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June 11: 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 –Some big surprises have developed for Vernon County for three elected positions that will be determined in the November presidential election. The three positions that will be voted on this year are county clerk, county treasurer and county register of deeds. Longtime Vernon County Clerk Ron Hoff has decided to retire. Jody Audetat, current payroll administrator for the clerk’s office, will face Alicia Leinberger in November. County treasurer Rachel Hanson is also retiring. Karen DeLap, Marina Abt, and Diane McGinnis are running for the position. Incumbent Register of Deeds Dawn Nemec is being challenged by Marilyn Hauge, Andrea Cade, and Patricia Belke-Becker… The Vernon County Sheriff’s Department is considering construction of a radio tower in the Ontario area. Two possible locations are in Wildcat Mountain State Park, and on private property in the Mt. Pisgah area… The Viroqua City Council voted Tuesday, May 26, to continue to restrict public access to City Hall and continue to run its public meetings via Zoom for the indefinite future because of the coronavirus pandemic… The Viroqua Plan Commission held a public hearing Monday on conditional use of property for a drive-in outdoor movie theater at VARC, Inc. (Vernon Area Rehabilitation Center), 1133 Nelson Parkway. After the public hearing, the Plan Commission unanimously voted to recommend to City Council conditional use of the property. Megan Tully, who is development manager with VARC, said the organization will host the pop-up theater for a season, and this opportunity creates 10 jobs for people of varying abilities. Movies would be shown Friday, Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on an inflatable movie screen. Tully said there is room for a maximum of 45 vehicles.

LA FARGE –At the most recent Town of Webster meeting, there was a report that some town residents are battling with a family of beavers to prevent water from running over a nearby town road. During the day the residents tear away the dam material, and at night the beavers build it back up… Town of Webster Supervisor Dan Arnold reported on the Bug Tussel tower being built near Avalanche. First of all, he said that the contractors are “pretty rude,” and said it appears that workers are trespassing on nearby private land, cutting trees, and using the area for the outhouse. Apparently, some fence cutting and driving vehicles on the unauthorized property had also occurred… Lower Weister Creek, from Dell to Potts Corners, has a new look after several years of renovation by  theTrout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort. Tree removal, streambank restoration, rock placement and trout habitat structures have all now been completed. Trails along the stream are mowed and maintained by the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, and two off road parking areas are available. And, the trout are plentiful, by all reports… Highway 82, from Highway 56 to LaFarge, is scheduled to be resurfaced in 2023, along with improved guard rails and other safety updates.

ONTARIO – Severe thunderstorms rolled through the Ontario area on Tuesday, June 2. The 60- mile-per-hour winds toppled trees and caused structure damages. Bailey’s Diner, a Norwalk Mexican restaurant, sustained roof damage in the storm… In time for Memorial Day services, a new monument was installed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Wilton. Donated by Wilton native and Santa Anna, Calif., resident Pam Liefke Eaton. The monument was designed with the assistance of LaCrosse Monument Company and Gina Rae of Wilton. The sign is entirely granite and weights 6,000 pounds… With the cancellation of this year’s Rally to Fight Hunger, due to COVID-19, Wisconsin FFA is partnering with event sponsor Kerry and the National FFA to continue to provide this much-needed support throughout the state. The newly created ‘Rally to Fight Hunger Chapter Grant’ is providing $18,000 to support local producers and hunger relief projects led by FFA chapters. In the Ontario area, the Royall FFA has received one of the grants.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –The Crawford County Public Health Department, Emergency Management and the Wisconsin National Guard are hosting a drive-up COVID-19 testing site near the Prairie du Chien High School on Friday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This community COVID-19 testing event is open to all Crawford County residents and those in surrounding communities who are experiencing one or more symptoms of COVID-19, and for asymptomatic individuals as well… Community Health Services Foundation is excited to announce that the construction of the Growing Connections Garden/Walking Path will begin in June. The project will take place on the Prairie Maison/Bluff Haven property, and include a paved walking path, benches, engraved bricks, bridges, perennials, shrubs and shade trees… For a third time, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has turned down a request by Pattison Sand Company to withdraw millions of gallons of water from its Clayton property to ship to western states suffering from drought. In its most recent application, the company proposed to extract 448.8 million gallons of water each year… With the consolidation of printing of smaller community newspapers, there is no market for old printing presses. Thus, on May 20, the Courier Press newspaper retired its Goss Web Printing Press, to be salvaged for scrap.

RICHLAND CENTER –The Richland Center City Council acted to spend over $2,000 to put the finishing touches on the new aquatic center in Krouskop Park, and $6,550 to obtain closure on another site for redevelopment along the Orange Street corridor, during its most recent meeting…  People lined Richland Center streets on Sunday, May 31, to watch a parade featuring graduating Richland Center High School seniors. It proved to be a good way to provide some fanfare for the students, who have missed out on many traditional aspects of high school graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic… The already-reduced application fee to attend UW-Platteville Richland will be completely waived from June 5-15, making it even easier for local students to explore their options as they start or continue toward their education goals, according to campus dean Dr. Brandon… Richland Hospital Foundation Director Ginny Moore has released the following statement, “We regret to inform you that Taste of the Hills 2020 has been canceled. The Richland Hospital Foundation is sad to share the cancellation of the annual Taste of the Hills event held in Krouskop Park. It was originally scheduled for June 20.

BOSCOBEL – With no revenue coming in over the past nearly 12 weeks due to the coronavirus shutdown, and needed renovations long overdue, the manager of Boscobel’s historic Blaine Theater is looking for some help from fans of the community landmark that dates back to the mid-1930s. However, the problem with all such endeavors is money, or the lack of it. The city of Boscobel owns the Blaine Theater, but has no budget to support it… The Boscobel Park Commission met Tuesday night and voted to cancel the 2020 Summer Rec Program, effective immediately. Action on whether the swimming pool will open this summer was tabled until the June 15 meeting. A motion to open all city parks but with warning signs and closed bathrooms was also approved… The statue of the country doctor in front of the emergency room at Gundersen Boscobel Hospital attired in a surgical mask is a sign of the times in our current coronavirus world… On Monday, June 1, the Boscobel Police Department was dispatched to a two-vehicle traffic crash in front of Piggly Wiggly. Former Boscobel Police Chief Todd Stenner’s vehicle was impacted by a 2013 Chevrolet Equinox operated by Kailey Dobson of Boscobel. Dobson failed to stop at a stop sign leaving an alley. Stenner had to be extricated from the vehicle and transported to Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, where he was treated and released for his injuries.