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June 4: 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 –Bob Uecker, dubbed Mr. Baseball in Wisconsin for decades, has some stiff competition for that title when it comes to the Viroqua area. In fact, Pete Swanson would likely win the popular vote over Uecker when it comes right down to it, as the 71-year-old has not only coached the Viroqua High School baseball team for 27 years, he started the powerhouse Viroqua American Legion program back in 1975. The Viroqua baseball field, for the first time in decades, will not host a spring or summer game. The Class A state tournament scheduled there for later this summer has been canceled… The Viroqua Farmers Market will be opening for the season on Saturday, June 13. The opening of the market was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. There will be hand sanitizer, masks, one-direction shopping, crowd control and appropriate spacing for social distancing. 

LA FARGE –Since the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Board started 25 years ago, Ron Johnson has been the only chairperson. The May 21 meeting of the board was his last meeting. Johnson’s position on the board is appointed by the Wisconsin governor for a three-year term. Upon hearing of Johnson’s resignation, the Governor sent a commemorative plaque thanking Johnson for his years of service. Dr. Jim DeLine of the LaFarge Clinic presented to staff on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic on the topic of whether to reopen KVR’s campsites and facilities. His talk was a bit somber after he indicated that the virus is spreading rapidly in the last two-to-three weeks, and will probably continue. DeLine recommended that the board choose to keep the visitor center closed, keep restroom doors open to circulate air, and discourage groups of children on the land or in the building. The board voted to open campsites on June 1 except for the Willow Camp… In a meeting that lasted 13 minutes, the Vernon County Board Legal Affairs Committee discussed the issue of using CDBG funds for razing sub-standard homes. There are procedures involved in finding another home for those being removed, with rules and laws coming from the federal government. Resource and Development Director Dianne McGinnis has to provide all relocation and displacement information to the state in a timely manner. With many houses in the floodplains now being bought out, the problem of finding new housing will now become critical, especially for low income families. The resolution will go next before the full county board… The Vernon County Museum is planning to reopen to the public on June 1… Clarence Stout of Ontario was honored recently when a drive by parade was held to celebrate his 100thbirthday. Clarence is a Word War II veteran and a member of the VFW post in LaFarge. He is the last WWII veteran from LaFarge. The parade included the police car and fire trucks leading the way, with many cars sporting homemade signs and others with clusters of balloons.

ONTARIO – With the help of a recent $212,359 grant, Scenic Bluffs Health Center of Cashton plans to ramp up testing for COVID-19. The grant is part of the Pay Check Protection Program to support community health providers in testing the workforce for the virus. The money will go towards extending the scope of the population currently being tested, which was until recently restricted to people showing symptoms. The state is now allowing the program to be extended to priority populations… Bishop Callahan of Tri-Parish has given permission for weekend masses to once again be offered publicly, beginning on Pentecost weekend, May 30-31.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –The Prairie du Chien Honor Guard paid tribute to fallen veterans from the area at the veteran’s memorial on the county courthouse grounds for Memorial Day, Monday, May 25… About 200 residents and staff at Prairie Maison Nursing Home and Bluff Haven Assisted Living were tested for the coronavirus one week ago, on May 20. The mass testing was not to contain an outbreak, but to prevent one at the Prairie du Chien facility, according to Crawford County Public Health. As a result, one resident tested positive, according to Community Health Services Corporation (CHSC) Executive Director Rita Moore. The resident is asymptomatic, she noted…  A bid was awarded to Steve Steiner  Construction of Prairie du Chien to modify a culvert on Vineyard Road with the intention of diverting water away from Crossing Rivers Health property. The low bid of $38,100 was awarded by the Bridgeport Town Board at their general meeting on May 13. Town Clerk Linda Smrcina said the town of Bridgeport will pay for part of the cost and the hospital will pay for part of the cost. The project will begin as soon as possible and is expected to be completed by sometime in August.

RICHLAND CENTER – Approval was granted by the Richland County Board of Supervisors for the Land Conservation Department to apply for and accept a Recreational Trails Program Grant from DNR. The grant amount is $3,751.80 with a match of the same amount in County funds. The board also granted approval for the County Parks Commission to apply for and accept a $32,579.25 grant from the DNR’s Recreational Trails Program… Memorial Day 2020 - like most of 2020 thus far - was destined to be “different” and it was as Americans, locally and throughout the country, deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to paying respects to the many who have sacrificed to ensure that “this nation can long endure”. In Richland Center, veterans marched with the colors for the ceremony finding a smaller than normal, ‘socially distanced’ crowd that heard guest speaker Veterans Service Officer Karen Knock, and saw other rituals of Memorial Days proving not everything was different.

BOSCOBEL – With in-person graduation canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Boscobel High School’s Class of 2020 held a Senior Caravan on Saturday morning, May 23, through the streets of Boscobel, passing by as many members of the graduating class as possible in an hour-long procession… COVID-19 is hurting the agricultural industry and affecting farmers in a negative way.vThe Wauzeka-Steuben FFA is shining some light on this issue and not only supporting the dairy industry, but also the community. Recently, a generous donation was made by an anonymous sponsor to the Wauzeka FFA to help support dairy farmers during this challenging time. Together, the FFA decided to donate dairy products to the Coulee Cap Food Pantry in Prairie du Chien.

FENNIMORE – With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to define our ‘new normal’, the 2020 class has been dealt an unusual hand of cards in terms of graduation and taking the next step toward the rest of their lives. However, the administrators and staff at Fennimore High School set out on Friday, May 22, to achieve a memorable and special moment for all of its graduating seniors. Donning Fennimore High School maroon masks, the team set out to hand deliver every single diploma to each of the graduating seniors. In addition, cakes made by Creative Appeal Sweet Shoppe and Studio were passed out to the class… On Saturday night, May 23 the Grant County area experienced a possible tornado touch down, as reported by the Grant County Emergency Management. The Bloomington and Lancaster Fire Departments were out over the weekend conducting a damage assessment in rural areas that might have been impacted… The new butterfly and pollinator-friendly garden outside the Doll and Toy Museum in Fennimore is a model of a community project done right. Spearheaded by Grant

Marsha Schneider, it involved not only master gardeners, but also community residents and businesses that donated money, materials and time to make it happen.