don't lie. Image.

This one website ranked the States of the Union according to their regional beer offerings (and beery culture), and while there's no reason to take it seriously, they ranked Wisconsin at number seven. So, that's cool. We got beat by Vermont, Washington, Michigan, Colorado, California, and ... Oregon. had this to say:

7. Wisconsin

There was a time when Milwaukee made approximately every beer consumed by every man who came home from work with grease on his shirt. Today, those canned brands of yesteryear are dead, or sold off and made in, like, California. But the Brothers Leinenkugel are statewide icons, New Glarus’ Spotted Cow is the first beer referenced by cheeseheads everywhere (even though nobody can get it outside the state), the baseball team’s name is the damn Brewers, and there used to be an urban legend that Miller Park’s taps were fueled by a beer pipe that ran directly from the brewery. An urban legend we will perpetuate, right here. Miller Park’s taps are fueled by a beer pipe that runs directly from the brewery!

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5 Fictional characters ... from Chippewa Falls

We love pointing out local celebrities – and by that we mean "real" celebrities on a national or international scale that were originally from the area, or maybe just lived here for a time. There aren't a lot, but the Chippewa Valley has a few ...

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