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January 7: 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 –Vernon Communications Cooperative (VC Co-op) and Leum Technologies, Inc. are excited to announce a new joint venture in Viroqua. On December 15, the Vernon Tech Center opened at VC Co-op’s former Viroqua office located at 214 N. Main St. This community technology center will be a one-stop shop that offers technology advice, products, and services to local homes and businesses. The hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Services include: Computer Repair & Tune-Up; New Computers & Custom Built PCs; Computer Installation & Setup; Computer Parts & Accessories; Digitizing Photos & Videos; Website Design & Hosting; and Technology Consulting & Business Services… Featured in the Vernon County Museum’s new exhibit for January is a pamphlet  entitled ‘Constitution and Bylaws for the Cold Water Army. This branch of the Cold Water Army was an auxiliary of the Coon Prairie Afholdsforening (Norwegian for Temprance Society) in Westby. The purpose of the Cold Water Army was to “encourage young people to form the habit of total abstinence,” presumably by drinking cold water instead of alcohol… The Friends of Vernon County Parks and Forests will be hosting “snowcially distanced” guided winter walks exploring various Vernon County parks on Saturday afternoons in January and February of 2021. This series is to bring awareness to our county parks in the winter season as well as allow the greater community to come together. Winter Walks and Bonfire series locations and dates are as follows: Saturday, Jan. 16 – Esofea Park – 3 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 23 – Upper Duck Egg – 3 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 30 – Sidie Stomp – 5 to 8 p.m. candlelight walk hosted by Vernon Trails; Saturday, Feb. 6 – Upper Duck Egg – 3 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 13 – Esofea Park – 3 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 20 – Sidie Hollow (meet at main shelter) – 3 p.m.; and Saturday, Feb. 27 – TBD – 3 p.m.

LA FARGE – The LaFarge Fire department was paged at about 3:30 a.m. on December 22 to the Tobie Yoder farm on County A near West Lima. A large barn that contained around 200 pigs was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. A large number of the animals died in the fire. A large number of Amish showed up at the farm to help butcher the hogs that did not survive the fire… The Friends of Readstown Meeting is on January 19, 2021, at 6 pm at the Village of Readstown Municipal Building… Brad Steinmetz heads up the LaFarge Economic Flood Recovery Plan. The five-person committee met on December 21, along with two representatives of Vierbicher Associates. At that meeting, the Vierbicher representatives provided the committee with a draft book of plans and photos of all the ideas that have been presented. Those ideas will next be presented to the LaFarge Village Board, likely at their February meeting. At this time, the main planning items are reconstruction of Main Street, relocation of the electrical substation, and creation of a new commercial development outside the flood zone. A bigger item is flood protection, and it appears that creation of a levee is currently considered to be the best option. It was stated at the meeting that the Army Corps of Engineers would be contacted regarding the levee. If they become interested, it is possible that the levee would be built with their money and the village would not have to apply for more grants…The Kickapoo Area Food Pantry offers the first pantry of the new year with service to anyone who has suffered from the loss of employment or other hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Curbside pickup, in accordance with Wisconsin coronavirus recommendations, continues at the Viola Municipal Building, 106 West Wisconsin Street. Hours are from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16, and 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. Remain in your vehicle and volunteers will load for you.

ONTARIO –Brookwood students recorded their holiday concerts on December 15. The performers social distanced and the events were not open to the public. This year, both the Royall and N-O-W school districts also hosted virtual concerts… The second annual Wilton Public Library Winter Writing Contest begins in 2021. This contest is open to all ages. The task is to write about winter in 500 words or less, and it can be a story, a poem, or anything you like. Entries are due by February 8.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – For the past month, a new and somewhat unusual clinic has been seeing patients in Prairie du Chien. Dr. Scott Walker started the Fennimore Medical Clinic at 421 South Beaumont Road on November 23, and the clinic has been doing quite well. The clinic is a bit unusual in that it works to reduce costs by not taking insurance and doing no billing. All services are paid at the time of the visit.  Walker said that a doctor’s visit cost $39 and a COVID rapid test is $49. He noted the Fennimore Medical Clinic is the only clinic in Crawford County offering rapid tests, with COVID results in as little as 15 minutes. “I can test a family of four and have results in under 30 minutes,” he said. “If we identify one COVID-positive person and start them in quarantine, we have reduced exposure in the community and reduced the burden on our hospitals…” DH BP North in Prairie du Chien has become Prairie du Chien's first Public Electric Vehicle Charging Station. DH BP North is offering the charging station free of charge to all electric vehicle owners.   DH BP North's parent company, Design Homes Inc., has been using solar electric power at its corporate office building and sales office in Prairie du Chien for the past 12 years. Design Homes Inc. continues to implement green technology across all of its companies across Wisconsin including Deer Valley Lodge and Golf Course in Barneveld, Wisconsin.

RICHLAND CENTER - On December 26, at approximately 1:45 p.m., the Richland County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call regarding a six-year-old boy needing medical assistance due to having been run over by a trailer. Law enforcement investigation showed that Jerry Borntrager, six-years-old, of Blue River was riding on the back of the trailer full of wood being pushed by a skid steer. Jerry fell off as the trailer was backing up and was run over by the trailer. Jerry was transported by Richland EMS to Boaz and was then transported by MedFlight to Madison with life-threatening injuries. Law enforcement was advised later that night that Jerry had passed away due to his injuries… Billy Jones has been sworn in as the new Richland Center Police Chief, and Lauren Moe has been promoted to Department Lieutenant… On December 17, the Richland Hospital received their first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Following federal and state guidelines to begin vaccinating frontline healthcare workers, the first wave of hospital employees have received the vaccine. Vaccines will not be available to community members (even those who are high risk) for at least several weeks, until frontline health care workers and nursing home residents have been vaccinated.

BOSCOBEL – After weeks of preparation, Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics began vaccinating its staff against COVID-19 on Christmas Eve. “Our vaccination process began with frontline workers at highest risk of infection and won’t end until everyone who wants protection against the virus receives it,” said Hospital Administrator Theresa Braudt… A Mount Hope couple was in critical condition after being hit broadside by on oncoming milk truck near Montfort. On December 23 at approximately 11:30 a.m., the Grant County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a two-vehicle crash on Highway 18 at County G in Wingville Township. A milk truck and a passenger car had collided and both had rolled over. As first responders arrived on scene, it was discovered that the Jaws of Life was needed, as well as two Med Flight helicopters.