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December 26: 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– Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin awards the 2019 C.D. Besadny Conservation Funds to 19 organizations across Wisconsin working to support grassroots conservation and education projects. Established in 1990, the C.D. Besadny Conservation Fund supports conservation and education projects that benefit every part of Wisconsin – lands, water and wildlife – and connects Wisconsinites to natural resources through education and outreach. The 2019 awardees are working on several projects throughout the state including: making sure our parks and playgrounds are accessible to all, bringing high-quality educational programs to underserved communities, removing invasive species from natural areas, as well as critical monitoring and research for our lands and wildlife. Area awards were as follows: Mississippi Valley Conservancy (Crawford County) to convert the Kickapoo Valley Indian Caverns Visitor Center to an educational center; and Friends of Vernon County Parks to purchase equipment and tools for volunteers… The Viroqua Lionettes presented a $400 donation to Vernon County Toys for Tots at the annual Toys for Tots Chili Supper on Wednesday, Dec. 4… Earlier this year, Doreen Shoret was selected to represent Vernon County and District 14 as 2019 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. District 14 includes Crawford, Juneau, Monroe, and Vernon counties. Short’s tree farm is located east of Viroqua and north of Readstown in the Vernon County Town of Kickapoo. Short moved to Vernon County with her husband, Stephen O’Donnell, in 1984. Some of her projects have been forest management/stewardship plans written for her property; harvesting firewood for personal use; tree planting (under-planting white pine in her woods and converting a small farm field to trees; tapping maple trees to collect and process maple syrup; commercial harvest set up and completion; foraging for mushrooms; and timber/forest stand improvement projects to control invasive plant species and allow more desirable trees more room to grow… Each year Wisconsin Farm Bureau selects winners for their Young Farmer and Agriculturist Achievement Award, recognizing Wisconsin farmers between 18 and 35 who have achieved success in their farming careers and display leadership and involvement in the Farm Bureau and other civic organizations. This year, Travis and Krista Klinkner of rural Viroqua received the award at the Farm Bureau’s 100thAnnual Meeting on December 8. Both Travis and Krista were raised on farms, with Travis growing up on an organic dairy farm in Cashton, while Krista’s family operated a dairy farm that didn’t transition into an organic operation until she was in college. The pair purchased their farm from Krista’s parents in 2015 where they currently milk 60 cows, while raising young stock and growing forages and corn. The farm has been in Krista’s family for 125 years, and the Klinkners hope to see the tradition continue on to their four children, who will be fifth generation farmers on Krista’s side, and sixth or seventh on Travis’ side.

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 KVRs website. Equipment is $55 for seasonal rental. Club membership is $25 per family. Scholarships are available via Friends of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve – contact the KVR office at 608-625-2960… A water rate increase in the Village of LaFarge is projected to increase average residential user costs by 73 cents per month, a three percent increase. The average water bill is presently $24.55, and would increase to $25.28. Commerical water rates would also increase, with Organic Valley paying $19 more per month and the school an additional $12… After several years of concerns about village residents having overnight displays on village sidewalks on a year round basis, the LaFarge Village Board passed a new ordinance to eliminate the practice. The new ordinance, ‘Outdoor Retail Sales and Outdoor Storage,’ says that items can only be on a portion of the sidewalk from a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset. Otherwise, all items must be stored inside.

ONTARIO– A booming stock market, low unemployment and low inflation should be signs of a robust economy. At least that is what we are told. But when the Cashton Community Cupboard serves more families in November than ever before, and 62 percent of Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton students and 56 percent of Royall students are on free or reduced lunch, it is clear that some find the economy more bust than boom. As they say, things are never so bad they can’t get worse. And new rules on SNAP benefits coming from USDA are, if enforced, likely to increase demand at local food pantries and have school superintendents scrambling for ways to fill hungry little tummies… The Monroe County 911 Communications Center received a report of an injury crash involving a horse on Highway 131 and Hilldale Avenue, south of Tomah at 11:56 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17. A 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt, operated by Jonathan Schendel, 24, rural Wilton, was southbound on 131 when he struck a horse that was in the roadway. Schendel suffered non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the crash. The horse suffered life-threatening injuries and died at the scene.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– Once again, the bakers at Rivers and Bluffs Animal Shelter (RABAS) will be hard at work baking their favorite desserts, cookies and candies, just in time for the holidays. They will even have home-made treats for the canine friend in your life. Their holiday bake sale will be held on Saturday, Dec. 21 at Tractor Supply from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m… The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is closing public access points at two of its Mississippi River locks this winter because of maintenance. The maintenance will require the public areas at Lock and Dam 8, near Genoa, and Lock and Dam 9, near Lynxville, now through March 13, 2020. The closures are needed due to the amount of heavy construction equipment being used and the size of the work area contractors will need to complete the project.

RICHLAND CENTER– The Richland Center City Council moved closer to banning facilities to raise dogs and cats to be used in animal research facilities in the city during its final regular session of 2019 Tuesday night in Muncipal Building. The council acted to direct City Attorney James J. Robb to provide an ordinance similar to the ballot initiative that Spring Green voters will consider in the April election. The action expected to be taken by the council at their January meeting will forbid city residents from sending a dog or cat to be used for research or experimentation involving more than momentary or slight pain or distress… Gary Gutknecht and Paul Knower haven’t known each other all that long, but they feel like lifelong pals. They actually met due to their wives being acquainted through their careers, and the guys immediately discovered a mutual love of music. While their tastes intersect at many points, Gutknecht considers himself the ‘AM Radio’ guy, while Knower is the ‘FM Radio’ guy. Gutknecht is a big fan of Top 40 selections, while Knower generally prefers what many refer to as ‘Album Rock,’ such as The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. Starting on Saturday, Dec. 28, and continuing on the fourth Sunday of each month, from 10 a.m. to noon, the duo will present the G-Man and Pauly Show on WDRT, 91.9 FM… Women members of the Richland County Republican Party and Church of the Nazarene members worked together to make a great many cookies for Wisconsin veterans. Richland County Republican Party member Carol Stevenson said, “We all wanted to let our veterans know they are not forgotten. Steve Cournea, our leader on this project, has been doing this for 29 years. He is truly a person who cares.” Cournea stated that cookies, apples, crackers and cheese were taken to the VA in Milwaukee, along with $9,700 in funds that were raised. Additionally, $500 was taken to the Tomah VA to fund a Christmas party for veterans there.