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February 13: News from around the Driftless Area
News From Around the Arrea

‘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 Conservationist Ben Wojahn provided an update to the Vernon County Board at their January meeting. He told them the Land and Water Conservation Department operates on a county tax levy, but in 2019 brought in $3.6 million through 35 different grants. The department has 10 employees who are responsible for seven county parks, three campgrounds with 115 sites, 31 miles of trails, 48 rock quarries, 22 flood control dams, and a herd of goats used to control invasive species. His department marked out 1,200 miles of contour strips in 2019 as well… There is nothing better than the smell and taste of fresh, homemade bread. The Viroqua Food Co-op will offer a Sourdough Bread Basics class on Tuesday, Feb. 18, from 6-7:30 p.m. The class instructor will be Laura Poe Mathes. To register call the VFC at 608-637-7511, or sign up at the VFC customer service desk. Registration is required in advance, and payment is due at the time of registration…  Westby’s ‘History Alive Project’ volunteers had a strong start to 2020. Starting in January, they taught some of Westby’s history to high school freshmen, held the third annual photo show for Coon Valley residents, and presented photos of antique farm machinery to members of the Coulee Antique Engine Club at their annual meeting. They finished off the month with a two-day introduction for Coon Valley’s third- and fourth-grade students where they learned about Norwegian trolls. This is the start of further History Alive Project outreach to younger kids of this area. This summer, HAP will hold a celebration of Westby’s having achieved the status of an official city in 1920 this summer on August 22. 

LA FARGE –A presentation on ‘Geology In and Around the Kickapoo River Valley’ will be held at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center on Wednesday, Feb. 26, beginning at 7 p.m. Refreshments and socializing begin at 6:30 p.m., and the talk begins at 7 p.m. The Kickapoo River Valley lies at the heart of Wisconsin’s iconic Driftless Area. The geologic history of the region has produced a unique landscape in the upper Midwest that provides the setting for much of Eric Carson’s research. Eric Carson is a geologist at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over the past 12 years, he has focused on the geomorphology of the Driftless Area, studying the timing of the most recent adjacent glaciation; the processes associated with rivers and floods; and long-term (multi-million year) records of landscape evolution… Nuzum’s Lumberyard in LaFarge made the decision to close its doors on the last day of January. Operating in LaFarge since 1900, the business has been battered by repeated flooding, the economic woes of the farm economy, and big box stores–such as Menards. Closing of Nuzum’s LaFarge location was preceded by the closing of their stores in Viola, Gays Mills, Soldiers Grove, Readstown and Steuben. Employees may be offered new positions, and the location’s supplies have been sent to two other yards… LaFarge Schools students, along with the LaFarge Lions Club, are once again teaming up for a ‘Giving from the Heart’ program that helps support a variety of individuals, families, organizations and projects. The Lions Club will donate $100 for each grade at the school, and students in those grades can choose a worthy project to support.

ONTARIO – After deliberating for six hours, a Monroe County jury found that 10 county board supervisors violated Wisconsin Open Meetings Law, when they signed a petition in November 2017 to move the proposed Rolling Hills Nursing Home site from Sparta to Tomah. The jurors also established that five of the 10 supervisors knowingly violated the open-meetings law, but found the plaintiffs failed to meet the burden of proof that the other five knew they were violating the law. The verdict in the case, filed in March 2018, came after two-and-one-half days of testimony in which 15 members and one former member of the county board were called to the stand… A traveling exhibit, ‘The Lost Voices of Mariel,’ will be on display at the Monroe County Local History Room through Saturday, March 28. In 1980, the Mariel Boatlift brought 14,000 people to the refugee compound at Fort McCoy. This exhibit explores the lives of the Cuban refugees who began their journey in the U.S. here and how it impacted Monroe County. A public history presentation entitled, ‘Lost Voices of Mariel,’ will take place on Thursday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. at the local history room, with panelists sharing personal stories. The Monroe County Local History Room is located at 200 W. Main Street, in Sparta, and is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –River Ridge School officials and Grant County detectives have identified the student who wrote a bomb threat on the middle school boy’s bathroom wall at the school recently. The district is not releasing the student’s name. Superintendent Clay Koenig will not discuss legal action as the student is a minor, but did say that the student is being punished in accordance with district policy, which states that suspension and disciplinary action may result when a bomb threat is made at the school. The policy takes into account the seriousness of the threat and the student’s prior disciplinary record… Several factors combined to make the 70thPrairie du Chien Ice Fisheree one of the best ever. Great fishing on Gremore Lake leading up to the event, a popular Tiki Bar, mild temperatures, and a tagged fish worth $6,000 caught at the 2019 event were among the reasons given for the 2020 event’s success. Registrations were up 25 percent over 2019.

RICHLAND CENTER –A good-sized crowd showed up at the Richland Center City Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 6, for the premiere showing of the ‘Discover Wisconsin’ segment on Richland Center. Present to greet the public were show host Mariah Haberman and producer Taylor Cassuthers. In the audience was a ‘who’s who’ of well-known Richland County residents, including elected officials, business people, media and well wishers… The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board will hear from DNR Ecologist Nate Fayram about State Natural Areas at their upcoming meeting on Thursday, Feb. 13, 5 p.m., at the Kratchowill Memorial Building in Muscoda. Currently, there are over 20 natural areas in the Riverway, and Fayram will highlight ongoing activities and new projects planned in those areas for 2020… Despite some challenges with the weather, The Jamaican Mission Program (JMP) celebrated their 12th year of volunteer work in Jamaica with their annual mission trip January 18-25. Twenty-eight volunteers with connections to Richland Center traveled to Jamaica to assist in the construction of a chicken coop, and care for the children at Blessed Assurance Children’s Home in Adelphi.

BOSCOBEL – The 32-year-old LaCrosse man charged with the January 17 standoff and shooting on Elm Street in Boscobel had his preliminary hearing in Grant County Circuit Court on January 29, with cash bond set at $25,000. Bryant Matti will be arraigned on February 24. He is charged with four misdemeanors and four felonies, including burglary, false imprisonment, second degree reckless injury, and felon in possession of a firearm (repeat offense)… Supreme Grandmaster Kim Bok Man made his second visit to Boscobel’s Tae Kwon Do dojo. The first visit was to teach a weapons seminar, and this time he came to work on SM Kim’s Historic Volume II of his lifeworks of Chun Kuhn Tae Kwon Do. SM Kim has been Boscobel dojo’s Ray Saint’s weapons instructor for the past three years and this opportunity came about through their friendship. When complete, the work will contain a total of four volumes and a set of 15 manuals.