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July 9: 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 – After much deliberation and thoughtful conversation, the Wild West Days committee has decided to reschedule their 25-year anniversary celebration for August 20-22, 2021. They are “unsure of any precautionary measures that may be in place for August 2020 that could diminish the experience and ambiance of the 1880 boom town setting”… Community Hunger Solutions, in partnership with Hunger Task Force of LaCrosse, has begun no-contact distribution of Farms to Families Food Boxes for families in need. The boxes are distributed at the front entrance of the Food Enterprise Center, 1201 N. Main St., Viroqua each Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. or as long as boxes are available… The Viroqua Chamber Main Street has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America™ program. Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition and signifies a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach.

LA FARGE –There was a house raising last week in LaFarge on West Snow Street. The home, owned by Chris Donovan, is being elevated in the hopes of raising it out of the Kickapoo River floodwaters. During the 2018 flood, the house received several inches of water and suffered major damage. Heritage Movers of Mt. Hope is doing the raising and construction work… A long-shared vision of immersing children in the health and academic benefits of learning outdoors is about to become a reality in Southwestern Wisconsin. The project will be a collaboration of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and the LaFarge School District, for which they recently received a $700,000 grant from DPI. The grant will allow for a year of planning, with funding for a lead teacher, support services, material and equipment purchases. The Kickapoo Valley Forest School will open for the first time in the 2021-2022 school year with 30 4K through kindergarten students, rolling into the addition of 15 first grade students in 2022-2023, and 15 second grade students in the 2023-2024 school year, for a total of 60 students.

ONTARIO – Dorset Valley Schoolhouse Restaurant closed last week after its staff learned that a person who had tested positive for COVID-19 was at the restaurant during his or her infectious period. The restaurant will be closed for a deep cleaning, and will reopen at a later date… The Kendall Gathering and All-School Reunion has been cancelled for 2020. The committee that organizes the event met on June 25, and reached the decision to cancel the event in light of all the restrictions and variables surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic… On Monday, July 6, the Ontario Public Library will begin phase two of their reopening plan which allows patrons to make an appointment to use the library internet, computers and printing services. 

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –At its June 24 meeting, the Crawford County Personnel Committee discussed the reopening of the County Administration Building. “The county is waiting for shields to be put into place before opening,” said Crawford County Clerk Janet Geisler. “The shields have been ordered and once they are in place, the committee will call a special meeting and decide when to reopen the building…” With the underlying thought to keep volunteers, fest goers and the community safe, the Prairie du Chien Oktoberfest Committee has decided not to hold the event this year on St. Feriole Island because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers will be back in full force next year for the event scheduled for October 16, 2021… About a dozen craft enthusiasts spent time at the Fort Crawford Museum on June 26 making rabbit fur purses and pouches during the weekly Free Fridays at the Fort event… So far this year, the Mississippi River refuses to go down and stay down. The continued high water has hampered the much anticipated Villa Louis Boat Landing project on St. Feriole Island. Parts of the project have been done in recent months, but the rest of the project has been untouched for some time

RICHLAND CENTER – Just in time for summer to get into full swing, the brand new Richland Center Aquatic Center and the city parks are opening. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a maximum of 135 people will be allowed inside the aquatic center during each session. Guests are encouraged to go online to purchase passes or punch cards. Entrance fees are $2.50 per session, with age three and under admitted free of charge… Richland County Health and Human Services Director Tracy Thorsen has announced that the Community Services Building and all Health and Human Services operations will reopen to the public starting Monday, July 6. The building has been modified to allow for social distancing, many chairs have been removed from the lobby and conference rooms, additional sanitizing and safeguards have been put in place, and staff will be behind either Plexiglass or wearing masks when interacting with the public. It is recommended that individuals coming into the building also wear masks.

BOSCOBEL – A Wisconsin State Trooper pulled an intoxicated man from the edge of the Highway 61 bridge across the Wisconsin River on Saturday, June 27. The potentially life saving grasp was caught on the trooper’s dashcam video. The man called 911, and the operator continued speaking with the man until a trooper could approach him. After evaluation, the man was transported to a “responsible party…” The InHealth Community Wellness (Free) Clinic and Grant County Health Department, in conjunction with the Wisconsin National Guard, held drive-through community COVID-19 testing at Kronshage Park in Boscobel last week. There were 330 people tested from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., before a severe thunderstorm with lightning shut it down. For those still waiting to be tested, there will be another community testing event on Wednesday, July 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Grant County Fairgrounds… The Boscobel Swimming Pool opened for a short season on July 1. The pool capacity is limited to 45 swimmers, and patrons must reside within the Boscobel School District, with exceptions being made for visitors if capacity limits have not been reached… Boscobel Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Community First Bank and Wisconsin River Outings have created a social distancing community event. Every Tuesday throughout the summer at 6:30 p.m. community members are invited to gather to trek a different two-to-four mile trail around Boscobel. Every week there will be a drawing for participants to the A&W, Dairy Queen or Udder Brothers to enjoy a treat afterward… Erik Kinney’s summer school fishing class was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, but that didn’t stop him from releasing about 250 rainbow trout into Sanders Creek thanks to a generous donation from Amcor. Kinney was joined by several students as they released trout from the Herold Trout Farm near Stoddard at several locations.

FENNIMORE – Another week, another jump in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Grant County, emulating increases that are being seen across the state, as well as nationwide… After much discussion and work behind the scenes the Fennimore Community Pool opened up for delighted swimmers at high noon on Tuesday, June 30. The city has worked to implement enhanced cleaning practices and more to ensure the upmost safety during the ongoing 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic… At this crucial racial moment, let’s discuss the connections between racism, land, food, black-led agrarian projects and possibilities for reparations. Join Eric Anglada for Black Land Matters, a virtual presentation and conversation, from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 15. Anglada is the ecological programming coordinator for Sinsinawa Mound Center. To register for this free online program, call Guest Services at 608-748-4411 or visit us online at