Monday, Jun. 3rd, 2019

Bon Iver Drops New Music, Videos, and North American Tour Dates

Photo by Graham Tolbert & Crystal Quinn
Photo by Graham Tolbert & Crystal Quinn

The collective intake of breath you heard this morning came from Bon Iver fans around the globe gasping as the band (fronted, of course, by Eau Claire native Justin Vernon) dropped a pair of new songs along with music videos for each. If that weren’t enough, fans also got North American Tour dates for this Autumn, a new website (icommai.org, which appears to be down right now), and another kooky Justin Vernon promo shot (above).

From BonIver.org ...

Two new songs featuring contributions from Bruce Hornsby, Moses Sumney, Jenn Wasner, Elsa Jensen, Psymun, Phil Cook, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and others.

Hey, Ma

Stream Hey, Ma

U (Man Like)

Stream U (Man Like)

In the credits found in the video descriptions, you’ll notice a few other local names such as Brian Moen and Ben Lester, as well as former locals Phil and Brad Cook.

Tour Dates

And about those tour dates, they say ...

We are looking forward to bringing an exciting new production to our friends, new and old. Plus, the Bon Iver community is growing with the addition of Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes), who will join Justin Vernon, Sean Carey, Matthew McCaughan, Michael Lewis, and Andrew Fitzpatrick to form the Bon Iver live band. FeistIndigo GirlsSharon Van Etten, and Yo La Tengo will be supporting select dates.


“This project began as a single person, but throughout the last 11 years, the identity of Bon Iver has bloomed and can only be defined by the faces in the ever growing family we are.” - JV22

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Friday, May. 31st, 2019

Hope and Heart: Living Each Day to the Fullest With Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer

They say life is made of small moments, but just one moment can change your life forever. At 52, Michelle Messer of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was told she had an aggressive form of ovarian cancer — one of the deadliest cancers for women and for which there is no reliable test for early diagnosis.

When it was detected, her tumor was about the size of a pineapple.

“I remember sitting there thinking, now I know why my right hip hurts — because it’s my right ovary,” Michelle says. She also had experienced lower back pain and bloating. Suddenly, all the symptoms added up.

When she was diagnosed by Suzette Peltier, M.D., a gynecologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Michelle was already at stage 4, meaning the cancer had spread. It had moved throughout her abdominal cavity, liver, lungs and colon.

Michelle’s husband, Shaun, says the news was devastating.

“That was probably the most crushing thing I have ever felt in my life,” Shaun says.

Then the couple had to break the news to their two adult sons and young daughter.

“How do you tell a 13-year old her mother might not be here in a year or two?” Shaun says.

The couple’s daughter, Hannah, knew something was wrong when she came home from school and found her parents sitting on the couch.

“I told her I had cancer,” Michelle says. “She started crying and said: ‘No,’ and she fell to the ground. What can you do? The only thing you can do is hug them,” Michelle says.

No Time to Lose

After the tears and initial shock subsided, the entire family quickly moved into action mode. Within three days, Dr. Peltier arranged for Michelle to be seen by specialists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After rounds of tests, Francis Nichols, M.D., a thoracic surgeon, performed Michelle’s first surgery to remove cancer from her lungs.

It was a fearful time, but Michelle and her medical team remained positive. Dr. Nichols told her, “We’re going for the gold, and this is the Olympics.”

“Statements like that when you are so fearful are empowering,” Michelle says.

Two weeks later, while still recovering, Michelle underwent a nine-hour abdominal surgery, performed by Carrie Langstraat, M.D., a gynecological oncologist, which included a full hysterectomy. The tumor was removed, along with her gallbladder, part of her colon and dozens of lymph nodes.

Michelle underwent chemotherapy every week for nearly eight months at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, close to her home. It was grueling, she says. She lost her hair and energy, but she never lost hope. Michelle credits her medical team, along with many fierce, loyal friends and family who served as her support system, for helping her hold onto hope during this challenging time.

Michelle went into remission, though with stage 4, she knew she would never really be considered cured. Her hair grew back. Then one day, a year and a half after her initial diagnosis, she felt a lump on her neck. It was a recurrence of the ovarian cancer.

Fighting On

That meant more surgery and chemo, and losing her hair again. The treatment was even harder on Michelle’s body the second time, but hope persisted for Michelle and her oncology team. Michelle recalls a tough chemo day when Sandeep Basu, M.D., her oncologist, stopped in to see her.

“I smiled and said: ‘I’m faking it ‘till I make it,’” Michelle says. “He kind of cocked his head and said: ‘You’ve already made it.’” Michelle says Dr. Basu’s daily support was a huge source of hope.

Michelle says she is forever thankful for the support she received from Dr. Peltier the day she learned she had cancer. She recently had a chance to reconnect with Dr. Peltier — five years later — and tell her how important that moment was.

“It’s very humbling,” says Dr. Peltier, fighting back tears. “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see somebody five years out from stage 4 ovarian cancer.”

“I think Mayo Clinic has all the pieces,” Michelle says. “They have the heart. They have the intelligence. They have the professionalism. They’re efficient, but they also have that warmth — that humanness about them. I would highly recommend them. They saved my life.”

The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 3 at Half Moon Beach. More information is available at halfmoondragonboat.org.


This post was produced through a partnership
with Mayo Clinic Health System ... Learn more!

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The Most Wikipedia’ed Names in the Chippewa Valley? You’ll Never Guess. Except You Will.

So exactly who put this town on the map? A new online visualization project tries to answer that question with the help of data from Wikipedia. The People Map of the US, created by some data whizzes at The Pudding, replaces the names of cities across the U.S. of A. with the names of their most famous residents – or, to be more specific, the person connected to the town who is viewed most often on Wikipedia. The names are of people who were “born in, lived in, or connected to a place” – which explains why, for example, Barack Obama’s name pops up in both Chicago and Honolulu.

The trifecta of top names from the Chippewa Valley’s three largest cities shouldn’t be a surprise, if you’re steeped in local trivia. Consider that Eau Claire’s most Wikipedia’ed resident is indie musician Justin Vernon, known worldwide for his Grammy wins, Kanye collaborations, and hometown music festival.

Just upriver in Chippewa Falls the most-clicked name is that of supercomputing pioneer and hometown native Seymour Cray, namesake of Cray Inc., which recently made headlines for contracting with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the world’s fastest computer (and for being bought out by Hewlett Packard).

Menomonie’s most high-profile inhabitant is prolific English-born author Neil Gaiman, whose works include Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, American Gods, and Good Omens (the latter two of which have recently been turned into TV shows). Gaiman bought an old house outside Menomonie in 1992 to be close to his then-wife’s family. While he still owns the Menomonie home, these days he reportedly also resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

So what other famous folks have their names enshrined in Wikipedia next to western Wisconsin burgs? Author Michael Perry will forever be tied to his hometown of New Auburn – a.k.a. “Nobbern” – though he now lives near Fall Creek. Augusta’s favorite son is late football coach Dan Devine, who led the Packers in the mid-1970s, while Mondovi’s is Tim Krumrie, who played 12 years with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. Another athlete, pro golfer and two-time U.S. Open champ Andy North, is the most-searched name from Thorp.

A number of political figures pop up on the map, including former Congressman Steve Gunderson (Osseo), former Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (Chetek), and Greenwood native Mae Schunk, who served as Minnesota lieutenant governor under Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

Other notable locals include Fairchild-born Carole Landis, a 1940s film star; Stanley native Vincent Mroz, who saved President Harry Truman from a would-be assassin; and anti-war activist Ron Kovic, who was Born on the Fourth of July in Ladysmith.

Across the map of the Badger States, other names that pop out include some famous (Chris Farley in Madison, Mark Ruffalo in Kenosha) and a few infamous (Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee and Ed Gein in Plainfield).

If you’re interested in geography, pop culture, history, or just enjoy zooming in and out of a big map (wheee!), cruise over to The Pudding. And if you want to know about the project’s data and methods, here’s an explanatory blurb from the Pudding website:

Data for this story were collected and processed using the Wikipedia API. The period of collection was from July, 2015–May, 2019, from English Wikipedia. It was inspired in part by this map.

Person/city associations were based on the thousands of “People from X city” pages on Wikipedia. The top person from each city was determined by using median pageviews (with a minimum of 1 year of traffic). We chose to include multiple occurrences for a single person because there is both no way to determine which is more accurate and people can “be from” multiple places.

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Thursday, May. 30th, 2019

OXBEAUX III Lineup (w/ Jenny Lewis and The Shouting Matches) + Exclusive Shouting Matches Video

2018's OXBEAUX II
2018's OXBEAUX II

OXBEAUX – downtown Eau Claire’s annual summer street concert – returns for its third installment on Friday Aug. 9 and Saturday Aug. 10, expanding the lineup while adding another full night of live music to the mix.

Hosted by The Oxbow Hotel, OXBEAUX III will once again shut down a full block of Galloway Street to offer up headliners like Jenny Lewis and The Shouting Matches (featuring Justin Vernon, Phil Cook, and Brian + Jill Moen). That all happens on Saturday, while the Friday night performances will take place in the hotel's courtyard area and serve as a kind of local band showcase. Check out the full lineup:

FRIDAY in the Courtyard / Gates at 5pm

• Drunk Drivers
• Arms Aloft
• Pit Wagon
• North of Dixie Bluegrass Band

SATURDAY on the Street / Gates at 3pm

• Jenny Lewis 
• The Shouting Matches (featuring Justin Vernon, Phil Cook, and Brian + Jill Moen)
• Flock of Dimes (featuring Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak)
• Alpha Consumer
• Sniffle Party
• Sanborn/Rosenau (featuring Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso and Chris Rosenau of Volcano Choir)

TICKETS are $10 for Friday night only, $25 for Saturday only, or $30 for a weekend pass, and will be available here starting at 10am on Friday, June 14.

Expect beer, cocktails, sodas, and food. Gates open at 5pm on Friday with music at 6pm. Gates open at 3pm on Saturday with the show at 4pm. The Oxbow Hotel is at 516 Galloway Street, Eau Claire.

Volume One is a sponsor of OXBEAUX III.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Watch The Shouting Matches LIVE at OXBEAUX 2017

On Thursday, June 15, 2017 – on the eve of the 2017 Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival – The Oxbow Hotel in downtown Eau Claire shut down a city block to stage their first-ever OXBEAUX concert, headlined by the Shouting Matches, featuring Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Phil Cook, and Brian & Jill Moen. (Video by Anthony Casanova with camerawork from Joel Pearish and  Jon Hamblin)

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Tuesday, May. 14th, 2019

STORYLORDS: The Low-Budget Educational Sci-Fi Epic They Made at UW-Stout

Larry Laird as the evil Storylord Thorzuul, a caped, sunglasses-rocking villain, shown here in anguish. Image:
Actor Larry Laird as the evil Storylord Thorzuul, a caped, sunglasses-rocking villain, shown here in bitter anguish. (Image: Wisconsin Public Television Education)

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Public Radio took a deep dive into a public television show many of you have seen ... but perhaps only vaguely remember. Like all good epic adventures, PBS’s low-budget live-action educational show Storylords has passed into legend. But like Tolkien’s Ring of Power (“...it wants to be found...”) the show has emerged from the obscurity of random remembrances to the slightly less obscure realm of YouTube, where it’s been racking up tens of thousands of views, presumably from people who grew up with it. The short-lived show was no Sesame Street or Magic School Bus, but it was still memorable ... in its own quirky way.

Storylords consists of twelve 15-minute programs, produced in 1984 and aired in the ’80s and ’90s. It focuses on building reading comprehension strategies through the use of fantasy storylines where a brother and sister are drafted into a secret magical battle spilling over from a different planet. As is the case in all battles betwixt good and evil, excellent reading skills are required to thwart the bad guys.

What many people who remember the show – even Chippewa Vallians – don’t realize is that it was produced at the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

The WPR piece does a fantastic job resurrecting the Storylords backstory, interviewing the show’s producers and, of course, the actors – such as  Tanya Tiffany who played the hero “Mandy.” And best of all, they talked with Larry Laird who played the show’s caped, sunglasses-rocking villain Thorzuul, who seeks to turn all those who can't understand what they read into stone statues.

Here’s what Storylords director and producer Ed Jakober told WPR about the production:

We had a local WPT production outlet here (in Menomonie). We were assigned most of the educational programming from ECB. That was based on whatever the need was in Wisconsin at the time. ... We spent two years on the program. The first year-and-a-half was spent on research, methodology, reading strategies and the educational process. Then, we hired writer Jed MacKay … He came up with the "Storylords" concept. 

We filmed around town, away from the studio ... Thorzuul's lair? OK let's go inside Mabel Tainter Theater or the library. We filmed at Menomonie East School — it still stands. All the kids would show up. We’d set up a wide shot in the classroom, then they'd go outside and play. After a while, we'd have them do lines. We'd do at least two (episodes) every day in the school.

As for the actors, all the extras we got from the UW-Stout theater department. The kids were just kids.

Listen to or read the story online: www.wpr.org/readers-rejoice-storylord-comes


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Friday, May. 3rd, 2019

Return of the Dragons: Annual Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is all about fighting cancer

Five years ago, a new invasive species swam into Half Moon Lake. Forty feet long with brightly colored scales, it was sleek and swift with bulging eyes, flared nostrils and a toothy grin. The dragons of the lake had arrived in the Chippewa Valley as part of the inaugural Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival.

Raising money for cancer programs

Sponsored and hosted by Mayo Clinic Health System, the event initially raised money for hospice programs. Fast forward to 2018, and the fundraising focus switched to cancer programs and continues with this focus at this year’s event on Saturday, Aug. 3.

“We know there is a significant need for local cancer support service funding,” explains Renelle Laffe from Hope in the Valley, which is a Chippewa Valley-based nonprofit cancer advocacy organization. “Bringing the community together to support this need in a fun, deeply meaningful way is both powerful and healing.”

The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is going strong as a joint partnership between Mayo Clinic Health System and Hope in the Valley. The mission and goals of this year’s event are to:

  • Fundraise for local cancer programs and services 

  • Educate on cancer prevention, research and healthy living 

  • Celebrate cancer survivors and those currently fighting the disease, and remember loved 
ones lost 

  • Provide a family-friendly event for the community to enjoy 


Half of the proceeds will benefit the Albert J. and Judith A. Dunlap Cancer Center at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, and half will benefit local cancer service organizations and charity care. The proceeds will be given in person on the Day of Giving Hope, which is Dec. 2. 


Why dragon boat racing? 


Equal parts sporting event and spectacle, dragon boat racing is a team sport that has its roots in ancient China. In the last 30 years, dragon boat racing has been revitalized and is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Each brightly colored dragon boat is propelled by a crew of 20 paddlers, a drummer and steer person working together as a team to finish the race. 


In addition to the excitement of watching and cheering for the dragon boats as they race to the finish line, the festival also includes music and a variety of tasty food vendors to enjoy. The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is a high-energy, fun-filled day — proven by being voted the Best 
Sports/Recreation Event (non-run/walk) in Volume One’s Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll three years in a row.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out the hype and fun for yourself. Register a team to paddle, sign up to volunteer or attend as a spectator. The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 3 at Half Moon Beach. More information is available at halfmoondragonboat.org.


This post was produced through a partnership
with Mayo Clinic Health System ... Learn more!

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Will UW-Eau Claire Grad Be the First First Gentleman?

Chasten Buttigieg (left) on the cover of TIME Magazine (May 13) with husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.
Chasten Buttigieg (left) on the cover of TIME Magazine (May 13) with husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.

America’s potential first first gentleman is a Blugold.

Chasten Buttigieg – husband of Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg (if you’re curious, it’s pronounced “Boot-edge-edge”) – graduated from UW-Eau Claire in December 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts. His husband, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has been moving toward the top of a crowded field of candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination that includes well-known political veterans like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. But Pete Buttigieg has made a big splash in recent weeks, drawing attention both for his policy proposals and personal story: Harvard and Oxford graduate, Afghan War veteran, millennial mayor, and now the first prominent gay presidential candidate in U.S. history.

Chasten (that’s “Chas-Ten”), 29, has been right beside “Mayor Pete,” literally and figuratively, sharing the podium with him when he officially launched his candidate April 14 and posing with him for the cover of the latest issue of Time Magazine.

“Chasten’s humor and openness have been his defining features since the national spotlight found him and ‘Mayor Pete’ earlier this year,” Ellen McCarthy wrote in a recent Washington Post profile article. “It has made him a force on Twitter, where he has more than 300,000 followers, and a not-so-secret public-relations weapon for his husband.”

Chasten and Pete Buttigieg meeting former US President Jimmy Carter last year. (Image: Twitter)
Chasten and Pete Buttigieg meeting former US President Jimmy Carter last year. (Image: Twitter)

The former Chasten Glenzman grew up in a working-class family in Traverse City, Michigan. According to the Washington Post profile, he loved theater and struggled with his sexuality as an adolescent, at one point moving out of the house and sleeping in his car. He later reconciled with his parents. “Eventually, they would proudly walk him down the aisle at his wedding to another man,” the Post noted.

Chasten and Pete married in June 2018 at an Anglican Church in South Bend, Indiana. They had met in 2015 through a dating app. The previous year, Chasten had graduated from UW-Eau Claire, where he studied theatre arts and global studies. After graduation, he moved to Milwaukee, where he worked at a youth theater academy and at Starbucks. Later, according to the Indianapolis Star, he earned a master’s degree at DePaul University in Chicago before teaching at a Montessori school in South Bend.

These days, Chasten is spending his days on the campaign trail, literally and digitally. As Elle magazine noted in March, “Chasten Buttigieg’s Relentlessly Cheery Twitter Is the Best Thing to Come Out of the 2020 Election.” Chasten’s timeline is filled with pictures of the couple’s rescue dogs (Buddy and Truman), “Game of Thrones” memes, and musings about the bizarre side of political/Internet fame. A sample tweet: “This new exposure can be very weird, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to teenagers taking pictures of me and then running away giggling when I look up and see them pointing their phones at me. This is why I can no longer smell deodorants at Target. They’re always watching.”

However, as the Washington Post noted, “it’s a pressure-filled role, even for a former drama kid. ‘There’s so much more on the line than, “Man, I don’t want to forget a line and mess up the show,” ’ Chasten says. ‘It’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to say the wrong thing and ruin my husband’s political career.” ’ ”

In the coming 18 months, that pressure will undoubtedly mount, but that career could take the couple all the way to the White House.

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Friday, Apr. 19th, 2019

Infamous “Walmart House” FINALLY Hits the Market

Above: $2,500,000
Above: $2,500,000

Looks like that old, single-story brick house standing in front of Walmart on Eau Claire’s southeast side (3801 Gateway Drive) is FINALLY up for sale (see listing). A noble holdout from when the area was developed decades ago, the house has inspired comparisons to the iconic property which may have inspired the movie Up! 

The home was occupied for many years by a single owner – a local woman who stood her ground against swelling development as she refused to sell. She passed away last fall.

It's sad to see such a remarkable local resident pass, but hey, if you’ve got a mere $2,500,000 on hand, your dream home awaits. It's been on the market since mid-April. So, you know ... act now.

Sure, the property listing seems geared toward developers looking to install a Kwik Trip or a Taco Bell or a Dunkin’ Donuts or a mattress store. But don’t let that stop you, Potential Homeowner.

In a house like this you can let the gentle woosh of nearby U.S. Highway 53 lull you to sleep each night. All night. And all day. The irregular, 2.3 acre lot will surely attract new parents. Imagine the amazing games of hide-n-seek your kids will have in the adjacent parking lot(s).

Great for romping.
Great for romping.

According to the scant listing, the 1,064 square foot structure is built upon a block foundation and includes a full basement. Additional interior features include “restrooms.” Plural.

Yes, it’s a bit of a fixer-upper and taxes last year came in at $9,651, and your estimated monthly payment is $11,163, but who can put a price on convenience? Not us. In a home like this, you’d literally be a hop, a skip, a jump, and a short stroll from the front doors of the world’s largest big box retailer. And Sam’s Club. And Petco. And Kohl’s. And Fazoli’s.

And right across the street you’ve got the neighborhood Best Buy, Office Max, and T.J. Maxx. All the best Max’s are right there – if you’re agile enough to sprint across a U.S. Highway and scale at least one chain link fence.

The property lies within the Eau Claire School District.

Also: detached garage.
Also: detached garage.

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Wednesday, Apr. 17th, 2019

Watch Local Tiny Desk Concerts from Converge Radio

Check out the press release from Converge Radio 99.9 FM on the great videos they produced for National Public Radio's Tiny Desk Contest ...

EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN – April 16, 2019– Converge Radio 99.9 FM is proud to present the National Public Radio (NPR) Tiny Desk Contest featuring talented artists from Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Since its launch in 2008, hundreds of performances have been recorded by artists for the Tiny Desk Contest. 

Tiny Desk Contest is the creative concept of NPR Music host Bob Boilen, where he invites the winners– a diversity of guest artists to perform in his festive workspace adorned with years of music mementos and memorabilia. 

The series has provided a welcoming stage for artists at all points in their career and from across the music genre spectrum.

The winner of the contest will go to NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. to play their very own Tiny Desk Concert.  In the summer of 2019, the winner will go on a tour of the U.S. with NPR Music.

The team at Converge Radio 99.9FM has produced, directed and edited the music videos for the 23 talented artists from the state of Wisconsin.

Each video presentation features a song that is the entrant’s original work.

Meet the Artists:

Asparagus*
Billy Krause
Caitlin McGarvey*
D. Janakey
Davey J
Elvessa
Greg Gilbertson
Histrionic Creature
Howard "Guitar" Luedtke
Jim Pullman
Loi!L Pride
Manifest
Miles Blvd
Naalia
Olive Sings
Past & The Present
TeawhYB
The Outlaw Renegades
The Third Ward*
Travis Lee
Wayward
Westkorea*

* Artist is UWEC Student

Converge Radio 99.9FM, has created a unique, artistic set (including a tiny desk!), where the 23 music videos were produced, located at The Venue, at 209 Graham Avenue in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 

The Venue is owned by Benny Haas, who is known in the community and a champion of the music and cultural scene in Eau Claire.

You can see all of these talented artists perform for the NPR Tiny Desk here: https://www.convergeradio.org/video 

The Judging Period begins on April 15, 2019, and ends on or about May 10, 2019. More: https://tinydeskcontest.npr.org/2019/closed/

Credits

Cinematographer – Sarah Ferraro (20 bands)*
Assistant Cinematographer - Eli Klatt (3 bands)* 
Set Design – Karen Wells Verlander
Live Audio Engineers – Brent Kuechenmeister, Brad Murphy*, Alex Stadtlander*
Audio Mixing – Scott Morfitt, Evan Middlesworth, Justin Andersen, Neal Sipress, Kyle Culver
Audio Mastering – Sprinter Studios
Video Editors – Jack Ross Bertelson, Phil Dedman, Bre Ferraro*, Lindsey Kvern*, Sarah Ferraro*, Eli Klatt* 
Set Assistants – Sarah Ferraro*, Patric Tillery*, Vanessa Nielsen*, Caitlin Plaisance*
Executive Producer – Scott Morfitt

* Team member is UWEC Student

 

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Tuesday, Apr. 16th, 2019

Work Begins to Light up Grand Ave. Bridge

The revamped Grand Avenue Bridge  during last year’s Grand Evening on the Bridge
The revamped Grand Avenue Bridge during last year’s Grand Evening on the Bridge event.

Weekday walkers, bikers, and other peddlers and perambulators will have to find a new way around downtown for the next few weeks because of the second phase of work on the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Footbridge. The installation of architectural lighting on the bridge began April 8, and will continue for between two weeks and a month, depending on weather conditions, the City of Eau Claire said. For safety reasons, the bridge will be closed 7am-5pm weekdays (although it will be open at other times and on weekends). Those who use the bridge to get around are encouraged to follow a detour path that goes east on Grand Avenue to Graham Avenue, north across the new Confluence Crossing Bridge, west across the Phoenix Park Bridge, then south along the trail toward Grand Avenue. The bridge was completely closed for several months last year during the first phase of a $1.7 million renovation project that included replacing the bridge’s decking and railings and widening its surface. The latest phase includes the installation of lighting on the bridge’s piers, overlooks, and abutments, City Engineer David Solberg said. These lights – as well as those that illuminate the bridge’s walking surface – will be able to change colors, similar to the lights on the Phoenix Park Bridge. Eventually, the downtown light show will encompass a continuous strip including the Phoenix Park Bridge, the Confluence Crossing Bridge, the Pablo Center at the Confluence, Haymarket Plaza, and the Grand Avenue bridge, Solberg added. 

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