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J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE, ASSOCIATED PRESS 

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., pauses as he speaks to reporters March 20 on Capitol Hill in Washington.


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Chippewa Falls anime convention rounds up pop culture lovers

Chippewa Valley nerds, unite – at the Micon Stadium 8 cinema in Chippewa Falls on Saturday, 10 a.m.–11 p.m., for the third annual Chippewa Valley Anime Con.

Convention organizer Thomas Jannusch of Cornell said he was looking for a place to hold the event when an owner of Micon Stadium 8 suggested the cinema, at 475 Chippewa Mall Drive.

Anime – a genre of animation typically from and involving Japan – isn’t the only draw of the event. Comics, tabletop gaming, cosplay, card games, merchandise booths and “life-size gaming” can all be found Saturday at the cinema.

Cosplay involves wearing the costume and carrying the props of fictional characters from a book, movie, television show or game.

“We even have guys selling sports cards at this thing,” Jannusch said.

The event is free, but as Jannusch said, “bring your spending money” – a treasure hunt throughout the day will give attendees the option to purchase movie tickets or food, and Jannusch is expecting several companies to have merchandise booths.

For the more adventurous attendees, Jannusch hopes to play “cosplay chess” at the event, an activity that requires 32 people and a large playing space. In the past, he’s also done a life-size version of the board game “Chutes and Ladders.”

“You’re the game piece, so you actually walk on the (playing) board,” he said.

The convention’s theme is “vintage,” so attendees should expect retro video games and pop culture fixtures from the 20th century.

Of course, the event isn’t forgetting the anime. The cinema will screen Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle,” as well as Jim Henson’s “The Labyrinth” starring David Bowie, both at 10 a.m.

The event draws many attendees from Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls high schools, fans throughout Chippewa County and a few faces from the Green Bay and Twin Cities areas, Jannusch said.

The convention will be held rain or shine, despite Saturday’s possibly snowy forecast – all of the events are held indoors, but Jannusch is still hoping for a good turnout.

Attendees are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes, cosplay or even old Victorian clothing, Jannusch said. All ages are welcome.

For updates on the Chippewa Valley Anime Convention, visit the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/495149447500625/.


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'Know More' event honors sexual assault awareness month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and one person who has helped victims of sexual assault in the Chippewa Valley since 2015 hopes the community is open to learning more.

“It’s here. It’s happening in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties,” said Blythe, sexual assault victim services coordinator at the Family Support Center. “It would be great to end sexual violence. I’d love to be out of a job.”

Blythe works at the Family Support Center, 403 N. High St. in Chippewa Falls, which is a nonprofit that offers free counseling and assistance for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

While Blythe typically sees around 200 people each year to assist with sexual assault, she’s already reached 100 people by April 2018. She expects to work with a total of 300 or 400 people in 2018.

“One in four women and one in six men are impacted by sexual violence, and that’s no less true in Chippewa County,” she said.

Center staff do not go by last names at their jobs, due to the career’s sensitive nature.

The rising influence of methamphetamine addiction in the area probably plays a role in domestic violence levels, Blythe said. Although the center does not specifically work with children affected by drug use, she said staff commonly sees drug-related situations with children.

“We don’t turn people away if they have that problem,” she said.

To honor victims and involve the community, the center is holding its fourth annual “kNOw More” event in April at an Eau Claire eatery.

On Sunday, April 22 at The Plus, 208 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire, live music, entertainment and speakers commemorating sexual assault awareness will be featured from 5–8 p.m. Musicians Caitlin McGarvey, Soren Staff of Them Coulee Boys and speaker Violet Kilmurray will entertain and inform the audience.

The event is organized by the Family Support Center and its UW-Eau Claire on-campus equivalent, the Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault (CASA).

The event is for those impacted by sexual assault or domestic violence, families, friends and the general public, Blythe said.

Several local health and advocacy groups will also have booths at the kNOw More resource fair, at the beginning of the event.

“It’s to see what resources are out there for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community,” Blythe said.

At the event, the center is accepting donations of new, in-package socks and underwear of all sizes and genders. The items will go to sexual violence survivors and “all other vulnerable populations,” a press release said.

Last year, kNOw More hosted about 65 people, Blythe said.

In addition, the Family Support Center will also have a presence at an Eau Claire-area music festival: A “Neaux Violence” booth will be manned at Eaux Claires from July 6-7.

Anyone impacted by domestic violence or sexual abuse is welcome at the center, Blythe said.

“We’re open to working with anyone. Human trafficking survivors, sex workers, whatever anyone needs. It’s always free and always confidential,” she said.

For more information on Family Support Center services, visit http://www.familysupportcentercf.com/.