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October 31: 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– Former Vernon County Human Services Director Pamela J. Eitland faces a felony misconduct charge after accusations she took more than $5,200 from a county program to pay for dental work for her family. According to a statement from Serena Inman, personnel coordinator for the county, “Our Human Services Committee accepted Pamela Eitland’s resignation on Sept. 26, 2019, so she could pursue ... endeavors outside of Vernon County.” Inman said the interim director is Jill Bender, and the vacancy is posted; the application deadline is November 5… The annual Halloween Enchanted Forest Walk will be held in the Hubbard Hills Forest at the west end of Maple Street in Viroqua, Thursday, Oct. 31, from 3 to 5 p.m. Admission is $2 per person; $7 maximum family cost. All profits go to the eighth-grade Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School class-trip fund. Call Paula Grenier at 606-4500 with questions… The late Helen Hornby of Viroqua will be inducted into the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame during the 2019 Fall Forum at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake. An induction ceremony will take place during dinner on Saturday, Nov. 2, according to the August/September 2019 The Voice of 4-H Vernon County 4-H Family Newsletter, “Helen Hornby embodied the ideals of 4-H through her life. As a young child, Helen was the first 4-H member to do seed trials for Wood County. This was the beginning of her lifelong involvement in 4-H.”

LA FARGE– The Lawton Memorial Library in LaFarge will host a cookbook-themed event about cooking of foods from India, Nepal and Pakistan on Friday, Nov. 22, at 12:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to check out a cookbook, bring a sample and enjoy the company… On Friday, Oct. 15, electrical power was lost to the entire Lakeview and Oak Drive neighborhood in LaFarge around 11 p.m. It was 11 a.m. on Saturday before power was restored. Utility manager Wayne Haugrud and his crew spent all night seeking answers with no luck. They finally got assistance from Gary Johloski of Viola and Ron Janzen of Westby, along with specialized detection equipment, which the LaFarge utilities does not have. The problem was pinpointed in the original installed underground wiring. Haugrud said that the neutral wire on the outside of the cable had corroded due to the type of soil it was buried in… Downtown LaFarge is sporting a new mural on Main Street on a building owned by Nick Burnard. It features a mid-summer scene painted by artist Kristine Zimmer over the last three years… On Veteran’s Day, on Monday, Nov. 11, the LaFarge Lions will sponsor a veteran’s dinner at the Kickapoo Haven Seniors Center…Bobcats appear to be more common in the Driftless Area than in recent years. There are frequent reports of bobcats in the Green Hollow and Plum Run areas northwest of LaFarge. Don Adams, who lives in Green Hollow, has several pictures of the cats on trail cameras and is able to recognize the same ones by their markings. Last week, Brenda Kratzner, who lives on South Jug Creek, watched one of the short-tailed bobcats just outside the window of her home.

ONTARIO– Ontario’s new floodplain administrator got off to an abrupt start the week of October 14. James Twomey had come to the Ontario Village Board meeting to introduce himself, but after hearing a long, complex, plea from Bill Hagerman on why he should be allowed to rebuild his Precision Physical Therapy business in the floodway, board president Mark Smith asked Twomey to give Hagerman a ‘yes or no’ answer. “No,” responded Twomey. And “no” is a response Twomey will use many times in the coming months as he assists the village in navigating its way through attaining compliance with the floodplain ordinance. Twomey says Ontario is not unusual in its lack of compliance with an ordinance that has been on the books for decades. The rules are complex, and unfortunately, many municipalities were established in a floodplain and much of their commercial district is still there. But last year’s flooding disaster was so extreme that it caught FEMA’s attention, and the days of simply rebuilding and continuing on, screeched to a halt… See the North Pole come to life again this holiday season with a new exhibit at the Monroe County Local History Room. The ‘Christmas Mountain’ display features more than 100 illuminated miniature buildings depicting the magic, mystery and childhood innocence of the North Pole. From the reindeer stables to the various candy shops and elf workshops, this enchanting and whimsical display embodies the wonder of Christmas for visitors young and old.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– Enrollment in the Wauzeka-Steuben School District has been on a gradual decline since the 2002-03 school year, according to Interim Administrator Gary Albrecht. Tax rate levels, operational costs and capital project needs are being examined, and an April 2020 operating referendum proposal was explored at the district’s annual meeting Monday, Oct. 28. Following an October 7 ‘Movers and Shakers’ meeting discussing the potential referendum, Albrecht said one theory is, “If we could keep the tax rate level about 12.71 percent, at three years recurring, we’d have enough to operate the district and still have $300,000 for capital projects… The new district administrator for Prairie du Chien Schools, Bryce Bird, released a letter to the community last week stating he’s honored and excited to serve in the capacity. Bird stepped into the position after outgoing superintendent Bob Smudde, who took a different leadership position in the Dodgeville School District, left September 13. Officially, Bird is interim district administrator. This means, he will be working on a part-time basis through the end of June 2020. “This district is highly regarded as one of the top school districts in the state of Wisconsin…” Clayton County Conservation invites all runners to the first annual Pony Hollow 15K on November 16. The race will take participants out and back again on a scenic, flat, lime-chipped Pony Hollow Trail and the Elkader Exercise Trail. Runners will appreciate the beauty of this trail as it meanders in the trees along the Turkey River and Roberts Creek. Race-day registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Elkader Little League Park located across the street from the south trailhead on the corner of South High Street and Highway 13. The race will start promptly at 9 a.m. Funds raised from the race will be used for further trail expansion to join the two loops into one continuous loop.

RICHLAND CENTER– The Richland County Sheriff’s Department reports that the body of a missing Orion Township woman has been located. Gail Stone, age 79 of rural Muscoda, has been the subject of a missing persons search since early Friday afternoon. The incident began Friday when a vehicle registered to Stone was located in a wooded area off Harry’s Lane in Orion Township.  The caretaker of the property located the vehicle and notified authorities.  After identifying the owner of the vehicle, a deputy traveled to the owner’s address, but didn’t locate anyone there.  More efforts to locate the owner were not successful. On Saturday afternoon, the sheriff’s department was notified that the owner of the vehicle suffered from Alzheimer’s and had not been seen since Tuesday afternoon. Sheriff’s deputies initiated a search of the area, but the search was suspended due to darkness.  This morning (Sunday), a larger scale search was organized involving sheriff’s deputies, members of several local fire departments including Muscoda, Lone Rock, Richland Center and Blue River, Richland County Emergency Management and a member of the Wisconsin Drone Coalition.  Additional help was provided by the property owners and caretaker. Within 45 minutes of starting the search, Gail Stone was located in a ravine in the southern part of the property. A Richland County Coroner pronounced her dead at the scene.