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February 25: 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 –Students in Carissa Brudos’ first semester art and design class at De Soto High School had the opportunity to create designs for Wonderstate Coffee for a logo design challenge. Brudos said she wanted to incorporate real world art and marketing in students’ everyday lives, so she reached out to Wonderstate, which is based in Viroqua, with her idea of a logo design challenge. Brudos sent the designs to Wonderstate, where the winners were selected. Mya Radde, a ninth-grader, and Zoey Boardman, a senior, were the winners of the logo design challenge… The Viroqua School Board voted to approve offering a summer school program this year at its regular meeting, Monday. District Administrator Tom Burkhalter said the program will look different this summer. He said last year’s summer school program had limited participation because of a shortened schedule and concerns of being back in the school buildings due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic… The Vernon County Zoning Committee discussed the approximately 500 septic tank violations reported by department head Ashley Oliphant at their February 9 meeting. According to Oliphant, some of the violations stretched back nearly 10 years. Though February and March are considered bad times for pumping, Oliphant reported plans to send the letter with final notice of the violations to septic tank owners. Some of the violations involve court cases. Committee chairman Will Beitlich asked if town boards could assist in talking with the violators, with others recommending a public listing of the violators. Oliphant stated that she felt that this kind of “shaming” would increase her department’s already bad reputation. Vernon County Towns Association chairman Ole Yttri stated that the situation would be an agenda item on the Association’s next meeting. Zoning Committee chairman Eric Evenstad stated that citizens might want to know if their neighbors have a bad system that could be polluting nearby groundwater and wells.

LA FARGE – At the February 8 meeting of the LaFarge Village Board, Frank Quinn assumed the president’s role while village president Cheryl Purvis was out following an accident, which resulted in facial surgery. The first board action was adoption of the village’s Economic Recovery Plan. Kurt Murchow and Sarah Pittz from Vierbicher and Associates appeared virtually via Zoom to go over final plans for the various projects. The floodproofing plans will be developed so the lowest floor of buildings will be at or above flood levels. Fill will be one foot above flood level, and extend 15 feet beyond the structure. Basements will also need to be above flood level, and have dry land access. A levee project to protect for a 500-year flood was also analyzed. Several alternative sites around the village were listed for residential development, and concept planning for three individual sites were completed. Some proposed residential areas would need better water pressure near the water tower to be feasible. Relocation of the substation and the Main Street project were also discussed. The Main Street project includes a Mill Street sanitary sewer replacement and an emergency generator for well three. Costs were estimated at $12 million, and funding options from a variety of sources was laid out… At the February 9 meeting of the Town of Whitestown Board, village chairman George Wilbur informed the board that a letter had been submitted recommending Scott Lind for a position on the Kickapoo Valley Reserve board… The Town of Clinton is going to have a brand new John Deere loader. The town board voted 2-1 for the purchase at their February 10 meeting. In other action, the board discussed the 10-year comprehensive plan, received a recycling award, and explained how caucuses work to a couple who had recently moved to the area from Minnesota. The town’s old loader is 14-years old with 5,100 hours on it. Road patrolman Scot Sanders had spoken about mechanical issues with the implement at previous meetings. The problems described included lack of power and a bad transmission…

ONTARIO – It was reported at the February 15 meeting of the school board that the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton (NOW) School District had no active COVID-19 cases of either staff or students. Superintendent Travis Anderson told the board that in all, the district has had 62 cases since the start of the school year. Though rising case numbers and associated staff absences caused the district to offer virtual-only learning at various times in the first semester, NOW has been in-person at the junior high/high school since November 24, and at the elementary level since October 16… Organic Valley donated a copy of the book ‘World Hunger: 10 Myths’ by Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins to the Ontario Public Library, along with some great freebies, including conversation cards that share thoughtful questions and quotes to inspire dinnertime conversations… Royall School District’s Nolan McKittrick took first place at the 113-pound wrestling match at Wausau East High School, defeating Mineral Point’s Lucas Sullivan on February 13… Chris Gough of rural Norwalk is the winner of the Wilton Public Library’s Winter Writing Contest… The County Line editor emeritus Karen Parker was recently rewarded after an issue of her weekly column BackTalk brought her broadband deficiency woes to the attention of Century Link. It turns out that the company has been quietly making upgrades to service in her area, and was able to install cable and a modem that now allows Parker all the internet access she was lacking.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – A rental home on the 500 block of Wacouta Avenue is a complete loss after a house fire on March 16, according to the Prairie du Chien Fire Department. One tenant and his five-year-old daughter escaped, though the man sustained third-degree burns from re-entering to try to rescue his pets, authorities said. The man was transferred to a burn center in Madison. At about 2 p.m., the fire department was dispatched to the scene of the rental, owned by Blake Sparks, of Prairie du Chien. There were four tenants of the home, though only two were inside at the time of the fire, Fire Chief Tad Beutin said. It took most of the department longer to get to the scene, as they were divided from the west side of town by a passing train, he noted. Beutin explained that the fire started in the basement: “It took the basement steps out, and we could not get to the basement, or under the floor, to fight the (source of the) fire…” A large farm shed was a total loss in a fire that broke out before 10:30 a.m. Feb. 10, on the Dave Fisher farm on Kussmaul Road in Mt. Hope Township. Fire departments from Mt. Hope, Patch Grove, Bloomington and Fennimore, and first responders and EMS from Woodman, West Grant and Lancaster responded to the scene. Mt. Hope Fire Chief Rick French said there were no injuries or animals lost in the blaze. He surmised the source of the fire was a wood stove cooking in the shed. Most of the contents inside, including some machinery, were ruined. Amish family members on scene appeared to be salvaging what they could from inside, such as pieces of tin and poles.

RICHLAND CENTER – Richland Center voters will be looking at a $19.7 million bond referendum in the April spring election that will mean operating three buildings – not four as was announced a few weeks ago. The board voted 6-1 to favor the three-building plan. The new plan will mean that Doudna School will house Early Childhood through second grade, and the Richland Middle School will have an addition which will accommodate third through eighth graders. Lincoln School will be closed and sold… On Saturday, Feb. 27, the Lee Lake Polar Bear Plunge will hold a virtual event due to COVID-19. The event will consist of an online silent auction, as well as the sale of raffle tickets and bear hugs… Michael Paulson of Lone Rockhas been arrested and faces charges following an incident where a victim said that during an argument he had pointed a handgun at her, threatening to kill her, the kids, and himself. The victim was able to escape the residence with the children and call the police.