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October 17: 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– As the fall harvest approaches, farmers continue to worry about low commodity prices, although dairy farmers have seen an uptick in milk prices in the last few months, says the president of Wisconsin Farmers Union. Corn and soybean prices remain “pretty low,” Von Ruden said. “And it looks like they’re not going to recover anytime soon, with the trade wars and what’s going on with China right now. There just isn’t a bright outlook right now.” Corn and soybean prices have “kind of held steady” this year, Von Ruden said. “Right now, soybean prices are probably $2 a bushel below the cost of production,” he said. “And corn is a good $1 below the cost of production.” Corn prices received by U.S. farmers for the 2019/20 marketing year are expected to average about $3.60 per bushel, and soybean prices are expected to average $8.50 per bushel, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its monthly grains supply and demand report released Sept. 12. Farmers have faced low commodity prices for about five years, said Darin Von Ruden of rural Westby… Have you noticed the construction project on the south side of the Bekkum Memorial Library building? The month of October is bringing lots of excitement, as the sidewalk and the rock gardens are being removed and replaced. For several years, the cement leading from the emergency exit door to the front of the building has been separating from the wall. Flashing and repairs have been made as a stopgap to the problem but now the concrete is sloping in such a way that the separation is affecting the safety of the emergency exit, the structure of the building and the stability of the rocks supporting the flower gardens… The End of the Harvest Parade in Viroqua featured a death march for Life on Earth, organized by the ‘Bad Axe Extinction Rebellion.’

LA FARGE– The LaFarge Housing Block Grant program once again has a small portion of money available for housing rehabilitation under the revolving loan fund. The funds are available to village residents only. Qualification to participate is based on income levels to start with, and the number of persons living in the home. Qualification limits are no more than $38,300 for a one-person occupancy, up to $54,7000 for a four-person house. These numbers will be based off of 2018 federal tax forms. Loans for repairs and renovations are at zero percent and do not need to be paid back until the house is sold or the owners move out of the residence… It was a rainy Harvest Fest day on Saturday, October 5 in LaFarge. Despite the precipitation, the buyers and sellers still arrived. Several of the outdoor vendors moved their items indoors to the Community Center. Subsequently, both the upstairs and downstairs rooms were filled to the enjoyment of all… The official weather bureau rain gauge for LaFarge is located near the LaFarge EMS building on the southeast side of the village, but for many years was set up at the Nuzum Lumber Company. Lyle Dorscheid is the official rain gauge observer and reporter, though some of that is automatic now. When the gauge gets full it stores the extra water in a pond behind the gauge, and Dorscheid measures that with a dipstick.

ONTARIO– Village of Ontario employees, volunteers and students from the Fort McCoy Challenge Academy spent October 3 removing damp, moldy drywall and insulation from the addition of the former Ontario Elementary School building. The village hopes to fix up the building and use it as an interim community facility as the Ontario Community Hall was severely damaged in the August 2018 flood. The addition consists of a 40x60 foot gymnasium-multiple purpose room, a kindergarten and preschool classroom, a music room and two restrooms. Opening in 1984, the addition was built on the site of the original Ontario school building, which was constructed in 1897 and torn down in 1979. For the addition, Norwalk Lumber Company served as the general contractor, and six students in Brookwood’s industrial arts class did interior work such as staining woodwork, and laying ceramic tile and vinyl flooring… Norwalk Village Board members have been trying the past few months to find money to help repair more than $51,000 in damages from the 2018 floods to seven sewer lines, two catch basins and a culvert. Village clerk/treasurer Kerry Vlan informed the board at its meeting recently of various FEMA reimbursement funds that are now available to the village. But after much discussion about which funds would cover which damage, board members noted that roughly $16,000 would be needed from the village to cover the cost of repairs…The often-heard phrase, “You can take the boy out of the Kickapoo Valley, but you can’t take the Kickapoo Valley out of the boy,” might well have been written with former rural Norwalk resident Stanley Walz in mind. ‘Those Beckoning Hills: Musing of a Farm Boy’ is a delightful 292-page memoir of growing up in the Norwalk area. The book is many things. Anyone expecting a string of anecdotes about rural life during the Depression and World War II years will be disappointed. Walz does share many stories, but interlaced with that is an impressive array of historical facts and figures. Although the goal was to document the Walz family history, in the process Walz created an impressive compendium of local history that future researchers will find invaluable.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– U.S. Cellular customers in Prairie du Chien will be among the first to have access to the benefits of the company’s 5G network as part of its planned rollout to Wisconsin and Iowa markets, beginning in the first quarter of 2020. The company’s initial 5G deployment will be on its 600 MHz spectrum and will provide customers with faster data speeds, a more responsive mobile experience and the ability to connect more devices to the network at the same time. This is the first phase of the company’s planned multi-year network expansion for 5G and is a result of previous network technology investments to modernize equipment and software. Customers in the two states with 4G devices will begin to see increased network quality as cell towers are updated with new technology, which also supports 5G. U.S. Cellular will begin turning on its 5G network in larger Wisconsin communities including parts of Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Racine and Prairie du Chien, with plans for 115 cities across Wisconsin… Close to 100 people stepped forward to give hope to locals living with Alzheimers disease and dementia at the inaugural Crawford County Alzheimers Walk/Run on Oct. 5. The event raised more than $10,200 to support local programs and services for people with Alzheimers disease or dementia and their caregivers…

BOSCOBEL– The Boscobel Rescue Squad invites everyone to help with their third annual Scarecrow Stampede. Local businesses have made their scarecrows and have their containers ready. Just go into the business and vote by placing your extra change into the container. The business with the most money collected wins a trophy and bragging rights… The Boscobel Street Department Supervisor Ted Groom worked with his team to remove debris from Sanders Creek after it was blocked at Highway 61 on Wednesday, Oct. 2, following over four inches of rain the previous evening. The blockage there has been a persistent problem over the years, with the small opening under the highway under the highway unable to handle large trees and other debris piling up at the eastern opening and sending water over the Sanders Creek Walkway upstream… ‘Daisy,’ the Meister cow, appeared to be quite content week before last when she was back home on familiar ground. She had been on a trip. During the night of Saturday, Sept. 28, she strayed and her whereabouts were unknown until word came to Meister’s at about 9 p.m. the following Monday that the cow was at a highway wayside in Mazomanie. And, there she was, wearing the message, “My name is Daisy. Please return to Meister Cheese at Muscoda.”