By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
2019: Year in Review (part two)
Mandela at Harmony Valley
ORGANIC GROWER Rich-ard DeWilde, left, wel-comed from left to right, Vernon County Conservationist Ben Wojahn, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, and the Wojahn children Briar, Ambrosia and Clover.

SOUTHWEST WISCONSIN - JULY: Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes visited Harmony Valley Farm where organic produce is grown by Andrea Yoder and Richard DeWilde. The group discussed the opportunities and challenges facing the Driftless Region today… At their most recent meeting the Vernon County Land Conservation Committee approved a ‘Manure Spill Emergency Response Plan’, which must still be approved by Emergency Management in July… Around 200 people were in attendance at the Youth and Ag Building as the Public Service Commission held the first two, of the final series of public hearings to get input into the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345kV transmission line that would run from Madison to Dubuque County. Only one person spoke in favor of the line. The PSC will review the project and make a decision at the end of September whether or not they will approve… The University of Wisconsin has adopted the ’15 to Finish’ phrase, to reinforce the idea to students that being a fulltime student doesn’t mean they’ll graduate on time. Most university bachelor’s programs require 120 credits to graduate, that’s an average of 15 credits per semester. A student is considered full time when taking 12 credits per semester… 

Moratorium meeting crowd
MORE THAN SIXTY CITI-ZENS gathered in the Marietta Town Hall for a meeting to discuss a proposed CAFO moratorium in the township. The sun was out early, but soon the shop doors had to be closed when it started to storm.

A special meeting was called by the Marietta Town Board for the purpose of public input on a proposed expansion of the Roth Feeder Pig CAFO in Wauzeka. The meeting drew almost 60 concerned citizens who spoke in opposition of the expansion… Bev Brudos, of Mt. Zion Pub, called her final last call July 13 after many years of good times with friends and family at the local gathering place… First place winners of the Ridge and Valley Rally tractor pull are: 3000 class, Dylan Varo; 3500 class, Dan Manders; 5000 class, Marcus Seagrove; 5500 class, Earl Pulda; 6000 class, Lee Pulda; 6500 class Fred Olson… North Crawford’s Caleb Johnson participated at the Trapshooting Nationals in Michigan and received a ’25 Straight’ patch… Driftless Brewing Company held a grand opening in celebration of their expanded facility complete with a taproom for tasting. The event drew about 750-1000 people over the course of the day. Volunteers pressed through the day even after a severe storm that brought flooding to the area… Vernon County’s Town of Harmony Board voted unanimously to uphold the unanimous recommendation of the town’s zoning committee to deny Bug Tussel the conditional use permit needed to construct a 300-foot, guy-wired cell pone tower on the Todd Whistler property adjacent to Fauske Lane. The decision came after the board heard comments from Chris Henshue, Business Representative for Site Acquisition in Vernon and LaCrosse counties, who spoke in favor of the conditional use permit; and after comments of nonsupport of the permit from 13 residents who spoke at the meeting, letters from two realtors and 24 individuals, as well as viewing a petition with eight names opposing the permit… The Marietta Township Board took the first step toward imposing a one-year moratorium on a proposed 10,000 animal unit in Wauzeka owned by AV Roth. Town clerk Clifford Monroe told those gathered, that the meeting had to be posted for two weeks in the Dial before the board can vote on a moratorium.

AUGUST: Kayla Fortney, manager of the Gays Mills Swimming Pool, accepts a check for $1,000 to go toward maintenance and repairs to the pool, from Jerry Boehm on behalf of the Gays Mills Lions Club… 

McKenna Johnson
MCKENNA JOHNSON is one of the two candidates for the title of 2019 Apple Queen.

McKenna Johnson, 2019 Gays Mills Apple Queen, will sing the National Anthem prior to the beginning of the La Crosse Loggers vs Duluth Huskies game… The Marietta Town Board will meet on August 5 to consider whether the township should pass a CAFO moratorium... The People for Sane Technology will be hosting a Bug Tussel 5G Cell Tower awareness community event on August 2 in LaFarge. People are encouraged to attend to voice concerns regarding the plan to place cell towers every five miles throughout Vernon and Richland County…. After hearing lengthy input from citizens both in opposition and in support, a CAFO moratorium was approved in Marietta Township. In addition a study group was created to collect facts and information around the issues of ‘health, safety and welfare of the public.’… Recently, both state and national recognition of the historic status of Richland Center’s A.D. German Warehouse was expanded to include the adjacent 1912 building and, in a separate action, eight of Frank Lloyd Wright’s major works have been officially inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee… 

Nagel Family
THE NAGEL FAMILY were the hosts for the Fast & Flexible Fencing work-shop. Here they are shown introducing themselves to workshop participants. Family members, from left, include Jadence, Jayla, Jessie, Jeremy and Jace.

About 35 producers, managed grazing experts and conservation professionals gathered at the farm of Jeremy and Jessie Nagel, in the Tainter Creek Watershed last week. The occasion was a ‘Fast and Flexible Fencing’ workshop led by fencing expert Randy Cutler… Eric Paslay will perform at the Crawford County Fair on Friday night with Nora Collins opening the show… Jen Kapinus is the new Foodservice Director for the North Crawford School District… The Friends of the Gays Mills Swimming Pool shoe drive raised $983.20… The Coon Creek Canoe Races are back. The 2019 Canoe Races are designed to showcase the scenic beauty of the area, and follow the ride of a local bull swept away by the flooding creek in August of 2018… Jack E. Wuolle was the lone-operator of the helicopter that went down in a private field near the Viroqua Municipal Airport. Wuolle died in the crash… The Leirmos are named ‘Farm Family of the Year.’

SEPTEMBER: West Ridge Orchard introduced their newest variety of apple, which they have appropriately named Firecracker….
Farmers at ATCP51 hearing
WESTERN WISCONSIN FARMERS Robert Nigh and Joe Bragger (front), and Jack Herricks (back) engage in a lively debate with other participants at the Livestock Facility Sit-ing Law hearing in Onalaska. Once the formal hearing was closed, the room erupted into a series of intense and productive discussions among the participants.

Just over 50 farmers and other concerned citizens from the Driftless Region, ranging from Platteville to Buffalo County, testified at the two hearings held by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in Onalaska. The hearings were held to gather citizen input about proposed revisions to the state’s Livestock Facility Siting Law. The law has never been updated in the 12 years since it was first passed. Reviews are required every four years, and no revisions were made after reviews in 2010 and 2014… 

Sesqui Cookbook pool donation
SESQUICENTENNIAL COOKBOOK Committee Members presented a $5,000 check to Gays Mills Swimming Pool Manager Kayla Fortney, third from left, to support the pool’s fundraising effort. On hand to present the check for the committee were, from left, Lana Randall, Sharon Chellevold and Kathryn Pittsley. Friends of the Gays Mills Swimming Pool are engaged in an effort to raise $100,000 for needed repairs and updates.

Sesquicentennials Cookbook Committee members Lana Randall, Sharon Chellevold and Kathryn Pittsley presented a check for $5,000 to Gays Mills Swimming Pool manager Kayla Fortney. Funds will go toward the $100,000 goal set by the Friends of the Gays Mills Pool for use in pool maintenance and repairs…. The Garden Art of Community Conservation’s Rob Horwich will be showcased at Driftless Books & Music in Viroqua… The Fortney Hardware on Main Street of Gays Mills was the latest building to be demolished after the historic flooding of September 2018 the building was an iconic Main Street building, and was once part of a bustling, thriving downtown… Karen and Guy Williams received the Conservation Forestry Award at the Crawford County Fair.

OCTOBER: A report from the DNR last week stated that over 100 deer are dead in Crawford County due to Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. EHD is a seasonal virus that is more common in states to our south but is only rarely seen in our area. The disease is transmitted by bites from gnats and other insects, and cannot be transmitted from animal to animal. EHD is a short-lived problem for the deer population however and the current outbreak should end with the first frost…Madison’s Jane Rotonda was the overall winner of the Women’s Division of the apple Fest Five Mile Race. She also had the fastest time (33:11) of men or women running the race. It is the first time a woman has had the fastest time…Students at Southwest Tech in the carpentry program erected the frame of what will soon be student housing. The quadplex, located on Brownwood Road, will include four two-bedroom apartments and is expected to be opened in fall 2022… The bridge on County S over the Kickapoo River was built in the 1950s and will soon be receiving a new deck. The cost of this project is $756,000 and is an 80-20 split with 80 percent of the cost paid for by federal and state funds and 20 percent by the county… The 2019 Apple Ambassadors Janet and Maynard Teach of Sunrise Orchards were honored at the parade as they rode through in a convertible…
GB_Gabe Brown
GABE BROWN was engaging and experienced presenter on the topic of regenerative agriculture, emphasizing that “I’ll take profits over yield any day.”

Over 200 people participated in the Tainter Creek Watershed Council’s sponsored event about regenerative agriculture with a presentation by Gabe Brown of Understanding Ag, LLC and the Soil Health Academy… Don Lampert shared a presentation with slides and photographs at the Gays Mills Library featuring his recent trip to Budapest, Hungary… Governor Tony Evers and his wife Kathy Evers met with Sunrise Orchard’s Allen Teach and others, when the Evers stopped to buy some apples… The Monroe County Board supervisors, in a 15-0 vote, accepted that climate change is happening. The board supports the efforts of the county’s newly formed Climate Change Task Force… Emma Schmidt, a student at North Crawford School won a Blue Ribbon in the Youth Art Tent portion of the Driftless Area Art Festival with her artwork, ‘Self Portrait’ … The newly formed Trojan Family Organization will focus on ways to support teachers and students… The North Crawford Playhouse presents ‘Nunsense: The Mega Musical.’…

TU 1
This chart shows the numbers of brown and brook trout killed in area trout streams in the last two years in the Coulee Region. Three of the four fish kills occurred in 2019.

DNR Conservation Warden Matt Modjeski reports that the largest fish kill of 2019 in our area will likely remain ‘cause unknown.’ “Our office received a report of dead fish in Brush Creek on Friday, Oct. 4, reported by several civilians.” “When DNR Fisheries Biologist Kirk Olson and I arrived on the scene on Saturday, Oct. 5, we discovered dead fish but because of recent rains, found no evidence which would reveal what would have killed the fish.” Two other fish kills occurred in the area in 2019, the cause of which was manure spills resulting from manure spreading activities conducted by K&D Handling out of Sparta. It was reported that the company was operating a manure distribution of drag line hoses, which ruptured and allowed manure to enter the respective creeks… 47-year old Jason Melvin, a Monticello resident, was shot in the back of the head in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 25 in the driveway of an Eastman Township property. Lee J. Kennedy, from Roscoe, Illinois, has been charged with attempted first-degree homicide, endangering safety by intoxicated use of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm… Helen Carstens, North Crawford Cross Country runner, took second place at the conference meet held at Kickapoo High School, and qualified for the WIAA State Cross Country Meet. This will be Helen’s third year in a row to run in the state meet.

NOVEMBER: Steven A. Collins, 48-year-old of Gays Mills, was killed in a one-vehicle accident on Highway 171 on November 3 at 3:40 a.m… The Town of Franklin in Vernon County failed to pass an advisory referendum about whether the town should enact Farmland Preservation Program zoning. If the advisory referendum had passed, this would have encouraged the Franklin Township Board to enact FPP zoning and if passed by the board, that would have meant that the entire Tainter Creek Watershed would have been covered by FPP, and landowners would become eligible for a per acre tax credit…
Pfaff
BRAD PFAFF, Governor Tony Earl’s pick for Secretary of Agriculture, was ousted from his position in November. The Wisconsin Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, voted Pfaff out just days before the DATCP Board was to vote on proposed changes to the state’s Livestock Facility Siting Rule.

Brad Pfaff, Governor Evers’ pick for State of Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary, was fired by the Wisconsin State Senate led by Senator Scott Fitzgerald… Village trustee Paul Nicholson was confirmed as the interim Soldiers Grove Village President at the board meeting last Thursday. Steve George, the elected president, will serve the remainder of Nicholson’s term as a village trustee. It was explained that George would be out of town quite a bit in the future and would not be available to run the meetings as president. However, he could serve as a trustee, even if he was forced to miss some meetings… Over 100 people attended the ‘Stories from the Flood’ event at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center hosted by the Driftless Writing Center… A showing of the film ‘Right to Harm’ was shown at Gays Mills Library, sponsored by Crawford Stewardship Project…

Novak removes lymph nodes
ANDY NOVAK REMOVES a lymph node from a deer head left for testing at his CWD sampling box on County C in rural Crawford County. After removing both lymph nodes from the throat area, Novak carefully packages them and pre-pares them for shipment to a lab for testing. He also includes names and contact information of hunters who have left the heads for CWD testing. Many believe testing for CWD is vital to understanding the fatal deer disease.

The number one way to fight CWD, chronic wasting disease, is to put more hunters in the field, test deer harvests for CWD and to properly dispose of carcasses. Many area businesses will have kiosks for tissue collection and dumpsters for carcass disposal… The Soldiers Grove Village board approved the purchase of battery-operated Jaws of Life at the cost of $1,500… Many people enjoyed the music of the Freaks of Nature November 2 at the Societies’ Son’s Motorcycle Club in Gays Mills. The event, which was a big success, was a fundraiser for the Gays Mills Food Pantry and the Friends of the Gays Mills Swimming Pool… Ecocert Group recently announced the acquisition of Nature’s International Certification Services, an organic certification agency located in Viroqua, owned by Marta Engel… The effort to repair and rehabilitate the village-owned Gays Mills Swimming Pool is spearheaded by the Friends of the Pool. To date, this group has raised about $40,000 toward their goal of $100,000… The American Public Health Association enacted a new policy statement advising federal, state, and local governments and public health agencies to impose a moratorium on all new and expanding concentrated feeding animal operations (CAFOs). The new policy recommends a complete halt until additional scientific data have been collected and any public health concerns associated with CAFOs are addressed… The Monroe County Board and many county citizens have taken a bold stand in accepting that climate change is happening. The county board recently passed a climate change resolution and formed a task force to jump start their county’s preparedness.

DECEMBER: The Crawford County Land Conservation Committee voted 3-1 to recommend passage of a one-year moratorium on permitting of livestock facilities with more than 1,000 animal units in the country… The Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Foundation awarded $300,000 in scholarships to local students… The North Crawford boys basketball team started their season with two non-conference wins against the Brookwood Falcons and the Riverdale Chieftains… The Trojan Girls Basketball team held a fundraiser bake sale at the Holiday Fair in the Community Commerce Center…
Thatcher at Millhouse Lights
THATCHER DREMSA got to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the grand opening of the Millhouse Lights Christmas lights display in Gays Mills.

Volunteers worked hard to prepare for the first annual Millhouse Christmas Lights, a free community event at Robb Park in Gays Mills. The grand opening will feature hot chocolate, hot cider and cookies. The organizers are asking for a donation for the food pantry or a cash donation to help support the Gays Mills Swimming Pool. The final weekend will be Friday, Jan. 3 and Saturday, Jan. 4… Discover Wisconsin will shine the spotlight on Prairie du Chien in an upcoming episode on December 14 on Fox Sports Wisconsin… The Crawford County Board of Supervisors voted 10-7 to enact a one-year moratorium on permitting of new or expanded livestock facilities with greater than 1,000 animal units…. Herb Helgerson’s family honors his World War II service with a trip to Europe. Family members followed his route across France, Belgium and Germany, to include a visit to Remagen, Germany a beautiful city on the Rhine River where the first bridge across the Rhine was built by Herb’s division, the 291stEngineers Combat Battalion… FFA members from the Seneca Area School District have sold and delivered a total of nearly $15,500 in fruit which exceeded the school’s previous sales recorded…

Todd Salmon honored
TODD SALMON, Crawford County Highway Department employee, was hon-ored by the Crawford County Board for his efforts in responding to a severe vehicle accident while out on routine patrol. Salmon is joined by the recovering youth who was injured in the accident, Wyatt Mickelson, and his grateful mother, Irene Mickelson.

Todd Salmon is honored by the Crawford County Board for his efforts in responding to a severe vehicle accident while out on routine patrol. There, in appreciation for his efforts, were Wyatt Mickelson, the young man injured in the accident and Wyatt’s grateful mom, Irene Mickelson… In a recent case, Eco-Site, LLC v. Town of Cedarburg, 2019 WI app 42, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld a municipality’s decision to deny a permit to Eco-Site, LLC, a wireless infrastructure provider seeking permission to construct a cell tower on private, rural land… Lori Bekkum and Craig Anderson announced the 2019 Crawford County Community Foundation grant awards. The projects funded in 2019 include: Wauzeka-Steuben School District, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, Southwest Technical College, Prairie du Chien Historical Society, The Village of DeSoto, Couleecap, Inc., the Village of Gays Mills, North Crawford School District and Crawford County Communications Co-op… The Seneca Community Club held the Seneca Christmas Supper where they dished out a roast beef and root vegetable dinner to the enjoyment of many folks.