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March 11: News from around the Driftless Area

‘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 –Kickapoo Corners Family Restaurant will receive monthly funding for COVID-19 relief from Barstool Sports. Kickapoo Corners owner Dionne Cary submitted a video plea to Barstool Fund after not receiving adequate government aid. On Monday, February, 10 she received a Facetime call from the sports and pop culture company's creator Dave Portnoy confirming she'd receive $5,000 per month. Cary has been able to pay her staff, but had to close the restaurant on Mondays and Tuesdays. According to Barstool's website, they have raised over $36 million dollars and helped 282 small businesses in the United States… Effective Wednesday, March 17, the Westby Times and Vernon County Broadcaster will combine to become the Vernon County Times and be a Wednesday publication… On Tuesday, March 2, at about 12:02 a.m., the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office received a phone call from an AT&T employee reporting entry and vandalism to their communications facility along U.S. Hwy. 14, rural Westby, in the town of Coon. The first deputy sheriff arrived on scene discovered the fence was compromised, and located two males inside the fenced-in area. Both males were taken into custody without incident. The males were identified as Benjamin Lee Britt, 47, and Jesse James Britt, 46, both from Viroqua. Burglarious tools were recovered at the scene. The investigation continued throughout the day resulting in the arrest of Shaila Kay Davis, 49, of Frazee, Minnesoa. A red colored 2002 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with Iowa license plates was impounded. Evidence obtained on March 2 was consistent with a similar incident at the same AT&T facility that was reported on Feb. 16. Sheriff John Spears is urging anyone with information to contact the Sheriff’s Office or their local law enforcement agency. The Sheriff’s Office can be reached via telephone at 608-637-2123, or email at You may also submit an anonymous tip at Investigators are also interested in other incidents that may not have been reported… River Valley Media Group has announced the launch of their newest product, the Vernon County Times.  This new newspaper is a merger of the Vernon County Broadcaster and the Westby Times. The new combined newspaper will include a comprehensive new content plan that represents both the Broadcaster and Times, plus new features that are sure to please. The new Vernon County Times will be delivered on Wednesday beginning on March 17, 2021.  Subscriptions will remain unaffected and there is nothing that you need to do. They have also announced that starting on Friday, March 19, readers will begin to receive the Vernon County View on Fridays. The View will include interesting new features and things-to-do in the local area.  The new Vernon County View will replace the Viroqua Foxxy Shopper.

LA FARGE – The LaFarge school board held a six-minute meeting on Monday, March 1, to approve re-financing a loan that had previously been taken out to pay for the school’s new office complex. Approval was quickly given by the three school board members present to authorize Baird Company to handle the loan… The LaFarge Class of12020 Valedictorian will be Audrey Wirts, and the Salutatorian will be Natalie Nordmann. Other honor students are Hayden Benson, Kayla Brown, Hunter Fowell, Bryce Franks, Vanessa Harris, Natalie Marron, Jay Miller, Daryn Olson, and Evalayna Price. The 2021 graduation ceremony will take place on Friday, May 21… Maple Ridge’s Kenny Hatfield was on News Channel 8 week before last, or at least his picture was. Hatfield was featured on the ‘Look Who’s 8’ show as he was celebrating his 88th birthday. The program explained that the rural LaFarge resident loves to play music, especially the fiddle, is good natured and always willing to help others. To top it off, it was revealed that Kenny is the father of eight children, as well as numerous grandchildren… With the consolidation of the Vernon County Broadcaster and the Westby Times into one newspaper, the Vernon Times, LaFarge Episcope editor Lonnie Muller has published the circulation numbers for the remaining newspapers in Vernon County. The Broadcaster has 1,632, the Westby Times 867, the Hillsboro Sentry Enterprise 1,453, the Episcope 846, the Ontario County Line 1,376, and the Viola Epitaph 591. Muller commented, “it’s sad to see Westby losing their home town paper.”

ONTARIO – The Brookwood FFA Chapter celebrated National FFA Week from Feb. 20-27. Some of the highlights included daily dress-up days, making summer sausage in Exploratory Ag, serving breakfast to about 85 staff members, searching for hidden cows around the school, baking and decorating FFA emblem cookies, and transplanting floral plugs in the greenhouse… The County Line received a second place award in the 2020 Wisconsin Newspaper Association Better Newspaper contest. The award was in the Investigative/Interpretive category for the story ‘They got the sand mine – we got the shaft’ story written by Karen Parker. The judge’s comments were, “Great story and headline. It reads a little more like a column than an investigative piece, but great information and well told…” 

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – An 1850s cabin deemed a public hazard was torn down on St. Feriole Island Friday. Known as the LaChapelle/Erdenberger cabin, this small two-story structure was located 113 N. Villa Louis Road in Prairie du Chien. Prairie du Chien Historical Society Vice President Chad Fradette said he spent the past year evaluating the cabin and what to do with it. With a background in building restoration and having spent time as a child in this local cabin, Fradette was initially hopeful the cabin could be disassembled, hauled off, reconstructed and returned gloriously. Yet, upon a closer look inside, he realized it was completely unsafe for anyone to be in or near it… “A Villainous Cabaret” of 16 acts will feature Prairie du Chien High School drama students as villains March 19-20 in the district’s performing arts center. This creation was chosen as a collaborative performance to present in lieu of a spring musical this year because it could be structured better according to COVID health and safety precautions. “I think the cabaret allows our students to be showcased in a way that musical theater doesn’t always provide,” shared Director Amy Pham, high school choral teacher. Each act brings different students on stage for solos, monologues, plays, scenes and a few large group dance numbers. Many are youth who, Pham said, may otherwise have been part of an ensemble in a musical. So, this style of performance is more inclusive… On Saturday, Feb. 27, Prairie du Chien/Fennimore gymnasts Madilyn Fisher and Alyssa Schoepp traveled to Onalaska for the WIAA State Gymnastics Meet. This year’s State Meet was done in two different sessions. The girls competed in the first session and did not know their results until later that night. Sophomore Alyssa Schoepp had an outstanding year. Alyssa was in the third round on the floor exercise and had a solid routine in a competitive field. Freshman Madilyn Fisher was in the fifth round on the vault. Fisher knew that if she wanted to win State on the vault, she was going to have to perform a more difficult vault than she did at sectionals. Fisher decided it was worth the risk. Fisher performed a beautiful Pike Tsuke but fell on the landing. With a fall, Fisher still scored an 8.95, placing 16th.

RICHLAND CENTER – The Richland Center City Council went on record in opposition to a pair of bills in the Wisconsin Legislature affecting the sale of alcoholic beverages during its most recent meeting. The council voted 6-2 in favor of a motion to oppose passage of the bills. One bill would allow alcoholic beverages to be sold by the glass in sealed containers for consumption away from the facility by Class B license holders. The other bill would suspend the prohibition against drive-up sales of alcoholic beverages in sealed containers where food or grocery orders were being filled by drive-up… The Caz Turkey Busters converted their annual Lee Lake Fisheree to a virtual event this year, and funds raised will be used to stock Lee Lake with walleye, among other charitable causes.