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March 25: 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 –The Vernon County Fair is a go, and it will be held September 15-19. Bill Marohl, Vernon County Fair Board Treasurer, said fair-goers will see more signs and sanitization stations throughout the fairgrounds, and floors in the buildings will be marked to remind everyone to stay six feet apart. One of the big changes fans of the fair will see is 100 percent online registration of Open Class exhibitors… Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic there will be no livestock weigh-ins for the Vernon County Fair taking place again this year. On Saturday, May 1, from 8 a.m. to noon there will be drive-through pick up of RFID tags at the Vernon County Fairgrounds. Please enter the fairgrounds on the east side near the hockey arena. Pull up to the booth and let the superintendent know how many of each species tag you need and the name of the exhibitor. The superintendent will get the tags ready and hand them to you. All pictures of tagged animals will need to be sent via-email or mail and will be due May 28… Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center will offer a spoon carving class by Nicholas WazeeGale in their open-air shelter to learn how to carve your own spoon. Participants should bring any carving tools they have. Call 608-452-3424 to reserve your spot, as space is limited. Cost to participate is $65/members, and $75/non-members. Payment needed upon reservation. Masks will be required at the class.

LA FARGE – The Kickapoo Valley Reserve staff and volunteers will be conducting prescribed burns over the next few weeks as conditions allow. (Training and experience are required. If you'd like to volunteer, call the office at 608-625-2960 to complete the form and get on the list.) Controlled burns help restore native vegetation and set back invasive species. The rewards will be revealed later in the summer for pollinators and flora-lovers to enjoy… The Friends of Readstown has announced that the Fifth Annual Canoe Race and Music Fest is back on for Saturday, June 12 in Tourist Park. The event will include breakfast at 8 a.m., a hog roast from 11 a.m. until gone, Hillsboro Brewing Company beer, kids carnival rides and games, all day live music, and Gregg Hall & the Wrecking Balls in the evening… Seven area construction companies submitted bids for replacing the water and sewer lines on LaFarge’s Main Street this year. The low bidder was Gerke Excavating, headquartered in Tomah. Their bid was for $1,249,937… If the roll of the dice and manna from heaven falls correctly, then the village of LaFarge will have a newly built, seven-unit, apartment building. The building would be at the southwest corner of Silver and Highland Streets, next to the present apartment building that was built in 2008. According to Vernon County Resource and Community Development Coordinator Diane McGinnis, a portion of the grant money Vernon County could receive in federal disaster grants from the 2018 flood event could be used for housing. Community Development Alternatives of Prairie du Chien owns the current apartment building, and is interested in owning the new building… At the most recent meeting of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Land Committee, it was decided that, for safety reasons, persons using chain saws on the property will need to sign a form forbidding them to cut their leg off. This covers not only those sneaking out a load of wood to sell in Milwaukee, it even covers employees. Single cutters are also not allowed. All cutters are required to have a partner to help in the event of an accident. The new policy will cover training and other safety ideas… At the most recent meeting of the Vernon County Town of Whitestown Board, chairman George Wilbur had bad news regarding Ho-Chunk money in the county, which is usually $1.2 million per year. Apparently, none of the 10 counties that receive money have received a check this year, probably due to the COVID-19 pandemic and casino closings or low attendance. Wilbur stated that the money the town usually receives is already planned for in the budget and would be a big loss for the town’s road maintenance program this year and into the future, and would likely result in an increase in future property taxes.

ONTARIO – An Ontario man arrested recently faces accusations of selling heroin to two individuals who overdosed. Jesse J. Jensen of Ontario was apprehended at his Church Street address and transported to the Vernon County Detention Center. Two charges - second-degree reckless injury and possession with intent to deliver heroin – were referred to the Vernon County District Attorney’s Office. Neither of the overdoses was fatal – both occurred in Ontario… Five Royall School District student’s artwork was submitted to the Youth Art Month Virtual Exhibit through the Wisconsin Art Education Association. Valerie Banks is the student’s art teacher… Students from the Fort McCoy Challenge Academy repainted the interior of the Norwalk Village Hall on February 27. The shop area hadn’t had a fresh coat of paint since the building was constructed in the mid-1970s.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will be holding public meetings sometime this summer seeking input from citizens regarding their ongoing and evolving dredged material plan for Pools 9 and 10. Paul Machajewski, channel maintenance coordinator with the Corps said they hope to have in-person public scoping meetings this spring or early summer in Guttenberg, Iowa and in Prairie du Chien. Machajewski said the Corps would like ideas for uses for the dredged material so they only have to handle it once. Possible uses for the sand include habitat projects such as the McGregor Lake Project, as well as creating new islands, restoring islands lost due to the high water of the past five years, and shoreline protection projects… Alderman Nate Gilberts and his fellow Prairie du Chien Common Council members were pleased to unanimously approve the return of five major summer events to St. Feriole Island in 2021, after a COVID-19 forced hiatus in 2020. The move was appreciated by the Big River Long Rifles, representing the Rendezvous; the Prairie du Chien Firefighters Association, representing the Rendezvous Flea Market; the Oktoberfest committee; Prairie Dog Blues Festival President Todd Yeomans and Carriage Classic organizer Mike Rider. Each of these organizations and event leaders were asked to present proposals to the council regarding their increased sanitization offerings, site layout modifications, social distancing and other safety plans, considering the continuation of the pandemic… The Music Fights Back Foundation has announced events they are planning for 2021. Those events are the Annual Bowling Tournament mid to late summer, and the Annual Golf Outing on September 11. There will not be a festival in 2021. In addition, the group is continuing to help with donating to cancer benefits/Go Fund Me accounts and people with cancer.

RICHLAND CENTER – Richland Veterinary Service and Shireman Veterinary Clinic have agreed to merge. The combined practices will become Pine River Veterinary Clinic, and will be located in the Richland Veterinary Service building on Sextonville Road… The UW-Platteville-Richland will offer their first ever 10-Minute Play Festival on March 25-28, via Zoom. The festival’s ten, 10-minute plays, have been written by people who are currently living in Richland Center area or have affiliations with the Richland Center campus. Performances are set for March 25, 26, and 27, beginning at 7 p.m., and a matinee on March 28, starting at 2 p.m. To purchase a link to the Zoom event, go to… Prom, band concert, graduation exercises, and field trips may be realities for Richland School District students yet this year. District Administrator Jarred Burke said the school is gradually starting to open back up, and would consider the activities at their next school board meeting. Burke stressed that any loosening of restrictions must be approved by public health, and may not look the same as in previous years.