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January 20: 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 Economic Development Association, in partnership with UW Center for Cooperatives and Cooperative Development Services, wants to help rural businesses and communities consider cooperative ownership. They are co-hosting a workshop on March 5 to create awareness and knowledge about converting rural businesses to employee-owned cooperatives. At the workshop, participants will learn about: selling a business to employees, case studies and data on employee business transitions, steps in the conversion process and resources you will need along the way. The workshop will be held at the Food Enterprise Center, 1201 N. Main Street in Viroqua, from 3-4:30 p.m. There is no cost, but space is limited, so please register online at… The Mapledale Motivators/Route 56 4H Club has had three busy months. In November, the club assembled 167 gift jars. This is their only fundraiser for the year. In December, the club had its Christmas party. They played Santa take away bingo. In January, the club enjoyed doing ceramics class.

LA FARGE –The Town of Whitestown, that has been doing battle with Bug Tussel, a company that is installing a series of 300-foot cell towers every few miles across Vernon and Richland counties, adopted a Mobile Tower Siting Ordinance at their February 6 town board meeting. The ordinance regulates the siting and construction of new mobile structures and facilities, and regulates co-locations. The town held a hearing before adopting the ordinance, with several citizens in attendance, including several from near where the company is proposing to build a tower atop Dutch Hollow Road. The town has had a land use ordinance in place for several years, but the Vernon County Zoning Committee questioned if it controlled towers. Town chairman George Wilbur, and town board supervisors Andy Benck and Doug Delling believe that adoption of the ordinance will further enhance the town’s regulations… The community of LaFarge was shocked when the Nuzum’s Lumber Company closed its doors for business on January 31. The oldest continuous business in the village was suddenly no more as the doors were locked on that Friday afternoon. For a community that was founded on the milling and selling of lumber, to not have such a business on that corner of Main and Mill Streets was hard to perceive. In the end, the last Nuzum’s in the Kickapoo Valley fell victim to the flood of 2018. The business did reopen after the flood, but the offices were never refurbished. Instead, they were relocated to a trailer in the parking lot. The high cost of flood insurance and needed repairs to the structures caused them to go out of business.

ONTARIO – The Ontario Village Board moved a step forward on developing the former Ontario Elementary School property, which it purchased last year for $90,000. Kurt Murchow, of engineering firm Vierbicher Associates, estimated that reconstructing North Church Street, which leads to the property, would cost $189,000. The road would be widened 24 feet, and mountable curb, which would be driven over, would be installed to keep the costs down and avoid major reconstruction. Bids will be due on Monday, May 11, and will be paid from the village’s current Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) funds… The Town of Ridgeville Board got an update from communications company Bug Tussel at its meeting on Monday, Feb.10. Supervisor Ron Luethe had heard from Bug Tussel spokeswoman Erin Wichman, who had told him the equipment had been placed on the tower in Ridgeville and the company was still doing testing at the site. She was hopeful that internet services would be available soon in the area, but didn’t give an exact date. Bug Tussel will handle the internet services, AT&T will offer phone, and Direct TV will round out the package with television.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –The Prairie du Chien Chamber of Commerce has cancelled its contract for its July 2020 fireworks celebration on St. Feriole Island. Chamber administration cites increased cost of fireworks and a budget cut for its decision to forego hosting the annual event this year, though collaboration may occur to bring the event back in 2021… The Prairie du Chien Future Business Leaders of America group went to Baraboo to compete in regionals. For some students, that involved taking a test in their chosen area, and for others, it involved a presentation. Of the five students who competed, two qualified for state with first-place finishes. Those two are Jadyn Jenks in the ‘Insurance and Risk Management’ category, and Lizzie Tesar in the ‘Accounting 2’ category. This is the second year that Tesar has qualified for state… The nationally-known COSTARTERS entrepreneurial training program is coming to Prairie du Chien. Ahead of the launch, all new and existing entrepreneurs are invited to the Waterfront Hotel Backwater Bar for an information session on Thursday, Feb. 13. From 6-7 p.m. This opportunity is thanks to Couleecap, and in partnership with UW-Extension office and PdC Main Street, and support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The program will provide new and existing entrepreneurs with interactive learning sessions to work through their ideas for launching or expanding a business. The program involves eight weekly sessions where participants develop their business plan, interview customers, and learn what it takes to launch or grow a successful business. The program concludes on the ninth week with a ‘Flight Night’ celebration.

RICHLAND CENTER –The Arbor Day Foundation has named Richland Electric Cooperative, a 2020 Treeline USA in honor of its commitment to proper tree pruning, planting and care in their service area. Treeline USA, a partnership between the Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, recognizes public and private utilities for pursuing practices that protect and enhance America’s urban trees… Community Prosperity Alliance, a division of Southwest Partners, will host the second annual Richland Center Area Economic Development Summit on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m., in the Coppertop Theatre, on the UW-Platteville-Richland campus. This annual event is free and open to the public. Speakers will include Richland Center Mayor Mike Kaufman, Richland County Board Chair Jeanetta Kirkpatrick, local business leader Sheila Troxel, and President of Southwest Partners and Community Prosperity Alliance Mike Breininger.

BOSCOBEL – Local volunteers held a pie auction, bake sale, and soup and sandwich luncheon recently at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Boscobel. The event raised thousands of dollars to benefit the ‘Feed My Starving Children Mobile Pack’ program. Those in attendance were generally generous, with one pecan pie going for $210, and 45 items selling for over $50 each… The Boscobel Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Feb. 10, at Fleming Insurance, formerly Glasbrenner Insurance, in Boscobel. Mary Wilson was on hand to present Lindsey and Jason Fleming with their ‘First Dollar Award.’

MUSCODA – Two foreign exchange students are now in their second and final semester at Riverdale High School. They both can look back on their time at the school and smile about the experiences they have had. The young men, both rated as seniors, will graduate in the spring and then return home. Bertalan Pinter is from Hungary, and Iva’n Pastor is from Spain. Pastor is planning to continue his education at a college in the Netherlands, studying Business Technology. Pinter, upon returning to Hungary, will attend high school for another year. After he completes high school, he plans to go to work, possibly in Norway, pursuing a career as a personal trainer.