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June 27: 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– Luke Zahm has told stories through his food for years, but he never thought his career in the kitchen would lead to one in front of a television camera. The chef and co-owner of the Driftless Cafe in Viroqua will host the upcoming season of ‘Wisconsin Foodie,’ a two-time Emmy Award-winning show on Wisconsin Public Television that showcases the state’s culinary complexity.The opportunity will give him a chance to tell the stories of chefs from all over Wisconsin, which is a dream come true, he said. He also hopes to showcase food producers as a way to empower rural communities that have been economically crippled by the recent agriculture and dairy crisis across the state… The Marcia Andrew Memorial Strawberry Shortcake Social will take place at the historic Sherry-Butt House, located at 795 North Main Street in Viroqua. This community event is held on the House’s beautiful green lawn every year on July 4, from 1 to 5 p.m., with music starting at 2 p.m.

LAFARGE– Despite continued opposition to additional Bug Tussel company 300-foot towers in Vernon County, the Vernon County Board Zoning Committee gave their approval. This was done on Tuesday, June 11. In a public comment section of the agenda, Adele Fauske, who opposes the approval, informed the committee that state statutes have 23 things that counties can’t do to stop communication towers. But, she said, LaCrosse County, which appears not to want towers, has suggested several ways to control them with regulations regarding erosion, abandonment fees, set backs, limiting wireless carriers, site restoration bonds, considerations of population density, distance to dwellings, road traffic, and size of the plat. Others spoke about not allowing control of local land and frequency concerns. The COO of Bug Tussel was in attendance, as was Chris Henshue, the business development representative for the firm. The COO described Bug Tussel as “just a local company bringing broadband to rural areas.” He stated that they “want a good relationship at the local level” and were not “here to ram anything down anyone’s throat.” He stated his company can build towers more cheaply than other firms with their grant funds, and by being first in the market, they can probably keep other tower companies out. The committee went on to approve four tower permits on Shaker Road in the Hillsboro area, Town of Harmony, Town of Webster at the Croell Quarry, and the Walleser site on Highway 82… 

ONTARIO– President Trump might have signed a disaster relief bill of $19 billion, but how much will filter down to Vernon County remains unknown, according to officials at a flood recovery meeting at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Dan Kaitfas of the Wisconsin Department of Administration noted that a large chunk of the money is earmarked for Puerto Rico and other states. Applications for flood buyouts from the 2018 flood event totaled $16 million, but only $11 million will be available, he added. As residences ususally take priority, this may leave businesses in the lurch, and they may have to wait for further funding before razing their businesses and moving on. Kaitfas suggested residents may want to contact U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin to move the process forward. Recovery funds are still available. A program managed by the Mississippi Valley Regional Planning Commission offers up to $15,000, with no payments due for six months… Flood damage isn’t stopping organizers of the annual Fourth of July Celebration in Ontario, who have chosen the theme ‘Still Afloat’ for the big parade scheduled at noon on July 4.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– St. Feriole Island may have just emerged from under water, but the Prairie du Chien Common Council is talking about the city’s planned construction there, beginning in July. Fourth Street in front of the Memorial Gardens will be reconditioned with work slated to start July 29, right after the Prairie Dog Blues Festival. The job is expected to be complete by Sept. 4, city officials said at Tuesday’s council meeting… To celebrate the reopening of the Prairie du Chien store, ALDI will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 27, at 8:25 a.m., followed by its popular golden ticket giveaway offering gift cards to the first 100 customers. Shoppers can also enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s supply of ALDI produce. The Prairie du Chien store is part of the $1.9 billion ALDI investment to remodel and expand more than 1,300 stores nationwide by the end of 2020.

RICHLAND CENTER– Cadet Hunter John Whitney, son of Dr. Kevin and Mrs. Julie Whitney, formerly of Richland Center, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy on Saturday, May 25. Whitney graduated from Richland Center High School in 2015. While at West Point, he concentrated his studies in Life Sciences. He was commissioned as a second lieuteneant in the U.S. Army within the Armor branch, and will report to Fort Hood, Texas, for his first assignment… Officials from the A.D. German Warehouse Conservancy Inc. have announced that the organization has reached the halfway point in its fundraising goal for the restoration and enhancement project of the 1915 Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. Plans are to restore the Warehouse and adjacent 1912 building, as well as to develop space for social, cultural and economic activities. Of the estimated $4 million needed for the project, approximately $2 million has been raised, including historic tax credits, private donations, and grants.

BOSCOBEL– School Perceptions LLC provided a presentation to the Boscobel Board of Education at its regular monthly meeting recently, reviewing the results of the Community Engagement Survey. According to School Perceptions’ spokesperson Bill Foster, 441 individuals responded to the survey, with 90 percent of the respondents living within the school district. Of the respondents, 246 did not currently have children attending the school, and 174 did currently have children attending. Of the respondents 16 percent reported being “very satisfied” with the school, 56 percent  were “satisfied,” and 20 percent were unsatisfied. Foster saw those as very positive numbers… the Boscobel Youth Trap Team, better known as the Bird-Dogs, finished second in Conference 10 this spring, with 42 students participating. The Bird-Dogs traveled to the Wisconsin Trapshooting Association State Meet near Rome, located south of Wisconsin Rapids, for 35 of their shooters to compete. There, the team finished in eighth place out of 71 teams, just 10 points out of first place. Seven different Boscobel students shot ‘25 Straights’ during the event. 

FENNIMORE– The City of Fennimore Commom Council discussed the possibility of waiving fees for first-year lifeguard training. “They’re getting a lot of kids who say they can work and then call and say they can’t,” Streif explained. “It’s getting hard finding people to fill-in, when they think they already have enough people.” Originally, there were 29 applicants, but only 10-12 showed up the first day…. The Fennimore Railroad Historical Society Board has added some new faces to help improve coverage of the museum’s needs. “We changed some of the bylaws to handle more board members,” board member Larry Beer noted. Some of the new faces include Sheldon Bartles, Vicki Marish as the treasurer, and Sharon Beer as secretary.

LANCASTER– This summer is the last summer of the Lancaster Municipal Pool as you know it. In mid-August, the pool will close down and be removed, with a new pool slated to open sometime in June 2020. When that pool opens next summer, it will have most of the ‘fun’ things that were drawn into the pool during the design phase, thanks to a flurry of fundraising that took place in the past month, some timely corporate donations, as well as some use of the interest from money the city has received leading up to the Lancaster Common Council meeting recently. During their meeting, the council approved moving forward with the $3.4 million project, only eliminating two items it had requested bids on.