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January 14: 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 –Chaseburg will be buzzing with activity when the Chaseburg Community Snowtrailers hold the 51st Annual Trail Days, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16-17. Chaseburg Trail Days has undergone some modifications due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. All events will take place in the lower level of the Chaseburg Village Hall. Saturday includes the poker run card turn-in starting at 4 p.m. Participants must be at the village hall by 6:30 p.m. sharp to qualify for payout. There will be no live music this year; however, drinks, snacks, raffle items and some games of chance will be offered. New this year will be Extreme Downhill Marble Racing. Sunday features Best Ever Chicken being served at 11 a.m. This will be a drive through/walk through pick-up meal, using the lower road of the village hall and picking up the food outside the basement doors. There will still be limited seating inside. The parade starts at 1:30 p.m., followed by Trail Days drawings at the village hall at 4 p.m. Raffle tickets will be available until the drawing. NFL games will be broadcasted all day…  Every Thursday Driftless Café will hold their weekly Burger Night. This year they are raising money for The Historic Temple Theatre in Viroqua. Two dollars of every burger sold will go directly to keeping the theatre running in this very challenging time. Orders will be available for curbside pickup, and they will start accepting orders at 5 p.m… The first of the Friends of Vernon County Parks and Forests ‘Winter Walk and Bonfire’ events will take place at Esofea County Park on Saturday, Jan. 16, starting at 3 p.m… According to the Vernon County Museum Notes, planning for the Vernon County Park at Esofea officially began on May 2, 1935 when a resolution sponsored by the Conservation Club of Vernon County was passed giving them permission to develop the park without expense to the county. Development of the 40-acre property was to be an employment relief project. Federal funding initially provided $12,500. The acreage adjoined the Rentz family property on the south and became known eventually as the Rentz Memorial Park. On November 22, 1935, a park board was created and superintendent Albert C. Larson was appointed to oversee the park. Although the property consisted of a forest and numerous springs, it also had washed-out creek beds due to the flooding of the North Fork of the Bad Axe River. The first task was to control the flooding by building a diversion ditch and dyke under the direction of the Soil Conservation Service. In order to widen the lake or swimming pool, local farmers hauled out hundreds of loads of soil which was then used to increase the height of the existing dyke. Under the supervision of the Soil Conservation Service, 46,000 feet of lumber was harvested and some was used to erect the speakers stand, refreshment stand and bathhouse. Work continued on the park in the spring of 1936, when more lumber was cut, dams were built, streams were riprapped, and cottages were built. Larson and his crew worked at landscaping, requesting donations of shrubbery. County Board President Cornelius Skolos was instrumental in the beautification of the park. Citizens donated funds to purchase 50 tables and benches, and the Viroqua Creamery donated a flag pole. One of the first groups to gather was the Soil Conservation Service which assembled in 1936. Representatives from LaCrosse, Monroe and Vernon counties drew an estimated 5,000 people to enjoy a picnic dinner. Dean Christianson of the university at Madison, R.H. Davis of the Soil Conservation Service in LaCrosse and Governor Phil E. LaFollette addressed the crowd. Music was provided by the Coon Valley Orchesters.

LA FARGE – Fire destroyed a hog growing barn at the Tobie Yoder farm near West Lima on December 22. A large portion of the 200 pigs in the building were lost in the fire. The day after the fire, most of the building had been cleaned up and work begun on a new building. Concrete was poured for the floor, and by January 1 significant progress had been made… The Kickapoo Valley Reserve has announced they plan to offer Youth Adventure Camps this summer. Registration will open sometime in February. Camps will be mostly outdoors, and follow strict COVID safety protocols… The Kickapoo Area Food Pantry in Viola will be open on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 9-11 a.m., and Monday, Jan. 18, from 4-6 p.m. Patrons are asked to remain in their vehicles and volunteers will load food into your car.

ONTARIO – Royall students, teachers and staff are mourning the loss of a fifth grade teacher who died unexpectedly over the holiday break. Mary Peterson, 41, died of a heart attack on December 26, and was described as a “wonderful teacher”…. A fire resulted in significant water and smoke damage at the Mark and Tammy Smith residence on Church Street in Ontario on December 26. Starting in a detached garage, the blaze spread to the house after the siding had ignited. The cause remains unknown according to officials. No one was injured, and the Smiths were able to retrieve some of their belongings before the fire spread to the house… Brookwood students will perform ‘These Shining Lives,’ a Melanie Marnich play that describes workers who suffered radium poisoning at the Radium Dial Company in Ottowa, Illinois, in the 1920-30s.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – The Crawford County Aging and Disability Resource Center provides affordable transportation to appointments, meal sites, shopping and social activities. Its Taxi Subsidy Program is for those age 60 and older and adults with disabilities.  Rides are typically offered Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For rides in the evenings or on weekends, users may buy rides for the Prairie du Chien taxi services at a discounted rate from the ADRC directly. The ADRC offers multiple modes of transportation, including handicap-accessible buses and vans of varying capacities… This past summer, the City of Prairie du Chien began working toward installing video cameras at various locations to improve security and safety, and the project is continuing. Police Chief Kyle Teynor said the cameras have now been placed or are in the process of being placed. “They are currently located at Blackhawk/Beaumont, Blackhawk/Main, and the Main/Wisconsin Street intersections,” said Teynor. “The Main/Iowa intersection will be done in the near future.” Teynor also said the Crawford County Children’s Advisory Board donated the funds to provide a camera at the Skate Park, which is up and active. Prior to this coming summer’s swimming season, additional cameras will be installed to cover the Charles Wacouta Aquatic Center and Fort Fun, he said. In addition, cameras were installed on the inside and outside of City Hall… A January 3 investigation in downtown Marquette, Iowa, has led to the discovery of a meth lab. During an investigation of domestic abuse, an officer discovered what appeared to be an active ‘one-pot’ methamphetamine clandestine laboratory. The clandestine laboratory was safely dismantled by specially trained personnel with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department. The department then executed a search warrant for an apartment at the same location, where officers found additional items, products and materials used for or attempted to be used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine… Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations will be installed in public spaces in five Clayton County communities this spring through an effort spearheaded by the Clayton County Energy District (CCED). The project aims to reverse the county’s identity as a charging station desert, attracting tourists with electric vehicles to local destinations. Strawberry Point’s charger will be on Commercial Street, just to the north of city hall, while Elkader’s will be found in the city lot in front of Freedom Bank, next to Wilke’s and Founders Park. In Guttenberg, the station will be near the municipal building, and, in McGregor, visitors will stop at the First Street parking lot next to McGregor Municipal Utilities. Finally, the Marquette charger will be located in the Edgar Street parking lot next to Casey’s and the city park.