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April 1: News from around the Driftless Area

‘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 –Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center is requesting volunteers on Sunday, April 18, 1-4 p.m., to help with some spring-cleaning involving invasive plant species… The Viroqua Lions Club is now accepting donations of furniture, lawn and garden, outdoor sports equipment, small working appliances, and shop tools for their annual rummage sale at the Vernon County Fairgrounds, May 13-15. The club is looking for ‘estate’ type donations for people who are downsizing, or have a smaller donation after buying some new furniture. Pick ups or drop offs can be arranged by calling Simp Hanson at 608-632-1338, Steve Hill at 612-750-3144 or Wayne Sherry at 608-606-4105… Norse Care LLC, in partnership with the Westby Area School District, is interested in hearing the public’s perspectives on a potential new summer program for youth entering grades K-6. The Norse Summer Program (NASP) will be a recreation-based summer day camp serving children entering grades K through 6th. The goals of this program include: Provide a fun and safe environment for students during summer months. Provide positive interactions with caring adult role models. Encourage and develop life skills, respect for others and positive social interaction. Introduce and engage youth in potentially lifelong recreational pursuits. A public meeting to discuss interest and feasibility regarding this project will be held in the Westby High School library April 6 from 6 to 8 p.m… The Driftless Writing Center is sponsoring a Zoom reading by Joe Wilkins on Friday, April 9, at 7 p.m. This free public reading will be followed by a community open mic. Those who want to read during the open mic should bring a maximum of five minutes of writing to share. The DWC and Wilkins are also holding a generative workshop titled ‘Layers of Landscape: Harnessing the Power of Place’ on Saturday, April 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. This limited-enrollment workshop will offer writers four ways they might begin to do just that.

LA FARGE – At the latest meeting of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Board, Director Marcy West said that some hiring will be done this year for summer work on the Reserve. A police officer will also be hired. To learn more go to their website. She also said that the Visitor Center will be open full time starting Monday, April 5, with COVID guidelines remaining in place. The Land Management Committee reported that approval has been given to convert an ag field near Bridge Nine into a wetland forest by natural progression. The board also approved no trash containers at canoe landing sites, with a ‘pack it in, pack it out’ policy… The annual LaFarge Lions ‘Giving Back Program’ accomplished their work last year despite the pandemic. Each class at the LaFarge School received a check to use for a worthy cause. The checks will be distributed as follows: Grades 4K through fifth, Make-a-Wish Foundation; Grades Six and Seven, Vernon County K-9 Unit; Grades Eight and Eleven, Faith Nemec Family; Grade Nine, LaFarge EMS; Grades Ten and Twelve, LaFarge Food Pantry… The Webster Town Board heard a presentation from Luke Zahm, who lives in the township. He asked to be appointed to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Board to replace a board member that is not seeking another term. He would be the Kickapoo Valley watershed representative. The town board approved sending a letter to the Governor recommending Zahm for the position… 

ONTARIO – Royall’s board of education agreed at their most recent meeting to give livestreaming of meetings a trial run, responding to requests from district residents. The public will not be able to communicate with the board during the livestreams. Also, if the board cannot livestream the meeting due to technical glitches, the meeting will still go on as planned… A Tomah man fired two shots from a pistol outside the Hitchin’ Post in Wilton Saturday before last, and was arrested after a pursuit that ended in Tomah. A 911 call had reported that Curtis Goulet, 52, Tomah, had arrived at the tavern and became involved in a minor disturbance before obtaining a pistol from his truck and firing the two shots. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene and began to search for Goulet. About 10 minutes after the 911 call, a trooper from the Wisconsin State Patrol located Goulet’s truck on Highway 131. Goulet fled from officers when they tried to stop him, and continued northbound into Tomah. The Tomah Police Department deployed tire deflation devices, but Goulet continued on to his residence, where he was arrested… Under public health department recommendations, Monroe County plans to ease limited access to most buildings on Thursday, April 1… A nonprofit Hispanic/Latino digital media outlet based in Madison recently chose Nidia Alcantar of Norwalk as one of the five women it honored statewide for Latin Women’s Month. Alcantar works as a translator/secretary for the Norwalk-Wilton-Ontario School District, and serves on the Norwalk Village Board. She is also a member of CouleeCap’s board, works as an on-call interpreter for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, and helps out at the Monroe County Health Department.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – Moviegoers will soon be able to enjoy the small-town theater experience again, when Prairie Cinema, Elkader Cinema and North Grand Cinema in Ames, Iowa, reopen April 2. They’ve been closed throughout March for maintenance and employee training, but with the COVID-19 crisis slowing and Hollywood gearing up for a big summer, owners Lee and Diane Akin and staff are excited to fill the theaters again. “Hollywood is supposed to really start sticking to their release dates,” said Lee. “April might be lean but, closer to Memorial Day, movie fans will see more new blockbusters. COVID has been thereal driver in Hollywood…” Prairie du Chien is planning two major spring and summer infrastructure projects to improve storm water capacity across the city. A public information meeting is planned Wednesday, April 7, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, and neighbors are being notified. Work is anticipated to begin this summer and be completed this year. First, a storm water outlet from Godden Pit, under Taylor Street, to connecting storm sewer at Marquette Road is one project aimed to start by late April or early May, according to City Administrator Chad Abram. Second, a Gateway Business Park expansion and Campbell Coulee Creek improvements are scheduled this summer. Abram said this project includes Vena Court and Antoine Way street extensions to create additional building sites within the business park. The street extensions include sanitary sewer, water main, and storm sewer extensions to serve the lots. An additional public information meeting will be offered Thursday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. regarding the 2023 Villa Louis Road project. The meeting is only available online via Zoom… The Prairie du Chien Fire Department held the annual awards banquet March 20, and congratulated to firefighter Lee Arneson on 40 years of service to the citizens of Prairie du Chien. Mike Anthony was recognized for serving 15 years. John Rickleff and Sheldon Black were recognized for five years of service each. The Firefighter of the year award went to Derrick Eastman and Rookie of the year to Melissa Folsom.

RICHLAND CENTER – At about 3:30 p.m., on Sunday, March 21, the Richland Center Fire Department was paged to County NN for a fire that was out of control and spreading into a CRP field and wooded area. The property owner had been burning a small grassy area when the wind picked up and he could not control the fire. Upon arrival, the fire units brought the situation under control, with approximately 1.16 acres burned. Twenty-three firefighters from seven units responded and were at the scene for one hour. DNR rangers and a DNR air unit also provided assistance… Thanks to donations from area individuals and organizations, the Cazenovia Area Ambulance Service recently was able to purchase a new stretcher system for their second ambulance. The unit acquired is a Stryker PowerLoad, which features a powered cot and hoist that lifts the patient into the back of the ambulance.