‘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 –The Vernon County Zoning five-member committee met on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Waiting for the start of the committee meeting were Randall Juenemann, Ron Johnson and Carol Jensen from the Town of Whitestown. All three were there concerning and opposing the Bug Tussel tower controversy. But it didn’t take long for the three to hear good news. They were informed that the county zoning will no longer involve themselves in Whitestown’s battle with Bug Tussel, citing the fact that the newly-passed town ordinance regarding cell towers supersedes the county regulations. This means that Bug Tussel must now work with the town for a permit or enter into a legal battle against the town. Bug Tussel had already paid $6,000 to the county zoning department for the permits, and zoning administrator Ashley Oliphant stated that the money would be returned to the company… The annual meeting of the Vernon County Electric Cooperative was once again held in the garage area at the REA building in rural Westby on Saturday, Feb. 8. Delegates came from throughout the Co-ops electrical distribution area. General Manager and CEO Craig Buros opened the meeting, and the group selected Bernadine Hornby to chair the meeting and Duane Dregne was chosen as secretary. Candidates were selected for each of the divisions where elections will be held this year. In Division One (Bergen, Hamburg, Shelby), Jerry Kramer will face Thomas Woodhouse; In Division Four (Viroqua, Christiana, Coon), Orlan Bakkum will face Paul Buhr; and in Division Seven (Kickapoo, Liberty, Forest, Stark and Wesbster), Ole Yttri will face Samantha Laskowski and Kent Callaway… This year, 2020, will mark the 150thbirthday of the Sherry-Butt House in Viroqua. The house is owned by the Vernon County Historical Society, and they plan an event this year to mark the occasion. Lawyer and Civil War colonel Cyrus Marion Butt had the house built in 1870, and upon their death it was inherited by their daughter Jane. Orbec and Hilda Sherry purchased the home in 1947 from Jane Butt.
LA FARGE –The LaFarge Village Board officially approved an alcohol license for a new business coming to the community. A Class C wine and Class B beer license was granted to the Twisted Raven Lounge. It will operate out of the former Mars theatre building, later the Raven Bar, and last owned by Cheryl Haas where she ran a resale business… Many area fundraisers have been held to assist the Craig and Jessica Nemec family in battling their daughter Faith’s leukemia. All of classes at the LaFarge Schools, who were provided with $100 each to be given to the charity of their choice, chose to donate to the family. This all resulted in a $5,000 donation being made to the family recently.
ONTARIO – A Norwalk area dairy has been granted a discharge permit by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) effective March 1, 2020. Hawk High Dairy in rural Norwalk had been the subject of controversy culminating in a contentious hearing on August 27 in the Norwalk Village Hall. The dairy, owned by the Robert and Connie Radke family, currently has 1,421.5 animal units and expects to expand to 2,492 animal units on three sites. The dairy has 1,083 acres available for land application of manure and wastewater. The WDNR addressed problems raised at the hearing and in written comments. Contamination of neighboring wells did not appear to be a problem, as 37 nearby wells tested below the 10 mg/L level for nitrate. It also appears unlikely that any wood turtles were injured or killed by a Hawk High spill into Moore Creek, although a previous spill had killed fish in the creek. Concerns by neighbors about odor, air, light and noise pollution are valid. However, DNR water permits for CAFOs do not regulate such concerns. Equally, the CAFOs affect on neighboring property values is not addressed by the permit. Monroe County now has five approved CAFOs… Norwalk-Wilton-Ontario staff and community members decried the school district’s proposal not to fill three elementary teaching positions at the Monday, Feb. 17 board meeting. Their assertion is that such a move would have an adverse effect on educational quality in the district. But administration and board members responded that circumstances outside their control had forced them to such a measure. Chief among those is declining enrollment, which dropped from 723 in 2014-15 to a projected 630 next year. The superintendent is projecting a nearly $100,000 drop in revenue for the district next year.
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –Retired Crawford County Highway Commissioner Dennis Pelock was honored recently by the Wisconsin County Highway Association at their Winter Convention in the Wisconsin Dells. “I feel good about what I accomplished. It’s been a really challenging and rewarding career,” Pelock said… The Prairie du Chien High School wrestling team is state bound for the first time in its history after winning the sectional championship… The George Family Foundation, Prairie du Chien High School, and Couleecap have started a project to get brand new beds to area children who do not have them. Ron Kucko’s tech ed class used a design and drafting computer software to design a modular bed that is easy to pull apart and move. With financing from the foundation, the class purchased the necessary lumber from to local lumber yards and in just a couple of class periods, four students and their teacher built, finished and assembled three solid-wood, twin extra-long beds… The River Ridge outdoor facilities referendum failed by a vote of 331 no to 330 yes on Tuesday, Feb. 18. School district officials said they would go to referendum again with minor changes to the question. The next available time another referendum can be held will be the spring election coming up on April 7.
RICHLAND CENTER –Visitors to downtown Richland Center will hopefully, someday, find a restored Frank Lloyd Wright building and an auditorium thanks to a new collaboration and joint fundraising efforts between the A.D. German Warehouse Conservancy and the Richland Center City Auditorium restoration project. These organizations have come together to work on the revitalization of these unique buildings to help preserve them for generations to come. These architectural treasures are integral to the history of Richland Center, and both buildings will serve as centers in the community for art, lectures, history, tourism and entertainment… The Caz Turkey Busters hosted their 21stannual Fisheree on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Lee Lake in Cazenovia. Prizes included an ice auger, a Winchester shotgun, a fish locator and cash. Winners were awarded in the categories of bluegill, crappie, bass, perch, and adult winners. Adult big fish winners were: Dave Hinze, bluegill; Michael Dunkel, crappie; Cade Cunningham, perch; Deb Herritz, bass. The Caz Turkey Busters are a service organization whose projects include fish stocking into Lake Lee and providing scholarships.BOSCOBEL – The Wauzeka-Steuben School District held an informational meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19 to help area residents understand the facts about the school referendum. The prior month, the school board had approved measures to seek a three-year operational referendum, with the question posed on the Tuesday, April 7 election ballot. The district is seeking voter approval to exceed revenue limits by $240,000 in 2020-21, by $316,000 in 2021-22, and by $398,000 in 2022-23… The Steuben First Responders held their annual Rabbit Hunt on Saturday, Feb. 15. This is their largest fundraiser of the year, which typically raises about $4,000. The event is headquartered in Lou’s R&R, offers participants a potluck luncheon followed by gun raffles. This year, 33 teams participated and registered a total of 249 rabbits.