Thursday, Jul. 16th, 2015

For Real: Huebsch building will become restaurant, apartments

The long-vacant former Huebsch laundry building in downtown Eau Claire soon will be reborn as a mixed-used building featuring a restaurant with river’s-edge seating on the ground level and apartments above, according to designs from a local developer.

Jack Kaiser, who helped successfully transform the sprawling Uniroyal Goodrich tire plant into the multiuse Banbury Place, will bring his plans for the century-old Huebsch building, 101 N. Dewey St., before the city Waterways and Parks Commission on July 22. Kaiser bought the four-level brick building in 2003, a year after Huebsch Services moved out.

“The timing’s right,” Kaiser says when asked why he finally decided to serve up long-awaited plans for the building, which sits on a narrow strip between the downtown bike trail and the Eau Claire River. He cites ongoing commercial and residential development in and around downtown, including the Confluence Project a few blocks downriver, as motivating factors.

In the coming weeks, the proposal will go before the city’s Waterways and Parks Commission as well as the Plan Commission. Assuming plans are OK’d, Kaiser hopes to begin work on the building by Labor Day and to have the project finished by next summer.

The Huebsch building has been vacant for more than a decade, and has been the subject of continuous speculation and some criticism. However, Kaiser waited on the remodeling both because of his focus on other projects (including Banbury Place) and the economic recession. If successful, the project will be the culmination of two long-sought-after civic goals: the hunger for a downtown restaurant with a river view and the desire to do something with the vacant structure.

Mike Schatz, the city’s economic development administrator, says he’s excited by the news. “It is one of the most frequent questions we get: ‘What is going on with the Huebsch building? Why isn’t something being done?’ ” Schatz says. The site has been eyed by the city for redevelopment and has a lot going for it, Schatz says, including proximity to the bike trail, the ability to offer riverside restaurant seating, and the chance for apartments in a renovated historic building, which have proven popular downtown.

“That is a key entryway to downtown now that Galloway Street is used so much,” and having a spruced-up building at the corner will help welcome visitors, Schatz said.

Turning the building’s ground floor into an eatery has always been Kaiser’s goal. Originally, he says, “We really wanted to be able to find the person to put in the restaurant.” However, the ideal eatery tenant has not emerged, so Kaiser is gambling that beginning the renovation now will attract the right restaurateur later. While the exact nature of the eatery isn’t set in stone, at least one thing is clear: Kaiser will be leasing the space, not getting into the restaurant business. “I promised myself I’m not going to fry hamburgers or pour beer,” he quips.

Kaiser hopes to make use of the nearly 20,000-square-foot building’s old-fashioned industrial chic as well as make modern upgrades. Inside, brick walls, wooden timbers, and hardwood floors are already exposed, and will largely remain so (though the vast, echoing spaces will need interior walls and other repairs and remodeling). Outside, brick columns will remain uncovered but the brick and wood surfaces between them will be clad in a stucco-like exterior (similar to what was used on the Chamber Building across the street, which is also owned by Kaiser’s firm).

The south and east sides of the building be edged by a 1,600-square-foot deck overlooking the river that will be able to comfortably seat 100, says architect Bill Anderson. While the building’s west side is on the street, the new main entrance will be on the east side, facing the parking lot. That entrance will be part of a new addition that will include stairways and an elevator.

The upper two floors will be transformed into 10 apartments – some with two bedrooms, some with one – with style and amenities reminiscent of the International Harvester Apartments, which are part of Banbury Place. The bottom level will include banquet seating for 40 to 80 people, while the ground floor will be devoted to a yet-to-be-determined restaurant that will seat 120. Kaiser plans to add some elements – stairwells and bathrooms, for example – but the bulk of the space will be left open to allow flexibility for the eventual restaurant tenant.

Kaiser says the building served as a business incubator of sorts at the turn of the last century. Originally the Gotzian shoe factor, the building was home to the Huebsch Laundry Co. as early as 1914. In 2002, the company, now known as Huebsch Services, relocated to a new facility on White Avenue. It appears that within a few months the venerable building’s much-anticipated next chapter will begin.

Check out more photos ...

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Wednesday, Jul. 15th, 2015

Eaux Claires: Finding the Locals

Dave Power (on the drums) will be playing with Aero Flynn at Eaux Claires this weekend.
Dave Power (on the drums) will be playing with Aero Flynn at Eaux Claires this weekend.

This weekend’s inaugural Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival (July 17 & 18) will contain a huge display of genre-spanning music and breathtaking art installations from an expanse of renowned artists from all over the world. But let’s keep in mind the impact that local people from the Chippewa Valley have in this huge arts and cultural event. Locals have their fingers in just about every aspect of the festival from local food vendors, volunteers, and assistants; to musicians, installation artists, and production staff. Countless folks involved with the festival have Eau Claire roots, but the following are some of the people who currently live here and are giving one of the year’s biggest local events some Chippewa Valley flavor.

Musicians & Performers

Dave Power – Aero Flynn
Ben Lester – Aero Flynn, S. Carey, The Tallest Man on Earth
Justin Vernon – Bon Iver
Michael Noyce –Bon Iver, Aero Flynn, The Tallest Man on Earth
Sean Carey – S. Carey, Bon Iver
Shane Leonard – Field Report
UWEC Jazz I Ensemble / Alumni – S. Carey
Michael Perry – Narrator, Eaux Claires
Zach Hanson – Drummer, S. Carey, The Tallest Man on Earth
Jeremy Boettcher – Bass, S. Carey
Brian Joseph – Sound Engineer, Bon Iver
Ben Hinz – Dwarfcraft Devices
Davy Sumner – Artist, PiBines 

Art & More

Lori Chilefone – Artist
Eric Lee – Artist
Mark Lone – Illustrator/Artist
David Caradori – Caradori Pottery
Tim Brudnicki –Eau Claire Woodworks
Jamie Kaiser – Artist, Tangled Up in Hue
Erin Roesler – Artist, Tangled Up in Hue
Kevin Szymanski – Artist, Tangled Up in Hue
Lindsay Ulness – Designer, Linyage 
Sarah Hrudka –Designer, Linyage 
Janae Breunig – Designer, Volume One
Serena Wagner – Designer, Volume One
RT Vrieze – Co-Owner at Knorth Studios
Chris Barlett – Co-Owner, Knorth Studios
Michael Brown – Creative Director, Eaux Claires
Max Koehler – Creative Lead, Antic Studios
Ryan Warffuel – Owner, Antic Studios
Jason Jon Anderson – Production Manager, UWEC
Leah Richardson – Arts Administration Intern, UWEC
Cherie Minske – PR/Marketing intern, UWEC
Aaron Ellringer – Kubb Evangelist


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Tuesday, Jul. 14th, 2015

Jumping Worm

Our new friend the
Our new friend the "crazy worm."

Wisconsin soil has a new guest and it’s as stubborn as it is unwelcome. The most recent entry in a slew of invasive species to make it to Wisconsin, the jumping worm was first found in the state in 2013 around Madison.

At least they're not around Eau Claire. Yet.
At least they're not around Eau Claire. Yet.
Get a closer look.

Since then, DNR has confirmed that it’s spread to 5 other counties and possibly to 14. The jumping worm is so called because of its strange wriggling behavior when touched. The crawlers are asexual — so they can reproduce on their own — which makes them particularly resilient as a species in new environments. They don’t survive the harsh Wisconsin winters, but their cocoons do, starting the whole life cycle over again in the spring.

The Wisconsin DNR says that it’s too early to know what the impact of these worms will be, but in other states they have been known to change the soil composition and destroy local vegetation, allowing invasive plants to move in.

The DNR has released this fact sheet so the public can learn more about this species and published this story in the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. If you’re interested in volunteering to protect Wisconsin’s native flora by removing invasive species, you can learn more about the Wisconsin First Detector program here.

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Friday, Jul. 10th, 2015

Eau Claire Music Featured on WPR Summer Series

Aero Flynn will be featured on WPR's Set List, July 10.
Aero Flynn will be featured on WPR's Set List July 10.

Eau Claire music hits the air waves this summer on WPR. The popular afternoon talk show Central Time is hosting Set List, a summer music series set to air through early September. Set List will bring featured Wisconsin musicians into the WPR studios to perform their music and talk to the hosts of Central Time. The series is produced by Karl Christenson and Brad Kolberg, both of whom are veterans of the Eau Claire music scene and can claim UW-Eau Claire as their alma mater.

The hosts of Central Time seek to use Set List to bring emerging Wisconsin musical talent to an audience eager to hear it, and to foster use their interviews with the musicians to foster a connection between artists and listeners. “Central Time is excited to host Set List. It's part of the show's mission to explore the rich culture of Wisconsin and discover new things that enrich the lives of our listeners, ” said Central Time Executive Producer, Sheryl Gasser.

Set List will show Eau Claire some summer love with performances by Aero Flynn, Field Report, and J.E. Sunde. Tune in on Fridays to hear your favorite Sconnie sounds or discover something new. 

Set List airs Fridays at 4:15 p.m. Full versions of the artists’ songs and videos of the performances will be featured on the Set List website at

Artist Schedule

Friday, July 10  - Aero Flynn
Friday, July 17  - Field Report
Friday, July 24  - Dolores
Friday, July 31  - The Traveling Suitcase
Friday, August 7 - Sat. Nite Duets
Friday, August 14 - Whitney Mann
Friday, August 21 - Milo
Friday, August 28 - J.E. Sunde
Friday, September 4 - El Valiente

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Monday, Jul. 6th, 2015

Super Kubb Tee

Just in time for the US National Kubb Championship – held every July here in Eau Claire – The Local Store has released what we feel is one of the very coolest kubb shirts in the world – yes world! By city decree, Eau Claire is the "Kubb Capital of North America" and The Local Store has always been a huge supporter of the sport, so we just had to produce a great tee to back all that up. Designed in-house, the new shirt is screen printed by the fine folks at Ambient Inks right here in town.

Kubb is one of the fastest growing lawn sports in the country, and Eau Claire is well known for it's love of the game, which originated in Sweden. The shirt features all of the game's playing pieces. 

Grab your own kubb tee in the shop or online! $22.

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Wisconsin's Most Distinctive Cause of Death Isn't Exciting Enough

Every state is different, and in them, people die in different ways like special, accident-prone snowflakes. The CDC has issued this map charting the most "distinctive" causes of death in each state. I expected Wisconsin's to be something like "snowmobile collision with deer while eating cheese." But no; we're part of a boring six state cluster that dies of "other and acute lower respiratory infections."

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Actually, when you look the map, we seem to be just about as boring as everyone else. Most of the entries are boring diseases like Tuberculosis and even Influenza (that's the freaking flu). Two of the more interesting entries are Arizona's "discharge of firearms, undetermined intent" and Idaho's "water, air and space, and other unspecified transport accidents and their sequelae." Idaho sounds like it might have a Bermuda Triangle-esque problem. But seriously; no "impact from falling piano?" No "mauled by saber-toothed tiger?" No "angered local baron and lost in a duel?" You disappoint me, America. 

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Friday, Jul. 3rd, 2015

Fat Albert Packs a Punch

Photo: Chippewa Valley Air Show
Photos: Chippewa Valley Air Show

When people think of the Blue Angels, most people think of the F-18 Fighter jets. While they aren’t wrong, a big, blue C-130 jet-assisted cargo plane is also part of the Blue Angel entourage. While not as sleek or stylish as its more recognized counterparts, Fat Albert still packs a punch.

I was one of 9 media passengers and about twenty members of the National Guard and Navy on Fat Albert when it flew a demonstration over Eau Claire earlier today (Friday, July 3) in anticipation of the Chippewa Valley Air Show (July 4 and 5). While I’ve been on several dozen commercial flights in my time, this was nothing like anything I’d ever experienced before.

After several briefings on the runway and ten minutes of exploration time onboard, we were instructed to buckle up and enjoy the ensuing ride. While your typical commercial airliner ascends at approximately 10 degrees, Fat Albert does so at a 45-degree angle. During takeoff, we experienced two G’s, pushing us back into our seats and were then quickly subjected to negative G’s, launching us into the upper limits of our harnesses.

Don't worry, they didn't let me drive it.
Don't worry, they didn't let me drive it.

As I was strapped into the sides of this vessel and familiarizing myself with the se extreme physical forces, the crew members chose to stand the whole time, only holding on when no other option presented itself.

While the ups and downs of this flight were certainly stimulating, the sharp turns are what really made me nearly lose my intentionally light lunch. This plane turns at about sixty degrees and then immediately does so the other direction, while your typical airliner rarely does so at more than 15 degrees.

The big turns, steep climbs and intense dives went on for nearly ten minutes, until we made one last dive toward the runway, touched ground; and then the pilots immediately slammed on the brakes, bringing us to an abrupt stop. We were all thrown forward again as we skidded to a burnt rubber-scented stop. It took me a few minutes to reacquaint my legs with the ground, but I was happy to be back on land.

NOTE: The guy sporting the aviator shades is NOT a pilot.
Fun fact: The guy sporting the aviator shades is the only one who isn't a pilot.

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Thursday, Jul. 2nd, 2015

We Stuck an Intern in a Stunt Plane

Photos: Chippewa Valley Air Show
Photos: Chippewa Valley Air Show

Editor's Note: Volume One was lucky enough to be offered a ride in a sweet-looking stunt plane, courtesy of the Chippewa Valley Air Show. So we stuffed our intern James into it and said, "Good luck, man!" 

Modern flight can seem a mundane, if not tedious affair. After my flight with Mike Wiskus, I have a new appreciation for flight and the machines that make us do it.

Intern James, shown here heading right into the Danger Zone.
Intern James, shown here heading right into the Danger Zone.

When I got my first look at the aircraft I’d be riding in, I half-thought it was a remote-controlled plane. Mike showed me how to climb into the plane – a two-seat craft called a “Pitts” – which required a minor balancing act, and strapping into a straight jacket-like seat and parachute. Hearing the “p-word” made me almost trip into the cockpit, but thinking of it as more of an airborne life preserver made the experience seem less dire.

See? It's really James in there.
See? It's really James in there.

But what about the stunts?

We did tight rolls, barrel rolls, steep banks, climbs, and a whole assortment of stunts that I can only describe by sweeping my hands around in front of me while making airplane sounds.After two vertical loops had left me literally breathless, Mike told me to “look up” and I saw that we were bulleting straight towards the ground. Mike pulled us back into a gentle glide and by then it was time to return to the Earth. My stomach agreed with him.

Mike is the kind of guy who, despite flying and doing aerobatic stunts for decades, bursts with enthusiasm for sharing it with people. You can watch him do his aerobatic stunts on July 4th and 5th at the Chippewa Valley Air Show. You can learn more about his air shows at Lucas Oil Air Shows and visit his Facebook page for more information about upcoming events.

See this thing in action!

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