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Snowplowing just around the corner

Some can’t wait. Others want to push off the date as long as possible.

Face it. Snow delivered in a serious snowfall, not just the melt-when-it-hits-the-pavement variety, will happen inevitably. So you might as well know what you have to do when winter decides to make life more fun, challenging or miserable, depending on your point of view.

First off, leaving your car parked on a city street overnight isn’t encouraged. Not in Chippewa Falls nor Bloomer, for example.

Bloomer prohibits parking vehicles on city streets from 2:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. That went into effect Nov. 1 and goes through April 1. Bloomer Police Department may waive the restriction, but a resident must fill out a form and be granted permission to park on a street for one night.

Chippewa Falls, which maintains about 100 miles of roads, has its own way of enforcing an overnight parking ban. “No person shall park or leave parked any vehicle on any street, alley, highway or any right of way area, including any boulevard area, in the city for more than 30 minutes between 2-6 a.m. from November 15 of one year to March 31 of the following year,” the city’s municipal code said.

Violate the restriction, and you get a ticket. The restriction can be waived by the city street department manager and the chief of police, if the weather allows it.

Don’t be confused. Chippewa Falls isn’t like Eau Claire, which allows alternate side parking, in which residents can park on even numbered days on the side of street with even numbered houses, and vice versa on odd numbered days.

Do the same thing in Chippewa Falls, and you will get a ticket.

There are other things to keep in mind.

Chippewa Falls’ snow removal policy says the city will start plowing when there is a total snow accumulation of two to three inches, or if drifting of snow or icy conditions.

“Generally, operations will continue until all roads are passable. Widening and cleanup operations may continue immediately or on the following work day, depending on conditions and circumstances,” the policy said.

“Snow will be plowed in a manner so as to minimize any traffic obstructions. Generally, the center of the roadway will be plowed first. The snow shall then be pushed from left to right.”

City streets are rated by their function, traffic volume and importance to the community. High volume routes get priority. Next in line are streets allowing for access to schools and commercial business. After that are low volume roads and pulling up the tail end are alleys and city parking lots.

Anyone who has been shoveling understands the frustration of seeing a city snowplow undo some of the shoveler’s hard work by depositing snow at the end of a driveway. The city’s policy says not to expect the city bail you out.

“The (snowplow) operators make every attempt to minimize the amount of snow deposited in driveways; however due to the inherent design of plow equipment the amount can still be significant. Due to established policies, city personnel do not provide driveway cleaning. Possible exemptions are at the discretion of on-call personnel for a fire or a medical emergency situation,” the policy said.

City plowing is done by 5 1/2 street department employees who are assisted by three city mechanics. Plowing generally starts at 3 a.m.

Chippewa Falls residents wanting to complain about snow or ice or damage caused by city plows are asked by the city to contact the city’s Public Works Department during regular business hours, 8:30-4:30 p.m, Monday through Friday. The phone number is (715) 726-2736.

Calls will be accepted, even on snow days.

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Shipping out: Packages of goodies being sent to local soldiers

Cpl. Cody Stipek, Chippewa County would like to thank you for your service. A package full of goodies is heading your way in San Diego, California.

Volunteers at the Chippewa Valley Family YMCA in Chippewa Falls spent part of their Veterans Day on Saturday assembling, wrapping and shipping out packages to area soldiers.

It was the YMCA’s 10th annual “Support Our Troops” event, which was sponsored by the Leinenkugel Brewing Co.

In 2016, 67 of the packages were shipped to local soldiers. Both items and money were donated for the packages. For example, McDonell Central Catholic High School donated $295 on Friday.

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Chippewa Falls native takes advantage of state fruit to advance in holiday contest

Chippewa Falls native Jennifer Barney did Wisconsin proud in the first episode of “The Holiday Baking Championship,” crafting a cocktail dessert that centered on the state fruit — cranberries — to advance to the next round on the Food Network’s fourth annual competition.

Not without a bit of stage fright, with the Stoddard baker saying at one point — under her breath but nearly breathlessly — “Hoo, my hands are shaking.”

The challenge confronting Barney and eight other bakers from across the country for their main task was to create a dessert based on the theme of a cocktail drink they drew randomly from wine glasses.

Barney was pleased that the luck of her draw was “cranberry julep,” as she giddily told the panel of three judges and her competitors that the Badger State is known for its cranberry bogs.

Reflecting on the show Tuesday, Nov. 7, she said, “I was really happy to get an ingredient that is so near and dear to my heart. Wisconsin produces 60 percent of the nation’s cranberries.

“One of my clients is from Tomah, and their family has been in the cranberry bogging business for generations. For one of their family’s wedding cakes, I made a custom cranberry and lemon cake for their guests to enjoy. When I had a challenge that required me to use cranberries I was really happy,” she said.

To ramp up the challenge, the bakers also had to incorporate bar snacks — in this case, peanuts in the shell — into the desserts. Of course, they had to shell the nuts themselves, which cut into the two hours they had to prepare their offerings.

“What do I do with my peanuts?” Barney muttered to herself and the national TV audience of the show, which had been recorded in advance in New Orleans and aired Monday night.

She needn’t have worried, because the colorful mint mousse bourbon cranberry dessert with a peanut tuile she created was aesthetically and palate-pleasing enough to the judges to keep her in the hunt for all the dough — the $50,000 grand prize — if she can outplan, outmeasure and outbake her rivals for six more episodes.

“You definitely hit the festive,” said judge Lorraine Pascale, who was a chef in Britain, where she developed a solid resume of best-selling cookbooks and hit shows.

“It tastes like you know your way around the cranberry,” said judge Duff Goldman, aka the Ace of Cakes.

That assessment brings forth a chuckle from Barney, who operates her Meringue Bakery from her home and plans to plug the Badger State at every opportunity.

“It’s my intention to promote Wisconsin and show I’m proud of where I’m from,” said Barney, a Chippewa Falls native who was head pastry chef at The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern in La Crosse before striking out on her own.

In fact, “the cranberry mint julep dessert she crafted was very similar to something I used to make for The Waterfront Restaurant,” she said Tuesday.

Advancing in the competition meant overcoming other obstacles, she said.

“For the record, I have never had a cranberry mint julep,” she acknowledged. “But perhaps it will have to my signature cocktail this holiday season. … I was so lucky that I made extra peanut tuiles because most of mine broke, and it was really frustrating.”

Although Barney wasn’t the outright winner of the challenge, her dessert was delectable enough to earn her a solid slot on the safe side.

She acknowledges that she entered the kitchen with a combination of nervous Nelliness and steely resolve.

“I couldn’t wait for the clock to start and to experience what it felt like to have my work judged by industry experts,” she said.

The challenges seem more daunting this season than those she studied in reviewing shows from years past. Previous challenges “seemed more like ‘decorate a cookie.’ This year, it seems more ingredient-driven challenges,” she said.

For example, the bakers’ task before the main challenge was to craft a dessert with a theme and taste of a candy cane.

“My candy cane was a cherry candy cane, and it tasted horrible,” she said Tuesday. “It tasted like artificial chemicals.”

Nonetheless, she turned out a chocolate cupcake flavored with crème fraiche, which is a French version of sour cream, and amarena cherries soaked in a light liqueur — all in striving for the sour flavor.

Going into the competition, Barney had strategized that, if conditions were right, she would make cupcakes.

“I know how to make cupcakes,” she explained in a self-deprecating assessment of her talents as a graduate of the internationally acclaimed Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and whose specialties include wedding cakes.

For an instant, it appeared as if that plan might have backfired, when the Ace of Cakes began his evaluation by saying, “I’m not the biggest fan of cupcakes,” before adding that Barney’s was “awesome.”

The judges agreed that the creation was akin to a choice cherry cordial.

Even though Barney is pleased that she advanced, she said, “I am really in awe of what some of the other contestants’ plates, and I had this deep fear that I need to really up my game. My worry is that my style for plated desserts is dated, and that my work is not as clean as some of the other contestants.”

Of course, the contestants are sworn to secrecy against revealing the competition’s ultimate results. But Barney is as smooth at dodging attempts to get her to slip up as she is icing a cake.

The bakers will have partners for the next episode, at 8 p.m. Monday, which Barney said “can either be fantastic or it can be horrible. It is hard enough to do a good job on my own, let alone working with a contestant I do not know well.”

Without enough time yet to get to know each contestant, she said, “There are a few I have naturally clicked with and a few that it might take more time for me to warm up to,” she said.

“My fear is that I will get partnered with someone who is not a team player,” Barney said. “My hope is that I am paired with someone who has a great attitude and that we can make each other look good.”

Food Network  

Jennifer Barney crafted a cocktail dessert that centered on the state fruit — the cranberry — to advance to the next round on the Food Network’s fourth annual of the “Holiday Baking Championship.”


Packers running back Ty Montgomery (88) breaks away from the Chicago Bears defense for a touchdown during the first half on Sunday in Chicago.

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Committee: Hire agency to oversee Chippewa Falls transit work

Administering the Chippewa Falls Shared Ride Taxi program would be done by the West Central Regional Planning Commission under a recommendation by the city’s Labor Negotiations, Personnel, Policy and Administration Committee.

Committee members C.W. King, Chuck Hull and John Monarski voted in favor of the proposal, which will go to the full City Council. If approved by the council, the regional planning commission would be paid a maximum of $38,000 to operate the program and perform duties such as preparing the program’s budget.

“They will bill us on an hourly basis,” City Planner Jayson Smith said at the committee’s meeting Friday. Smith has overseen the transit program but is retiring in January.

Smith said the city budgets $36,000 for program administrator. “We don’t spend that. I don’t think they will either,” Smith said.

He added his replacement would still be the point person for the transit program, but the agency based out of Eau Claire would run it.

Council President Rob Kiefer said the city’s Revenues Committee on Thursday voted to recommend the agency run the program. “It’s essentially what we budget currently,” Kiefer said, adding after the one-year contract the city could decide to have a city employee to again run the transit program.

Hull and King both said a suggestion has been made that some zoning duties could be taken over by the new city planner.

Paul Lasiewicz, the city’s building inspector, said his office currently is a one-stop operation for someone needing zoning help and a building permit. He said he didn’t know if the city split the zoning duties with the new planner if that would help residents. He said currently departments work together on larger projects. City Engineer-Public Works Director Rick Rubenzer said that typically happens five times a year.

“Why fix something that isn’t broken is the way I look at it,” Monarski said about leaving the system as it is, and Mayor Greg Hoffman also endorsed keeping the current system.

“People compliment Chippewa Falls on the customer service we provide,” Smith said. He added he would be able to provide advice, even after he retires. “I will tell you I’m not planning on going anywhere. I will have my cell phone,” he said.

There are potential major projects in the works, and Jayson Smith said there are two of them. The potential projects aren’t as large as the Mills Fleet Farm distribution center, which is being built in the Lake Wissota Business Park, but would be large.

“This job has morphed into economic development, as you know,” Smith said.