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August 20: News from around the Driftless Area
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‘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 City of Viroqua has received a notice of resignation from Ward 8 alderperson, Sondra Naxi. "We appreciate the time and dedication Sondra has given to the city and wish her nothing but the best going forward," Mayor Karen Mischel said in a statement. "Pending acceptance of the resignation by city council at the next council meeting, Aug. 25, it is my opportunity to appoint someone to finish out Sondra’s term." Mischel said that if you live in Ward 8 of the City of Viroqua, have a desire to serve your community through local government and would like to be considered for the appointment, please contact her at or 608-606-2075… Did you know that 2020 marks the 25th Anniversary of Viroqua Food Co+op? If 2020 was normal, we'd be in the depths of making final plans for our 25th Anniversary Party. But COVID-19 has derailed that plan and we have put the party on the shelf. We are incredibly grateful to all the dedicated customers, owners, board members, and staff that have gotten us to where we are today! Thank you!... The Westby Co-op Creamery’s online shop is now updated. You are able to place your order online, either pay for it online or upon arrival, and pick it up at our retail store in Westby! To place your order, go to:… The City of Viroqua recently clarified that while the green spaces in the city parks and fields are open for use, the playground equipment, shelters, and bathrooms remain closed for the rest of the year at all city parks. All City of Viroqua parks and baseball fields are open for your recreational opportunities this summer. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we recognize the decision of keeping the shelters, restrooms, and playground equipment closed impacts our community. 

ONTARIO – The Norwalk-Wilton-Ontario Board of Education approved its school reopening plan at their meeting on August 6. Students will have a “travel” mask for riding the bus, and two gator masks for use during the school day. The school will launder the gator masks. Students will be masked throughout the day when inside. Teachers will not wear masks while giving educational presentations, but will put them on when they go within six feet of a child, and in hallways and workrooms…Ontario’s recovery plan from the 2018 flood remains just that – a plan. FEMA has yet to deliver on buyout money to the owners of destroyed properties, and grants for flood repair are caught in the grinding of the bureaucratic wheel. Kurt Muchow of Vierbacher Associates expressed confidence recently that the village would be granted $1 million to develop a new downtown area; however he added, due to demand and shortage of staff, it may take some time for a final decision. The funds would be used to purchase the 36-acre Merv Taylor property south of Highway 33 and to develop roads, sewer and water to the portion of the property that would be used for commercial development. Muchow noted that those funds may not be used for residential development, and also require a 50 percent match. The village hopes to acquire the matching funds from several USDA grants and the establishment of a Tax Incremental Financing District… Based on the number of advance appointments, organizers thought it would be a good day at the Wilton blood drive. They never imagined just how good. A record 78 units of blood were collected… Norwalk’s Rails to Trails Marathon, originally scheduled for October 4, has been cancelled due to COVID-19 issues. Annually, the marathon draws upward of 1,000 participants, and proceeds from the event are used to provide scholarships and for community projects. In an effort to recoup some of the losses, Rails to Trails has decided to host five and ten kilometer races on Saturday, April 25, 2021.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – Approximately 55 people attended the Prairie du Chien School Board meeting on Monday, August 10, with many asking the board to allow the district to have the option of face-to-face, in-school instruction five days per week. District Administrator Andy Banasik explained that the district’s plan to start the school year with a hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction is for the safety of students and staff. Banasik said the re-opening plan can evolve, and is a work in progress depending upon what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic… the iconic White Springs Supper Club reopened to the public for the first time in 15 years in June. Giving the McGregor restaurant a new lease on life is Jennifer Yager – great granddaughter of White Springs longtime owner Ethel Mann – and her husband Robert. The couple is joined in the venture by their friends Brandon and Emily Schaefer.

RICHLAND CENTER – This year’s Walk with GRACE will be held on Friday, August 14. The price is $10 per ticket. No tickets will be sold the night of the event. Luminary bags will this year be displayed at Stori Field and will be lit. Since we will be unable to gather together this year for the survivor and caregiver laps, you are invited instead to participate in the Survivor Parade. The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Krouskop Park, will go around Stori Field and head back to Krouskop Park… The first five years of a child’s life are critical for development, so flexible, high quality early childhood education is important to the success of all families. In Southwest Wisconsin, there are many great options for early childcare and education, but there continue to be unmet needs. The members of the Richland Area Childcare Taskforce are working to understand the needs for childcare and how a community response can help. This is a new initiative by Southwest Partners and other community leaders, and aims to include the voices of childcare providers and the families they serve. They are asking all parents and caregivers to share their perspectives in a new survey, available at by contacting ExtensionRichland County at 608-647-6148. 

BOSCOBEL – The Boscobel Boat Landing Commission continues to work at trying to satisfy the needs of both visiting canoeists and local anglers at a facility with limited space and available parking. “The boat landing is only so big,” Mayor Steve Wetter said at a meeting of the Commission last Monday. Meeting at the landing, commission members tackled a number of issues that have surfaced over the past several weekends as landing traffic has increased during the peak of the summer boating season—most notably, a lack of parking. “We’ve got to find a balance somehow,” responded commission member Brian Kendall. “The good thing is that they’re using it…” So with some parents opting for the virtual-only option in the Boscobel School District, and the possibility that all students may have to go virtual in the event of a major COVID-19 virus outbreak, the board debated purchasing 75 laptops for all district teachers, who are now only equipped with desktop computers lacking interactive cameras and microphones. As usual, it came down to money, with a price tag for 75 Dell laptop computers coming in at approximately $70,000. However, the district has been approved to receive $162,507 in federal CARES Act funding and $112,088 in state relief through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief program. Speaking from home via Zoom, board member Kelly Trumm said the laptops are essential for effective on-line learning and that she recently ordered laptops for her job working as the executive director of the Boscobel Housing Authority and found there is a long delivery delay due to increased demand… The Boscobel Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting on Monday, August 10, at J & J Recycling and Salvage, 501 Airport Road. Owners Joe and Jamie Napp are seen at left receiving their First Dollar Award from Chamber board member Jason Sparrgrove. J& J buys and sells used car and truck bodies, and is now accepting aluminum cans.