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July 4: 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 Vernon County Parks and Forests Division of the Land and Water Conservation Department manages and maintains more than 1,800 acres of parkland and forestland. The acres contain more than 31 miles of multi-use trail offering a multitude of leisure time pursuits. About one year ago, a group called Friend of Vernon County Parks and Forests was formed to help with projects at the properties. The friends group and members of the public, working with the Land and Water Conservation Department and the Chaseburg Saddle Club, had a workday at Duck Egg County Forest on May 4. Around 20 volunteers planted more than 500 trees and installed signs, which is part of a larger project which includes new maps and well-marked trails… Numerous special events are offered throughout the year at the Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center, starting with February’s Candlelight Snowshoe Hike and March’s Treats ’n Treasure Sale. In April and May, student groups come for the education programs, and June includes the Midsummer Fest on June 22, and Music in the Valley, which is held Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. until August 14. Art Fair on the Farm is held the Sunday after the Fourth of July from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. September 8 will feature the Twilight Tour with a theme and a farm-to-table dinner. October will include a Civil War Reenactment on Oct. 12-13, and in the third week of October volunteers will carve 500 pumpkins. The pumpkins are on display on at the Family Friendly Trick or Treat which is held on the Thursday before Halloween, and Ghoulees in the Coulees, which falls on the fourth weekend of the month.

LAFARGE– The saga of the landlocked property in the Vernon County Town of Stark continues, apparently unabated in regards to legalese. The situation concerns property owned by Jason Rusch south of LaFarge. It became landlocked when flooding destroyed a bridge over the Kickapoo River. Rusch then requested that the Town of Stark provide a road access using the state law. The town then, after exhaustive work, approved all legal requirements to have a road laid out across property owned by Eric Slayback. Slayback has continued to resist even though a check has been sent to him, per the law, for land taken and other expenses that may have been incurred. At a meeting of the town board on June 19, the contents of an e-mail by the town’s attorney Sarah Korte were discussed. The e-mail notified the board that Slayback was contesting the acquisition, saying that the town made a mistake in the early stages of the plan and that it should now be delayed for three years before land condemnation action can start again… The ceremonial cutting of the ribbon dedicating the installation of solar power at the Lawton Memorial Library in LaFarge was held on Tuesday, June 18. The solar panels can be seen on the roof of the building.

ONTARIO– The ever-popular sandbox canoe is back in Ontario’s Palen Park, as the original was a victim to Ontario’s August 2018 flood, during which about six feet of water flowed through the park. Thanks to the efforts of Eugene Byerson of Byerson Marine in Sparta, it is bigger and better than ever and is ready to set sail by the little ones… A substantial donation from Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Board of Education member Justin Arndt and his wife Kirstin made possible an array of elementary school programs. Focusing on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the donation was used to purchase materials for hands-on science projects, STEM fieldtrips, a STEM workshop for fourth and fifth grade girls, virtual-reality goggles, devices and a wireless router for online field trips, a robot kit for kindergartners, STEM workshop for staff members, and renewable energy hands-on kits for classrooms… The Wilton Sportsmen’s Club will hold their annual Blacktop Tractor Pull on Sunday, July 7 at 12 p.m. The event is held in memory of Jared Chambers.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– Langmeier Dairy near Patch Grove was honored with an Energy Efficiency Excellence Award recently by Focus on Energy. About 20 were on hand at the farm for the award presentation, which included Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and State Senator Howard Marklein. Langmeier Dairy, a 100-cow organic dairy and crop farm, is one of 18 Wisconsin businesses and other groups, which received the award. The award recognizes energy efficiency projects at Langmeier Dairy’s new facility where it processes and packages organic Brussel sprouts. Those projects included energy-efficient LED lighting and variable frequency drives (VFD) to control the motor speed of the conveyor systems and packaging equipment used on the assembly line. Langmeier said the Brussel sprouts operation has been up and running for about a year and is expected to surpass their dairy operation… 2019 marks Pete’s Hamburgers 110-year anniversary. To celebrate, on Saturday, July 6, there will be a full day of activities. Starting at 8 a.m., there will be a 5K race at St. Feriole Island. The registration gives you entrance into the 5K, one limited edition Pete’s Hamburgers shirt, and one free burger. Prizes will be given to the top three males and females, as well as random prize giveaways.

RICHLAND CENTER– Richland Center Mayor Mike Kaufman has announced that Richland Center Police Chief Lucas Clements has been placed on administrative leave, with pay, while an investigation is underway by the State Department of Criminal Investigation. Mayor Kaufman states that he was not informed of the reason for the investigation, but said he was told that it would likely be concluded within two to three weeks. In the meantime, Lt. Billy Jones of the RCPD has been named interim police chief… During three presentations at Brewer Library last week, Colossal Fossils of Wausau introduced the crowds to ‘Rex,’ a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex. Well, of course, it wasn’t an actual T-Rex, but it was a real-looking baby T-Rex suit that a man stepped into with only his legs protruding from the bottom. He was able to give motion to the baby T-Rex’s head and to emit roaring sounds. The man in the suit was David Daniels, executive director of Colossal Fossils.

BOSCOBEL– Five years removed from working at the former Vale Inn, Lacie Rutherford is back, this time as the owner of the newly christened Old 61 Diner. Rutherford will be opening the restaurant in a few weeks, ending over a year of speculation about what would become of the iconic eatery after it closed for remodeling about a year-and-a-half ago. She came up with the name, ‘Old 61 Diner’ from her childhood home address on the south side of Boscobel. She the collaborated with her stepsister Lacey Steffes on the marketing, as well as Nikki Walz of Moss & Fawn photography… BMZ Church is hosting ‘Worship in the Park’ at Kronshage Park in Boscobel on Sunday, July 7. The event will kick off with contemporary live music and a casual worship celebration at 10 a.m. A picnic will follow where brats and hotdogs with all the fixin’s and a potluck provided by the congregation will be enjoyed. All campuses of BMZ Church are joining together to host the free event.


FENNIMORE– At 8:20 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26, it became official. About 30 people were present — dairy farmers, a calf raiser, a garlic grower, a UW-Platteville student, just to name a few — as Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, announced that the new Iowa-Grant Farmers Union chapter had officially been formed. Von Ruden, along with Kirsten Slaughter, membership and education organizer for Wisconsin Farmers Union, attended with plenty of information to share with the new members. They also ran the meeting, which saw the election of four officers to the new chapter’s board.