Tuesday, Sep. 30th, 2014

Blowout Deals at The Local Store's Fall Tent Sale!

The Local Store is saying goodbye to the summer of 2014 with a HUGE tent sale on Friday and Saturday – October 3 and 4! Stop by the Volume One parking lot (kitty corner from the shop at 205 N. Dewey St.) to check out tons of popular t-shirts, décor, and more. All tent sale items are buy one, get one free! In the store, select art and apparel will be buy one, get one half off!

We'll also have live music from Lizzy Diane on Friday night (7pm) and Tony Rongstad on Saturday night (7pm).

And we're open 10am–9pm both days!

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CVTC Gets $20M to Boost Health Training Statewide

Chippewa Valley Technical College has always had a strong health care program. Now it’s about to get stronger: CVTC will receive $20 million in federal grants to help it and the rest of the state’s tech schools boost health care education. On Monday, the White House (yep, the one in D.C.!) announced CVTC will get two grants through the Advancing Careers and Training (ACT) for Healthcare program. The feds let loose $450 million in job training grants, and CVTC was one of the two largest recipients in the nation, so Wisconsin can be thankful that some of the tax dollars we send to Washington are making their way back here.

Among other things, CVTC’s share of the grants will help the Eau Claire-based college serve 150 more health care students, said CVTC President Bruce Barker. “We know there’s going to be a huge demand for health care workers because of our aging population,” Barker said.

The two grants come in different amounts and have different purposes:

• The big one is for $15 million, which will be shared among all 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System. CVTC will receive $722,178 from the grant to add class offerings and staff for the programs that are gateways for students pursuing associate degrees in nursing. Another $3.9 million from the grant will go to CVTC “to enhance simulation learning and technology in healthcare programs in all 16 WTCS colleges,” a press release says. That means using “augmented reality technology” – i.e., cool tools like smart phones – to interact with simulation equipment, such as the patient-like dummies CVTC students practice their skills on.

• The second grant, worth $5 million, will be used to help create a smoother statewide system to guide students into health careers. According to a CVTC press release,  “The grant money will provide training, staff development, and research aimed at uniting divergent career pathways … throughout the state into a more unified approach.”

CVTC will work with the state departments of Workforce Development and Veterans Affairs to help displaced workers and veterans get into medical careers.

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Fantastic collection of 30-year-old videos shot in and around Eau Claire

"X-Tra Drive," shot in 1987. Watch the video.

Some of you might remember flipping around local TV stations, only to find yourself stopping on Chippewa Valley Community Television because you saw some mesmerizing video – a POV driving tour around Eau Claire's city streets and nearby country roads. It looked like someone in the 1980s had simply slapped a video recorder onto their dashboard, hit record, and started driving around. Because someone had (more or less). You could see the hood of the car and hear the radio playing whatever happened to be on at the time. The videos – there were many – were oddly addicting, not only because you got to see local streets, buildings, and landmarks the way they looked decades ago, but also because the lazy, meandering trip around town was just kind of calming.

"This was recorded with a 6 pound camera with a 22 pound home VCR running on a 110 volt AC gasoline generator in the trunk with proper ventilation."

Well, now those videos have been given new life – on Facebook. The page Our Old Town Eau Claire started last February and it's been posting these videos, shot by Roy Hoff Sr., for a while now. You'll see scenery of yore from all over Eau Claire (like the downtown area or Water Street) and its surrounding towns, and even some video shot on foot in places like the old train depot in Menomonie.

To give you an idea of how the driving videos were made, Hoff says, "This was recorded with a 6 pound camera with a 22 pound home VCR running on [a] 110 volt AC gasoline generator in the trunk with proper ventilation."

Quite the set up for what most people's telephones can do in 2014. Hoff says he made the videos for CTV prior to 1991, and that he just wanted to "save the world as I saw it, and If I had children, I could pass my world that I saw on to them." Now, as he did then, Hoff is offering the 30-year-old videos simply to share the memories they invoke.

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Monday, Sep. 29th, 2014

5 people who lent their names to local landmarks

Banbury Place. Photo: tylerholmes94
Banbury Place. Photo: tylerholmes94

You've heard the names. You've seen the places. But who exactly are these people forming the fabric of existence we call The Chippewa Valley? Read on to learn about people whose names are familiar, even if their lives are not.

1. Fernley H. Banbury

You probably know that Banbury Place, the vast mixed-use facility in Eau Claire, used to be the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. plant. You probably didn’t realize that its name was inspired by the tire-making that used to go on there. A Banbury mixer is an industrial machine used to compound rubber and plastic; it takes its name from its inventor, an early 20th-century British engineer.

2. Charles Dunn

You likely haven’t heard of this guy, either, though you use his name all the time (at least if you live in Menomonie). Dunn was the chief justice of the Wisconsin Territorial Supreme Court from 1836 until Wisconsin became a state in 1848. He was a big enough celebrity at the time that folks decided to name a whole county after him in 1854. He later served in the state Senate and lost a bid for U.S. Congress.

3. James Huff Stout

No, the public university in Menomonie didn’t get its name because its students are husky. In 1891, wealthy lumberman James Huff Stout founded the Stout Manual Training School (kind of what we now call a tech school). Stout later served in the state Senate, and the institute he founded went through four name changes to become today’s UW-Stout.

4. Hallie Sherman

Not many things got named after women back in the day, but here’s an exception: Hallie Sherman’s name lives on in the form of a village, township, and lake in Chippewa County. She was the daughter of Capt. Arthur Sherman, who after the Civil War operated a sawmill known as “Blue Mills” on what came to be called Lake Hallie.

5. William Irvine

William Irvine is the guy you have to thank if you’ve ever enjoyed the zoo, splash pad, band shell, or anything else in Chippewa Falls’ beautiful 318-acre Irvine Park. Like many of the men who lent their names to parks, buildings, and institutions around here, Irvine made his fortune in the lumber trade.

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Sunday, Sep. 28th, 2014

Sunday Event Picks (Sept. 28)

How's about a trip out to an apple orchard, pumpkin patch, or, um, goard cannon? (Above: Pleasant Valley.)
How's about a trip out to an apple orchard, pumpkin patch, or, um, gourd cannon?
(Above: Pleasant Valley Tree Farm.)

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, Sep. 27th, 2014

Saturday Event Picks (Sept. 27)

Huge lineup at the House of Rock tonight, including Sayth + Peewee Dread + Hannah Hebl + North House + Irie Sol. Details below!
Huge lineup at the House of Rock tonight, including Sayth, Peewee Dread,
Hannah Hebl, North House, and Irie Sol. 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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Friday, Sep. 26th, 2014

New Confluence Project renderings show off mixed use building tweaks

Image: Commonweal Development
Image: Commonweal Development

Released Wednesday night, new renderings of the mixed use building planed for the Confluence Project show a wider bike trail along the river and brick and stone façades. The mixed use building is to be built along South Barstow, where recent demolition removed an entire block of buildings. Eau Claire City Councilman Andrew Werthmann voted for the new building plan at last night's Waterways and Parks Commission meeting, and has stated, "It was a unanimous vote … because the site plan drastically improved, the quality of the building improved, and sensitivity to historic design was a central theme."

You can see the original renderings here.

Image: Commonweal Development
Image: Commonweal Development

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Thursday, Sep. 25th, 2014

Eau Claire County wants your input on 2015 budget

People love to complain about how the county spends our tax dollars. Well, now's the time to offer your opinion on how funds should be distributed.

The Eau Claire County Committee on Finance & Budget has set up a survey (available through Nov. 11) allowing you to express your thoughts. They say the 2015 budget will be difficult to manage, and they'd your input on what the priorities should be. The survey is broken down by department, allowing you to rank the major services and responsibilities within each department from "Unnecessary" to "Critical." It's detailed, but it's worth 5-10 minutes of your time to help the budget committee know what you feel is important.

This absolutely falls into "if you don't participate, don't complain" territory. So give it a shot. The county board will hold a public input session on Wednesday, November 12, so you can add thoughts in person.

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Wisconsin Fall Color Report reports Wisconsin's fall colors

Click on the map above for interactive color reporting.  (Just kidding, Clicky McClickerson. Go here for the interactive voodoo.)
Click on the map above for interactive color reporting.
(Just kidding, Clicky McClickerson. Go here for the interactive voodoo.)

You better hurry up and make your leaf-looking plans, local leaf-looking fans! Eau Claire County is currently at 30% Autumn-ness, with an estimated Go Look at the Awesome Trees Cuz It Only Gets Browner from Here Time (a phrase of our own invention) around the 2nd week of October. Who says? Travel Wisconsin says.

The Wisconsin Fall Color Report on Travelwisconsin.com gives you up-to-date color percentages for the tree clothing in each of Wisconsin’s glorious counties –  and while we're at only 30% color, things will be changing quickly this year. Meanwhile, Dunn County is sitting at 25% color, while Chippewa County's leaf bearers are in the lead at 40%.

But hey, if you need to experience the mysterious wonders of chlorophyll deprivation RIGHT NOW, scoot over to Clark County – currently enjoying 75% color.

According to Travel Wisconsin, they've got 100 fall color reporters providing updates in all 72 counties of the state, and there is no other report that's as comprehensive or timely. And since we know of no other fall color reports, we believe 'em.

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Wednesday, Sep. 24th, 2014

Oktoberfest’s Shocking Past

Oktoberfest, Chippewa Falls
2014's 12th Annual Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest

The first Oktoberfest took place in Munich, Germany, in 1810, when the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig was to be wed to Princess Therese on Oct. 12. Prince Ludwig was known to be obsessed with history, and wanted a public event that could be compared to the Olympic Games of old. He organized a public horse race in a meadow outside of Munich, and the festival was born on October 17. The event was so popular that it has been held ever since. The second year, they added an agricultural fair to the event, and that portion of Oktoberfest still exists in Munich every three years. Year by year events and food have been added, but it still takes place in that meadow, now named Theresienwiese (Wiesn for short) after Princess Therese.

Tap the Kep!

“Oktoberfest” and “beer.” To anyone who has been to Oktoberfest (or even just heard of it) those two words go together like peanut butter and jelly. But what most people don’t know is that Oktoberfest in Munich didn’t even include beer for the first 70 years of its existence. In 1881, the city council finally allowed beer sales and the first grilled chicken stand. Those seven dry decades aren’t the only shocking truth about Oktoberfest. There’s this one: Some of the first beer stands were built in trees. Those poor stein-wielding Germans had to climb trees to get beer. That has schrecklich kämpfen written all over it.

Soon beer became a staple in the festivities. The biggest beer tent to ever be erected, the Bräurosl, was built in 1913 on the grounds with enough space for 12,000 guests. Although it still exists, it only holds half of what it used to, but don’t worry. They built the Hofbräu-Festzelt to hold 10,000 more.

In 1950, the opening ceremony tradition began. The Lord Mayor of Munich starts the festivities by tapping the first keg and yelling “O’zapft is,” announcing that the keg has been tapped. Beer may not have been around in the beginning, but it later became the elixir of Oktoberfest.

Two-Century Tradition

Oktoberfest is still going strong in Munich. Every year the event generates about one billion euros in business, and the 200th anniversary in 2010 was the biggest Oktoberfest celebration ever. (Average daily attendance was 375,000). It has become a massive tourist event sporting souvenirs, art, agriculture, amusement rides, music, authentic German food and, of course, beer on tap.

Lazy Monk Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest 2013 at Lazy Monk Brewing in Eau Claire.

Upcoming Oktoberfests

Lazy Monk Oktoberfest
Sept. 27 • 4-10pm, Oct. 4 • 4-10pm
The Lazy Monk Taproom
320 Putnam St., Eau Claire

Oktoberfest USA: La Crosse*
September 25–28
Northside & Southside Festgrounds
La Crosse, Wis.

Dallas Oktoberfest
October 4 • 9am-evening
Dallas Park, Old Mill Pond
Dallas, Wis.

*La Crosse’s festival, which began in 1961, brings in an average of 175,000 people over the course of a weekend. It features parades, live music, beers from both local breweries and German breweries, and a whole host of authentic German foods. In the early 1960s, the U.S. government approved the name of “Oktoberfest, USA” and the La Crosse event was born. Since then there have been many Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the United States (the largest is in Cincinnati) and all over the world. The German traditions echo in American society, as the United States is second only to Germany itself for the number of German-born citizens.

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South Barstow Street Demolition: Before & After

Now that the buildings which occupied the block of South Barstow Street closest to the Eau Claire River have been completely demolished, we thought you might be interested in seeing the change it's made to the look of downtown Eau Claire.

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