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August 28: News from around the Driftless Area
News From Around the Arrea

‘News from Around the Driftless Area’ is a compilation showcasing the excellent work and interesting tidbits from the community journalists sprinkled throughout our area.

VIROQUA– The 24thAnnual Wild West Days in Viroqua once again offered a variety of activities for all ages.  The event began with Tor’s Cowboy Church on Thursday, and continued Friday with the Richard Sidie Memorial Horse Pull. Over the weekend, activities included reenactments, food vendors, music, rodeos, Mutton Bustin’, hog wrestling, Ho-Chunk dancers, vendors, demonstrations, an 1880 Boomtown, a petting zoo, children’s games and stage coach rides. The annual parade included horses for the second year in a row… The Vernon County Fair will take place September 11-15, and season tickets are once again available at the Viroqua, Westby and Coon Valley WCCUs, Citizens First Bank, Peoples State Bank and Nelson Agri-Center. Season tickets for 6-15-year-olds are $7, and for 16-and-over are $15. This price excludes grandstand events. Again this year is the inclusive season pass for $25, which gets you in the gate every day plus the Friday and Saturday grandstand events.

LA FARGE– A fire was reported on August 15 at Berrgum’s Food Mart. The first to respond was a Vernon County Sheriff’s Deputy, who rushed into the store with a fire extinguisher. Shortly, the sirens brought three fire trucks and several firefighters. Davina Stout, store manager, said flames were coming out from above a cooler but were quickly contained. She said that electricians had just left the building… The south side of LaFarge has become a park-type area after the flood housing buyout program, and now the property has an official name. The LaFarge Village Board at their Monday, August 12 meeting, officially named it Sandmire Memorial Park… The Kickapoo Valley Reserve Board Land Management Committee discussed closing of all campsites on the Reserve that are in the floodway. This is a DNR request due to safety concerns caused by the rapid rise of the river when it floods. This would also avoid putting first responders in jeopardy conducting swift water recues. Responding to the DNRs request, the board had come up with tentative plans to create new campsites on the property, with the proposed changes to take place in 2020… On Tuesday, August 6, Vernon County held their very first Vernon County National Night Out. LaFarge’s Fourth of July Royalty joined the event to represent their community.

ONTARIO– About 30 people crowded into the Whitestown Town Hall the evening of Tuesday, August 20, all of them expressing their opposition to a cell tower proposed by Internet service provider Bug Tussel. The tower would be situated roughly at the intersection of Dutch Hollow Road and West Kettle Road. What was missing from the evening was Chris Henshue, a representative of Bug Tussel, who had been slated to be there. Also not present were James and Velda Wilson, the property owners who had agreed to lease a site for the cell tower. Town Supervisor George Wilbur, who also is an attorney, chaired the meeting. In the absence of any opposition, Wilbur took comments and written testimony, which he noted, could be used in a court case. Due to state law, Wilbur cautioned the crowd that mere opinion would not suffice. He said that the town would need to submit “substantial evidence” that the proposed tower should not be constructed in the town. Exhibits, including letters from two Viroqua realtors, were submitted, and health issues were mentioned such as radiation from the tower, danger should the tower collapse. The impacts on tourism, the Amish community, and the dark-skies program were also mentioned. The town board voted to deny the conditional use permit to the company… The Village of Kendall recently celebrated the opening of the community’s new wastewater treatment facility on August 15.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– The City of Prairie du Chien saw a mussel survey being completed at the Villa Louis Boat Landing on Friday, August 16. The survey was necessary to determine if any mussel populations will be negatively impacted by the city’s plans to refurbish the boat landing, which will include plans to build an additional boat ramp, two floating docks, a handicapped-accessible parking and fishing pier and a picnic shelter and parking area… The Wisconsin DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services have confirmed that gray wolves killed a beef calf on Tuesday, August 13 in Marietta Township in Crawford County. Officials said the calf was killed just north of Boscobel. Gray wolves are native to Wisconsin, though they primarily reside in the northern portion of the state… After five years of hard work, the Wauzeka Veterans Memorial has been completed. The committee is excited to announce that the dedication of the memorial will be held on Sunday, Sept. 1, at 1 p.m., at the memorial site at the cemetery on Highway N north of Wauzeka… The luxurious American Duchess floated into Prairie du Chien carrying over 160 guests from around the world on a voyage up the Mighty Mississippi. According to the American Queen Steamboat Company, the Duchess was expected to travel back down the river later in the week from Red Wing, Minnesota, to New Orleans.

RICHLAND CENTER–Gary Syftestad has been chosen to be the next principal at Weston School. Gary and his wife Raynelle, live in La Valle and have four adult daughters, Hannah, Haley, Jenna and Joelle… At their August meeting, the Richland County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution allowing the use of All-Terrain Vehicles and Utility-Terrain Vehicles on the Pine River Recreational Trail. Supervisor Donald Seep pointed out that the proposal would have to receive both state and federal approval before motorized use would be allowed.

BOSCOBEL– The River Bottom Bar, owned by Casie Rowles,  opened recently in Blue River at the former Community First Bank building on Highway 133. A Grand Opening celebration is in the works, probably after a permit to serve food has been obtained. The menu will consist of pizza and appetizers... Ten inmates at the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution have filed a lawsuit claiming prisoners  were exposed to asbestos, a cancer-causing material; water carrying radium, gross alpha and rust; extreme heat due to a lack of air conditioning; and to mold. The inmates are collectively seeking approximately $15 million in damages and are also asking for inmates to be taken to minimum-security facilities in the interest of inmate safety. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has not yet filed a response…. In November of 1995 an older man was found passed away in the southern part of the county. Officials tried to find the name of the deceased but were unable to do so. No foul play was suspected, it was determined the man died from a heart-related condition. A graveside ceremony was conducted by Grant County Chaplain Don Forss in May 1996 and the unidentified man was buried. Part of the body had remained in evidence, and had not been buried. In early 2019 current Grant County Coroner Phyllis Fuerstenberg reopened the case to see if there was any new technology that could assist with identification. Due to some new techniques and technology utilized by the FBI, they were able to obtain fingerprints. After search of the fingerprint database, the subject was identified. Now, 24 years later, Grant County officials finally know that the man buried at Orchard Manor under ‘John Doe’ does have a name – Gale Joseph Byers. Byers was born 11-28-1938 and was originally from the Boscobel area.

FENNIMORE– Fennimore native Alston Nutter won a bronze medal at the 2019 Greco-Roman Junior National Championship in Tallinn, Estonia last week. He tied for third place out of 22 wrestlers at 139 pounds… After six years the school resource officer program will not continue into the 2019-2020 school year. The SRO was a contract paid position paid for by the Fennimore Community Schools and the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.