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December 12: 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– Kenosha and Vernon County 4-H Pioneer Helen Augusta Hornby was inducted into the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Green Lake Conference Center on November 2. Recognizing the value of 4-H to a community, Helen was instrumental in working with Extension staff in 1944 to form Kenosha County’s first city 4-H club. Urban 4-H clubs are now found throughout the 4-H Program. Throughout Helen’s 4-H career, she exemplified leadership in organizing activities, empowering volunteers, and sparking enthusiasm in Kenosha County, Vernon County, and beyond. She had a variety of leadership roles in 4-H focusing on the educational impact 4-H had at all levels. No matter what her role, she was concerned about providing a meaningful 4-H experience for youth… Beginning with this year’s Christmas Open House on December 14, the DeSoto Public Library will be offering each new baby born in the library district with two new board books and a handmade ‘first book bag.’ The open house to be held on December 14, from 10 a.m. to noon, will include crafts for adults and children. Christmas stories, refreshments and cookie decorating in addition to the ‘Books for Babies’ kickoff… Three-time Grammy winner and LaCrosse native Bill Miller will be performing at the Masonic Temple Building in Viroqua on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. Gregg Hall will open the show for Bill Miller. Miller is an award-winning Native American recording artist, performer, songwriter, activist, painter and world-class native flute player.

LA FARGE– Residents and members of the LaFarge School’s tech class got a chance recently to look over the solar cell storage batteries recently installed at the Lawton Memorial Library in LaFarge. The two batteries are installed on the wall. Attendees got to hear a presentation about the batteries manufactured by Tesla, the electric car company. The solar installation will allow the library to go seven days without the need to use additional electricity supplied by the grid… Kostas Gyros set up recently in Viola and held a fundraiser. They raised $6,000 and decided to split it up to support as many area youth as possible. They will donate $1,500 to the Kickapoo Middle School/High School Trap Team; $1,500 will go to the Kickapoo Schools to help buy supplies for students; and $3,000 will go to the shop with a Fire Fighter Program.

ONTARIO– Taking precautions after a school-safety incident in Sparta, the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District had a ‘lock-in’ Tuesday. Sparta High School went into a secure perimeter and classroom hold Monday afternoon after administrators received what they considered to be a credible concern regarding a handgun possibly in the possession of a missing student. The Sparta Area School District canceled classes Tuesday. Like N-O-W, the Cashton School District also had a lock-in. Police later determined that the student did not have the missing handgun, and Sparta Schools resumed classes on Wednesday… The Kendall Public Library will hold a Cookie & Candy Walk at St. John’s Church on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The St. John’s Ladies Aid will sponsor the walk. An assortment of cookies and candy will be available; payment is by donation, with the money going to help support the library… The first-ever Dale Williams Memorial Hunt took place in early October. Jacob DeWitt of Ontario organized the event, which had as its base the Wildcat Bar & Grill in Ontario. Dale Williams was a longtime Ontario area resident and farmer who died on October 4 at age 71. His daughter, Donna Dompier of Ontario said “he got a lot of people started coon hunting, and loved helping the DeWitt boys with their hounds. And he wasn’t about who won – he wanted all the kids to have fun.”

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– On November 19, the Crawford County Democratic and Republican parties jointly sponsored a discussion of the techniques employed by foreign government actors that attempt to influence democratic institutions. Guest speaker Dave Schroeder was introduced by Dave Wesener, Republican County Chair, after brief introductory remarks by himself and Dale Klemme, Democratic County Chair. Schroeder is a strategist and senior cyber subject matter expert at UW-Madison, and has served as a cryptologic warfare officer and intelligence professional in the U.S. Navy. Schroeder gave a brief history of the actions used by Russia in the 2016 election, noting that they targeted both sides of the political aisle. The use of memes, trolls, and hot activity on social media is intended to divide citizens on hot topic issues such as gun policy, mass shootings, race, country of origin, and election integrity. Schroeder said that countries like China and Iran saw how easy it was for Russia in 2016, and have entered the same social media platforms with similar intent. He said that these attacks are present and ongoing in the period leading up to the 2020 elections… Erin Gillitzer was the recipient of the 2019 Legislative Staff Achievement Award from the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Legislative Summit in Nashville last summer. The awards are presented annually to recognize staff excellence in supporting the work of a state legislature and strengthening the legislative institution.

RICHLAND CENTER– This autumn, a Fall Forum was held at UW-Platteville-Richland which focused on an organization people may have heard, but about which much appears to be unknown by the general public. David Armiak, Research Director for the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), conducted the forum which focused on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The organization has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Armiak explained the mission of CMD which is “to investigate and expose corporate spin and government propaganda.” Armiak showed the video ‘ALEC,’ which stated that “A bunch of corporations work together to get big tax write-offs – including Koch Industries, Pfizer, Dow, VISA, Comcast and many others. ALEC schmoozes and boozes a lot of politicians, and they all get together far away from citizens and voters and unelected lobbyists secretly vote with the politicians on the things the corporations want – like gut clean air and water rules, raise credit card rates as high as they want, crush democratic unions, privatize schools and prisons, and immigration…” A Richland County woman had a new appearance in court last week over charges of animal neglect. Thurley Neumaier, 62, avoided jail time by agreeing to surrender the horses she had been keeping on Shellington Drive in Rockbridge Township. Richland Area Rescue accepted 10 of the horses and the others were placed in the care of individuals. Neumaier had been sentenced to a deferred prosecution agreement last February for a prior instance of neglect which prohibited her from owning horses for three years in lieu of jail or probation time. Having been found in violation of that deferred prosecution, Richland County District Attorney Jennifer Harper requested that Neumaier’s deferred prosecution agreement be extended for an additional two years.

BOSCOBEL– Wayne Otto’s stay in Boscobel was a shot one. Otto began his employment with the Boscobel School District on July 8, having accepted four positions. The district hired Otto to teach high school/middle school physical education. He also assumed head coaching duties for varsity football and wrestling. Otto became the school’s new Activities Director. Otto submitted his resignation on Wednesday, Nov. 19, the day after the school board rejected Otto’s request that Boscobel withdraw from the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League altogether and join the Ridge & Valley Conference… The Boscobel Bird Dogs, Boscobel’s Youth Trap Team, finished in fourth place in Conference 5 during the Fall 2019 Season. In conference standings, Tia Martin was tied for fourth place for Best Female Shooter. She also tied for eighth place for Overall Female Shooter for the State of Wisconsin.