Welcome to the Eau Claire Chamber Blog
Left: Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt, Right: Business & Community Leaders gather at River Prairie Center
Over 130 business and community leaders attend Chamber breakfast
2018 has been a year of growth for Altoona, and nothing is expected to slow down in years to come. New housing, events and businesses have been added to the city, but Altoona has still kept that tight knit community feel. City Administer Mike Golat and Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt spoke at this month’s Eggs & Issues on April 26 at River Prairie Center to talk about Altoona’s progress and future.
In 2018, more housing was added, and so were more community events and businesses. Summer is now full of popular activities all around Altoona, such as Rock’n on the River, Cinder City Days, Yoga in the Park, River Prairie Festival and so much more. New businesses have opened, such as Za 51 and Crossfit River Prairie, and more are soon to come, like Prevea and the Nostalgic Bean.
The community has taken notice, especially the younger generations. As Golat said, “What you want your city to be and become is learned at a young age, and we have it.” Thanks to a listening session put on by Mayor Pratt with children in Altoona, an inside look was given into what the kids saw and wanted to see in the city. All of the children, from elementary school to high school, recognized the sense of community that Altoona has and emphasized the importance of that. The children know there are always fun things to do, from parks to hiking to coffee shops to events, they recognized how lucky the city is to have such ample ways to spend time. Overall, the children are excited to see Altoona grow, and are appreciative of what it already is. (See link below to view the video of Mayor Pratt's listening sessions with children.)
It was also a morning full of “thank yous” to city employees, local legislators and community partners. One of the greatest accomplishments of 2018 was the 1511 Devney Affordable Housing Project, which will bring 24 affordable homes into Altoona upon completion. Joining Our Neighbors, Advancing Hope (JONAH) was given recognition for their contributions to this project.
Awards granted throughout 2018 were recognized, such as the 2019 Magna Award for equity programs given to the Altoona School District and the 2019 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Teach Fellow given to Altoona teacher, Scott Thiel.
Left: Altoona City Administrator Mike Golat; Right: Golat and Pratt present
"Extra Mile Community Partnership Award" to Molly and Cody Filipczak
Awards were also given out by the City of Altoona to extraordinary citizens. The "Extra Mile Community Partnership Award" was presented to Cody and Molly Filipczak, the owners of C&M Home Builders, for their work in creating beautiful homes and neighborhoods in the area. What truly makes them stand out is their “pay-it-forward” attitude and willingness to give back, such as donating time and money to the Devney Project.
The "Altoona’s Got Heart Award" went to Shannon Camlek, an Altoona teacher who was diagnosed with leukemia last year. The city rallied up around her during this time and went above and beyond to help Camlek and her family. This past year, there were two blood drives, numerous fundraisers and even an official “Be Positive Day” in the Altoona School District on May 15 in her honor. Her positive energy was felt through all of these events, and she is someone who is able to bring out the best in people, which is exactly what happened during this hard time.
Overall, Altoona has come a long way, and there is no sign of stopping.
State of the City - Year in Review video (YouTube)
"Students of the City" video with Mayor Pratt (YouTube)
Altoona asks children for thoughts on life in the city (Leader-Telegram)
Posted by Emma Koehn, Legislative Intern
Russ Albert has been named director of Laboratory Services at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals. He began his new role April 8. Albert will lead all inpatient and outpatient laboratory services for both hospitals and work closely with hospital pathologists and medical staff in providing quality care.
“Russ is a natural leader who always steps up to the plate,” said Patty Allen, Chief Financial Officer, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals. “He blends strong leadership skills with strong lab operational knowledge, and we’re excited to have him in this role.”
Albert has served Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals for 18 years, most recently as the laboratory manager of both hospitals. He has a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science from Michigan Technological University, and has certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathology.
From April 29-May 13, the Office of Multicultural Affairs at UW-Eau Claire will present events in celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. A wide variety of events will include opportunities to take part in dialogue sessions, Asian American cuisine, a film screening, presentation of student research, a panel discussion and more.
Dang Yang, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, explains some of the historical significance of this month in the U.S., as well as the more immediate context of what it means for this campus to recognize this type of celebration.
"Historically, this month was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese migrants to the U.S. on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, for which Chinese immigrants played a significant role as laborers," Yang said, further pointing to the fact that those railroad laborers were subjected to racial and wage discrimination along with other forms of bias while they completed this monumental task.
He also emphasized the many and diverse contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders here at UW-Eau Claire, and the need to recognize these and national milestones. This month's lineup provides not only entertainment and education, but also goes more deeply into the important components of identity and intersectionality, and he invites all of campus to take part.
Allison Wilson, a nurse practitioner, recently joined Urgent Care at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.
Wilson completed a master’s degree in nursing at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to joining Mayo Clinic Health System, she worked at Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson in Clifton Park, New York.
Wilson’s professional interests include patient education, sexual and reproductive health, and women’s health.
“I am originally from the great state of Montana but am happy to now call Eau Claire home,” Wilson says. “I look forward to serving the community as part of the Mayo Clinic Health System team.”
In her free time, Wilson enjoys baking, cooking, crafting, cross-country skiing, sewing, staying active with her family, and biking to favorite restaurants and coffee shops
In recognition for successful programs to reduce their environmental impact, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals each recently earned the Partner for Change Award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care.
The Partner for Change Award recognizes health care facilities that continuously improve and expand upon programs to eliminate mercury, reduce and recycle waste, source products sustainably, and more. Winning facilities must demonstrate that they are recycling at least 15 percent of their total waste, have reduced regulated medical waste, are on track to eliminate mercury, and have developed successful sustainability programs in many areas.
In 2018, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals donated more than 15,000 pounds of medical supplies and equipment to developing countries though the Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach program. Both hospitals also recycled more than 200 tons of comingled materials in 2018. The two hospitals also recently transitioned to hand hygiene products that do not contain triclosan. This move keeps anti-bacterial products used at the hospitals out of waste water and ground water.
“All of us in our HSHS division work as a team and we’re honored to be recognized for our efforts in helping to create an environmentally sustainable health care institution,” said Andrew Bagnall, president and CEO, HSHS Western Wisconsin Division, which includes Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals.
Ingrid Fernandez, a nurse practitioner, recently joined the Emergency Medicine Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.
Fernandez earned her master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner at Graceland University in Independence, Missouri. She also completed an emergency medicine fellowship at the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences in Rochester, Minnesota.
Fernandez is a member of the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners. Her professional interests include emergency medicine and pediatrics. “I enjoy the atmosphere of the Emergency Department, as we never know what is coming through the door each day and also the wide scope of care that patients require,” says Fernandez. “I chose to join the practice in Eau Claire because of the strength in the advance practice provider team and focus on continuing education. Also, I think that Eau Claire is beautiful and I am looking forward to exploring the community. I was brought up in a big city and I never knew the beauty of living in a smaller town.”
In her free time, Fernandez enjoys outdoor activities, hot yoga and spending time with her grandchildren and dachshunds.
The National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) has granted a two-year accreditation to the epilepsy program at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. The accreditation certifies that Mayo Clinic Health System is a Level 3 Epilepsy Center — the second-highest possible certification available. It is the only accredited epilepsy program in northwest Wisconsin.
Epilepsy centers are specialized centers that provide a range of medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial services needed to treat patients with epilepsy. Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and, sometimes, loss of consciousness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 1% of Americans, roughly 3.4 million people, have epilepsy.
“This accreditation is recognition of our excellent comprehensive care for patients and truly is a team recognition,” says Scott Spritzer, D.O., medical director of the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and electroencephalogram (EEG) at Mayo Clinic Health System. “Our team includes colleagues specializing in neurology, neurophysiology, neuropsychology, neuroradiology, and our inpatient and outpatient nursing team. Accreditation from the NAEC is an affirmation of the high-quality care provided to epilepsy patients in northwest Wisconsin.”
Royal Credit Union (Royal) has named Adam Kinnard executive vice president-chief technology officer. In this role he will be responsible for the development, selection, implementation, optimization, and maintenance of all systems and technology throughout the credit union. Kinnard will strategically lead and direct short- and long-term goals, policies, and procedures for Royal’s technology team and will oversee its development of technology solutions for Members and team members. Kinnard will also collaborate in strategic planning and organizational decision making as a member of the executive team.
“Adam is a collaborative, creative and result driven leader with a track record of delivering solutions that make a difference in the lives of those he serves,” said Brandon Riechers, Royal Credit Union president & CEO. “This is a critical time in IT development and Adam has the skills to guide our team through the rapid development process and management of Royal’s technology solutions for Members and team members. His commitment to Royal’s core purpose, core values and strategic mind-set make him an excellent addition to the executive team.”
Kinnard started his career at Royal in January 2001 as a network specialist. In 2016 he was named vice president of IT operations and development. Kinnard has an associate’s degree in computer information systems from Chippewa Valley Technical College. He also has a bachelor’s degree and is working toward his master’s degree in information and communication technologies from UW-Stout.
Adam lives in Eau Claire with his wife Nikki, who also works at Royal in the organizational development department, and their two sons. He is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Eau Claire and serves as a board member for the Eau Claire County Humane Association.
On Saturday, April 27, the public will have the opportunity to drive and learn about electric vehicles at a special event held at the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Energy Education Center’s Energy Education Center at 3400 Campus Road, Eau Claire.
The event will feature breakout sessions including topics on Electric Vehicles 101, maintenance, a panel of EV owners, and the future of EVs. It will be an opportunity for the public to learn what all the buzz is about regarding EVs. Displays and breakout sessions will be available from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., providing valuable information, especially helpful for people who have never been close to an EV.
The event is sponsored by Eau Clare Energy Cooperative and co-sponsored by CVTC, Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative and Dunn Energy Cooperative.
Royal Credit Union (Royal) has named Elizabeth Villa Branch Manager at both the Menomonie North and Menomonie East offices. She is responsible for overseeing general operations at both locations. This includes ensuring the branches meet financial, operational, and growth goals, as well as overseeing daily actions at both locations. The Menomonie North office is located at 2615 Hils Court and the Menomonie East office is located at 2412 Stout Road.
Villa brings with her several years of experience in a variety of roles including management, human resources, and lending. She also has a degree in Human Resource Management and looks forward to working with her team to provide an exceptional experience for Royal Members.
Villa currently resides in Baldwin, WI with her husband, three children, and pets. She is a very active member in the community volunteering alongside her daughter at nursing homes and the Humane Society.
Merchants Bank and The First National Bank of Northfield have reached a definitive agreement for Merchants to acquire the Northfield banking institution, according to Gregory M. Evans, President & CEO of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. and Merchants Bank, N.A. The agreement is subject to regulatory agency approval, but it is fully expected that the deal will close before year-end 2019.
“We are thrilled with the opportunity to be joining the Northfield community and continuing The First National Bank’s tradition of high quality customer service and community involvement,” said Evans. “We are also humbled by the stewardship responsibility that comes with ensuring First National’s legacy with its customers and in the community will continue to be nurtured and never forgotten.”
HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals are pleased to announce that Kristi Brosnahan, MBA, CPA, has joined the two hospitals as director of finance. She began her new role April 22.
Brosnahan has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from UW-Eau Claire. She also has an MBA from the University of Wisconsin and is a certified public accountant.
Prior to joining HSHS, Brosnahan served as a consultant for Sullivan, Cotter & Associates, Inc. Before that, she served as a manager of corporate accounting for Phillips Medisize and as senior financial analyst for Mayo Clinic Health System.
“Kristi brings us a strong background in health care finance and process optimization,” said Patty Allen, Chief Financial Officer, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals. “We’re excited to have her on our team.”
WNB Financial is pleased to announce Conn Walters, Business Banking Officer, as the recipient of its 2019 first quarter Community PRIDE Award. Awarded quarterly by the Bank’s Public Relations Committee, Community PRIDE Awards recognize WNB employees for exceptional volunteer service to programs, organizations, and initiatives that contribute to the strength and vitality of the communities served. This includes volunteering efforts made during and outside of work hours. Walters currently serves on the board of directors for the City of Wabasha Port Authority, the Wabasha-Kellogg Scholarship Foundation, and Wabasha Rotary. He has volunteered with Rotary since 2015 and currently serves as President-Elect, assisting with the Star of Hope program to provide clothes, toys, and gift cards to Wabasha-Kellogg children in need during the holidays. Walters also volunteers his time with the Cotter Schools Speech Team as a judge and timer. As a Community PRIDE Award recipient, Walters received $100 to donate to the non-profit organization of his choice, which he chose to donate to the Star of Hope program. In addition, he received a certificate of recognition and a Bank logo shirt. In 2018, 36 WNB Financial employees donated 2,211 hours of service to 91 local organizations. WNB gifted $378,000 to the community in the areas of education and youth programs, fine arts and culture, health and wellness, economic development, and community service.
At its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Security Financial Services Corporation (SFSC), the holding company for Security Financial Bank (SFB), reported a record year for 2018.
SFSC reported net income of $5,958,000 for the year ending December 31, 2018, which was a 20 percent increase over the prior year. Earnings per share for the year of $522 were the highest ever for SFSC. In addition, SFB ended the year with $491,884,000 in total assets, which places it in the largest 50 banks headquartered in Wisconsin.
“Security Financial Bank continues to maintain a strong capital position, talent throughout the bank, stable deposits and strong credit quality,” indicated Paul Rudersdorf, CEO and president of Security Financial Bank.
SFB saw both loan and deposit growth in 2018 with year-end deposits of $402,004,000 and loans of $350,356,000. In July 2018, SFB acquired 100 percent of the stock of Pioneer Bank of Wisconsin in Ladysmith, paying $9.1 million in cash. With this acquisition, SFB added $33 million in loans and $65 million in deposits from Pioneer Bank. The newly acquired location also contributed approximately $420,000 in earnings to SFB in 2018.
“With the guidance of the Board of Directors, led by Chairman Jerry Bauer, SFB is in an ideal position to continue its strategic growth,” Rudersdorf said.
Also at the Annual Meeting, Board members re-elected to three-year terms included Bauer, Chuck Forster and Jim Mayo. In addition, Jack Kaiser was recognized for serving 10 years on the Board and Jim Price for serving five years. Additional Board members include Bob Komro, Steve Schultz and Rudersdorf.
Chamber 2019-20 Board Chair Terry McHugh speaks at April 15 Joint Finance Committee hearing in River Falls
The legislature's Joint Finance Committee held the third of its four statewide hearings on the 2019-21 State Budget last Monday, April 15, in River Falls. The legislature's budget-writing committee is the next critical step in moving UWEC's proposed Science Building forward. Governor Tony Evers has proposed including $109 million in his capital budget to begin the project. The State Building Commission, in recent party-line votes, passed the Governor's capital budget requests on to the legislature without recommendations, so its future is now in the hands of the Joint Finance Committee.
Top left: Jennifer McHugh, Royal Credit Union; Top right: Daneille Strong, Weld Riley; Bottom Left: Scott Rogers, Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce; Bottom right: Terry McHugh, Daneille Strong, Scott Rogers, Jennifer McHugh
A significant number of local business and community leaders traveled to River Falls to testify on behalf of the project. UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt was joined by Dr. Rick Helmers, the Northwest Wisconsin Region head for Mayo Clinic Health System, talking about the research partnership with Mayo that is part of the initiative. Three members of the Board of Regents with local ties, Chair John Behling, Regent Jason Plante, and Student Regent Ryan Ring presented information about the full UW System request, with emphasis on the value and importance of the UWEC project. Also making presentations were Terry McHugh, the Eau Claire Chamber's 2019-20 Board Chair, who is Vice President and General Manager of WEAU 13 News; Scott Rogers, the Chamber's Governmental Affairs and Workforce Director; Daneille Strong, Attorney with Weld Riley, and Jennifer McHugh, Director of Public Affairs & Financial Education for Royal Credit Union, who is also the 2019-20 Chair of the Chamber's Governmental Affairs Committee. Also present were Matt Frisbie, Vice President of Architecture for Ayres Associates; Eau Claire City Manager Dale Peters; UWEC Student Body President Branden Yates; and UWEC Student Senate Governmental Affairs Director Charlie Johnson. Eau Claire City Council Member Emily Berge also spoke on behalf of the Science Building project.
The Joint Finance Committee has 12 members, with equal representation from both the Assembly and the Senate. Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls) is the only member of the committee from West Central Wisconsin. Other local legislators attended the hearing, including Senators Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and Patty Schachtner (D-River Falls) and Representatives Warren Petryk (R-Eleva) and Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond). The JFC's final hearing will be April 24 in Green Bay. It also had sessions on April 5 in Janesville and April 10 in Oak Creek.
Also last week, Governor Tony Evers held a Budget Round Table in Eau Claire on Tuesday evening, April 16, that drew about 100 people.
Budget panel hears campus pleas for buildings (Hudson Star Observer)
Recorded video of River Falls JFC Hearing (Wisconsin Eye)
Western Wisconsin residents weigh in on budget proposal, Evers offers warning to Republicans (WQOW News 18)
Governor listens to budget wishes of area residents (Leader-Telegram)
Gov. Evers listens to people of the Chippewa Valley ahead of budget deadline (WEAU 13 News)
Posted by Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director
Left: Rep. Ron Kind speaks as Chamber CEO Dave Minor looks on. Right: Lunch attendees participate in discussion.
On Monday, April 15, Rep. Ron Kind (D-3) met for lunch with members of the Chamber's Board of Directors, Governmental Affairs Committee and Business Advocacy Investors to discuss federal issues important to the business community. Chamber Legislative Intern Nate Kane reports on the discussion:
The Congressman is cognizant of the issues harming our roadways, and he is actively seeking solutions to fix them. In fact, he listened intently to a few policy suggestions from the Board. One solution offered up was a mileage tax. Under a mileage tax, drivers are taxed not for the gas they consume but for miles they drive. Although this would certainly increase the federal transportation revenue, some worry about the implications it might have on personal privacy.
The Congressman, citing a few state-policy proposals, also expressed discontent with the current gas-tax scheme. This tax, he said, cannot sustain our roads forever because cars are becoming increasingly fuel efficient, which means that in the future less gas will be taxed and less money will be sent to Congress for road repairs and construction. For innovative solutions, he said that he is studying transportation policies in Oregon, a state that has recently dealt with this struggle.
Broadband, which falls under infrastructure, was an area for which the Congressman conveyed steadfast commitment. He said that every home and business in America deserves to have access to the internet. He also said that the United States must continue to increase 5G access. 5G internet is the way of the future, so to stay competitive with nations like China, we must ensure that America is among the first nations to adopt this technology.
The Congressman seemed sympathetic to the struggles of current-day college student who have to pay back large sums of student-loan debt. To improve conditions in this regard, he advocated increasing the number of Perkins loans available to lower-income students. He promoted, too, making the process of consolidating and refinancing loans easier. If those systems were improved, the burden of existing debt would become significantly lighter.
He also agreed that universities must do a better job informing their students about the realities of life after graduation. Many students go to school unaware of the debt they are accumulating along the way. That, all agreed, needs to change if the problem of student-loan debt is going to improve.
Immigration and Workforce:
To Congressman Kind, sovereign nations have a right to protect their borders. But he believes the current administration is exercising that right inappropriately. America, he noted, is experiencing a crisis in employment; there are too many jobs and too few employees. As a result, the country should not be limiting the number of immigrants it takes in. He emphasized as well that throughout history some of the most brilliant American minds have been immigrants, their achievements earning them Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes. So he said that limiting the number immigrants, especially legal immigrants, is wrong—and harmful to the economy.
The national debt seems to be a rare area of bipartisan concern. The Congressman explained that overspending forces the government to bond out to cover its expenditures. When a country bonds out, he continued, financial stability then relies on a stably low interest rate. And since the interest rate have been so low for so long, no one knows where it will go in the future—whether it will remain low or shoot up. Whatever happens, though, that uncertainty is unhealthy for the economy, and if the rate were to get unreasonably high, it could spell problems for the entire nation. Consequently, the Congressman, and most of his colleagues, are exploring solutions to this ongoing issue.
Affordable Care Act federal court decision:
He spoke briefly about the recent healthcare case where a federal judge in Texas held the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, and he did so at a moment when Republicans lack a replacement plan. That means that if the case were to remain good law, the healthcare market could face serious dangers.
Posted by Nate Kane, Chamber Legislative Intern
Local Sales Professional Phillip Swiler recently joined the Print Production team at EO Johnson Business Technologies where he will be responsible for selling EOJ’s Canon’s Wide Format Line, as well as the Oce PlotWave Hardware and Service Solution. Swiler has 27 years experience in sales and marketing, he is a long time Chamber Ambassador and attended the Disney Institute in 2006. Swiler stated he is very excited to be working at EO Johnson as well as with the clients he serves. In his free time, he owns a DJ business and likes to spend time with his family.
Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) announced first quarter net income of just over $3,470,000 according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.
“We are on target for a strong 2019 and we’re pleased with both our financial results and progress on key strategic initiatives,” said Evans.
As a result of continued profitable performance, the MFGI Board of Directors authorized a semiannual dividend of 70 cents per share to shareholders during its April meeting. Dividends will be paid in June to shareholders of record as of May 17.
Net income is ahead of MFGI’s plan for 2019 by $442,818, but is behind performance of a year ago by $476,827. One impact on year-over-year earnings was a necessary contribution of an additional $240,000 in loan loss reserve put aside to cushion against possible future loan stress. Contributing to the overall positive first quarter performance, three of the Bank’s four regions exceeded their 2019 first quarter plans. Additionally, MFGI saw year-over-year growth in total loans of $80 million and total deposits of $53.2 million.
“Our commitment to provide exceptional service to our customers and support our communities is what continues to make us a unique player in the financial industry,” notes Evans. “It’s our stakeholders – everyone from our customers, employees, boards and shareholders – recognizing and valuing this commitment that has helped us achieve a solid start to 2019.”
The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.
Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 branches in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Headquartered in Winona, MN, the Bank has more than $1.76 billion in assets and was founded in 1875. Member FDIC.
“Writers Read” will hold an open mic at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire on Thursday, May 9 at 6 p.m. in the Eau Claire Room. The program will celebrate the summer travel season. Bring a travel-themed story or poem, or any other original you’d like to share (5 minutes or less). Sign-up starts at 5:30 p.m. Listeners are welcome.
The program will be hosted by Eau Claire’s Writer in Residence, Karen Loeb. Loeb is a Professor Emerita of the UW–Eau Claire English Department. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Fiction Southeast, Hanging Loose, New Ohio Review, and other magazines. Her poem “In the Science Museum,” won the 2016 Wisconsin People & Ideas contest.
“Writers Read” is a monthly library series organized by Eau Claire’s Writer in Residence. Each reading features original poetry and prose written by writers living and working in the Chippewa Valley.
For information, stop at Information & Reference on your next visit to the library, call 715-839-5004, or email the library at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about library programs, check the library website atwww.ecpubliclibrary.info.
The Friends of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library will host their annual meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, in the Eau Claire Room on the library’s lower level. The Friends will recognize Nancy Sowls with the Distinguished Service Award, elect new Board members, hear a report from the Executive Board, and recognize the 174 volunteers that provided over 5,400 volunteer hours for the Friends and the library in 2018. At 6:30 p.m. the meeting will adjourn to the Chippewa Room to enjoy substantial appetizers.
Following the annual meeting, guests are encouraged to attend the One Book, One Community presentation at 7 p.m. entitled “Our Magnificent and Vulnerable Great Lakes.” The presenter will be Jane Elder, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, and U.S. Co-lead on the Great Lakes Water Quality Board Emerging Working Group. The program is co-sponsored by Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters.
Both events are free and open to the public. Registration is recommended for the One Book, One Community program. To register, please visit www.ecpubliclibrary.info/onebook.
For information, call 715-831-5301 or email email@example.com. To learn more about the Friends of the Library,https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/friends.
Congratulations to WNB Financial for your groundbreaking in the River Prairie area.
Chippewa Valley Technical College
A Menomonie businessman who grew his beer distributorship into a national leader, two local farm implement dealers and a young IT professional were among the honorees when the Chippewa Valley Technical College Alumni Association held its annual Spring Gala Thursday, April 4.
Terry Giertz, now retired as the CEO of Bill’s Distributing in Menomonie, was named the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner. Erin Garney, a network systems shift manager at WIN in Eau Claire was named the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award winner. And Value Implement and Tractor Central were honored as the 2019 Proven Business Partners for their support of CVTC agriculture programs.
Larson Companies/Holiday Inn Eau Claire South and Staybridge Suites
Holiday Inn Eau Claire South and Staybridge Suites Altoona were honored with the IHG 2018 Quality of Excellence Award for achieving superior levels of excellence. This distinction is awarded to less than 3% of properties selected from the company’s more than 5,000+ hotels. This is the 2nd consecutive award for Holiday Inn South and the first for Staybridge Suites, who received the IHG Newcomer Award last year.
“I am pleased to announce this recognition and applaud the continued performance excellence of Holiday Inn South and Staybridge Suites” says Thomas Larson, President of Larson Companies. “Clearly both hotel teams put our guests at the heart of everything they do, and they exemplify what it means to truly be the very best in hospitality. We couldn’t be more proud.”
Cathy Leibke, General Manager of Staybridge Suites and Justin Hinnenkamp, General Manager of Holiday Inn Eau Claire South both extend their heartfelt thanks to their team members who live the brand and the mission of guest first every day, and are an integral part of the reason for the properties receiving this Excellence Award. Both Cathy and Justin extend a special thanks to the Eau Claire, Altoona and surrounding communities for their continued partnership and support.
HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph's hospitals
Hannah Schroeder, nursing educator at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals, recently earned the international Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) credential from the Society of Simulation in Healthcare. She is one of less than 1,400 people internationally to have this credential, and is one of three people in the Chippewa Valley to have earned it.
Schroeder passed an exam that assesses the knowledge and understanding of the principles, processes, and fundamentals for developing and delivering high quality healthcare simulation activities. The comprehensive CHSE credential covers educational design and healthcare simulation principles, and the application of these to meet the needs of healthcare learners at all levels.
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will host the second annual Earth Claire event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, on the campus mall east of Schofield Hall. The student-led event, which is free and open to the public, will celebrate both Earth Day and Arbor Day (officially observed on April 22 and 26, respectively). Guests driving to campus can obtain a parking permit at the university's Visitor Center, 127 Roosevelt Ave. (See campus map.)
More than 20 campus and community organizations and businesses will participate, promoting sustainability through activities for all ages, including giveaways (seeds for spring planting, free vegetarian and vegan pizza, snow cones in compostable cones), raffles for items that encourage sustainable practices, an ongoing waste-sorting demonstration by UW-Eau Claire’s waste research team, zero-waste “swap” giveaways, and more. Educational booths also will provide information on getting involved in sustainable initiatives on campus and in the community.
Security Financial Bank
With Americans spending more and saving less, young people often don’t learn valuable personal finance skills that will benefit them throughout life.
Together, educators, bankers and parents can help children build good financial habits from an early age. That’s why Security Financial is participating in the annual National Teach Children to Save Day campaign on April 12.
Volunteers from Security Financial Bank have found a way to teach kids about saving that provides instant gratification – and can be continued at home. Using a Wisconsin Bankers Foundation program called Reading Raises Interest, bank staff will read age-appropriate books with a message about money or saving to students at area schools in Altoona, Bloomer, Durand, Eau Claire, Ladysmith and River Falls.
This year’s featured book is Sammy’s Big Dream by Sam Renick. In the story, Sammy Rabbit has a big dream: to ride the world's first outer space roller coaster! Read along as he works to earn and save enough money to do it. The book can also be a good starting point for conversations about money between children and their parents.
“Although parents may initially feel uncomfortable talking with their children about money, it’s a topic that can’t be overlooked,” said Cathy Couey, SFB’s chief retail officer. “The discussion can begin with something as simple as wants vs. needs.”
In addition to reading books to their children about money, parents can involve kids in spending decisions, encourage them to save part of an allowance and explain the family’s finances in general terms.
To encourage students and parents to read more, Security Financial Bank will donate copies of Sammy’s Big Dream to the class. Throughout the month of April, Security Financial Bank also will give free piggy banks to anyone opening up a Youth Savings Account. Individuals are encouraged to see a personal banker at a SFB location in Bloomer, Durand, Eau Claire, Ladysmith and River Falls for more information on Youth Savings Accounts.
National Teach Children to Save Day is an initiative sponsored by the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation and the American Bankers Association Education Foundation. Last year, bankers from more than 30 institutions reached out to their community to make Teach Children to Save Day presentations. Together, these bankers reported nearly 300 presentations to almost 9,000 students.
For more information about the program, contact SFB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Physician assistant Brittany Jensen recently joined the Emergency Medicine Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. Jensen earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She received a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Rush University in Chicago, Illinois.
Jensen is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Her professional interests include emergency medicine and procedures.
“I enjoy the fast-paced setting and the wide range of patients and conditions that require medical assistance in the Emergency Department,” says Jensen. “I am looking forward to applying what I have learned into clinical practice, making a difference for patients, and growing professionally.”
In her free time, Jensen enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with family.
WNB Financial is pleased to announce that Angela Czerwinski has joined the Bank as a Mortgage Loan Officer at its office in Holmen, Wis. Czerwinski brings over a decade of comprehensive mortgage lending experience to her new role. In both 2017 and 2018, she was recognized as the Top Mortgage Lending Producer at Citizens State Bank in La Crosse due to her consultative, client-first approach. Czerwinski has also served as a branch manager, financial advisor, and other sales roles. “We’re fortunate to welcome someone with the talent and experience that Angela brings,” said Chad Anderson, Vice President and Business Banking Manager. “Her dedication and commitment to customer service, combined with her ability to find innovative solutions, embodies our core values and that will position us for long-term success in the Holmen market.” “I’m thrilled to join WNB Financial at the forefront of its expansion in Holmen and beyond,” Czerwinski said. “The outstanding reputation of this community bank, which has had a presence regionally since 1874, and the incredible growth-focused rebranding, exhibits how much opportunity is ahead of me in the future. I’ve been impressed with the progressive attitudes built upon the stability WNB Financial exemplifies.” Czerwinski earned her degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse in 2001. She serves as an active club member for both the Downtown La Crosse Rotary and Onalaska Toastmasters, in addition to volunteering her time with the Finance Council at the Roncalli Newman Catholic Parish and as past chair of the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors.
WNB Financial and Hoeft Builders will join together for a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, April 16, to celebrate the new, full-service WNB Financial Office in Altoona, Wis. The event will take place in the River Prairie Development at the corner of Blazing Star Blvd. and Woodman Drive. At 3 p.m., representatives from WNB, Hoeft, and other prominent community members will address the crowd before the ceremonial groundbreaking. A social hour will follow with food and refreshments at Hoeft Builders, 2423 Builders Edge Drive, Altoona. The new WNB Office, with completion projected in fall 2019, will offer a full range of personal, mortgage, and business banking services, as well as retirement planning, wealth management, and financial advising.
Mayo Clinic Health System
Family nurse practitioner Tony Maul recently joined the Emergency Medicine Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. Maul earned bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Latin American literature from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He received a master’s degree in family nurse practitioner studies from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tennessee. Maul is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and National Council of State Boards of Nursing. His professional interests include emergency medicine and procedures, and pediatric care.
“I enjoy caring for pediatric patients and the overall opportunity to immediately address patients’ conditions and make a significant difference in their lives in the Emergency Department,” says Maul. “Mayo Clinic Health System has a stellar reputation, and I am happy to continue my professional career in Eau Claire.” In his free time, Maul enjoys hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing.
Huebsch Services, a family owned and operated commercial laundry business established in 1891, was honored on March 27th in Washington, D.C. for its commitment to customers and the community.
Huebsch services was recognized by the Textile Rental Association (TRSA) with the Above and Beyond Service Award. This award recognizes an individual service rep, team of service people, or an entire company for exceptional attention to customer needs. Huebsch was recognized as a company for maintaining a 98% customer retention rating in 2018. Huebsch was also recognized for having outstanding customer survey results with 99% of customers either agreeing or strongly agreeing that their route representative understands their business and 99% of customers stating they would recommend Huebsch to others.
Huebsch Services was also recognized by TRSA with the Company Community Service Award. This award recognizes volunteer projects that make significant contributions to their local communities. Here are some of the commitments Huebsch made to community service in 2018: Special Olympics Polar Plunge, Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, Feed My Starving Children, Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley, Open Door Pantry of Eagan, Jeffers Park donation of 700 trees and a volunteer team of tree planters, donation of $18,075 through United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley’s workplace campaign, over 100 hours of volunteer work through United Way’s Day of Caring, and Huebsch helped break a world record of 8,148 backpacks stuffed with Simon Says Give. In addition, 10 members of the Huebsch management and leadership team served on 13 different community boards and committees in 2018.
HSHS Sacred Heart & St. Joseph’s hospitals
HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals echocardiography labs have both been granted a three-year term of accreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) in the area of adult transthoracic echocardiography. This marks the first time both hospitals’ echocardiography labs have been accredited.
Echocardiography is used to assess different areas of a person’s heart and can detect heart disease or signs of serious cardiovascular conditions. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, followed closely by stroke as the fifth highest cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are many factors that contribute to an accurate diagnosis based on echocardiography. “IAC accreditation is the seal of approval that our patients can rely on as an indicator of the consistent quality care we offer at both of our hospitals and our dedication to continuous improvement,” said Nancy Demars, director of cardiopulmonary services at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals.
Per Mar Security Services
Per Mar Security Services, a leading provider of total security solutions for residential and commercial clients based in Davenport, IA, announced it has acquired American Pride Security Services of Bloomingdale, IL. American Pride Security Services specializes in part-time and full-time security officer services in the Chicagoland area. Neal and Michelle Loftus, owners of American Pride Security Services, expanded the business to Fort Meyers, Florida. They will be relocating to Fort Meyers to focus solely on their Florida operation. All 32 of American Pride Security Services employees in Bloomingdale, IL will be joining Per Mar’s Chicago branch.
Security Financial Bank
Paul Rudersdorf, president and CEO of Security Financial Bank (SFB), is pleased to announce the promotion of Nikki Frickson to Call Center Representative II. In this new role, Frickson will be focused on promoting SFB products and understanding the digital needs of SFB’s customers. In addition, she will serve as a customer resource for remote deposit and cash management questions or concerns.
Frickson has been with SFB for six years. She began her career at the bank as a teller and then transitioned into customer service for the past five years. Frickson is excited to start her new adventure and help more of SFB’s customers.
Junior Acheievement of Wisconsin, Northwest Wisconsin
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Northwest Wisconsin is pleased to announce that Bob Ayres, President of River City Transport LLC and past Junior Achievement Board Chair is slated to receive the 2019 JA Hero award at the upcoming JA Hero’s Gala. Bob’s long history with his work as an entrepreneur and leadership in his local philanthropic efforts help keep Junior Achievement prospering throughout Northwest Wisconsin.
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.