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February 4: 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 –In honor of the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage amendment, and of Wisconsin’s equal rights bill (first in the nation), the Vernon County Museum is inviting residents to join in a ‘Stitching for Suffrage Challenge.’ During these cold winter months, snuggle up and crochet or knit something. The only requirement is that it incorporate typical suffrage colors: purple for loyalty, white for purity, and gold/yellow for hope. You could create a shawl, mittens, scarf or even gloves. Drop off your item(s) at the museum by Friday, May 28, and put your name in to be eligible for a gift card from one of several local businesses. Contributed items will become part of a display at the museum celebrating the history of Wisconsin women voting, scheduled for June 2021. You may donate your item to a silent auction, with proceeds going toward the museum’s general fund or pick it up after the exhibit closes… Vernon Electric Co-op has directed a total of $29,000 to the nine food pantries and forty fire/EMS departments in its service area. Each food pantry received $1,000, and  $500 was given to each fire and EMS department. The donations were made possible from Vernon Electric’s Federated Youth Foundation Fund. These funds come from unclaimed capital credits of the cooperative, and can only be used for charitable purposes.

LA FARGE – The LaFarge School Board approved two financing resolutions for $5,500,000 at their January 18 meeting. The money will be used for the school remodeling project that the voters approved in the November election. The first resolution is to immediately borrow the money from the Farmers State Bank of Hillsboro on an interim basis for three-to-six months at a rate of 0.53 percent interest. The money will then immediately be reinvested, with the interest credited to the school fund. The second resolution authorizes Baird Investment to be the underwriters for the long-term 20-year borrowing through the bond market, not to exceed 3.75 percent. The money will not be needed until the renovation work begins in late summer of 2021… The LaFarge Volunteer Fire Department recently put into service new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The new PPE was purchased after three years of fund raising, and grants and donations received. The department’s annual Christmas raffle, Fourth of July raffle, and annual gun raffle, combined with a generous grant from Organic Valley and a $15,000 anonymous donation all contributed to make possible the more thab $60,000 purchase… At the January meeting of the LaFarge Lions Club, members voted to donate $2,500 to the LaFarge FFA to help with technological upgrades for the new tech/ag ‘FAB LAB’ learning area at the LaFarge Schools. The FFA has been working to raise $12,500 for the project to receive a matching grant. Also at their January meeting, club president Don Foy gathered names of members interested in helping the school with vision screening for students…  The Vernon County Town of Whitestown held their caucus on January 21, with six persons in attendance. Town chairman George Wilbur chaired the meeting, and when he asked for candidate names, the only names brought forward were those of incumbents George Wilbur, Andy Benck (supervisor), Doug Delling (supervisor), Mona Spohn (clerk), and Casey Oium (treasurer)… The towns of Stark and Webster will each have one contested race for supervisor on the spring ballot. In Stark, Rob Strait will be opposed by Stephanie Barr; in Webster, Gordy Nemec will be opposed by Ken Hammond and Jody Wirts.

ONTARIO – Though Royall Superintendent Mark Gruen now has a contract that extends to June 30, 2022, his employment with the district is slated to end on that date. The school board approved the contract at their January meeting. The details of the contract had been settled at a personnel committee meeting earlier in the month. The board has not explained why it decided Gruen’s employment should be brought to a close, noting that it was a “personnel matter…” Effective immediately, the bridge on County Highway M over Sleighton Creek, one mile north of Wilton, will be limited to a 20-ton vehicle weight. Signs will be posted on the bridge, with advance notice signs at Highway 71 and County Highways A and MM. A recent inspection of the bridge revealed deterioration and damage that limits the structure’s capacity to safely carry loads over the new limit. The 41-foot long concrete structure constructed in 1968 is being scheduled for replacement… The Juneau County Health Department and Mile Bluff Medical Center have been encouraged by the amount of people who want to the COVID-19 vaccine. It is likely that, initially, there will be more interest in the vaccine than current supply will meet… On February 11, the Elroy meal site will offer a Valentine’s Dinner. On the menu will be Swiss steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, scalloped corn, and cherry fluff salad.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – Prairie Catholic School has managed to conduct a safe, five-day, in-person education model throughout the current school year despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone entering the school is still having their temperature taken each morning, routes to and from various school areas are followed diligently, masks are worn, social distancing is observed, and disinfection procedures are carried out multiple times per day.  “If someone’s temperature is over 98.6, they come to the office, we take it again after they settle down, and then we call home if it’s still over 100. It’s gone pretty smooth,” explained Karen Fisher, administrative assistant… The Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce will once again welcome area ice fishing enthusiasts to Prairie du Chien for the 71st Annual Ice Fisheree on Feb. 6-7, with headquarters at the Crooked Oar Bar and Marina. Fishing is open to bodies of water in the Prairie du Chien area, with concentration on Gremore Lake. The fishing begins on Saturday at 7 a.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m. The Crooked Oar Bar and Marina will be hosting a Friday night fish fry and 50/50 drawing on Feb. 5. Mitch Laue and the Barflies will provide live music Friday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will also be a gun raffle throughout the weekend. Register in advance for $12/adult, or $15 on the day of the event. Kids 12 and under are $10 in advance, or $12 the day of the event. Advance registrations are currently only available via paper form. Many were mailed out. If you need a registration form, contact Prairie du Chien at (800) 732-1673 or email…

RICHLAND CENTER – Richland Veterinary Service offers ‘Doggy Daycare,’ with three sessions offered each week. The service takes large dogs on Mondays, from 8 a.m. to noon, and Fridays, from 1-4:30 p.m.; and small dogs from 1-4 p.m. on Thursdays. The first session is free, and subsequent sessions are available on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis, at the rate of $12 per large dog and $9 per small dog. Participating dogs must be up to date on all vaccines, on a veterinarian-approved course of flea and tick medication, and must have a good temperament. Each group of dogs plays together, and staff plays with them too. The facility has a large indoor room, and an outside pen that has a small swimming pool during the warmer months… The Richland School Board of Education voted to conduct another school bond referendum during the spring election at their January meeting. The board voted 5-2 to propose a $19.7 million bond referendum. On April 7, voters will be asked to approve a scaled down version of the $27 million referendum that narrowly failed in November… At its January meeting, the Richland County Board of Supervisors adapted to COVID-19 conditions by approving a modification of a rule. They approved a temporary suspension of Rule 19, which states that no resolution or ordinance shall be brought to the consideration of the Board unless it has been signed by a majority of the members of the appropriate committee. Obtaining all of the needed signatures has been difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.