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January 2: 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– McIntosh Memorial Library, Viroqua, will be hosting a workshop on how to repair damaged books on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m. in the program room. Librarian Kathleen Kroska will demonstrate the variety of techniques that are used to repair damaged books using specific book repair supplies. Participants are encouraged to bring with them at least one book they would like to learn how to repair. All participants will be provided with book repair supplies to use during the workshop. Registration is required, as space is limited. To register, call the library at 637-7151… On Saturday, Dec. 14, the Westby Rod and Gun Club held a ‘Christmas for Kids’ fundraiser to provide toys and gift cards to students at the Westby Elementary School who might not otherwise receive toys at Christmas. Dozens of local companies donated gift certificates or items ranging from bottles of wine to hot chocolate or coffee products, and even a bag of wild bird feed. More than $8,500 was collected to help make Christmas morning bright… At the Westby Area Historical Society annual meeting, Tuesday, Dec.10, President-Elect Blaine Hedberg announced the names of the recipients of the WAHS Lifetime Achievement Award. Sheri and Jerry Ballard were the overwhelming choice of the board to receive this honor. The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented in recognition, memory and/or honor of an individual or couple who have made exceptional contributions of their time, talents and financial resources to advance the mission of WAHS.

LA FARGE– As flooding, dams failing and climate changes occur, it is time to look at where people live or work along Vernon County’s rivers and streams. Vernon County has had a Floodplain and Shoreland Zoning Ordinance for 50 years. Flood elevation lines were determined with corresponding maps. Flood control structures were built to protect downstream property, and the regulations and ordinances were used loosely. Zoning has been and remains unpopular in the county. Now, several 100-year and 500-year floods later, things are changing. Vernon County Zoning Department held two ‘Floodplain and Hydraulic Shadow Informational Meetings’ at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve on  Wednesday, Dec. 18. One was for local government officials, and the other, was a standing-room-only event in the evening for the community. Michelle Staff, DNR Floodplain Management Policy Coordinator, spoke of the need for updated regulations. She said that the reason for zoning is to reduce flood related damages and prevent loss of life. She thoroughly explained the National Flood Insurance Program as well. Tanya Lourigan, State Dam Safety Engineer, discussed dam safety in Wisconsin. The state, according to Lourigan, has 4,000 dams. Southwest Wisconsin is home to 25 percent of the large PL-566 flood control dams, five of which failed in the 2018 rain/flood event. Lourigan explained to meeting participants the concept of the ‘hydraulic shadow’ or breach route for the dams. She described it as “the area that would be covered with flood waters if the dam were to breach…” Less than 25 persons participated in a meeting and tour of the LaFarge School District facilities on Tuesday, Dec. 17. The object of the meeting was the beginning of future long-term plans for the facility. An outside planning firm gave a presentation and timelines for action prior to the tour of the building. After the tour, a survey was handed out. The plan, as described, will involve Facility Study/Master planning meetings from December to March of 2020; a refined solution will be developed in January and February; and then surveys will be distributed in March and a report made in April.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN– The Prairie du Chien Historical Society (PDCHS) has embarked on four monumental projects as part of a 20-year strategic plan to foster perpetual appreciation of historic structures within the city, according to a letter PDCHS submitted to city parks officials on December 9. The entity is also looking to draw new advocates of all ages to the museum as an educational center for local history of the Prairie du Chien area. The group has already restored the St. Germain dit Gauthier House, and aims to bring the Commandant’s House from the former Satter Building site to the Fort Crawford grounds; preserve the Antoine LaChapelle cabin; and repair the Fort Crawford hospital veranda… At the Crawford County ‘Clean Sweep’ event, held October 25, over 53,033 pounds of electronics were collected and 1,934 flurorescent bulbs. In addition, over 3,000 pounds of chemicals were collected and transported to a LaCrosse waste facility. County residents could also bring in unwanted prescription drugs to be properly disposed of. A number of townships, villages and the City of Prairie du Chien gave financial contributions toward paying for the expenses associated with this event… The Prairie du Chien Memorial Library recently opened its ‘Toy Land’ on Wednesday, Dec. 11. The area features many of the toys and useful items parents utilized from the Lending Library at the former Family Resource Center in Prairie du Chien. Those toys and equipment went to Catholic Charities when the resource center closed. When Catholic Charities closed, they were passed along to the library.

RICHLAND CENTER– Officials at the Richland Hospital and Richland Medical Center reached an agreement to merge the two businesses. After the merger, Richland Hospital began billing insurance companies instead of the medical center, but consumers should be aware that some insurance companies have not yet added Richland Hospital into the provider lists yet…A brief recognition ceremony was held at the Cazenovia Fire Department on December 18 to honor longtime firefighter Steve Adelman, who was named First Responder of the Year in the 50thAssembly District of Wisconsin. Attending the event to present the award was 50thDistrict Assemblyman Tony Kurtz… Ithaca High School National Honor Society and the Ithaca Student Council members continued their annual tradition of holding an all-school food drive to benefit Passages, a program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Four students from the school delivered two truckloads, 1,772 pounds, of non-perishable food to the Passages shelter.

MUSCODA– Friends and staff gathered at the end of the school day on Tuesday, Dec. 17, in the Riverdale Elementary School commons to recognize, honor and thank Joyce Kohlmeyer for her many years of service. Prior to the cutting of a special retirement cake, District Administrator Jon Schmidt thanked Joyce for her many years of service. He said the records had been checked, and they confirmed that Joyce began her work in the district in 1972 – 47 years ago… On Sunday, Dec. 15, a group of people who call themselves ‘Community Carolers’ moved through Muscoda spreading wishes of cheer and good tidings (and cookies) at three group homes and several private residences. Marking its 44thyear, it has become a Muscoda tradition for the veterans and an ever-changing group of volunteers… The Village of Muscoda recently donated $500 to the Riverdale Trapshooting Team. The money was made available through WPPI’s Community Contribution funds. In addition to the generous donation from the village, the team would like to thank all the businesses and individuals who helped to get the team started in 2019.

FENNIMORE– “It’s been a good fit” was how Hickory Grove Golf Course owner Greg Norsby described the recent whirlwind of months. Greg, along with his wife Heather, took ownership of the golf course in the beginning of October. This followed a sometimes tense situation with the local Amish community as well. The community had put in an offer on the property with the intention of turning it back into farm land. “It’s all been going pretty good,” Greg told the Times. “We’ve been pretty busy, we’ve done a little remodeling, some new flooring and plantings – but there’s always more to be done.”