Wednesday, Nov. 25th, 2015

Keeping It Local on Small Business Saturday

Back in 2010, "Small Business Saturday" was started as a way to contrast the all-encompassing rush of Black Friday and its young cousin "Cyber Monday." Organizers figured that people will be spending extra money on holiday shopping no matter what, so why not encourage them to spent it at smaller, locally owned shops? Scheduling the event next to Black Friday just highlights the difference your spending choices make – a local shop keeps far more of your money in the local economy, right here with your friends and neighbors. (For more on exactly how much of your money can stay here, check out our Buy Local holiday spending campaign.)  

Almost all of Volume One's advertisers and sponsors are small, local businesses working to serve the people of the Chippewa Valley all year long whilst supporting local families, events, causes, and cultures. (The same goes for our very own Local Store in downtown Eau Claire.) We strongly encourage you to support them on Small Business Saturday –  November 28 –  and really think about how you want to spent your hard earned dollars.

We know that shops in downtown Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and Menomonie are promoting Saturday as a special day to buy local –  and small businesses across the city and region are doing the same. If and when you stop in, even if you don't buy anything, give the person behind the counter a festive high-five and a hearty "Happy Holidays!" They'll appreciate the support.

Add a Comment »

Tuesday, Nov. 24th, 2015

Ice Age Trail Scores $25,000 Grant ... From Michelob Ultra (Really)

In September we asked to you to go vote for Wisconsin's own Ice Age Trail in Rib Lake in a contest Michelob Ultra (still serious about that) was putting on. 

The Ice Age Trail, Image: Michelob
The Ice Age Trail, Image: Michelob

Well, thanks to all of you wonderful Wisconsinites we won! Coming from third place to win, Michelob is giving $25,000 to the Ice Age Trail to help preservation efforts and upkeep. 

If you STILL haven't visited the trail yet check out the work they're doing to open new paths and upkeep the older ones. Go enjoy a weekend hike in the nature – you've earned it!

Comments 2

Monday, Nov. 23rd, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend Buy Local Bonanza!

Get ready Eau Claire, because The Local Store's "Thanksgiving Weekend Buy Local Bonanza" runs November 25 – November 29! There'll be huge deals going on every day at the shop, including free stuff with your purchase, limited edition products (available only as long as supplies last), discounts on everything in the store, and great events going on all weekend. Wednesday (Nov. 25) also marks the beginning of The Local Store's extended holiday hours: 9am–9pm Monday thru Saturday, and 11am–4pm Sunday. See you there!

To see all of this year's deals, click right here!

Add a Comment »

Wisconsin's Best Doughnut?

Image: recently put out a a sugary list of the best doughnut shops in every state (according to themselves, anyway). I'm sad to say that the best doughnuts don't come from Eau Claire, but I'm also excited to tell you they do come from my other hometown. 

According to Thrillist the best doughnuts to be had in Wisconsin are at ... Manderfield's Home Bakery in Appleton. I'm partial to agree with Thrillist on this one but what do you think? Can a different Sconnie shop outdo Manderfields? Or are we all just going to have to stop for doughnuts next time we pass through the Fox Valley?

Comments 14

Wednesday, Nov. 18th, 2015

Cannery Development District: Points of Improvement

Downtown Eau Claire has been defined (and redefined) by a plethora of development activity over the past decade. With the Confluence Project in the works, the Oxbow Hotel renovation, the Lismore renovation, and numerous projects like bridge replacements, we’re quite busy making our home an even nicer place to live. But infrastructure improvements and renovations aren’t all we need in Eau Claire.

In the spirit of renovation and reconstruction, John Stedman worked with UW-Eau Claire students to create a virtual map of the recently named "Cannery District" (formerly the West Bank Development District), highlighting what we’re doing well while showcasing some of the problems we can fix in the area.

I took my camera and Stedman’s map out into the Cannery District to showcase a few things they singled out.

Eau Claire Children's Theater
Eau Claire Children's Theater
1. Eau Claire Children’s Theater (Point 6)

The map highlights the Eau Claire Children’s Theater as a great resource for children to grow and stay entertained. For those who haven't been yet, the theater can be found on the corner of Maxon and Oxford. 

Empty lot in front of the riverfront
Empty lot in front of the riverfront
2. Riverfront Opportunities (Point 5)

Right across from the street from the children's theater there’s a large open lot that isn’t being used by anything but blocks a great view of the riverfront. This open lot could be turned into space for a new business or be cleaned away to make use of the river. 

Hidden riverfront space
Hidden riverfront space
3. Available River Space (Point 19)

This photo was taken on the other side of the brush in the previous photo, hiding behind the unused buildings and overgrown foliage along Oxford is a gorgeous view of the river.

Abandoned buildings
Abandoned building
4. Abandoned Buildings (Point 43)

Throughout the Cannery District there are several abandoned buildings. What was once a factory or store is now an unused blight on the landscape. Cleaning up and taking down these abandoned buildings makes way for new uses of the area including new business or public use.

Butterfly garden
Butterfly garden
5. Butterfly Garden (Point 22)

While these is a lot of work that can be done in the Cannery District there is still plenty of things to commend, big and small, including a butterfly garden on Cameron and Babcock.

Comments 9

Monday, Nov. 16th, 2015

5 of the Chippewa Valley’s Finest Historical Whisker Farms

For the past decade or so, men have been growing out their facial hair in “Movember” to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Back in the old days, however, men didn’t need a reason to cultivate their crumb catchers. Here are some of the most impressive whisker farms from the Valley’s past.

1. George Buffington

An early Eau Claire city father who at various times was a hotel owner, steamboat operator, sawmill owner, and mayor, Buffington also sported a classic walrus-style moustache.


2. William Carson

You likely know this Canadian-born 19th-century Eau Claire lumber baron because of the generous gift of parkland his heirs made to the city, but his contemporaries likely knew him for his silvery ’stache, which stretched ever-so-close to his sideburns. 


3. Lars Anderson

Anderson, if the name and stoic appearance didn’t give it away, was a 19th-century Norwegian immigrant farmer in rural Chippewa County. In 1976, his simple log home was moved to the Chippewa Valley Museum where it can be toured, but his phenomenal chin-plume can be viewed only in photographs.


4. Unknown Guy

Sadly the name of this man, photographed with his wiry whiskers at the Bonell Studio in Eau Claire between 1875 and 1890, has been lost to history. Still, check out that nutty ’stache!


5. Daniel Shaw

Not only did Shaw build a huge sawmill in a neighborhood that still bears his name (Shawtown) but he also grew a championship-caliber neck beard through sheer force of his backwoods will.

Add a Comment »

Wednesday, Nov. 11th, 2015

City Council Gives Unanimous Approval to Confluence Funding Deal

Get the fancy silver shovels ready: The Eau Claire City Council has signed, sealed, and delivered a $5 million deal with a developer to help fund a downtown performing arts center. The 78-page agreement between the city and Haymarket Concepts passed on a unanimous 11-0 vote Tuesday evening, ensuring that the arts center will receive city funding via a special tax district. Groundbreaking for the $40 million project is expected in the spring.

Several City Council members who had been skeptical of public funding for the project in the past said they were won over by the financial protections for the city contained in the agreement. “Tonight we have an ownership and operating model that does not fall upon the city,” said Councilwoman Monica Lewis, who has been critical of the project in the past. “This agreement not only sets limits but has safeguards in front of the taxpayers’ dollars.” According to the Leader-Telegram, “In case of operating losses, the agreement requires that the arts center would first have to drain several reserve funds before going to the city as a last resort to pay a maximum of $1 million.”

The $5 million in tax incremental financing will cover just part of the public-private arts center’s estimated $40 million cost. Other funding will include $15 million from the state, $3.5 million from Eau Claire County, about $3 million in new market tax credits, and $13.5 million in private donations. Philanthropic pledges recently passed $10 million, and fundraisers are well on their way to gathering another $500,000 by the end of December to secure an additional $1 million challenge grant from an anonymous donor. 

Add a Comment »

Monday, Nov. 9th, 2015

Far Out: Space, Music Mix in Unique UWEC Presentation

EXPLORING THE SPACE-TIME JAMTINUUM. A group of Eau Claire musicians and scientists rehearsed their unique show, “Waves: A Celebration of Astronomy and Music,” earlier this month.
EXPLORING THE SPACE-TIME JAMTINUUM. A group of Eau Claire musicians and scientists rehearsed their unique show, “Waves: A Celebration of Astronomy and Music,” earlier this month.

Space and music will come together with a “big bang” this month as UW-Eau Claire presents its first ever astronomy and music presentation. 

“Waves: A Celebration of Astronomy and Music” promises to offer audiences a decidedly stellar musical experience that will be performed in conjunction with a live astronomy presentation. “We are using music, images, and video to try and capture some of what we now understand about the solar system that we live in,” said Matt Jewell, one of the creators of the Nov. 19 show at UWEC’s Davies Center. “We believe that the spheres of art and science are fundamentally linked, and our series at UWEC is a way to highlight this for our campus and our community.”

“Waves” is the result of a combination of many different talents from a varied group of people. Jewell, a professor of materials science, and Paul Thomas, a professor of physics and astronomy, formed the idea for this event after seeing the movie Particle Fever and realizing they both had similar project ideas in mind. The professorial duo decided to team up with retired art professor Tiit Raid, retired choral director George Utphall, and flautist Julia Majowski Thomas to bring their idea out from the drawing board and into existence. The team has been working on this project since the fall of 2014, and they intend to make this an annual event.

“Imagine the TV show Nova where the science narrative is accompanied by beautiful photographs and a musical soundtrack,” said Majowski Thomas, explaining how the show will come together. “You will hear Paul Thomas give a talk about recent exploration in our solar system, with accompanying musical score,” she said. As for the visuals, there will be magnificent slides of the solar system on three large screens. While the presentation is occurring, Majowski Thomas and Raid, a percussionist, will build a unique, improvised musical background. Utphall, a pianist, and Majowski Thomas will also play several musical background pieces which will, according to Majowski Thomas, “bring (audiences) back to (their) comfort zone every now and then.” 

The presentation by Thomas will incorporate the latest data from space missions to the planets, moons, and comets of the solar system. The presentation will be broken up into four sections covering topics such as the New Horizons flyby of Pluto; the atmospheres of outer giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; and finally the ongoing exploration of Mars.

The blending of art and science is aimed at giving audience members a strong feeling of wonder and a better understanding about the recent exploration of space. “Science has always been one approach to bring focus and clarity to art,” Jewell said. “Think of a beautiful illustration of the solar system or the human body or even a well-crafted graph in a scientific paper. In all these cases, it’s the artistic approach that gives the data relevance and highlights the critical details.”

In the true spirit of space, the performance will be followed by a reception and display of physics-inspired artwork by UWEC student Michelle Gervais as well as an afterglow buffet. Experience the wonder of space and celebrate the intersections between the arts and sciences with this live astronomy presentation.

Waves: A Celebration of Astronomy and Music • Thursday, Nov. 19, 7-8:30pm • Ojibwe Ballroom, Davies Center, UW-Eau Claire • FREE •

Add a Comment »

Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, 2015

Menard’s Gift Will Build New Tennis Center for YMCA

Rendering of the Menard Family YMCA Tennis Center.
Rendering of the Menard Family YMCA Tennis Center.

Auto racing apparently isn’t the only sport that home improvement magnate John Menard has a soft spot for: On Tuesday, the Eau Claire YMCA announced that Menard’s family has made a “multimillion dollar gift” to build a new eight-court tennis center on Menomonie Street just west of the entrance to Carson Park.

“It’s our intent that this new facility will provide the Eau Claire YMCA and residents of the Chippewa Valley with continuing opportunities to play tennis year-round,” said Menard, whose hardware chain includes nearly 300 stores. “To me, tennis is more than just a competitive sport, it’s a wholesome, healthy activity that can be enjoyed by friends and families of all ages.”

The Menard Family YMCA Tennis Center will be built on vacant property the YMCA owns and once considered as the site for a new YMCA. However, the YMCA is now planning to partner with UW-Eau Claire to build a shared activity center on other side of Menomonie Street. YMCA Executive Director Ken Van Es praised the Menard family’s generosity and said the new tennis facility will complement the future activity center, making coordinated activities easier.

The new facility would replace the 43-year-old L.E. Phillips Tennis Center on Moore Street, near Hastings Way. “The current tennis center has served us well with thousands of kids, adults, and families learning to play tennis there,” says Matt Boughton, Eau Claire YMCA tennis director. “But we believe this new facility will take our tennis program to the next level and provide more opportunities for everyone.”

The project will require a final site plan and approval from the Eau Claire City Council. If those hurdles are cleared, construction could began as early as next spring with a completion date of fall 2016.

Menard, an Eau Claire native and UWEC alumnus, is known both for his hardware stores, his status as Wisconsin’s richest man, and his sponsorship of NASCAR racing. (His son Paul is a professional racer.) Menard’s gift to the YMCA is his second major public act of philanthropy in recent years: In 2008, he gave $15 million to the emergency department at Luther Hospital, now known as Mayo Clinic Health System-Eau Claire.

Comments 20

Monday, Nov. 2nd, 2015

5 Leaves You’ll Be Raking This Season

1. Maple

You can credit a lot of the beautiful fall color around here to the abundance of maple trees (genus acer, for you fans of Latin names). Maples account for a whopping 36 percent the roughly 32,000 documented trees on public property in Eau Claire, says Todd Chwala, superintendent of parks, recreation, and forestry. That’s more than 11,000 maples, not counting the thousands more on private property and along riverbanks, etc.

2. Ash

While there are fewer ash trees now than there were a few years ago – thanks to city efforts to reduce their numbers before the dreaded emerald ash borer arrives to wipe them out, leaving tons of dead timber to remove at the same time – 24 percent of our trees on public property are still members of the genus fraxinus. In the past five years, Chwala’s team has removed about 2,500 ash trees and replaced them with more diverse species.

3. Linden

In the spring, lindens (genus tilia) greet our senses with the sweet fragrance of their tiny flowers. When the heart-shaped leaves fall in the autumn, they are pale green or yellow. Chwala says about 8.5 percent of the city’s public trees are lindens.

4. Elms

While Dutch elm disease wiped out millions of elms nationwide back in the 1970s, there are still a fair number of disease-resistant American elms (ulmus americana) in Eau Claire. They account for 5.5 percent of the city’s public trees, and their leaves are generally golden yellow in autumn.

5. Hackberry

Rounding out the top five deciduous denizens of Eau Claire is the hackberry (genus celtis), know for corky bark and deep roots. About 2.3 percent of trees on Eau Claire’s public property belong to this species, which has an impressive list of pseudonyms: sugarberry, nettletree, beaverwood, northern hackberry, and American hackberry.

Add a Comment »