Chippewa Falls is moving closer to updating its bicycle routes and hopes to present a draft during the summer.
Thursday, city staff met with about 25 people at the Chippewa Falls Library to get opinions and hear what priorities community members had for biking and walking infrastructure in the city.
City Planner Brad Hentschel said the process started last fall and is part of updating the existing plan — formed in 1995 — and re-evaluating the connections and routes.
“It’s been a long time since it was picked up and looked at,” Hentschel said.
The city is working with West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and other groups to formulate a draft.
In a survey last fall, community members put improvements to biking connections in the areas around schools as a top priority.
Hentschel said that now that they’ve held several meetings to gather input, they will form the draft plan and after meeting with the project steering committee, it will likely be out for public input in mid- to late-summer.
The timing coincides with other efforts regarding bicycle infrastructure.
Regional plans include the installation of bike route signs on local roads in the Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire area in the next 12 to 18 months, as well as the installation of a trail from 40th Avenue in Lake Hallie to Park Avenue in Chippewa Falls on Hwy. 124 and another chunk of trail on Park Avenue from Bridge Street to Main Street, both planned for fall of 2019.
The Erickson Park project — which is slated to be opened this summer — also includes expanded bike trails.
Hentschel said all of that plays into why the city is looking at its options for greater connectivity both within the city and to regional paths.
“It’s a good time to re-evaluate our part of the bigger picture,” Hentschel said.
One of the oldest service organizations in the Chippewa Valley is celebrating a milestone few entities ever reach.
The Kiwanis Club of Chippewa Falls is celebrating 100 years of operation in Chippewa Falls. Kiwanis is an international service organization which aims to serve the children of the world through donations to nonprofits, mission trips, individual projects and any other project which aims to make the community a better place.
The Chippewa Falls Kiwanis Club was originally formed on Apr. 21, 1919 and former club president Timothy Tozer said this centennial anniversary shows the need for service organizations like Kiwanis are essential to any community.
“There has been a need, there is a need and there still will be a need,” Tozer said. “We realize that even though times change, the need to take care of each other never goes away. The need for people to share sorority and fraternity with each other also never goes away. When good people come together they multiply the effect they can have, so that’s what Kiwanis does.”
The Kiwanis Club of Chippewa Falls donates on average $25,000 per year to various organizations such as the Chippewa Falls Police Department, Chippewa Falls Main Street, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and dozens of other local groups. They do this through fundraisers such as their ice cream stand every summer at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, a classic tasting gala each February and other pop-up fundraisers throughout the year in Chippewa Falls.
Current club president Brady Zwiefelhofer said the club is very proud of their work in the community and the plan is to continue their good works for the next 100 years.
“Kiwanis has been involved in all of the major projects in the area, so we plan to continue that,” Zwiefelhofer said. “This anniversary is a testimonial to how important this club is to the community. I think the members who join agree that it’s contagious to be able to impact the community.”
The Chippewa Falls chapter of Kiwanis has a number of members who have been involved with the group for decades now. One of those members is Charles Arntson, who said he enjoys being in an organization that consistently is goal oriented and gets things done in Chippewa Falls.
“I think we are very well appreciated,” Arntson said. “There are a lot of projects that wouldn’t get funded without donations from service organizations like Kiwanis. I’m happy to participate in this organization and be a part of an organized venue that does things for the community.”
Each club under the Kiwanis branch is composed of men and women who are delegated tasks or jobs to work on based on their individual talents and skillsets. Arntson said whenever he comes to their weekly meetings there is always something that needs to be done and someone always steps up to make sure it is accomplished in a timely fashion.
Bonnie Phillips has been a member of the Chippewa Falls Kiwanis Club for the past four years and said she hopes the 36-member club continues to grow as the years go on so that more positive effects can be felt throughout the Chippewa Valley.
“There are so many different service organizations, so to know that someone has been in the community for this long is phenomenal,” Phillips said. “The work we do is so great and I hope it continues and we keep getting new members and come up with new ideas to raise more-and-more money for the community.”
Now that the club has been around for 100 years and will be servicing the community for the foreseeable future, Tozer said the next step is for more-and-more community members to get involved with service organizations such as Kiwanis to help make their communities a better place for all.
“We have many service organizations in our town, all very outstanding,” Tozer said. “I encourage anyone in our community to find the one that fits their schedule and that they can get behind, believe in their mission and join. It’s important for everyone to be active in their community and try and help out in some way.”
An upcoming high school orchestra concert is set to include a timely piece to celebrate Chippewa Falls’ history.
The Chippewa Falls Senior High School ninth-grade orchestra will be performing “The 1869 Suite” as part of the Chi-Hi Orchestra Spring Concert on Wednesday, May 8, in the Chi-Hi auditorium. Chi-Hi Orchestra Director Molly Malone said the concert will also include performances by the 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade orchestras as well as the Wire Choir. The concert begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
The suite was arranged by Jerry Way and includes orchestral versions of the songs used in the recent stage play production “Chippewa Falls 1869,” which played to success during its multiple performances at the Heyde Center for the Arts.
Way said the piece is very relevant as it plays into Chippewa Falls’ 150th anniversary and offers an opportunity to reflect on the city’s history.
“It gives us the opportunity to spark everyone’s imagination at the same time and get our thinking directed towards history,” Way said. “Periodically it is a good thing to go back and visit those things, especially for young people.”
The sesquicentennial suite was one the students are excelling at Way said. The suite includes a multitude of movements including Ojibwe Lullaby, Auld Lang Syne, Long, Long Ago, Listen to the Mockingbird, Buffalo Gals, Scotland’s Burning, Camptown Races, Allouette, We Love to Get Together, Eating Goober Peas, Johnson Boys, and Home, Sweet Home.
The collaboration between Way and Malone came after the stage play had ceased production and Way was looking for a way to have the songs carry on in some capacity, so he reached out to Malone for possible inclusion in the band’s spring concert.
Way said the songs included in the number are still relevant and pleasing today and they now have the chance to reemerge in the Chippewa Valley cultural zeitgeist.
“It’s important to preserve our Americana songs because they’re part of our culture,” Way said. “Many of the songs, even though they’re well known to many people, a lot of the students hadn’t heard them before. It emphasizes that these songs are important and need to keep them alive in our culture.”
For more information on the upcoming spring orchestra concert you can visit the school district event page at https://cfsd.chipfalls.k12.wi.us/high/about/hsCalendar.cfm.