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January 28: 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 –The Friends of Vernon County Parks and Forests are hosting the ‘Sidie Stomp’ candlelight hike this weekend at Sidie Hollow County Park this weekend. The candlelight hike around Sidie Hollow Lake will take place from 5-8 p.m. The event is co-hosted by Vernon Trails. Bring a warm beverage and take a beautiful walk, ending with a bonfire at the main shelter… Vernon County highway commissioner Phil Hewitt reported that the Amish elders had presented a check in the amount of $18,230 to him, and also donated around $6,000 to Monroe County. The community had collected $25 per buggy with the money to be used for road improvements. Hewitt was unsure about how to use the money because no road improvements are imminent in the area in question. He did mention that the Town of Clinton needs money to fix Irish Ridge Road, and the money could be used to complete that work by the town… At the January 14 meeting of the Vernon County Legal Affairs committee, member Shawn Redington suggested that the number of supervisors on the county board be decreased from 29 to 20 members. He stated that the 10-year census figures needed to set borders for each supervisory district will be released this year. Committee member Garrick Olerud commented that it is already difficult for supervisors who also work at other jobs to find enough time to participate in committee meetings with the current number of supervisors. The idea to reduce the number of supervisors will be placed on the February committee meeting agenda for further discussion… Tiny houses were discussed by the Vernon County Zoning Committee at their January meeting. Tiny houses is the buzzword for houses about the size of a three-holer outhouse, and are mushrooming up around Vernon County. Many are hidden in forests and laid out on the order of a small camping trailer. Some are mounted on wheels, and most are homemade. The committee’s discussion addressed whether or not these homes meet septic regulations, floodplain and shoreland zoning regulations, and how they should be assessed for taxes. It was brought up that units with wheels are not assessed, but must be safely towable. It was also stated that if a camper or wheeled housing unit is over 400-square-feet, it must be registered with the state and have a license plate. The committee agreed to investigate how other counties and towns are regulating tiny houses.

LA FARGE – The 2021 Viola Sportsmens Club Banquet will be held at Chapters on the Horizon on Saturday, July 31st. If you are a past ticket holder you will receive your tickets by mail in April or May. If you would like an opportunity to attend the annual banquet, please e-mail your contact information to They will add your name to the waiting list… Here’s an update on what is being planned for 2021  at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve: The Visitor Center building will be closed to the public until early April in compliance with directives for State-owned, non-essential buildings. A staff member is in the building Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and happy to help you via phone or if you call ahead to plan a meeting. All staff are available via email or virtual meetings. Call 608-625-2960 for details. Winter Recreation is welcomed and encouraged. As conditions improve for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking, snow shoeing and ice formations/ice caves we will update the website, Facebook and Instagram sites regularly. Early season catch & release trout fishing and various hunting seasons also continue under Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources license requirements. 2020 brought an unprecedented number of people to the KVR and we assume that will continue. Please be courteous on this unique, shared-use property. Events including Winter Festival and Creative Communities are cancelled this year due to the pandemic. We look forward to bringing them back bigger and better than ever in 2022. Guided Ice Cave hikes are not an option, but we are making plans for volunteers to be stationed in some of the most popular areas to answer questions and make sure people are going in the right direction for safe viewing. Spring hopes eternal of course as we look forward to better weather, less virus and more vaccinations so we can reopen the building and welcome students of all ages. Stay tuned. In the meantime, the Kickapoo Reserve Management Board and staff will continue working through management plans, exhibit upgrade design and prepare for Summer Camps and the very exciting Kickapoo Valley Forest School for the Fall of 2021, trail projects and property maintenance…

ONTARIO – Monroe County recorded two more COVID deaths in the last week, resulting in a total of 29 since the start of the pandemic. The county previously hadn’t recorded a death since December 23.  Vernon County has recorded a total of 37 deaths so far. The last death was a woman in her 50s, reported on January 11… Week before last, the Royall High School wrestlers became conference champions for the third time… The Ontario Public Library recently upgraded its wifi access outside and in front of the building. The wifi is available 24/7, and users are instructed to look for the ‘library’ network…The Wilton Public Library is giving a way a ‘book love’ bookbag in February. Patrons can enter the drawing by writing the title of a book they love on a heart, available at the library.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – The Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon, as it’s been known for 45 years in Prairie du Chien, will appear different this year because of COVID-19. It was announced last week that the televised portion of the telethon would not happen, according to a decision made by the Eagles Club committee in the interest of community health and safety. However, donations are still being accepted toward heart disease and cancer research and prevention.  Furthermore, a scaled down, reinvented version of the traditional telethon activities is in the works to be streamed live at on Saturday evening, Jan. 30, from 6 to 10 p.m. It will also be available on YouTube. This virtual event will be offered at the hands of five-year host Dan Moris, with mixed local talent performing, montages of comments from some of the regular supporters, and video clips from classic telethon broadcasts… A 72-year-old woman was rescued and treated for hypothermia after she fell through the ice on Prairie du Chien’s St. Feriole Island Slough Friday afternoon, while attempting to save her dog, according to the Prairie du Chien Police Department. The local emergency personnel responded to the scene along with Tri-State Ambulance Service and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department. Upon arrival, a woman was found completely submerged approximately 15 yards from shore. She was severely struggling to stay above water, according to police reports. It also became evident that a large dog was in the water and struggling to stay above water. Law enforcement personnel attempted a water rescue. Three officers eventually broke through the ice as well. Several water rescue tools were used to successfully rescue both the woman and her dog, the police department said.

RICHLAND CENTER – The Richland Center City Council approved the purchase of a new police vehicle and salt for the street department at its most recent meeting. Mayor Todd Coppernoll and Parks and Recreation Director Shane Stibbe announced that the city’s new Woodman Aquatic Center is being honored for aquatic design by the Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association. The facility will be recognized during a virtal presentation on February 11… The Village of Lone Rock and the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission are seeking resident’s help in planning for the future of the village. Opinions are being sought on topics such as recreation, housing, businesses, social opportunities, building use, land use and leadership.