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October 10: 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– Pamela Eitland, former Vernon County Human Services Director, has been charged with taking more than $5,200 from the county to pay for dental work for her family. Eitland resigned in September. An investigation began in July after the City of Westby got a check from Vernon County to pay the utility bill of Eitland’s sister. The money came from the county’s Connections Program, a fund set up by Vernon County to assist foster children or low-income children financially or to participate in recreational activities that they would otherwise not be able to afford… If you visit a Vernon County park in the summer, more likely than not, Ben Robel’s team of goats and sheep will be working hard. Robel runs Vegetation Solutions, a company that rents out herds of animals for vegetation control. Robel mostly works with private landowners, but he connected with Vernon County Conservationist Ben Wojahn and together they formed an unusual partnership. Robel’s goats and sheep are now working to control invasive plant species throughout the Vernon County Park System. Wojahn explains, “The county board definitely looked at me funny a couple of years ago, but now I think they’re much more supportive and they were willing to take a chance on Ben and the crazy goat project.” Robel says the advantage to using sheep and goats is they can chew vegetation in hard to reach places, and it’s environmentally friendly. It’s an organic method, but it’s not easy. It takes people to monitor and move the herd. Robel explains. Wojahn says he does get feedback from his staff that they don’t feel like moving goats all of the time, but the county park system is starting to see a lot of benefits. 

LA FARGE– The Village of LaFarge’s newest park facility has been officially named and dedicated. Dedication ceremonies were held the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 25 for ‘Sandmire Memorial Park.’ The park is dedicated to the memory of Delores Sandmire, a longtime citizen, civic leader, and government official in LaFarge. Delores passed away on April 16, 2019, at the age of 85. At the time, she was still an active member of the LaFarge Village Board where she served for 18 years. The park is located in the southwest section of the village, at the corner of Mill and Pearl Street. It covers the area where the Mill Pond is located and several nearby residential areas that are now gone due to flood buyouts… LaFarge Police Chief Jonathon Brown reports that there were several disturbances in the village during the overnight hours between September 26-27. These disturbances were related to Homecoming activities involving adults and juveniles within the village. There were four reports of disorderly conduct, two reports of battery, one report of shooting other missiles, one report of trespassing, one report of vandalism, one report of discharging fireworks, and multiple reports of curfew violations. There have never been so many disturbances in one night related to Homecoming, according to village officials… After nearly burning off the roof of the barbecue pit in the village park last year, the LaFarge VFW Post 975 members will attempt another ceremonial flag burning event. Anyone having used or damaged flags can leave them at the Episcope newspaper office. The ceremony will be held Monday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m.

ONTARIO– It’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping, and what better place to start than the grand opening of Heifers in the Haymow in rural Ontario? The open house will be at its new store at E12784 Spohn Road, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 and Saturday, Oct. 12. Heifers in the Haymow offers four unique stores under one roof. The store has everything from homemade crafts, upcycled furniture and gifts, custom-made laser printing and wedding rentals. Badger Vending will provide food, plus wine and beer will be for sale. For every $10 spent in the store during the open house, each customer will receive a cow chip toward a raffle for door prizes… Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers recently received a grant award of $63,027 in recognition of clinical quality from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to a press release prepared by Scenic Bluffs, the award was based on its 2018 clinical performance achievements. Scenic Bluffs will use the funds to further improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the healthcare delivered to the communities they serve.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– Last week, Prairie du Chien’s 2019 Oktoberfest committee recognized the young designer of this year’s Oktoberfest button, which attendees of the October 19 festivities in the Memorial Gardens will need to join in the fun. Tenley DuCharme, 7, of rural Wauzeka, created the winning German-themed scene for the button. She is the daughter of Steve and Melissa DuCharme. She received a gift basket donated by the Crawford County Master Gardeners, and will have the opportunity to participate in the Oktoberfest parade and ceremonies on the island with her family… River Ridge FFA students as well as their counterparts from the Prairie du Chien FFA chapter lent a hand in cleaning up debris left after the September 12 storms at the CR Quarter Horses farm in Bridgeport. They hauled logs and branches, and shoveled a lot of mud, among other grueling work for Rodney and Charlene Boom, who own the farm… Anglers, boaters and many other people who enjoy the Mississippi River have noticed a large die-off of trees, and a lot of erosion on the islands of the river, especially evident this year. Hundreds of trees have died in Pool 10, and perhaps thousands in the whole Upper Mississippi River. Acting Regional Hunting and Fishing Chief of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge – McGregor District, Brandon Jones, said the dead and dying trees will be even more noticeable in 2020. Jones said the sustained high water of the past four years is to blame for this loss of habitat.

RICHLAND CENTER– Auditions for a dramatic reading about Richland Center suffragist Ada James will be held Thursday and Friday, Oct. 10-11, at 6:30 p.m., at the Richland Center City Auditorium. There are parts for 20 actors, female and male, of all ages. The reading, entitled ‘Memories of Ada,’ is an original work written by and for Community Players of Southwestern Wisconsin, who state, “Wisconsin made history 100 years ago being the first state to ratify the 19thAmendment. Ada James helped make that history. Now you can have a part in telling her story…” The Hill and Valley Exploration Tour: A Celebration of Rural Living’ is a unique opportunity to explore the vibrant and resilient small farm economy of Northern Sauk and Richland counties. It took place last weekend, and will take place again on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-13. On the tour, you can easily find local food and art producers, learn about the changing face of rural America, dine at a true Farm-to-Fork country eatery, find hidden gems, and visit a historic Fork Art site. Don’t forget to bring your cooler to hold all your farm fresh purchases, an extra sweater and the mud boots. For more information, go to explorehilsand

LANCASTER– Another heavy rainfall struck Grant County the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 1. With it came even more damage in an already very wet 2019. According to the Grant County Emergency Management Department, a great many county and secondary roads were rendered impassible as the storms moved through, but most cleared in less than an hour. Highway 61 at Stenner Hill Road and Highway 35 at Patch Grove were both overtopped and impassible for approximately 30 minutes. There was no major damage reported after the water subsided. Town crews were out conducting damage assessments; initial impression is that damages are minor in most locations. One farm on College Farm Road near Highway 151 lost the roof off of a barn and several outbuildings.