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September 26: 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 100thAnnual Retreat World’s Fair will be celebrated at the Retreat Sportsmen’s Club, Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28. Friday’s events include a trap shoot from 5 to 11 p.m. and the 13th Annual Retreat Tractor Pull. Friday’s pull features antiques and local farm. Weigh-in is at 4:30 p.m., followed by the pulls at 6 p.m. The pull continues Saturday, with weigh-in at 11 a.m. and the competition at 1:30 p.m. For more information on the tractor pull, call Al Thompson at 608-606-2372. Saturday includes a horse show at 10 a.m., charcoaled chicken at 11 a.m., and the famous two-way parade at noon. Youth Sports Challenge will be held following the parade, and will be led by Kelly Olson and staff from DeSoto Area Schools… Vernon Vineyards will host a fun and interactive afternoon of a few favorite things: Young Living Oils and Vernon Vineyards Wine. Participants will explore how essential oils can enhance a wine tasting experience, and will experiment with a variety of wines and essential oils. Cost is $10 per person to cover the cost of wine tastings. Snacks will be provided… Norskedalen will host it’s annual family friendly trick-or-treat on Thursday, Oct. 24. It takes 500 pumpkins to light the trails for ‘Ghoulees in the Coulees,’ which means they have 500 pumpkins that need to be carved!  Join them on Saturday, Oct. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 20 for two days of pumpkin carving fun–10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

LA FARGE– At the September meeting of the LaFarge Lions Club, members voted to donate $2,000 to the LaFarge Schools afterschool program. At the meeting, LaFarge Schools Superintendent Meaghan Gustafson had presented information about the program that had been funded through a federal grant for the past five years. With the loss of the grant, the school district has been soliciting contributions from the community to run the program this year… A pickup bed full of groceries collected by Larryfest fans at this year’s popular music event was donated to the La Farge Food Pantry. Food has been collected at Larryfest annually for over eight years to help support the local pantry… The Vernon County Board Highway Committee has finally turned down Enterprise Leasing firm out of Milwaukee, who has been attempting to give a deal of cutting the truck fleet down to eleven from twenty-one, and then have a rotational plan of new trucks every few years. Highway commissioner Phil Hewitt explained at the September 12 meeting the cost of doing truck business locally, through Sleepy Hollow, for comparison purposes, and when all is said and done, with a government discount, the yearly cost was basically the same, but instead of stripped down, plain-Jane trucks from New York, these would be real vehicles, with tires. And businesses and jobs would remain in Vernon County.  

ONTARIO– An aggressive, invasive type of earthworm known as a jumping worm has been identified in Monroe County. When they are disturbed, jumping worms thrash violently, slither like snakes and even jump into the air. For a full description of the appearance of jumping worms, visit htps:// At this time, the worm has been identified in 40 counties in Wisconsin. Jumping worms are not like the common European earthworm (aka night crawler). They live in the top part of the soil; they don’t make channels that plant roots can exploit; they grow more quickly, reproduce more rapidly, occur at higher densities, and thus consume more nutrients, which starves other invertebrates; and they leave behind an inhospitable environment for plants… The ‘Rails to Trails Marathon’ will take place on Sunday, Oct. 6. The Half Marathon, 5K and one-mile fun run were cancelled last year due to flooding and rain damage. Runners will travel on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. The race is a certified, qualifying race for the New York City and Boston Marathons. All four races start and finish at the Norwalk Village Park, and are open to both runners and walkers.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– Mike Mullikin took it upon himself this past summer to conduct a citizen recycling project in the community of Wauzeka. He had noticed overflowing dumpsters, specifically at village summer recreation activities, that had both recyclables and garbage in them. He felt compelled to do his part in taking care of the Earth. Volunteering his time after only a couple of events, including a Little League tournament and Labor Day festivities, Mullikin picked through and separated the recyclables from the garbage. He ended up with 13 50-gallon blue barrels of recyclable materials… Effigy Mounds National Monument is hosting an art exhibition entitled ‘Reimagining Iowa: Five Ioway Artists.’ The exhibit features paintings and sculptures created by members of the Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. The exhibit will run through the end of October, and is funded by BeWildReWild, a project of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The exhibit explores a future for Iowa by those ancestors who used to live harmoniously in the area. Artists Lance Foster, Kayla Kent, Phillip Pursel and Sydney Pursel are descendants of the Ioway people and of Iowa’s original inhabitants. The BeWildReWild program is a special fund within Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation for the purpose of exploring three questions: What do you/we mean by wild? What lifestyle changes are needed for us to live within the bounds of sustainability? How can we create a wilder, more beautiful, more biologically diverse, and a more enduring Mississippi River Watershed?

RICHLAND CENTER– The UW-Platteville-Richland Campus Foundation will host a Smart Farm open house on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 1 to 5 p.m. The Smart Farm is located at 24970 Smart Lane, Richland Center. Nature Trail Walks will be held at 1:30 p.m., ‘Birding with Barb Duerkson; 2:30 p.m., How plants prepare for winter with David Kopitzke; 3:30 p.m., Land stewardship on the farm with Duane Simonson; and 4:30 p.m., a yoga hike. The family-friendly event will also feature live music, free food including apple pie and more, pumpkin carving, yard games, area art and artists and a small animal petting zoo. Educational presentations will include bees and beekeeping, and Driftless Area and Richland Center history… Over 20 people attended a special informational meeting of the Richland County Board Zoning Committee on Tuesday, Oct. 10, to discuss cell towers. Zoning committee chairperson Gary Peters chaired the meeting, and also in attendance was corporate counsel Ben Southwick and zoning administrator Mike Bindl. Southwick explained that state laws favor cell tower companies, and that local government had very limited controls or regulations over the structures. Bindl explained that the policy of the zoning department to date has been to allow a site permit with no public hearings as long as the paperwork is filed correctly. The Miller family, which has leased land for the West Lima tower, were present but did not speak. Juliee de la Terre, a neighbor of the proposed West Lima tower, asked that Richland County adopt a cell tower ordinance with local control guidelines. Dominic Stanek, also of rural West Lima, stated that the entire Amish population in the West Lima area are opposed to the towers for health reasons, and have considered moving from the area for this reason. Several other meeting attendees also spoke about concerns for the health impacts of radiation from the towers. There were no comments from zoning board members during the hearing.

MUSCODA– The period of ‘normal’ summer flow in the Wisconsin River, with its popular sandbars, quickly changed again the week of Sept. 8-14 as heavy rains fell across a wide area. As of Monday, Sept. 8, the flow at Muscoda was 26,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and rising. That translated into a reading of just under six feet on the gauge at the bridge. The Muscoda flow that day was well below the highest ever recorded in September of 1938, when the flow was 80,800 cfs., and a gauge reading of 11.5 feet. The period of September 10-16, 1938 is described as having extremely heavy rain and ‘massive flooding’ in some areas.