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October 24: 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 latest mural to brighten Viroqua was unveiled on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 11. A group gathered at 106 North Main Street to cut the ribbon for the mural that was designed and painted by Pete Hodapp. Angie Lawrence, who was the driving force behind the mural, opened the brief ceremony by thanking building owners Steve and Susan Campbell for allowing the mural to be painted on their property. She also thanked Hodapp for his efforts. “This (wall) was very large and very empty,” Lawrence said. “It was a true pleasure to work with everyone on this project…” Retreat United Methodist Church’s fall turkey bazaar will be held in the church’s fellowship hall, E3426 County N, nine miles east of DeSoto on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 4-7 p.m. Church members will serve turkey and all the fixings. There will also be a bake sale, craft sale and quilt raffle. The price is $10 for adults, $4 for children 12 and under, and $30 maximum for parents with multiple children… Todd and Alyssa Sanwick opened Lil Acres Alpaca Shop at 119 West Court Street in Viroqua recently. It’s one of the five pop-up shops that will operate in the city during the holiday season. “We offer all types of alpaca products such as hats, scarves, blankets, rugs, dryer balls, yarn boot liners, and of course, the most popular of all – our socks,” Alyssa Sanwick said. The new shop also sells other local products such as maple syrup, bath and beauty items, fudge, pancake mix and gourmet popcorn.

LA FARGE– The LaFarge VFW Post 9075 conducted a Flag Retirement ceremony the week of October 7 at the LaFarge Village Park. Over a hundred tattered flags, many from veteran graves at area cemeteries, were ceremoniously burned. Post members recently removed the flags from the Bear Creek, Chapel Hill, and Star cemeteries prior to allowing winter weather to destroy them… On Wednesday, Oct. 2, LaFarge Lions Club member Dave West presented a check in support of the Elementary After School Club at the LaFarge Schools. The school expressed its appreciation, saying “Thank you for being champions for our community’s young people. The Lions Club’s support allows for a reduced enrollment rate for families who could benefit from financial assistance.”

ONTARIO– Ontario Police Chief Dave Rynes and part-time officer Grover Wooten could face misdemeanor charges of obstructing an officer, as police reports indicate the former allegedly advised the latter to lie to Monroe County officers about a September 28 accident in Cashton. According to police reports, Wooten fell asleep at about 4 a.m., while driving the Ontario squad home after a shift at Oktoberfest in LaCrosse. Wooten went off the road at South and Johnson Streets and struck a no-parking sign. Afterward, he allegedly left the scene, returning to Ontario, and then came back to Cashton, where he called Rynes for advice. Rynes told him to tell Monroe County officers he had swerved to miss a dog, according to the report… David J. Hamilton, 41, Tomah, was sentenced to 60 years in prison after his conviction on 57 counts related to sex crimes against children, Monroe County District Attorney Kevin Croninger announced on Monday, Oct. 14. The sentence is structured as 35 years of initial confinement and 25 years of extended supervision. District Attorney Croninger stated, “David Hamilton is a predator. Predators belong in prison. The sentence issued today ensures that Mr. Hamilton will remain in prison and incapable of hurting any children for an extended period of time.”

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– The County N reconstruction project in Crawford County is beginning to take shape, especially at its intersection with Highway 35 and going up the hill. Despite the construction this summer and fall, Spring Lake Inn, a popular restaurant at the intersection of County N and Highway 35, has been doing a good business. Crawford County received a federal grant for $2.98 million for the Famechon Hill project, which involves reconstruction of the intersection of 35 and N, and also 1.46 miles of N going up the hill from 35. The plan consists of reconstruction of multiple substandard geometric features such as horizontal curves, vertical curves and steep grades. The construction is expected to be completed in November… A small representation of homeowners impacted by Prairie du Chien’s flash flooding incident on Sept. 12 spoke at Tuesday’s city council meeting. The public input session occurred after they heard what plans city officials have to make adjustments for the future. The storm brought three inches of rain in about 15 minutes, pushing mud, branches and other rubble from the 730 acres of land atop the bluffs down the Highway 27 corridor into the eastern neighborhoods of the city beneath the bluffs… Missy Hughes, the CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), visited Prairie du Chien on Monday, Oct. 14 for a meeting with economic development officials in Peoples State Bank. Hughes then toured Café Hope and the newly opened Waterfront Hotel. The meeting was hosted by Prosperity Southwest, which recently launched its website covering economic development for a six-county region, including Crawford County. “We wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the things we do without WEDC,” Driftless Development Director Jim Bowman told Hughes. Bowman noted that WEDC and Alliant Energy helped fund a recently completed housing study for Crawford County, which Driftless Development and others will use to address this area of concern.

HILLSBORO– Construction on the Hillsboro Dam began on Wednesday, Oct. 9. The work will be conducted in two parts: this fall, from October to early December; and then, resuming in the spring, from April to July. The primary focus of construction this fall on the dam that was damaged in the August 2018 floods will be the concrete, giving it time to set over the winter before construction resumes in the spring. Dredging the lakebed will also be handled in the spring phase, with a selection of areas marked for work. The recommendations made by the dredging committee identified three to five areas in the lakebed that were in need of dredging. When construction is completed, the Hillsboro Dam will have four lift gates that are able to lift directly out of the water, enabling them to handle higher quantities of water without succumbing to the stress as quickly as the previously installed radial gates. The addition of an auxiliary spillway will also help increase the capacity that the dam can handle, providing better insurance against future flooding events.

RICHLAND CENTER– A Richland Center woman has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in Sauk County Circuit Court. Amber Lundgren, 35, admitted to killing Christopher Lytle, 37 of Fairfield on September 21. A Sauk County Sheriff’s report states that detectives made contact with Lundgren, confronting her with evidence uncovered in their investigation. The report states that Lundgren admitted causing Lytle’s death. A preliminary hearing has been schedule… The Richland County Partners for Prevention Coalition announces a new permanent drug drop box installed in Richland Center City Hall. Unwanted medications may be dropped off during City Hall Office hours… The 2019 Planning Excellence Award was presented to The Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission for their Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy document, which they recently published. The document studies the region in detail, looking at assets and potential for enhancement. The judges reviewing the plans noted, “This plan has a strong evaluation framework with clear objectives, priorities, and action steps, several of which have al-ready been implemented.”