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September 5: 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 Cashton Community Club is hosting its 72ndAnnual Cashton Fall Fest on September 6-8. Festivities began on August 17 with the Cashton Fall Fest Pageant, Crowned at the pageant were all of the Fall Fest Royalty. Welcome Back to Fall Fest will be held at the Cashton Community Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 4, from 5-9 p.m., with food and refreshments, video footage, and music by Brian Brueggen and the Mississippi Valley Dutchmen. Friday, September 6 features an old-fashioned tractor ride that leaves from Trescher’s Farm at 11 a.m.; and antique tractor pull at 7 p.m.; and Eagle Ridge Karaoke by Eddie Schreier from 9 p.m. to midnight. Activities on Saturday, September 8, a pancake breakfast, a homemade pie sale, 5K Run/Walk, a classic car and bike show, Cashton FFA farm toy show, arts and crafts, kids pedal pull, flag football, donkey races, and bands – High Mileage will play from 8 p.m. to midnight, and fireworks start at 9:30 p.m… Smiles were abundant on Saturday, August 24 as people canoed down Coon Creek into Veteran’s Memorial Park. The 2019 Coon Creek Canoe Races and Festival took over downtown’s Coon Valley Park as community members gathered in an effort to bring joy and a sense of community back to Coon Valley after the catastrophic flooding in August of 2018. The canoe races had not been held for 25 years… Because CWD is present in the Winona, Minnesota area, for the 2019 deer season there are new rules put in place to curb the spread of the disease - mandatory CWD testing of harvested deer, a ban on moving deer carcasses out of the zone, no bag limits on antlerless deer, and more buck tags.

LA FARGE– The LaFarge Area Partners Association decided at their August 21 meeting that LaFarge Fall Fest will be held on October 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $10 vendor fee will be required. Kid vendors are free. To participate, contact Ellen Thelen at 608-606-4638… Two new houses, partially completed in the Town of Webster, appear to be at the center of a controversy concerning septic permits in Vernon County. The houses, both owned by Amish families, have not been approved by building inspector Wayne Haugrud for failure to obtain a county sanitary permit prior to construction. Both houses are located on Salem Ridge Road. The Vernon County Zoning Department is requiring sanitary permits, especially if there is any type of running water in the house. If there is no water, then the county will issue an outside privy permit. Recently, a Vernon County Circuit Court case was started against at least two Amish residents concerning the lack of a sanitary permit, and the Amish did not show up for their court hearing… Solar Power at the LaFarge School continues to be an ongoing discussion. There is a proposal to place solar panels on the high school and elementary south facing roofs. Alicia Leinberger of Ethos Green Power recently spoke to the school board and supplied estimates for the cost of such a project.

VIOLA– An explosion and fire resulted in the death of one occupant of a home located in Richland County’s Town of Sylvan. On August 24, at 10:06 p.m., the Vernon County Sheriffs Department received a 911 call reporting a fire at 18478 County U in the Town of Sylvan. When authorities arrived, they found a two-story home completely engulfed in flames. Richland Center Fire responded and requested mutual aid from Viola and Lone Rock. The Kickapoo Valley Rescue Squad also responded. An adult female was located where she lay behind the residence. KVRS checked her for signs of life and found none. Pronounced dead at the scene was 63-year-old Bonnie Strothman. Her husband Allen Strothman, 68, was transported by KVRS to Vernon Memorial Healthcare in Viroqua with non-life-threatening injuries. It was determined that an explosion had occurred. Fire crews were on the scene for approximately five hours…Moving closer to the end of repairs from the August 2018 flooding, an event that wreaked havoc in the Village of Viola, clerk Beth Campbell reported that the FEMA electrical work is complete in Banker Park. However, the village is still waiting on payment from FEMA in the amount of $203,000 for monies paid out by the village thus far for repairs.

ONTARIO– At a hearing on Tuesday, August 27, Hawk High Dairy’s plans to expand its milking operation met with nearly unanimous opposition from area residents and neighbors to the operation. Located at 21130 County T in the Town of Ridgeville, the dairy is owned by the Robert and Connie Radke family, who are applying for four permits at different sites where the farm maintains animal agriculture operations. The farm is already designated a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) and has 1,421 animal units. It plans, over the five-year life of the permit, to expand to 2,492 animal units. About 29 people attended the meeting Tuesday at the Norwalk Village Hall. One of the most vocal opponents to the expansion were neighbors Robert and Ramona Kufak. They alleged their well already had a high concentration of nitrates, and installing a whole-house filter or drilling a deeper well would cost between $10-25,000. He referenced a spill that had occurred in September 2017 when a contracted driver for the Radkes got stuck and dumped a load in Moore’s Creek. Though the Radkes did not report the spill, a DNR warden spotted it and contacted the family. The Kufaks alleged that the Radkes did not respond until ordered by the DNR to do so. Another neighbor, Janelle Stoikes, alleged her well was already “compromised,” and that the stench from spreading activities forces her to stay indoors. Inese Strazdins Epstein said the spill had an adverse effect on wood turtles, a species she and her husband Eric Epstein had studied for nearly 30 years. Madonna Johnson, a Norwalk Village Board trustee, questioned if the village would buy more phosphorous credits in addition to the $50,000 it had already purchased. The village shares a watershed with the proposed CAFO. Jo Marie Thompson expressed that the DNR should take a lesson from Kewaunee County, where nearly all rural wells are contaminated. Ron Luethe said that anyone opposed to CAFO’s should “look in the mirror. It is our demand for cheap food that has led to the explosion of these large animal operations as farmers struggle to make a living in an era in which government programs favor large-scale operations.”  Connie Radke stressed that her family does not operate an industrial farm with absentee owners, but rather, three generations of her family work together. She said that clean water is a primary focus in their venture and the family had a good history of working with the DNR.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– The lawsuit filed by Crossing Rivers Health of Prairie du Chien against Crawford County and the Town of Bridgeport regarding a growing ‘pond’ by the hospital is continuing. On August 15, Grant County Circuit Court Judge Craig Day granted an extension to the hospital until September 16 to file responses to the briefs. Day is the judge in the case because Crawford County is one of the defendants. The lawsuit alleges that a road improvement project on Vineyard Road left about half of the 105-acre Crossing Rivers Health property underwater due to changes in drainage, and as a result, the property’s value has gone down… Starting the week of September 2, Black Sand Granary, in cooperation with Sky Share, will be aerially applying cover crops across nearly 10,000 acres in Crawford and Grant counties as part of the USDA-NRCS EQIP program. These low-flying, yellow, airplanes will operate out of the Prairie du Chien airport to apply cereal rye, purple top turnips, oats and/or red clover into standing corn and soybeans to reduce soil erosion and improve soil health. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Black Sand Granary at 608-412-5669 or the local NRCS field office.