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December 10: 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 –Vernon Communications Co-op is taking nominations for deserving people in the community who are struggling and could use some help this holiday season. Their ‘Uplifting our Community’ campaign is taking nominations until December 15. Citizens are encouraged to nominate a special person that does amazing things for others, makes a positive impact on their community, or keeps an optimistic attitude through challenging times. To make a nomination, go to… Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op will host a ‘Rural Toy Drive’ to provide Christmas presents to farm families in need on Saturday, December 12, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Tractor Supply Company in Viroqua… Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School in Viroqua will host a Holiday Faire 2020: A Virtual Gala for the Whole Family on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. This year's faire features many of the time-honored traditions that draw people back each year, and new this year: ‘Give a Gift, Get A Gift’ fundraiser (in lieu of a silent auction), and a community-wide living room dance party. Admission is free, however, all participants must register in advance:… We need something to look forward to in 2020...BURGER NIGHT! Please join Driftless Cafe every Thursday for their weekly Burger Night. They will continue this every Thursday until they can't take it anymore. This year, they are raising money fortThe Historic Temple Theatre in Viroqua. Two dollars of every burger sold will go directly to keeping this amazing community asset running in this very challenging time. Of course you may take this curbside for your safety! They will start accepting orders at 5 p.m. Please make reservations if you are hoping to dine in with us.

LA FARGE – According to an article recently published in ‘Yale Climate Connections,’ in the Midwest, it’s now rare to find an oak savanna, a grassland scattered with trees. But those ecosystems were once widespread and rich with species. “All the early European settlers talked about how amazing these savannas were and how much food there was and how beautiful they were,” says Peter Allen, a farmer who studied oak savannas in graduate school. At Mastodon Valley Farm in southwest Wisconsin, Allen is mimicking this system, but with cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs instead of prehistoric creatures. His herds graze on a few acres for a day, then move on so the ground can rest for a month or so… The Village of LaFarge will host their first annual ‘Holiday Light Contest’ this year. Houses will be judged on creativity, Christmas spirit, and effort, with first, second and third place prizes to be awarded. Interested participants should contact McKinsey Biermann by December 20, at 608-606-5836… At their meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19, the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Board decided that, due to the ‘virus economy,’ camping and user fees for 2021 would be kept at the present rate. It was mentioned that fees collected have been up in 2020 as more people were wanting to be participating in outdoor activities. 

ONTARIO – Little Eagles Arts Foundation reports that the Ho-Chunk Nation Museum and Cultural Center in Tomah, recently experienced some devastating effects due to a fire in the building adjacent to the museum. Much water damage has been experienced. LEAF has assisted with archival and collection preservation supplies. Folks able to help with financial support are urged to send their gifts to the address listed below: Ho-Chunk Nation Museum, c/o Heritage Preservation, P.O. Box 667, W9814 Airport Road, Black River Falls, WI 54615…The Monroe County Town of Wellington has had a rash of road-sign thefts, according to town officials. For the third time, the Logan Road sign was stolen recently. “This time, the post was out with the entire top section removed, including the Midway Avenue sign,” town chairman Gerry Miller said. Miller added that the costs to replace the signs and hardware are an unnecessary expense to the town… The Bank of Ontario is growing. A new bank in Westby was recently added, joining the Bank of Ontario and the Genoa State Bank… After a nearly three-year vacancy, the bar and restaurant at Highway 71 and Main Street in Wilton will open again. Jamie and Mandy Milheiser of Necedah recently purchased the building from Dan Bucholz and will bring the establishment back to life, dubbing it ‘Millhouse Bar and Grill.’ It was most recently Twisted Sisters Bar and Grill, which closed in February 2018… Located in the country, the Bossy Cow Country Store in rural Norwalk, is about as rural as you can get. The store was established by Amanda and Douglas Wallerman. The store sells frozen, packaged pork and Angus corn-fed beef raised on their farm. Lamb and chicken will come in the spring. They also sell locally-grown cranberry products, cheeses from Nordic Creamery, Amish candies, bath soaps, beer, Grassland butter, maple syrup, honey and more… Despite the pandemic, Santa will visit the Elroy Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 12. Santa will meet children in the parking lot with use of masks and social distancing.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – The Prairie du Chien Police Department had a busy weekend collecting items for Operation Santa and the local food shelf.  City of Prairie du Chien staff members donated items, the department stuffed their squad with generous donations from the community, and then the Southwest Tech Blue Line Club stepped up and donated items as well.  “It is great to see students preparing for careers in law enforcement already seeing the importance of giving back to their communities.  Thank you to all of our partners as we try to spread Christmas cheerthis Holiday Season… ”The first time local volunteer Donna Teynor met Prairie du Chien High School FFA adviser Diane Colburn, Donna said she had always wanted to be a member of the FFA. However, she was never able to be an official member because girls weren’t allowed in the organization when she was in school. Well, now, her wish has come true—in an honorary way. Donna was presented with an Honorary FFA Degree by the Prairie du Chien chapter for her efforts in making the high school raingarden/drainage basin successful when the students were unable to put in the work on campus due to the coronavirus… Of the emergency room patients evaluated lately at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, Dr. Jim Jordan, ER Medical Director, said about 75 percent of them have had issues related to COVID-19. The local surge of positive COVID-19 cases began a little more than a month ago, Dr. Jordan estimated, when regional facilities in cities like La Crosse and Madison began reaching capacity. This left Crossing Rivers, as well as Gundersen Health and Mayo clinics to determine what more they could do. “We’ve opened Pandora’s box,” Jordan said. “We must work together, now more than ever, to slow the spread. We need the community to help us out, so we can continue to help you.” The heart-wrenching family scenarios many were used to seeing on television and the internet are affecting the local hospital now. You’ve seen them, the ones where a nurse holds up a smartphone to a dying family member as their loved ones say their goodbyes. “We’re making those phone calls,” Jordan shared, “and discussing with family the ethically difficult life or death decisions for their loved ones…” Jenny Pritchett, chief clinical officer at Crossing Rivers Health, stated, “The surge in COVID patients is affecting our health system locally, right here in Prairie du Chien. We understand that the holidays are about spending time with family, but it is up to each and every one of us to protect our families and residents of our communities. “We urge residents to show your concern for your family, friends, health care workers, and your community by not gathering with others outside of your household and finding alternative ways to celebrate the holidays this year.”