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March 19: 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 –The State of Wisconsin has declared a public health emergency to enhance the state’s response to COVID-19. Viroqua Utilities has been keeping up-to-date on the information as related to the water and wastewater industry. The utility has plans in place to provide continued service of water and sewer to the City of Viroqua. Regarding the safety of regulated public drinking systems, such as is operated by Viroqua Utilities, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency states, “The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual.” Additionally, under the direction of the state, Viroqua Utilities will not be disconnecting service to occupied dwellings for nonpayment until the public health emergency has been lifted. The wastewater treatment system operated by Viroqua Utilities includes processes identified to properly treat viruses in wastewater. The Federal Center for Disease Control states, “Coronaviruses are susceptible to the same disinfection conditions in community and healthcare settings as other viruses, so current disinfection conditions in wastewater treatment facilities are expected to be sufficient.” In light of Gov. Tony Evers declaring a health emergency in response to COVID-19, it is with an overabundance of caution, and with the well-being of its membership and employees in mind, Vernon Electric Cooperative has cancelled the physical gathering of members for its annual meeting on Saturday, March 21…The Westby School Board approved commemorating the fieldhouse basketball court in honor of longtime boys basketball coach Bob Constalie at its meeting, Monday, March 9. The board approved commemorating the fieldhouse basketball court as ‘Constalie Court.’ The school board discussed commemorating a district space in Constalie’s honor at its February meeting… The Westby Area Historical Society Genealogy Center is excited to introduce our Centennial Circle Program. This project will recognize the Westby area’s current residents’ connections to building the foundation of what is now the wonderful Westby area. If you can make a connection to an ancestor who was living in Westby, Coon Valley, Chaseburg or any other part of the Westby area, you can be part of the Circle. Because 2020 marks the centennial birthday of the City of Westby, there is no better time for WAHS to kick off our Centennial Circle Program and honor the accomplishments of those founding fathers.

LA FARGE –Peachy Pedals Flowers and Gifts along with the Twisted Raven Lounge held their grand opening on March 7, with lots of visitors and excellent reviews……The Valley Community Center Spring Sale is planned for May 2, 2020… The Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center BUILDING will be closed to the public until further notice due to the spread of Covid-19. KVR employees will be working so if you have business with anyone here please use email or call the office number 608-625-2960… Twisted Raven Lounge in LaFarge feels that they need to postpone our event they had planned for this weekend. Because of the outstanding business we’ve already had, we will be donating $500 to the Faith Nemec family in place of the event. We will still be open for normal business until we are told otherwise… In light of new recommendations from the state dealing with the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Rockton Bar you know and love will be making a few temporary changes: Limited seating (50 seats); Carry Out available (no charge); Drive Up available-please call when arrived; Delivery Coming Soon; Limited Hours; Serving Lunch and Dinner.

ONTARIO – After a closed meeting recently, the Ontario Village Board agreed to return Police Chief Dave Rynes to his position. Rynes had been on administrative leave since last fall, after an incident in which officer Grover Wooten went off the road in Cashton after returning home from supplying mutual aid at Oktoberfest in LaCrosse. Wooten fled the scene, but later reported the incident to Monroe County officers, saying he had swerved to miss a dog. After an investigation revealed a different chain of events – allegedly Wooten had fallen asleep – he admitted he had given false information based on Rynes recommendation. Later, Rynes told Monroe County officers that he had suggested that Wooten give an incorrect account of the accident… Earlier this winter, Royall School District’s greenhouse-management class, led by Beth Kolodzinski, started growing food for their school cafeteria. The students are not only using traditional pots and raised beds, but are also exploring some of the newer, innovative ways to grow food such as using hydroponic and aquaponic systems. Students plant, observe, track and harvest plants such as lettuce and spinach from these water-based systems. According to a press release prepared by the Juneau County Farm-to-School Coalition, “This kind of school growing and gardening, as well as other farm-to-school initiatives, gives students experiences that can positively alter their lifestyle habits.”

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –Effective at 1 p.m., on Monday, March 16, the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library will close to the public until further notice, to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. During the closure, library patrons may return items in the drop boxes; items returned will be quarantined to make sure no virus remains. All due dates will be extended, and no late fees will be assessed during this period. Patrons can access ebooks and audiobooks through Wisconsin's Digital Library available on the Overdrive or Libby apps, learn more about this online resource by visiting We are investigating options to provide limited computer access, and ‘curbside’ pickup of materials for patrons; please watch this page and our website for announcements… Not a rekindle, but another related fire happened within a wall at Outdoor Power Specialists on Thursday, March 12. According to Prairie du Chien Fire Chief Tad Beutin, it's likely that something electrical in the wall started up after Tuesday's fire, which was caused by a lithium battery in a toolbox. 

RICHLAND CENTER –Kickapoo Area Food Pantry in Viola will be open Saturday, March 21, from 9-11 a.m., and on Monday, March 23, from 4-6 p.m… The equinox observance events at Frank’s Hill slated for this weekend have been cancelled by the Three Eagles Foundation due to recommendations by federal and state governments to limit large gatherings be-cause of COVID 19.  The scheduled sunset and sunrise observances will not be held and there will not be any guided tours of the effigy mounds…

BOSCOBEL – Coach Gary Hines was recognized as the Ridge & Valley Conference's Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, after leading the Hornets to consecutive undefeated seasons in conference play.  Coach Hines actually tied his own record for consecutive wins in the Ridge & Valley Conference, as the Hornets have now won 31 in a row, dating back to 2017-18 (Gary also led North Crawford to 31 straight conference wins in between 2011 and 2014).  On February 10, Coach Hines earned his 400th victory as a head varsity basketball coach when Wauzeka-Steuben defeated Boscobel 59-53… Steuben American Legion Post 446 recently recognized Harley Dalton for 60 years of membership. Post Commander Jeff Miller and Past Commander Bob Scallon were on hand to give Dalton his award… The Wauzeka Veterans Memorial Committee held its annual ‘Coins for Veterans’ campaign the week of February 3-14. The money raised by this campaign is used to help pay for the Wauzeka Veteran’s Memorial on County N, northwest of Wauzeka. This year’s winners of the pizza party was Mrs. Martin’s first grade class.