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November 7: 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– Viroqua has a new chief of police – Rick Niedfeldt. Niedfeldt comes to Viroqua after being with the Trempealeau Police Department for nearly 15 years; eight-and-a-half of which he was police chief. He started his law enforcement career part time with the Viroqua Police Department in April of 2005. Niedfeldt, who grew up in Coon Valley, said he decided on a law enforcement career because his father, Roger, was involved with EMS, first responders and the fire department. One of Niedfeldt’s goals is to bring training to the department’s current officers, “and make them the best we can.” Another goal is to initiate programs in the community similar to ones that had success in Trempealeau; for example, officers reading to children and a bike safety program… On Friday, Oct. 25, the History Alive Project volunteers, Dave and Ruth Amundson, used the Country Coon Prairie Cemetery as their outdoor classroom. Westby High School ninth-graders were given information on the history of the church and its importance of the cemetery, as many of Westby area early immigrants are buried there. These students, belonging to Brian Huebner’s class, stopped at 19 grave sites where they were given a short bio of the deceased person and how that person influenced the beginnings or continued growth of their community. They also became aware of and noted the various and often unique gravestones and their symbolic artwork… The Westby Area Historical Society will hold a Veterans Day event at the Thoreson Museum on Sunday, Nov. 10, as they honor those who have given service to our country. WAHS members will be giving tours of the Military Honors Room between 11 a.m and 3 p.m.

LA FARGE– An employee team from Viola-based Go Macro allocated their community service time to ‘For the Wild,’ a program of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy. The team spent Thursday, Oct. 24, working at the Tunnelville Cliffs area just south of LaFarge. The team included Levi Plath and Wheeler Ryder from MVC, and Chasca Dremsa, Lisa Larson-Coder, Meg Finerty and Collin Hanson from Go Macro. The team was helping to create an oak savanna halfway between the ridge and south of Tunnelville Road… It appears that solar power is coming closer to providing electrical power to the LaFarge Schools. Alicia Leinberger from Ethos Green Power in Viroqua attended the last meeting of the school board to update them on the latest plans. Leinberger had good news for the board about the cost of installing solar panels on the southfacing roofs of the high school, elementary school, and bus garage. She told the board that some individuals have come forward to pledge $100,000 in tax credits toward the project for a six-year period. This agreement would also cover the final expected cost of $76,000 that the school would have to pay up front… Kickapoo Valley Reserve employee Jonel Kiesau updated members of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Board at their last meeting about a kindergarten program that is being proposed as a charter school in collaboration with the LaFarge School District. The program would be for children ages three to six, and is described as an outdoor immersive educational experience. The children will spend each day outdoors regardless of the weather, with a class size of 12. The Reserve currently offers this program on Fridays, not in association with the school district, and there is a waiting list.

ONTARIO– Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District taxpayers will pay a mil rate of $8.66, the lowest since 1984. A roughly $100,000 increase in state aid contributed to the mil-rate drop, as did a three percent decrease in the district’s state imposed revenue limit. Revenue limits are based on enrollment, and N-O-W’s three-year rolling average is down by 16 students… A Halloween party was offered on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Kendall Depot featuring movies, a haunted house, treats and a chili contest held earlier at the Kendall Community Hall… Norwalk will hold a Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Norwalk Community Hall, from 4-6 p.m. Everyone is welcome, and the dinner will offer turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls and cranberries. Attendees are encouraged to bring vegetables, salad, pie, door prizes and talent for entertainment.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– Crawford County District Attorney Tim Baxtter will be retiring after 30 years of service to the safety of county residents. Baxter began as DA in 1990, and his retirement becomes effective on Jan. 3, 2020. He said he has no immediate plans but, in the future, he may consider special prosecutor appointments in order to fill in as needed around the state. Baxter was first elected Crawford County DA at the age of 26, the youngest elected DA in Wisconsin. He is now the longest tenured elected DA in the state… The Village of Wauzeka has joined over 22,000 communities nationwide that are allowed to purchase federally-backed flood insurance. This availability follows the community’s adoption of and enforcement of ordinances to reduce flood losses and acceptance by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The village is now a participant in NFIP effective Sept. 30, with a 30-day waiting period from purchase to being in effect. For single-family dwellings, the coverage limit is $250,000, and the contents coverage limit is $100,000. Renters can also protect their belongings by purchasing contents coverage. For commercial properties, the building and contents coverage limits are both $500,000.

RICHLAND CENTER– The Ocooch Mountain Humane Society invites members and friends to attend its 18thAnnual Paws Fur the Holidays celebration at the Richland Center Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9. Paws Fur the Holidays is all about the animals that OMHS has in its care. It is a fun and informative gathering of people and their pets, and a chance to meet and spend time with old and new friends. All proceeds from the event are used to support the animals at the facility. This year’s featured speaker will be author Tim Fox, who will speak about his book, ‘A Place for You,’ at 10:30 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m. OMHS is pleased to welcome back local musicians Dave Schmitt (hammered dulcimer) and Cliff Smith (classical guitar). The two will provide live music throughout the day… Chris (Biser) Drea was inducted into the Fort Hays (Kansas) University Tigers Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies held on Saturday, Oct. 26. She became one of seven members of the Class of 2019 honorees. A native of Plain, she became a three-time All-CSC performer in women’s basketball from 1986 to 1990 after a distinguishing prep career at Ithaca High School.

LANCASTER– The ribbon-cutting ceremony and official opening of the Cassville Dog Park took place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2. The public (and dogs) were invited to attend. Completion of the project at the south end of the airport is a tribute to a core of some 15 dedicated volunteers, approving donors, and cooperation of the Cassville Village Board… Mother Nature is not slowing down the last pouring of concrete on Lancaster’s Madison Street project, but it is delaying how soon residents are able to get to use their driveways in the last week of the project. Last week, concrete crews finished paving the last 1,400 feet of the street. The driveways are located on the east side should be usable by Nov. 1, but residents with driveways on the west side will have to wait two weeks.

DARLINGTON – After Lafayette County Chairman Jack Sauer stated there would be no clapping, shouting, whooping, hollering or snide comments under one’s breath during the public comment period of the meeting, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting marijuana establishments in the county at their Oct. 15 meeting. Steve Acheson of Blanchardville gave more information on cannabis in his comments, and claimed several facts in the resolution passed at the previous board meeting were incorrect. “Alcohol has killed more people than cannabis,” he said. “It is not a gateway drug that you are making it out to be.” Acheson went on to add that every major veteran organization in the state supports a statewide medical cannabis program.