2013 2013 WAS ONE HECK OF A YEAR.
WORDS: Tom Giffey, Thom Fountain, Mike Paulus
The Confluence Project pushed forward, our downtown experienced development ups and downs, and we got to know a host of new community leaders. Now, as the year wraps up, we take a look back at the last year in the Chippewa Valley.
PHOTOS: Andrea Paulseth DESIGN: Kaitlyn Bryan
CONFLUENCE MOVES FORWARD, EXPERIENCES BACKLASH THE PROPOSED CONFLUENCE PROJECT,
a multimillion-dollar performing arts development in downtown Eau Claire, brought some people together – and drove others apart – during 2013. While the Confluence Project was announced in May 2012, it drew wide acclaim for its boldness and uniqueness: The Confluence is a partnership among UWEau Claire, the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center (which operates the State Theatre), and Commonweal Development. It wasn’t until this past year that project experienced concrete action – and the inevitable reaction from skeptics. The actions that brought the project closer to fruition included several major donations, the creation of a grassroots pro-Confluence group, the release of a study showing the arts center could
JAMF PLEDGES $500,000
FUNDING SHIFTS, multiuse building will be private
VERNON, HALMSTAD to chair fundraising committee
REFERENDUM PETITION DRIVE BEGINS
VISIT EAU CLAIRE says it will locate its office in Confluence center and fund campaign to promote events there
A STUDY BY CONSULTING FIRM VENUWORKS says the Confluence center would create an estimated $4.5 million in economic activity its first year and would operate $100,000 in the black that year as well
TASK FORCE for Confluence Committee formed
U.S. BANK PLEDGES $100,000 at pep rally
22 CITY COUNCIL APPROVAL of $5 million pledge
26 PETITION SIGNATURES ANNOUNCED
operate in the black, and the Eau Claire City Council’s 8-3 vote to pledge $5 million toward the arts center’s $50 million price tag. (The projected total cost is $77.2 million, including a privately built residential/commercial building.) The reaction was embodied in a push for a public referendum that would require Eau Claire residents to directly approve public spending on the project, an effort that Confluence supporters criticized as meant to delay and undermine the project. At year’s end, referendum supporters had gathered more than enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot, but legal questions remained. We don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s not hard to predict that the Confluence Project will be grabbing headlines well into 2014 and beyond.
This will be a great perk for people working in the area, but it is much more than that: It will improve the quality of life for an entire region. It is a wonderful opportunity for growth in Eau Claire and the downtown area. -- Statement from JAMF Software after the company pledged $500,000 to the Confluence Project in March. JAMF is one of a handful of companies that contributed to the project including RCU and US Bank.
Follow more progress from The Confluence Project throughout the year by looking for the gold icons in the “quick hits” sections on each page.
Top sellers at The Local Store in 2013
GLENN ST. ARNAULT
From The Top
Full Moon Over Madeline Island
Fiddleheads To Fir Trees
VolumeOne.org 24 Jan. 9, 2014
REVELING IN RANKINGS
TEN (MORE) COOLEST CITIES IN THE MIDWEST Eau Claire made this MSN.com list (our kubb capital status helped a lot)
NINTH SMARTEST REGION The Chippewa Valley (or, to be technically, the “Eau Claire-Menomonie combined statistical area”) was ranked among the smartest regions in the nation by Lumosity, a purveyor of online brain games
20TH MOST SECURE SMALL CITY WE DON’T LIKE TO BRAG, BUT WE ALL KNOW THE CHIPPEWA VALLEY IS A PRETTY AWESOME PLACE TO LIVE. (OK, we’re bragging, but it’s true!) This year a few more rankings solidified our opiniton:
Eau Claire cracked the top 20 among cities under 150,000 people in annual rankings by Farmers Insurance
NO. 1 IN NCCA DIVISION III HOCKEY The UW-Eau Claire’s men’s hockey team won a national title in March with a 5-3 victory over Oswego (N.Y.) State
QUICK HITS JANUARY
Bon Iver’s two full length albums go gold in the same week Chippewa Valley music and art stalwart Leah Rule dies Eau Claire’s Lazy Monk Brewing starts canning their brews Downtown grocer Charly’s Market shuts down after a short run City Council approves new rules for fire dancers
The writers, musicians, artists, and artisans of this area are an increasingly important part of the identity of the place. Plus, rivers are particularly good for writers. No one knows exactly why.
13¢ ANNUAL PER-CAPITA STATE ARTS SPENDING IN WISCONSIN
putting the state 47th in the nation
CHEESE CHAMP CROWNED MARIEKE MATURE GOUDA, MADE BY WESTERN WISCONSIN CHEESEMAKER MARIEKE PENTERMAN of Holland’s Family Cheese in Thorp, won the grand championship in March at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Green Bay. Penterman’s take on traditional Dutch Gouda was judged the best among 1,700 entries.
-- Max Garland, who was chosen as Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate in January and will serve for two years. Garland, a UWEau Claire English professor, has traveled around the state in his role as Poet Laureate speaking, giving readings, and encouraging art and creativity.
Taste Of The Valley partners with Community Table for 2013 Eau Claire snow sculptors take first at U.S. National Snow Carving Championship UW-Stout apparel design grad has swimsuit featured in Sports Illus-
trated’s Swimsuit Issue
Eau Claire launches the Public Spirit Fund for citizens to donate to community projects
Post Office chooses old Burger
King lot on Madison St. as new location
Weezer’s bass player shows some love for Dwarfcraft Devices on PedalsAndEffects.com Locally made Marieke Gouda wins U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Green Bay
CITY COUNCIL GETS FIVE (MOSTLY) NEW FACES NUMEROUS FRESH FACES JOINED THE EAU CLAIRE CITY COUNCIL LAST SPRING when voters choose among 10 contenders for five at-large seats. The winners were Michael Xiong, Catherine Emmanuelle, David Strobel, Eric Larsen, and Monica Lewis. Only Emmanuelle was an incumbent, and she had only served a few months after being appointed to fill a vacancy. The new councilpersons hit the ground running, dealing with thorny issues ranging from budgets to snowplowing to the Confluence Project. And the new year could bring new changes: Incumbent City Council President Kerry Kincaid is up for re-election in April.
City Council considers an official city coat of arms
John Menard continues a steady
rise on the Forbes 400 list, becoming the 53rd richest American
Clubs Choice Fundraising brings sweet, sweet cookie dough factory to Eau Claire Record label and music collective
Totally Gross National Product
reunites in Minneapolis
Shouting Matches reunites and releases debut full-length, GROWNASS MAN
Poet Laureate Bruce Taylor given the a-OK for a second two-year term
QUICK HITS may
“Mother And Child” sculpture stolen from the Eau Claire Sculpture Tour Former local children’s author Eliza Wheeler lands on New York Times’
Best Seller list
Minnesota state representative takes a jab at Leinenkugels, while his wife stands up for our local brewery Public works director and city engineer Brian Amundson retires after almost three decades with the city Due to sequestration cuts that grounded the Blue Angels, the Chippewa Valley Air Show cancels
UW-Stout game design team wins first at national E3 Video Game Conference with Flash Frozen
Wisconsin Public Television picks up local foodie show Around The Farm
Irvine Park Zoo adds hyenas to their
Drummer Mike Malone gets nabbed by world famous Glenn Miller Orchestra for upcoming tours City Council approves new skate park at Lakeshore Elementary, with financial help from local and national orgs
JAMF SOFTWARE MOVING UP JAMF SOFTWARE HAS BEEN BUILDING QUIETLY IN EAU CLAIRE FOR A DECADE, turning into a bustling and quickly expanding international tech start-up offering management software for large and small institutions that use Apple products, like Macs or iPads. The company – founded by Eau Claire native and UW-Eau Claire graduate Zach Halmstad – now employs close to 100 people in their downtown Eau Claire offices and in February announced a new office building right next to RCU in the Phoenix Park neighborhood. The building, which is now well underway, will provide the company the space and facilities they need to continue growing here in Eau Claire (and around the world).
S. BARSTOW GETS A FACELIFT
I love these towns like Eau Claire, Wisconsin, like, places that don’t even have like a good airport. Like, why are agents such (expletive) that they even make us go there? Like, it’s bad enough we have to play different big cities, but really, Eau Claire, Wisconsin?
AFTER YEARS OF PLANNING, SOUTH BARSTOW STREET FINALLY GOT UPROOTED AND PUT BACK TOGETHER. The main downtown drag got new asphalt, sidewalks, pavers, trees, benches and parking arrangements and opened to traffic in August while work continued. The construction did take a toll on downtown though, with the street and sidewalks being closed or limited for most the summer, causing festivals to get changed and businesses to fret but it seems we made it out with limited casualties and now have a nice, beautiful new street to go visit.
– Comedian Lisa Lampanelli on Adam Carolla’s podcast, about her May 10 show at the State Theatre. (Apparently she still cashed the check.)
VolumeOne.org 26 Jan. 9, 2014
RAMADA IS SOLD, SOLD AGAIN, CLOSES, AND SOLD ONCE MORE
THINGS MAY BE LOOKING UP IN SOME PARTS OF DOWNTOWN EAU CLAIRE, but looming above it all is a darkened, eight-story question mark: the former Ramada Convention Center. The hotel and convention center on South Barstow Street closed its doors in late November after several years of financial difficulties that culminated in not one, not two, but three sheriff’s foreclosure auctions. The buyers in the first two auctions failed to make their payments – the first buyer was the original owner, SB Hotel Management – and the sole bidder in the third auction, held Dec. 3, was the property’s lender, Dougherty Funding. Until Dougherty re-opens (or more likely, resells) the facility, downtown Eau Claire will continue to miss out on a major convention facility, two restaurants, and 122 hotel rooms.
Reconstruction of South Barstow Street done before Aug. 16 deadline The first of three sheriff’s auctions is held for the downtown Ramada,
which is in foreclosure
UWEC student documentary
screened at LGBT film festival in San Francisco
Wisconsin ranks No. 47 in per capita arts spending ACLU asks for Eau Claire
“I’m just sick to my stomach about it.”
ANNUAL INCOME AND PROFITS FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES THAT RESULTS FROM SPENDING BY UWEC
Children’s Museum of Eau Claire adds Imagination Playground, set of 200 enormous blue blocks
--President of the Sculpture Tour Board Sue Larson when she learned one of the sculptures had been stolen from Madison Street in May. The sculpture, “Mother And Child,” has yet to be returned, despite a hefty reward posted.
according to a may 2013 study
Gov. Scott Walker cuts $3 million
from UWEC budget
Eau Claire Regional Arts Council to administer Sculpture Tour
City Council OKs parking lot across from Phoenix Park, as well as 57-unit apartment next to park
BIG YEAR FOR BUS NEWS THINGS WERE ON THE MOVE FOR EAU CLAIRE TRANSIT IN 2013, and we don’t just mean buses running routes. After nearly 30 years of making do with a temporary structure that has all the architectural charm of a concrete outhouse, the city took a step toward building a real bus transfer center when the City Council voted in November to earmark $125,000 for building plans in 2015.
Other 2013 transit milestones were more concrete: Eau Claire Transit inaugurated a commuter route to Menomonie, added Wi-Fi to its buses, made route information available via Google Maps, and began using a trio of super-efficient hybrid buses. And, as you may have noticed, it wrapped those hybrids in some awesome artwork created by UW-Eau Claire students. Riding the bus never looked so good.
Eau Claire Brewing Project plans nanobrewery JAMF breaks ground for 72,000-square-foot office Dunkin’ Donuts plans locations in Eau Claire
mermaid-themed Craigslist “Missed Connection” from Eau
Claire gains attention
CF native’s punk project WEED gets press from NPR, Pitchfork International Fall Festival transformed into Celebrate
Eau Claire Day
Menomonie creates “bike boxes”
to protect cyclists at intersections
Menomonie-Eau Claire bus route begins
Top sellers at The Local Store in 2013
THE SUE ORFIELD BAND
Fight The Good Fight
VolumeOne.org 27 Jan. 9, 2014
QUICK HITS SEPTEMBER
Volcano Choir, a musical collaborative including Justin Vernon, releases sophomore album, Repave, and plays two sold-out shows at UWEC
Plans unveiled for Oxbow Music & Art Festival next year in Carson Park
Local ingredient rule causes a stir for Downtown Farmers Market
One of the things that attracted me to Eau Claire is the great potential to do things together. I’d be an advocate for greater state and federal support for all of our work, but I believe we can be smarter and work together. --Dr. James Schmidt, who was chosen as the new chancellor at UW-Eau Claire and started his tenure in fall. Schmidt – who previously was an administrator at Winona State University – has jumped right in, being a strong voice in support of the Confluence Project and pushing for increased collaboration between the university and the community.
Just Local Food converts to member-owned co-op Justin Vernon and Zach Halmstad
become honorary co-chairmen of Confluence fundraising committee City Council OKs first phase of the Pinehurst Project, which will
create a winter sports park
Eau Claire City Council pledges $5
million to Confluence Project
THE JUSTIN VERNON-LED VOLCANO CHOIR released its critically praised sophomore album Repave on Sept. 3, then came to UW-Eau Claire’s Schofield Auditorium for two sold out nights in October.
AMOUNT OF A THREE-YEAR FEDERAL GRANT RECEIVED BY THE CHIPPEWA VALLEY MUSEUM TO ENHANCE EAU CLAIRE COUNTY’S CULTURAL LIFE
Downtown Eau Claire Inc. gives grant to work toward a river
overlook near Water Street
Chippewa Valley Museum gets $150,000 federal culture grant Eau Claire park accreditation puts facilities among top 1% nationwide Irvine Park Zoo plans new small animal building
UW-Stout art professor Charles Matson Lume shortlisted in Art-
Best-selling author Mike Perry
published latest book, From the Top
Polica makes waves with second
“Symphony on the Brain” sound installation at Banbury Place
november Children’s Museum of Eau Claire
KICKSTARTERS of 2013 AMOUNT RAISED ON KICKSTARTER FOR HEXELS, a product that works with the popular strategy game Settlers Of Catan. Hexels’ inventor is former Eau Clairian Tim Walsh, who was one of many locals with successful Kickstarter projects in 2013.
opens camping and farm life exhibits
Gerald Staniszewski becomes
new Eau Claire police chief
Eau Claire Economic Development Corp. finds skill gap in region’s
Push begins for referendum on Confluence Project Picture by Menomonie man in running for National Geographic
UWEC recognized as
bike-friendly campus U.S. Bank pledges $100,000
to Confluence Project
1,052 SYMPHONY ON THE BRAIN Sound Installation
2,521 SAME, SAME, SAME by Alexander Clay
AMERICAN VERNACULAR by Nicholas Phillips
5,330 THE ARCO SESSIONS
THE BREAK SIDE: Ultimate Frisbee Doc
3,030 DEBUT ALBUM from picard
VolumeOne.org 28 Jan. 9, 2014
WE ARE DREAMERS by The Picture Perfect
NEW ALBUM from Kalispell
QUICK HITS DECEMBER Longtime UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen announces retirement
JAMF Software gets $30 million
Visit Eau Claire will move office to Confluence Project
UW-Stout course takes students to Jim Henson Co.
PLACEMAKING THE PLAZA I feel that they should have a voice in the decision-making. They’re the ones who walk through the door every day. -- Noël Kroeplin of Just Local Food, on allowing customers to buy co-op membership shares for the first time
ENOUGH LOOKING BACK – time to look forward. Using a combination of insider info, educated guessing, Brazilian voodoo, and a number of extremely expensive computer simulations, we’ve constructed what we believe to be the most likely (and noteworthy) local occurrences of 2014. See what you think. In one year’s time, if none of these things come to pass, you have our sincerest apologies and shoulder shrugs.
TO NO ONE’S SURPRISE, a Trader Joe’s is not built anywhere near the Chippewa Valley. Locals somehow deal with it.
BOLSTERED BY ITS RIVER PRAIRIE PROJECT along Highway 53, Altoona quietly continues development up to and across the borders of Eau Claire, eventually expanding its empire to envelop the entire downtown area, claiming the heart of the city as its own. People comment on how much Altoona has changed over the past few years, “what with the farmers market and Phoenix Park and all that.”
A RESTAURANT OPENS for eight months and then closes.
WITH ALL THE TALK OF THE CONFLUENCE PROJECT (see: just about every page of this feature), the city decided to take up the issue of Haymarket Plaza – the city owned parking lot right at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers. The space will be upgraded at some point whether the Confluence Project goes through or not, so a group of city council members, private donors and planning groups gathered together to do a public-first “placemaking” session in October, where citizens were able to work through what they wanted – and didn’t want – at the site. The results will all be compiled into a report early in 2014.
WISCONSIN’S CRAFT DISTILLERY SCENE EXPLODES in 2014, with the Chippewa Valley at its epicenter. Local distillers hit it big with farm-fresh spirit flavors such as tomato whiskey, soy bean gin, and dandelion brandy. But things really heat up when booze artisans combine alcohols to form trendy items such as vodka brandy, whiskey vodka, gin bourbon, brandy brandy, and schnapps tequila.
AFTER YEARS OF DEBATE on how best to capitalize on the beauty and majesty of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers, a bold initiative by the city of Eau Claire to “put the rivers all up in people’s business” reveals plans for an extensive canal system, rerouting river water across the city. CVTC unveils a degree in gondoliering and three different gondola manufacturers relocate to the area resulting in the gondola job boom of 2014.
LOCAL SNOW SLEDDING ENTHUSIAST Jordan Nelson, age 14, emerges onto the national sledding scene, breaking 3 records and claiming 5 national sledding titles, one of them at the prestigious Alaskan Saucer Open. He attributes his frosty success to the “many fine slopes of Eau Claire. “
Outdoor TV legend
Dave Carlson retires Former Kline Department Store on South Barstow Street
loses landmark status
Investors buy Green Tree Inn, plan boutique hotel
Victory declared in Confluence Project petition push, but questions remain
GROUND IS BROKEN for Eau Claire’s new transit station, featuring an array of innovative transportation services available to the local commuter, including the never-before-seen snuggle bus program, offering riders a personal “cuddle therapy session” with one of the service’s trained snuggle therapists. The program asks you to “snuggle your way across Eau Claire.”
ALIENS. This is the year. And this is where it happens.
IN THE SUMMER OF 2014, the downtown Eau Claire farmers market finds itself dealing with an onslaught of illegal egg roll vendors, offering the people of eau claire tasty fried appetizers in direct violation of the market’s new “51% rule” requiring the ingredients of food sold at the market to be at least 51% sourced from local vendors. In response, the Eau Claire Police Department announces a special egg roll task force to monitor the market, checking bushes and other concealed areas for Asian food trailers.
2013 WAS A ONE HECK OF A YEAR. The Confluence Project pushed forward, our downtown experienced development ups and downs, and we got to know...