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December 19: 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– Santa Claus paid a special visit to the Viroqua Eagles Community Children’s Christmas Party, Sunday, Dec. 1. The Jolly Old Elf was on hand to hear children’s wishes and to hand out 129 gifts. Crystal Moore, the party’s chairperson, said about 239 children attended the event. In addition to Santa’s visit, the party included lunch, games, a cake walk, and gifts for all children from infant to age 10… A more than two-year investigation by The Associated Press has found scores of dams nationwide in even worse condition than the Spencer Dam that failed in March 2019, and in equally dangerous locations. A review of federal data and reports obtained under state open records laws identified 1,688 high-hazard dams rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition as of last year in 44 states and Puerto Rico. Wisconsin has only six dams considered a risk to human safety that are in poor condition, according to data compiled by The Associated Press. Even so, eight dams in the state were washed out by record-setting rainfalls last year… A community presentation about a proposed Viroqua Area Schools operational referendum to exceed the revenue limits was given on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Mike Brendel, director of business services, and District Administrator Dr. Kehl Arnson gave the presentation. Brendel said the current referendum to exceed the revenue limits — $350,000 per year – covered instructional, transportation, and building and facility maintenance needs.

LA FARGE– The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is taking registrations for its youth ski club. The club meets Thursdays in January and February from 3:45 to 5 p.m. Experienced instructors will offer youth ages 6-12 the opportunity to learn proper cross-country ski techniques. Ski equipment is available for rent. More information is available on the KVR’s website. Equipment is $55 for seasonal rental. Club membership is $25 per family. Scholarships available via Friends of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, contact the KVR office at 608-625-2960… LaFarge’s Small Town Christmas was held on a warm and sunny Saturday on December 7. Various events kept both children and adults busy. Children created do-it-yourself slime craft at the Lawton Memorial Library. A children’s business fair was held at the church to help raise funds for a mission trip out east. One of their money-making schemes was to sell eggrolls – all 600 eggrolls were sold… The Kickapoo Valley Reserve Winterfest will feature a frozen lights parade and Comedian Charlie Berens this year. The fest will start the night of Friday, Jan. 10, and continue throughout the day on Saturday, Jan. 11. Friday events include a frozen lights parade, which runs from 6-7 p.m. It is a ‘stationary parade,’ meaning the people move and the lights stay put. Participants can start at the corner of Main Street and State Street. The parade will run up Main Street, left onto Mills Street, and end at the skating rink and Christmas bonfire. Immediately following, there will be Comedian Charlie Berens at Phil & Deb’s Town Tap, followed by live music. Saturday events include sledding, skiing, ice sculptures, ice cave hikes, chain saw carvings, wildlife talks and hikes, sled dog races, horse-drawn bobsled rides, and the annual Chili and Bread contest sponsored by the LaFarge Lions Club.

ONTARIO– Approving a list of estimates that will likely total about $100,000, the Ontario Village Board moved forward recently with plans to repair the former Ontario Elementary School building and renovate it into a community hall. In 1995, the Norwalk-Ontario School District (Wilton joined in 2000) closed the former school after it had built a combined elementary school at the Brookwood site. The village will renovate the 1993 addition to the school, and has not yet announced plans for the original building which was built in 1937… Kickapoo Valley Reserve staff Ben Johnston has announced that the Christmas Bird Count will once again come to the Kickapoo Valley. The bird count, part of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, will be the 120thcount conducted. The one-day, round-the-clock, counts are organized in ‘circles,’ and can take place on any day between December 14 and January 5. A northern Kickapoo Valley County count will take place on Dec. 21, and the LaFarge count will take place on Dec. 28… The seventh annual Winter Break Craft Day at the Monroe County Local History Room and the Deke Slayton and Bicycle Museum, both in Sparta, will take place on Friday, Dec. 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Kindergarten through third grade children can make seasonally themed crafts.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– The River Ridge Board of Education voted unanimously at a special meeting Dec. 4 to approve a referendum not to exceed $2.3 million to go toward the athletic fields project, which is still under construction at the Patch Grove site. The referendum will be held on the primary election date of Feb. 18, 2020. If the referendum passes, it is projected that the $2.3 million in general obligation bonds will be paid off in 19 years. What the interest rate will be is as yet unknown. Conservatively estimated at 3.75 percent, the $2.3 million paid off over 19 years would have an average annual tax impact of 49 cents per $1,000 of equalized value or $49 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home… Quilts of Valor were awarded on December 3 at Mt. Hope American Legion. Quilter Sue Lynch conducted the award ceremony… There will be a Level One Master Gardener training offered through the Crawford County UW-Extension taking place for ten weeks, from Feb. 4 through April 8. The class meets once weekly in a meeting room in the Crawford County Administration Building, and runs from 6 p.m. to 8:30 or 9 p.m. There is a fee, and registration must be completed by Friday, Jan. 10 at noon… There will be a free Community Christmas Dinner in Prairie du Chien on December 25. Serving will start at noon in the Prairie du Chien High School cafeteria. A comfort meal of turkey, ham, potatoes, vegetables, dessert and all the trimmings, with coffee, milk and water will be served. Key orchestrators of the dinner are Todd Knapp, Jayne Prew, Tammy Smith and Crossing Rivers Health.

RICHLAND CENTER– the Richland Center City Council approved a budget with a reduction of over $800,000, but property owners will see a mil rate increase of $0.02 per $1,000. In addition, the council approved a resolution authorizing employee wage and cost-of-living increases for some non-union city employees following an hour-long closed session…An Irish Christmas filled the Richland Center City Auditorium on Saturday, Dec. 14, as the group Tallymore performed a combination of traditional Christmas and Celtic songs. Tallymore, from Milwaukee, has been hailed as a group of amazing musicians with harmonies that melt your hearts as they entertain… The Richland Hospital is proud to announce the purchase of a Pristina Dueta 3D mammography machine. Designed with the comfort of the patient in mind, its rounded corners, thinner image detector and arm rests result in greater patient comfort.

BOSCOBEL– Boscobel High School’s 52ndAnnual Madrigal Dinner once again transported guests back in time to a 16thcentury English castle with song, food and dance. Serving as King and Queen were Pearl Scallon and James Troxel… Boscobel’s Hometown Holiday, held on Saturday, Dec. 7, featured something for everyone, beginning with a well-attended parade. Immediately after the parade, parents and their children raced over to the Blaine Gym to get a goodie bag and have their picture taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. While at the Blaine, they were also able to take in the Festival of Trees and vote for their favorite. Other events included free movies next door at the Blaine Theater, cookie decorating, horse drawn wagon rides, Santa’s Workshop at the Scout Cabin, and the chili and soup supper courtesy of the Rescue Squad.