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April 29: 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 –Last weekend Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center had a wonderful group of volunteers pull garlic mustard, an invasive plant that’s thriving in the arboretum. Their efforts removed hundreds of plants that were on the verge of flowering and spreading more seeds. Contact Norskedalen if you’d be willing to help us with this battle.  Many of the plants can be pulled very easily along the stream… Last weekend, a dedicated group of Prairie Enthusiasts figured out how to safely get together at Sidie Hollow County Park to watch the induction ceremony of Gary Eldred into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame. A good internet connection,  a laptop set up in the back of a pickup and the great outdoors set the scene… The Friends of Vernon County Parks & Forests had another amazing hike last weekend at Esofea County Park. Trout lily and trillium are out, and everything is beautiful. Next week’s Spring Ephemeral Hike will take place at the Sidie Hollow lake loop, starting at 4 p.m… Dairyland Power Cooperative’s Genoa Power Station #3 used the last of its usable coal inventory on April 11. The closure impacts about 80 employees. A Dairyland Power spokesman says a lot of factors went into the decision. “Age of plant, cost of plant. But also fitting into our long-term sustainable future which is going to be less carbon, while maintaining safe, reliable cost-effective power delivery,” said Dairyland Power President and CEO Brent Ridge. The plant opened in 1969. Dairyland Power will officially retire the plant on June 1.

LA FARGE – The Viola Sportsmen’s Club reports that more progress was made by volunteers last weekend on the club’s new archery range. They say “it’s really coming together, and thanks to all the volunteers who helped…” The first annual LaFarge Community Plant and Seed Swap will take place at the LaFarge Farmers Market at Bean Park on May 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is hosted by the Kickapoo Valley Forest School Governance Council. KVFS received a generous donation of seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and Keewaydin Farms has been watering and tending to all of the garden starts. All are welcome to take home plants and seeds. Bring some of your favorite/extra garden plants to swap… Marcy West has retired as the Executive Director of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve after serving for 24 years. West helped to establish the 8,600-acre natural area with the Mission ‘The land in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve shall be protected, preserved, and enhanced...’ It is not often that an individual as bright, talented, and committed as she is comes along. If you would like to send a gift in her honor, please consider a donation to the KVR Enhanced Discovery Center Campaign. All donations will be matched 1:2 until they reach their goal of $600,000. For every $2 donated the Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust will donate $1… KVR Summer camps are in full swing for this year, with plans for camps to be conducted almost entirely outside with lots of easy-to-observe safety protocol like ventilation and masks and distancing when necessary. We know that the risk of COVID transmission is greatly reduced outdoors so they’ll embrace that factor and once again explore the valleys, ponds, creeks, and forests of the KVR together. For more information about camps or to register:

ONTARIO – Four of the five Kendall properties that were on the list for FEMA buyouts have signed offers to purchase with the Village of Kendall, board president Richard Martin reported at the board’s April 12 meeting. All sustained significant damage in the August 2018 flood. Though FEMA ultimately approves whether homeowners are eligible for voluntary buyouts, the village will assume ownership of the properties and the responsibility for demolishing them… When the Wilton Village Board ended its working relationship with clerk/treasurer Lori Brueggen on April 12, it agreed to $9,842.56 in severance pay for the 25-year employee. The severance pay reflects Brueggen’s wage of $27.04 times the number of hours Brueggen works per week (28) times 13 weeks… The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District will hold its Picnic Community Day at the Norwalk Village Park on Saturday, May 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will serve as a modified version of Community Night, which is in its 22nd year. The picnic will feature piñatas for the kids, along with bags of candy and other prizes. Due to COVID-19, there will not be the traditional dish to pass from the parents or the community, and the students will not perform a dance as they have in previous years

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – Pattison Sand Company is in discussions with the city of Marquette to lease space in the roundhouse area east of the Driftless Wetlands Centre in order to store railcars. Pattison Sand owner Kyle Pattison has proposed storing up to 183 railcars on the empty city property. He says the move could improve the efficiency of moving cars not only for his company but also for the Canadian Pacific Railway… Prairie Catholic School recently held a penny war, Pennies for Puppies, to raise funds toward the future Prairie du Chien Dog Park. The whole school raised a total of $373, while it was the fourth grade class that brought in the most pennies and other coins. They ended up with $99.68 as a class, which was quite the accomplishment considering that  they are the school’s smallest class… World Migratory Bird Day in the Prairie du Chien area will include bird walks at La Riviere Park and Effigy Mounds National Monument on May 8. The City of Prairie du Chien, as a designated Wisconsin Bird City, is sponsoring these bird walks. Persons interested in participating should meet at the La Riviere Park Shelter at 8 a.m. The Effigy Mounds bird walk starts at 10 a.m. from the Monument’s Visitors Center. Participants should dress appropriately to be outside and walk on park trails that could be soft or wet. A pair of binoculars and a bird identification book could be of assistance in identifying birds seen on the planned 90-minute walks… Friends of the Yellow River State Forest will be holding their second annual 5K and 10K trail run/walk on Saturday, May 8, in the state forest (737 State Forest Road, Harpers Ferry, Iowa) starting at 8 a.m. This year, there will be an additional 5K on Friday night, May 7. Participants can register until the day of the event. Register online at the Friends website:

BOSCOBEL – The Boscobel Depot Museum Committee had its first meeting on March 31 to make plans for Saturday tours May 1 through October, and a big Depot Day on Saturday, June 19. The museum was not open in 2020 due to COVID, so there was a lot of cleaning and planning to be done. Two afternoons of cleaning were planned and accomplished with the help of community volunteers. Some of the displays were reviewed, rearranged, and items added. The updates and rearrangements will offer more enjoyment to its viewers… The Boscobel Common Council moved forward with a $643,000 infrastructure project when it approved matching funds for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program during their most recent meeting. The city’s share would be $321,000, with the project scheduled for 2022. Mark Steward of the engineering firm of Vierbicher and Associates told the Council that the Public Facilities Program is for improvements to low and moderate-income neighborhoods, with five low-income areas in Boscobel identified… Boscobel members of Future Farmers of America participated in ‘Drive Your Tractor to School Day.’ After school, they organized a little tractor parade down Wisconsin Avenue… The Grant County History Museum and the Grant County Research Center will reopen on Saturday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The theme for the Museum’s grand reopening is the Pink Pony Drive-In – showcasing the carrousel pony, which sat outside Lois Alcorn’s restaurant in Lancaster, and was a beloved icon in the 1950s.