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February 11: News from around the Driftless Area
News from Around the Area_Winter

‘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 County Dairy Youth Fund seeks scholarship applications The Vernon County Dairy Youth Fund will again award two $500 scholarships for high school seniors and current college students who meet the qualifications. Prior recipients of the Vernon County Dairy Youth Fund Scholarship are not eligible… Snowflake Ski Club was honored to announce the 2021 Jumpmaster, Russ Holte.  Russ, his father, and his grandfather have a long history with the Snowflake Ski Club.  Russ was president in 1975 and was secretary of the club for 22 years.  Russ worked with clubs across the Midwest to promote ski jumping and cross country skiing… The Viroqua Food Co-op’s January 2021 ‘Give Where You Live’ recipient was Living Faith Food Pantry. With shoppers help rounding up purchases at the register, they collected $3,248.18 for the food pantry. Living Faith Food Pantry has addressed the food insecurity needs of the Viroqua area for 25 years. The Pantry distributes 6,000 pounds of food each week to 160 area households and has been recognized by Second Harvest Food bank as a leader in the distribution of fresh produce… The next Friends of Vernon County Parks & Forests Winter Walk and Bonfire series is planned for Saturday, Feb. 13, starting at 3 p.m., at Esofea County Park… The big news is that the Cheese Corner in Viroqua will live on, despite its owners retiring from running the business. The great people of VARC will be putting some much-needed TLC into the business’ building on the corner, and they hope to reopen the Cheese Corner this summer…

LA FARGE – The future of LaFarge may well rest in the hands of the village board at their meeting on Monday, March 8. There will be one big agenda item for that meeting. That decision will be whether the board will accept a plan to be presented by the Economic Flood Recovery Committee that has in development for the past several months. The first part of the plan would begin this spring when Main Street will be torn up from Maple Street to Mill Street to pave the way for installation of new water and sewer lines, to be followed by installation of new lighting… The Vernon County Health Department is conducting clinics one-to-two days per week, depending on the number of vaccines received. The department is notified of vaccine allotments from the state on Monday of each week. The county currently has over 3,000 names on their vaccine list… The Lawton Farm that straddles the Vernon and Richland county line, two miles south of LaFarge, was once a showplace in the area. Its history extends back into the 1850s. The elegant Lawton farmhouse was instrumental when the railroad tunnel was built nearby in 1897-1898 as the kitchen was used to feed the large number of men employed in tunneling. The Lawton family had one member elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing Richland County, and later the farm was well known for producing and selling seed corn. Many teenagers back in the 40s and 50s made extra money detasseling corn each fall by hand. Now, the farm buildings sit vacant, the house has been gone many years, and even the gigantic fields where the Lawton brand of seed corn was raised are now vacant due to persistent flooding… The LaFarge Trapshooters recently held their annual meeting, and selected their officers and board members. They are looking forward to another exciting year for enthusiasts and newcomers alike. The group offers league participation in the category of two-person, 16-yard handicap doubles, and youth events, in addition to open shooting every Thursday through November 4. This year, there are three special events on the calendar: L.C. 100 Bird Shoot on July 11; 50 Bird Night Shoot on August 21; and 100 Bird Shoot on September 11.

ONTARIO – Wilton resident Donald Schreier discovered in his basement on the morning of January 28, a suspect who allegedly had fled a hit-and-run crash the night before. The chain of events had begun at about 6 p.m. on January 27, when a woman who lives on Cemetery Road in Wilton informed Monroe County police that someone had just hit her car, which had been parked in front of her residence. The driver of the vehicle that hit the woman’s car had reportedly left the scene on foot. The man, later identified as Robert W. Kingsley, 37, Warrens, had run toward Arrowhead Boulevard, according to the woman’s statement. Driving a gray 2008 Pontiac GC, Kingsley had rear-ended the woman’s Hyundai Elantra, with the tire marks suggesting the Hyundai had been pushed forward about 30 feet. At 6:51 a.m. the next day, police responded to Schreier’s Main Street address after he had reported that an unknown male was in his house. Kingsley was found sitting on the basement stairs “shaking uncontrollably,” according to the police report…The late David Fauska of rural Elroy was among those recognized for their leadership and dedication to rural Wisconsin during the Wisconsin Farmers Union 90th Annual State Convention.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – On Saturday, Jan. 30, the WIAA wrestling tournament series started in the state of Wisconsin. Prairie du Chien was the host for a WIAA D2 Regional, with six teams competing for a crown. The PDC grapplers showed up to wrestle, and came away with a Regional Championship, marking the fourth consecutive year the Hawks have done so. PDC scored 271 points on their way to a very convincing win. Viroqua finished second with 132.5 points. Every wrestler in the PDC lineup scored points. At the end of the day, the Hawks advanced 10 wrestlers to Saturday’s Sectional. Of the 10, five were Regional Champs. Champions were: Rhett Koenig (113#), Ryder Koenig (120#), Maddox Cejka (132#), Luke Kramer (145#), and Bradyn Saint (170#)… It took a little longer than originally planned, but the sober house in Prairie du Chien is now up and running in the former Villa Succes building at 121 S. Prairie Street. “We are open and we have one resident so far,” said sober house director Kari Sanding, who noted that she and various volunteers continue to work at getting the interior of the house in tip-top shape. “We’re in the home stretch,” she said. Sanding said the purchase of the large house was closed in mid November, and the sober house opened in mid December. The original goal was to buy the property and have the sober house up and running by February or March of 2020, but all’s well that ends well… Last month was the 150-year anniversary of the completion of construction of the (later named) Villa Louis mansion, in Prairie du Chien. H. Louis Dousman, who had the rich Italian Villa Style home built by an esteemed Milwaukee architect in 1871, described his Prairie du Chien property as a “country estate” in its early years. It was only named Villa Louis after Louis’ death (1886), by his widow, Nina, in memory of her late husband. In honor of the anniversary, the Villa Louis Historic Site is celebrating as much as possible virtually, due to the site’s currently paused tour status because of the pandemic. Plans will evolve as the year carries on, so supporters are invited to keep up with social media posts or the most up-to-date event information… Effigy Mounds National Monument has remained a popular recreational destination for both locals and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The visitor center has been closed since last spring, a safety measure Nepstad said has unfortunately kept people from visiting with rangers and experiencing the exhibits. However, except for a short period early in the pandemic, Effigy Mounds’ 14 miles of hiking trails have remained open. “A lot of visitors are using this as an escape, to get away from the pandemic,” noted Nepstad. “Plus, they want to see what makes this a special place. And I think these special places are valued now more than ever before.” Nepstad said Effigy Mounds, which is located north of Marquette and is home to over 200 American Indian mounds, received a number of positive reviews on sites like Trip Advisor. Thanks to a kiosk set up outside, visitors could stamp their own national park passport books.