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December 31: 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 Vernon County Board held a short special meeting on December 18. It was the last meeting for outgoing County Clerk Ron Hoff, and its purpose was to adjust the budget to pay the salary of the new county administrator. The new administrator will be Cari Redington, a former Hillsboro High School graduate with professional experience in administration and finance…  Each year, the National FFA Organization honors FFA members who show the utmost dedication to the organization through their desire to develop their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The American FFA Degree is bestowed upon a select group of students in recognition of their years of academic and professional excellence. This year 4,136 American Degrees were awarded. Morgan Woodhouse, a member of the De Soto FFA chapter, was awarded the American FFA Degree at the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo Oct. 27-29, held virtually. Sponsored by Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta, the award recognizes demonstrated ability and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, processing or service programs… New members have just been welcomed onto the Vernon County Historical Society Board, and some returning members have changed to new positions. Here is the line-up for 2021: Dian Krause of Viroqua is the new president, and Denise Kirchoff of Viroqua is the new vice president. Brad Steinmetz of La Farge is continuing as secretary, and Loann Frie of Viroqua is continuing as treasurer. New directors are Brian Ekern and Carl Lindquist, both of Viroqua. Continuing directors are Leila Holen of Westby and Donna Knower of Ferryville. Thank you to all of the VCHS Board members for their hard work!

LA FARGE – At their December 14 meeting, the LaFarge Village Board learned from Public Works Manager Wayne Haugrud that the village’s sewer utility lost $65,000 in 2020, and is in debt. Upon advice from the village’s accounting firm, Johnson and Block, the village will implement a rate increase. Rates will be raised 25 percent, and raise rates on average for a single user by $5.04, and as much as $18.22 for a five-person family… Needing some new content to watch over the coming winter months? Check out our past Driftless Dialogue videos on a wide range of topics:

The Ralph Nuzum Lecture Series typically occurs once a month and is free thanks to a grant by the Ralph E Nuzum Kickapoo Reforestation Fund through the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the Friends of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve…  The Viola Sportsmen’s Club will hold its annual New Year’s Day Poultry/Trap Shoot. The event is open to the public, with 10 shot Rounds, two shots from each station. Prizes will be Chicken, Ham, Pork Loin ???. Free Soup, Chili, Hotdogs, Coffee, and Hot Chocolate. They will hold a round of Annie Oakley @ 1pm. $5 entry fee with $50 prize to the winner. This will be shot from the 25 yard line. They will have a fire available to help stay warm as well.

ONTARIO – Fears of possible flooding prompted the Kendall Village Board on Monday to investigate having a beaver dam removed. But because the dam in question is near the Elroy-Sparta State Trail and Highway 71, it’s partly on property owned by the DOT and partly on a DNR right-of-way. That left the village board wondering if it could legally have the dam removed and the beavers trapped. Nearby homeowner Dale Haney attended the meeting, advocating for removing the dam. Other residents had requested that it be left intact, noted board president Richard Martin. In the end, Martin said he would contact a DNR representative to learn the village’s scope of control over the dam structure… A Warrens teenager has died in a two-vehicle crash that occurred on Highway 21 in the Town of Byron. Just after 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the Monroe County 911 Communication Center received a call reporting a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Highway 21 and Crescent Road. The initial investigation found that a 2003 Honda Civic was southbound on Crescent Road when the driver failed to stop at the stop sign at Highway 21. The vehicle was struck by a 2017 Kenworth straight truck that was eastbound on Highway 21.The passenger in the Honda, a 16-year-old, died in the crash. Both drivers were evaluated for injuries and released… With what continues as a popular community service, representatives from several emergency service departments participated in ‘Shop With a Hero’ on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Employees from the following agencies helped children shop for gifts for Christmas: Monroe County Emergency Management, Tomah VA Fire and Police Departments, Wisconsin State Patrol, Tomah Area Ambulance Service and Tomah Fire and Tomah Police Departments.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – Crossing Rivers Health has received our first allocation of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for our employees! We expect employee vaccination clinics to begin next week. As you may know, the first vaccine shipment will be given to healthcare workers who have frequent face-to-face contact with patients. Next, the county health departments will work with local nursing homes to coordinate vaccinations for their residents and additional healthcare workers. As far as we understand, vaccines will not be available to the general public for at least several weeks. Crossing Rivers Health Clinic is not creating a waiting list for community members who want the vaccine. We will coordinate with the public health department to make announcements when the vaccine will be offered to the public… A constant, piercing sound coming from the Universal Forest Products manufacturing plant on Lessard Street in Prairie du Chien is disturbing neighbors. City Administrator Chad Abram first briefed the common council on the issue Dec. 15. He said city hall and the police department had received multiple calls from residents in the area about the 24-hour sound that, in some cases, has made it difficult for neighbors to sleep. Abram explained that the sound is coming from a new piece of equipment at the plant. It has been noticeable for about a month or so… Clayton County health care workers were expected to start receiving COVID-19 vaccinations this week, according to a press release from the Clayton County Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). “The Clayton County Visiting Nurse Association has placed the county’s initial order for 600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for those in priority groups identified in phase 1-A,” the release stated. These doses will be targeted to health care staff with direct patient contact who are unable to telework, who provide services to patients or patients’ family members or who handle infectious materials. This includes those who work in inpatient care, outpatient care or community settings.

BOSCOBEL – Grant County Clerk Linda Gebhard is in the home stretch of her days in office, and reflected recently on her career of public service. Gebhard worked for the county for three decades, the last 12 of which was as county clerk. “All in all, my 30 years with Grant County has been rewarding,” Gebhard said. “I have been out of my comfort zone many times, but that gave me the experience and confidence I needed to fulfill my duties…” Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics began caring for patients needing specialized IV medications, including chemotherapy, in 2015. Since then, its staff has cared for hundreds of patients. As the need for services increases, so does the need to expand and enhance local infusion and outpatient nursing services. For this reason, the hospital is seeking the community’s support to raise $100,000 to help fund the 2021 infusion center project. Through March 19, 2021, every donation made to the project will be matched dollar for dollar up to $50,000.