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"After all these years, still doing a great job!!" -Ron Hermanson
Meet the Miss St. Croix Falls candidates
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
It's that time of year again. Wannigan Days runs from July 20-22. It is again time to select St. Croix Falls royalty who will be ambassadors of the city through 2018.
The queen's pageant is a highlight of the planned festivities. It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the St. Croix Falls Elementary School.
What follows is a picture of the contestants followed by their biographies.
Hope Anderson
Hope is the daughter of Todd and Becky Anderson and is sponsored by Pins & Needles.
Hope is involved in football and wrestling as a manager, serves on the student council, is in SOS, participates in clowns and is involved in her church.
Hope loves being with younger kids, being outside, spending time with family, being creative, and watching movies.
After high school, she plans to go to college to become an athletic trainer, and hopes to continue managing football while in college.
“I decided to run for Miss St. Croix Falls because when I was little, I was fortunate enough to be Little Miss First Princess. The girls who were on the royalty were such great role models to me,” says Hope. “Ever since then I have wanted to be that kind of role model for other people. I believe that running for Miss St. Croix Falls will be an amazing experience.”
Alexis Backes
Alexis is the daughter of Karen and Dani Backes and is sponsored by Logger's Bar & Grill.
Alexis is involved in softball at school. She also loves swimming, volleyball, fishing, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Alexis plans on continuing her education and would eventually like to become a nurse or EMT (emergency medical technician).
“I am running for Miss St. Croix Falls to experience something new.”
Jordan Braund
Jordan is the daughter of Tammi and Mike Braund and is sponsored by Falls Orthodontics.
Jordan is involved in the Future Farmers of America, basketball, soccer, track, and power lifting.
Jordan loves spending time with her family, having fun with friends and lifting weights or playing sports.
“After high school I would like to attend college and continue my power lifting career,” says Jordan. “I would go to school to potentially become a sports doctor, athletic trainer, or something in the cooking genre.”
Jordan decided to run for Miss St. Croix Falls because she wanted to have a good time with friends and thought that competing in this pageant would be a good way to overcome her shyness.
Jordan also did it for her little sister Hannah, because she is a Little Miss St. Croix Falls, and Hannah really looks up to her, and it would really make Hannah proud.
Julie Haasnoot
Julie is the daughter of Heather Zabel and is sponsored by Cushing Heating and Air Conditioning.
Julie is involved in softball, the color guard for marching band, forensics and Kinship.
Julie loves going on walks and hikes, spending most of her Summer at Interstate Park. She also enjoys painting and music.
“I plan on going to college to become an elementary school teacher or working in an ambulance as an EMT.”
Julie wants to make a positive impact on her community and try to be seen as a role model.
Her sister Shannon also served as royalty 2015-2016 as a second princess. Julie really looks up to her sister Shannon. After seeing how much fun Shannon had throughout the year, it made her want to be in the Miss St. Croix Falls Royalty, too.
Tia Kolve
Tia is the daughter of Tara and Gene Kolve and is sponsored by Johnson Motors of St. Croix Falls.
Tia is involved in 4H, Future Farmers of America, and UBRA.
Tia loves riding horses, camping, swimming, playing sports and being outside.
After high school, Tia is looking forward to attending University of Wisconsin – River Falls and major in equine science and join their rodeo team.
“I decided to run for Miss St. Croix Falls because I was the Little Miss Second Princess when I was younger and I think it would be cool to continue reigning.”
Tia also thinks that it would be really fun to be in parades and help out and be more involved with the community.
“I believe it would be an amazing opportunity.
Isabella Langer
Isabella is the daughter of Joel and Gayle Langer and is sponsored by Polk County Abstract.
Isabella is involved in volleyball, softball, choir, and clogging, helping out with Sunday school, singing in the church choir, youth group and volunteering at the St. Croix Regional Medical Center.
Isabella loves camping, fishing, biking, crafting, shopping and hanging out with her friends and family and doing anything outside.
After high school she plans to attend college, get a job and start to be on her own in the world.
“I decided to run for Miss St. Croix Falls because I thought it would be fun,” says Isabella. “It's been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl and I would watch the parade and see royalty.”
Isabella has always looked up to royalty and considered them to be good role models. 
Isabella wants to be a good role model not only to little girls but to people of all ages.
Hailey Norlander
Hailey is the daughter of April and Jason Norlander and is sponsored by the Dalles House Restaurant and Lounge.
Hailey is involved in Future Farmers of America as well as St. Croix Falls Dance.
Hailey loves dancing and doing art like drawing and painting.
Hailey's plans after graduation are to wait a year to start college and then majoring either to become a housing designer or adoption counselor.
“I want to join the Miss St. Croix Falls royalty, because I want to be more a part of the community than I currently am.”
Hailey also wants to explore and meet more people outside of her community.
Bryanna Raddatz
Bryanna is the daughter of Bryan and Katie Raddatz and is sponsored by FB Contractors, Inc.
Bryanna is involved in cheerleading, basketball as a manager, and Future Farmers of America.
Bryanna loves spending time with her family at their cabin, sitting around the campfire, talking, eating Smores, riding four wheelers, spending time with her two dogs and one cat as well as her friends.
Bryanna's plans after high school are to become a yoga instructor and/or take over her father's business in the future.
“I want to join the Miss St. Croix Falls Royalty because I love being a role model to younger children and I would like to represent our community in a positive manner.”
July 19, 2018
SCF and TF featured on “Goin' the Lake”
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
Last week, there was a great deal of murmuring and guffufal about WCCO – Channel 4 featuring St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls on their “Goin' to the Lake” segment.
Anchors Jason DeRusha and Matt Brickman along with their crew would be visiting the St. Croix River Valley.
Where would they go and what would they do? Residents had the opportunity to make recommendations via Facebook on where they thought “must see” places were.
DeRusha and Brickman visited “must see” places like the Festival Theatre and the Overlook Deck. The duo also made their way to another favorite place for locals, the 17-acre game/wildlife park Fawn-Doe-Rosa where they got to get up close and personal with some of the area's local wildlife as well as goats, sheep, llamas, alpacas, donkeys and the like.
They also paid a visit to Wild Mountain where they took on the Freefall XP. They both jumped from platforms 18 feet and 27 feet high. DeRusha can be heard letting out a rather shrill battle cry when he jumped, which elicited more than one chuckle from onlookers.
DeRusha and Brickman also got to check out some of local dining establishments as well as diving in to see what local shops had to offer.
Both spent plenty of time on the river, enjoying some peaceful kayaking on the river.
The St. Croix River is one of the things that makes this area so unique, offering breathtaking beauty and opportunities for recreation. Also adding to the attractiveness of the area is Interstate Park, where the duo also investigated the amazing glacial potholes on the Taylors Falls side of the river.
The County Ledger Press was able to track them down on their final broadcast from aboard the Taylors Falls Princess paddleboat.
It takes quite a lot more than a talented cast to get things accomplished, it also takes a dedicated crew to get those pictures beamed through the TV.
It was a good opportunity to get a look at what goes on behind the camera. It took the concerted efforts of the producer, cameramen/women on-site, and the techs and assistants that help round things out.
Both DeRusha and Brickman have a lot of experience in front of the camera and their friendliness and hospitality puts those that they interview at ease.
The cast and crew that visited the valley left Friday morning after enjoying just some of what the area has to offer.
There are other places Brickman and DeRusha must go and see, but don't forget there is always something more to do around here. 
July 26, 2018
Council considers options regarding future of old theatre
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
The Civic Auditorium was the hot topic for discussion at Monday night's St. Croix Falls City Council, in fact most of the meeting was spent discussing the possibility of putting the question of the building's future to a referendum.
That move failed, however. The council and the Centennial Committee are facing an uphill battle raising a million more dollars to fund the full planned project.
Members of the public came forward in support of the project. Former St. Croix Falls Alderman Jon Cermin was one of them.
Cermin noted that he and his wife were nearing an age where they were considering their retirement and the future sale of his wife's orthodontics business.
“Right now we could have two nice bookends for the town,” observed Cermin. “One being the library and the other the Civic Auditorium. Or we could have some green space and a million dollar hole in the ground. I ask that you consider the businesses on Main Street and having a vibrant downtown versus not.”
Resident Deb Kravig who also served on the council previously also spoke.
“I encourage you to think regionally,” said Kravig. “Think 10, 15, 25 years down the road. You can't move into prosperity saving money...We are facing what a lot of cities across the country are facing when it comes to infrastructure.”
Mayor Arnie Carlson spoke to the matter, noting that the city had a few options regarding the future.
“We could tear it down, or we could sell it,” observed Carlson.
Carlson went on to present the current numbers to the board based on his best estimates. 
The CDA, which is the fund set aside by the TIF for the project currently has $2,794,694.
The Centennial Committee has raised $982,300 in grants.
Donations to the project are $40,921.
Pledges are $109,424.
Thus the estimated total is $3,927,339.
However, Carlson was uncomfortable with the idea of including the pledges in the equation as they may or may not be paid. Without the pledges the total raised for the project is $3,817,915.
“There are three ways we can consider moving forward,” said Carlson. “Do the present (rehab) plans, which include the addition. The present plan and the shell for the addition. Or rehab and make the improvements to the existing structure.”
The project was last bid out in 2016. The estimates Carlson used adjusted for inflation at a rate of five percent increase per year.
To do the whole project including the addition the projected cost is $5,579,800 leaving a shortfall of $1,761,885.
To do the project with the renovations as well as the shell would be an expense of $5,342,419 leaving a shortfall of $1,524,504.
To just rehab the current auditorium structure including things like replacing the HVAC system as well as making it ADA accessible with the addition of an elevator would cost $2,132,100 leaving a surplus of $1,685, 815.
The question looming large in many minds is whether or not the Centennial Committee would be capable of raising the $1.7 million shortfall between now and January.
Alderman Chris Chelberg stated that it may be easier to do further fundraising for the addition with the shell existing.
Chelberg also noted that city will have to look forward to how they will pay for the ongoing maintenance of the building. That if the city owns it they should maintain it and not leave it to whoever is leasing the property.
He also noted how expansive those expenses could be, noting that they will be paying handsomely two to five years down the road to the maintenance company that will keep the elevators functional.
No formal action was taken regarding any course of action.
August 2, 2018

Concession stand fire guts interior
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
Last Friday, shortly after 6:30 p.m. a call went out for smoke coming from the concession stand that services the Saints' football field. Marching band members, who store the instruments in the building, were practicing on the football field saw the smoke and the call was quickly made.
Responding to the scene in a very timely manner was the St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls Fire Departments.
According to St. Croix Falls Fire Chief Mike Dorsey, the fire appears to have started by someone placing something combustible by the stove and then having the switch inadvertently placed in the on position.
According to a press release from the school district, the building suffered significant damage to the interior:
“...The district is working with its insurance company to begin the restoration process as soon as possible. It is believed that the building while suffering extensive damage, will be able to be restored to its original condition...”  
According to one source close to the administration, that work may begin as early as this week.
“A time for completion has not been established. Accommodations for the upcoming football season will be made in terms of restrooms, storage and concessions areas. We ask people to show patience during this process.
“The district would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to both the St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls Fire Departments for their quick and effective response.
“This building was built through a community effort involving many thousands of hours of donated labor. It's the district's goal to have this building back in operation as soon as possible. The district thanks the many people who have reached out already offering to help with any personal losses that may have occurred.”
August 9, 2018
EDC director speaks to Civic Auditorium issue
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
Vince Netherland of Polk County Economic Development was on hand at Monday night's St. Croix Falls City Council meeting on Monday night to give a presentation on economic development measurements as it related to investing in the Civic Auditorium.
The agenda was rearranged and Netherland spoke prior to the discussion and vote to hold a referendum on the November ballot.
“The priority (of the economic development corporation) was originally to attract businesses here and improve the tax base,” noted Netherland. “The new priority is workers, so that businesses can grow.”
“The importance of the downtown to a community is that it is different than a corridor or suburb,” continued Netherland. “They won't be driving down Highway 8 and looking and thinking what a nice community this is, even though the businesses located there provide important products and services. Image is very important. The mix and diversity and the activities and functions are what make a downtown. A mix of retail, cultural opportunities like a community center, etc., and restaurants are the healthiest mix to have.
“The new battlefield in today's economy is the workforce,” says Netherland. “We want to keep them here and we want to attract more back. To do that you want the downtown to thrive and improve. The potential impact of the Civic Auditorium can impact 20-10 years out. You have to consider the implications of a project like this, or whether or not to spend that money elsewhere.”
Netherland went on to speak about the perceived image of the city as well as the city's 'branding', how visitors, guests and residents would define and describe St. Croix Falls.
One of the things Netherland does is try and help businesses that are interested in moving to the area. There has been a lot of interest expressed by businesses regarding moving to Polk County, especially the south/east from Osceola on outwards.
“The question is what in the area is attractive to them,” observed Netherland. “It's not only the employees, but the management and their families. We're not just recruiting employees, we're recruiting their families too.”
Another consequence Netherland brought forward was the matter of tourism. 
“With tourism, you are injecting outside money in. Investing in it (Civic Auditorium) will have direct and indirect impacts,” said Netherland, adding that other cities which have undertook similar projects have been shown to have economic benefits.
“What can a renovated theatre do for a community?” asked Netherland. “If done right it can have a long term effect. The economy is doing so well we are seeing an increased demand (for property) in the eastern/western areas of Polk County.”
Alderwoman Joy Zasadny was the one that originally presented the idea of the referendum to the council and has expressed her disdain on multiple occasions.
“You say choose St. Croix Falls, and this is one of my hangups,” Zasadny stated. “We had the building over 100 years, a theatre group for 26 years and we are not seeing economic development from it. In my mind if we haven't seen it in the past, why would it happen in the future?
“Why is it the cart always gets put before the horse?” asked Zasadny. “A feasibility study was never done or a business plan.”
Alderman Kirk Anderson pointed out that the Centennial Committee, the latest incarnation of the numerous groups of volunteers that have supported the project, do now have a business plan and that whoever uses the facility will be charged fair market rent.
“The building has never been a beautiful landmark, but not everyone would agree with Joy's assessment,” said Anderson, noting that there used to be tour buses that brought people in for shows put on by the Festival Theatre. The tour groups stopped coming due to the state of the theatre not being handicapped accessible with their lack of an elevator as well as the condition of the bathrooms.
“We were told, you fix this and we'll comeback,” continued Anderson. “And they are out there and they are waiting. This has not been financially good for the city the leasing was backwards and it was a dilapidated building. We will get free market rent, there will be no new taxes. That money (in the TIF) will go back to the taxing entities and we will have burned a lot of bridges.”
“The money is disproportionate with the scale of the project,” said Zasadny. “I have a hard time wrapping my head around how this thing could single-handedly turn things around for us.”
Residents in St. Croix Falls will be asked to cast their vote in support of or against the Civic Auditorium project in a referendum this November to coincide with the midterm elections.
August 16, 2018