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April 23: 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 Viroqua Chamber Main Street is a large-scale partnership, and Fred Nelson’s vision for his beloved business community is always present. Formed in 1989, and last year celebrating 30 years of business support and economic development, it was time to come up with a grassroots solution, just like Fred Nelson would have, to provide support to the business community. After a few conversations with Dan Kanis, owner of Nelson Agri-Center, it was determined that with a generous donation from Nelson Agri-Center and from Sleepy Hollow, as well as funds from the Viroqua Chamber Main Street intended for use as Pop-Up Shop rent, that a relief fund initiative could be created for businesses impacted by COVID-19. In addition to the funds already collected, businesses, banks and individual donors are encouraged to contribute to this fund. A link will be made available on the Viroqua Chamber Main Street’s Support Small website, which also includes the opportunity to purchase gift cards for local businesses… Two different subjects the Vernon County History Museum has been working on recently are the histories of Vernon County’s rural schools, and our county’s relationship with water. The author was surprised to realize that there is at least one connection between these two topics, and that is that a number of country schools were named for waterways. Starting with the town of Bergen in the northwest corner of the county, we find that there was once a rural school located between Stoddard and Genoa called Coon Slough School, named for the slough (a marshy area) that formed where Coon Creek empties into the Mississippi River. This school was later renamed Riverside School, because it was located so near the Mississippi. A little farther south, in the town of Genoa, was Bad Axe Valley School, located near where the Bad Axe River empties into the Mississippi. Lower Chipmunk School, in the town of Hamburg, was found near Lower Chipmunk Creek. And in the nearby town of Coon was Spring Coulee School, also called Spring Valley School. This school was located along Spring Coulee Creek, one of the many creeks that feed into Coon Creek. Moving east to the Kickapoo River Valley, there were once lots of country schools here that shared names with nearby waterways. Knapp School, serving the towns of Christiana and Clinton, was located near Knapp Creek, which flows into the West Fork of the Kickapoo. Seas Branch School and Bishop Branch School, both in the town of Viroqua, were located along their respective branches of the West Fork. Upper Weister School in the town of Clinton, and Lower Weister School in the town of Stark, were both near Weister Creek, which flows into the Kickapoo River. In the town of Webster, Ottervale School was near Otter Creek, another tributary of the Kickapoo. Looking at the town of Kickapoo itself, we find a Kickapoo Center School, named for the village of Kickapoo Center which in its turn was named for the Kickapoo River it was built alongside. In the same township were Day Creek School and Sherry School – Day Creek empties into the Kickapoo, and Sherry Creek joins up with Reads Creek. Jug Creek School in the town of Stark was located near Jug Creek, a tributary of the Kickapoo. Also in the town of Stark were North Bear School and Middle Bear School, and just south into Richland County was South Bear School, each school called after a creek of the same name. Finally moving to the far eastern portion of Vernon County, we find East Pine River School in the town of Union, built alongside the Pine River. And in the town of Greenwood was Green Creek School, which stood, not surprisingly, by Green Creek.

LA FARGE –LaFarge seniors were honored recently with ‘Friday Night Lights,’ when the baseball field lights were lit up from 8-8:20 p.m. A large poster on the fence along Highway 131 honored this years seniors… Vernon County’s Town of Clinton held an in-person meeting on April 8. In the meeting room, all chairs were placed six feet apart, and all board members were present. The past few month’s board meetings have included discussions about every road in the town needing work. At the April 8 meeting, the board was faced with making decisions about how the $170,840 road budget and $20,000 contingency fund would be spent. After much discussion, the board narrowed it down to six projects. The highest priority was finishing two FEMA projects in Peaceful Valley and on Knapp Creek Road for $23,500. The second priority was a one-mile stretch of the Dell Cut Across Road for $18,600. The third priority was Dell Road between County P to the Webster Town line for $31,400. The fourth priority was Anderson Road for $18,400. The fifth priority was Wang Road from the intersection with County P for $55,000, and the last priority was grinding up Irish Ridge Road from the town line to its western intersection for $40,000.

ONTARIO – As part of an effort to improve morale during the COVID-19 school shutdown, Royall High School honored its senior class in a parade on Sunday, April 12 in Elroy… The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Board of Education has offered its superintendent position to Travis Anderson, a long-time staff member at the school. Currently an instructional coach at N-O-W, Anderson has taught kindergarten, and third and sixth grades. He has also coached basketball and softball, and recently spearheaded the formation of an outdoor club… Members of the Tri-Parish Catholic Church were able to attend Mass in Cashton on Easter Sunday. Father Michael Klos performed the Mass in the parking lot, and parishioners tuned in on their vehicle’s radios to hear the broadcast… Virus or no virus, spring has arrived in our area, and with it, the opening of more than 20 Amish greenhouses that in normal times attract customers from across Wisconsin and adjoining states. Hundreds, if not thousands, of customers flock to Vernon and Monroe counties from now until mid-June. The state considers greenhouses an essential business, but has issued some rules for their management. Those rules include: customers may enter only for the purpose of ordering, pickup and payment; employees and customers must remain six feet apart at all times – both indoors and outdoors; food and drink may not be consumed on the premises; no seating may be provided; self-serve food and beverage stations are not allowed; hand washing stations must be available; employees should wash their hands frequently, and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth; surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day; and no teaching sessions are allowed.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –The Wauzeka-Steuben School District referendum was approved overwhelmingly by voters in the April 7 election, 394-174. Out of 568 total voters, the Village of Wauzeka brought in the most votes toward the decision, with 211 in favor and just 33 opposed. Steuben voters were 31-9 in favor, and Wauzeka and Marietta townships were in favor, as residents voted 96-48 in Wauzeka, and 26-10 in Marietta. However, there were more votes in opposition in the townships of Bridgeport (9-15), Eastman (21-51), Haney (0-6), and Prairie du Chien (0-2)… Andy Banasik has resigned as the head boys varsity basketball coach at Prairie du Chien High School. Banasik had a 404-263 record in 29 seasons as a head varsity coach. He started his coaching career at Marshfield Columbus Catholic, and in his 27 seasons at Prairie du Chien, had a record of 389-243.

BOSCOBEL – Growing your own food has always been a worthwhile endeavor for home gardeners, and that’s especially true during these trying days of coronavirus. Due to their food producing, agricultural nature, greenhouses have been deemed ‘essential businesses’ in Wisconsin. But there are still problems with social distancing. To address these challenges, Lisa Kreul – owner of Hillside Greenhouse on Highway 61 between Boscobel and Fennimore – started an online website for her customers to place orders and then pick them up at the greenhouse… In an effort to assist customers and promote social distancing, Boscobel Pharmacy is offering curbside pickup for both prescriptions and in-store merchandise during the COVID-19 pandemic.