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Jerry and Lisa Laatch heard about garden parties when the couple attended florist seminars more than 10 years ago.The idea to launch their own at Falls Florist & Greenhouse began to grow and eventually blossomed into an annual event to kick off the planting season and assist gardeners with container planting.“The idea was to get the plants kind of a head start,” said Lisa, who owns the Black River Falls-based business with Jerry. “That was part of it, and it was just to kind of get an interest in the season going and encourage people to come in and see what’s new. “It’s just nice for people to come in and get a taste of spring.”Falls Florist hosted its 10th annual garden party Saturday and welcomed children and adults alike who either brought or picked out containers, plants and then started assembling them into colorful arrangements that...

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Jackson County voters mimicked the state trend of supporting Democrat Bernie Sanders for president but instead gave strong support for Donald Trump on the GOP ticket.Texas Sen. Ted Cruz garnered 48 percent of the million-plus ballots cast in Wisconsin in last week’s Republican presidential primary while Trump came away with 35 percent.But Jackson County voters flipped those numbers, giving the billionaire businessman 53.9 percent of the vote compared to just 34 percent for Cruz. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the only other Republican on the ballot still in the race, got 14 percent of the statewide vote; he received 8.5 percent of the Jackson County vote.Sanders won the Democratic primary in the state with 56 percent over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent. Jackson County voted similar, giving the Vermont senator 58.3 percent over Clinton’s 40.9 percent.Trump carried all Jackson County municipalities except the villages of...

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Jay Eddy thought he may be interested in serving Black River Falls as mayor in the future after spending some time on the city council.Eddy, elected to the council in 2008, didn’t have a desire to run until Mayor Ron Danielson opted to retire, and that decision came this last spring.Eddy then ran unopposed and was elected mayor in the April 5 election and will take his oath of office at next week’s city council meeting. He is looking forward to the opportunity to help lead the city, he said. “I believe in public service, and I believe everybody should step forward – everyone should do their part,” said Eddy, a 1977 Black River Falls High School graduate. “I’ve got a pretty long history of doing different things with the public.”Danielson soon will turn over the meeting gavel after being elected to the council 26 years ago...

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Badgers basketball hero Bronson Koenig wouldn’t dream of texting while driving to the basket, and a new Ho-Chunk Nation billboard campaign features the La Crosse native warning against distracted driving on the road.The billboard features Koenig in his University of Wisconsin-Madison uniform, holding a basketball next to the message, “It only takes one text to crash your dreams.”Located on Highway 54 near Black River Falls, hometown of Ho-Chunk Nation headquarters, the billboard is part of the Ho-Chunk Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Program’s participation in April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Koenig, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation because his mother, Ethel Funmaker, is a tribal member, was especially familiar with crashing people’s dreams during the NCAA tournament.Koenig’s two stunning 3-point shots in the final 11.7 seconds of an NCAA tournament game propelled the Badgers to a 66-63 upset of Xavier University at the Scottrade Center in St....

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The proposed highway swap between La Crosse County and the state will go into effect May 1 after three years of discussion.County highway commissioner Ron Chamberlain updated the county’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee Monday on the county’s exchange of Highway C for Highway 108 with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.“Everything is plugging ahead,” Chamberlain said. The county signed an agreement with the DOT Jan. 11, which transferred control of 10.1 miles of county Highway C to the state in exchange for control of state Highway 108. The state, which sought the transfer due to the high traffic count on the county highway compared to the state highway, has pledged more than $4 million in substantial improvements on what will be county Highway C.Maintenance costs for the highways have already been swapped, with the state agreeing to foot the bill for Highway C improvements starting last week....

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A company that is working to start a frac sand mine in the towns of Alma and Adams filed for bankruptcy last week.Terracor Resources filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in a federal court in Texas April 4. The multiple cases have been consolidated into one under Sanjel USA Inc., of which Terracor is a subsidiary. Local legal counsel for the company and another company representative did not return multiple requests for comment as of press time on the filing’s potential impact to the proposed Jackson County project.Terracor has been working to launch a frac sand processing facility and related rail spur – an effort that has drawn packed county zoning meetings and opposition from landowners and other members of the public. A group of landowners also remains in the midst of pursuing court cases that seek to put a stop to all new proposed...

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The Black River Falls Public Library looks different than it did a handful of years ago.It has seen new paint, carpet and the addition of an Internet café, and it also reconfigured its shelves and space for children’s and teen areas.It was all part of an effort to create a warm and welcoming environment for patrons that allows them to best use the library’s materials and services, director Tammy Peasley said. “One of the things that has been a real priority is transforming the interior and updating the environment to be one that is warm and inviting for families,” she said. “What we’re doing is trying to create spaces that (are inviting) for small groups or individuals – another place not just to access the library resources but actually access the library space as well.”The BRF library, like those in the area and U.S., will mark National...

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A group of officials started brainstorming ways to improve the Black River Falls and Jackson County communities nearly five years ago.Their mission to create a multi-purpose space for cross-generational programming officially came to fruition Saturday with the open house for the new Lunda Community Center.“(The goal was) help make our community a better place to live,” said Carl Holmquist, a member of the Lunda Charitable Fund, which spearheaded the project. “I think we’ve done that.” Hundreds of people gathered at the 405 Highway 54 building to mark the opening and take tours of the recently completed 113,000-square-foot facility spearheaded by the Lunda Charitable Fund and a center oversight board.The center, funded all through private dollars, opened for its first day of regular business this past Monday after a year and a half of construction. The facility had more than 10 million pounds of cement used to build...

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The Black River Falls area drew in a record amount of room tax in 2015 thanks to local construction projects that boosted hotel and motel stays.The record $261,455 was about $31,000 more than 2014 and the most since the local room tax commission formed in 1998 when just more than $91,290 was collected.“It started midway to toward the end of the year in 2014 and just carried through in 2015 – there’s always a number of factors that result in increased room stays,” said Chris Hardie, executive director of the Black River Area Chamber of Commerce, which gets a portion of the money for expenses and tourism promotion. “Part of this was we had a lot of local construction projects last year that boosted occupancy above and beyond what you would get for a travel and tourism bump. “That was reflected in the campgrounds, too. There was...

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The Black River Falls Police Department will bring on a volunteer officer program.The city council recently OK’d the addition of three community service officers who will perform duties that don’t require sworn personnel. The department plans to have the new unpaid officers hired by June.“They become a part of the culture of the police department and the community,” BRF Police Chief Scot Eisenhauer said before the council approved the program at its March 16 meeting. “I think it’s all-around a good thing.”Eisenhauer proposed the positions, which will help with tasks like festival and school presence, weekend walkthroughs of the downtown and some nuisance ordinance enforcement, among other duties.Community service officers wear a different color uniform that sworn, trained police officers and will carry a radio and be trained in CPR. There will be some small start-up costs associated with the program. A large central Wisconsin department added...

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The second and final batch of elk has been transported back from Kentucky to bolster the existing herd that was reintroduced in Jackson County last year.Officials released 39 elk into their acclimation pen east of Black River Falls Thursday after the animals’ 13-hour trip.“(It went) perfectly,” Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang said. “And I’m not joking – we didn’t have a single issue of any kind.” Wisconsin and Kentucky officials trapped the elk earlier this year and the animals underwent a quarantine and health testing period before being brought to Jackson County. The elk will undergo additional monitoring and testing before being released from the pen this summer.“Overall, we are extremely pleased with the group of elk we recently received from Kentucky and are looking forward to the future of the Jackson County elk herd,” said DNR wildlife biologist Scott Roepke, who...

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