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March 5: 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 –How did the Temple Theatre get its name? What is the connection between the Temple Theatre and the Masons? Who are the Masons? What is a Masonic Temple? These are some of the questions that will be answered at the Vernon County Museum’s next free public program. The program will be held on Tuesday, March 3, at 7 p.m., at the Viroqua Masonic Lodge, located above the Temple Theatre on Main Street. Chet Melcher, a Viroqua Mason, will begin by giving a talk on the history of the Masons and the Masonic Lodge in Viroqua. This will be followed by a tour of the old Lodge rooms, with their ornately-painted walls and century-old furnishings… Vernon County has announced that for a limited time residents can get more than 50 percent off a water sample. If interested, you must contact Vernon County Land & Water at 608-637-5480 or Participation is first-come first-serve and is very limited to 10 samples per town (township). The total cost of the Homeowners Package Water Test is $55. If you are selected (by email or calling ASAP), the cost to you will only be $25. Vernon County Land & Water takes care of shipping to the lab. Testing is only for private wells, not for any home on municipal water. Only sign up if you are able to collect on May 4 and get the sample to one of the drop-off sites. Next steps if you are interested: contact Vernon County Land & Water at 608-637-5480 (Sarah) or; find out that you have been selected; pick up water sample from the Vernon County Land & Water office in Viroqua and pay $25 share; be able to collect your sample on May 4 and bring it to one of the drop-off sites; wait for results and information on when to attend water testing educational event (optional). Vernon County drop-off sites: 7 a.m. to noon Viola Village Office, 106 W. Wisconsin, Viola; 7:30 a.m. to noon Hotel Hillsboro, 1235 Water Avenue, Hillsboro; 7:30 a.m to noon Red Mound Store, E2184 Hwy. 82, De Soto; 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Vernon Health Department, 318 Fairlane Drive (Erlandson Office Building), Viroqua. What if my water tests come back with problems? There is going to be an educational outreach event with presenters from the Stevens Point Water and Environmental Analysis Lab where we will discuss results and options for individuals that had any concerning contaminant levels. This event is being planned for late June or early July. Immediate questions or concerns can be directed to the Vernon County Land Conservation Department.

LA FARGE –The newest member of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Board, Tina Brown, was appointed by Governor Tony Evers. She represents the Ho-Chunk Nation, as regards cultural affairs. Brown serves as executive director of cultural affairs for the nation, and has been involved with the KVR since 1998 when she was a member of the team responsible for inventorying the unique resources of the property. She is an advocate for the KVR’s mission to ‘preserve and protect’ this land in balance with recreation and education… The LaFarge School Board has approved a pay raise for those beleaguered sports officials that have to put up with continued encouragement from the audience. Athletic Director Todd Camlek informed the board that LaFarge’s pay rate for game officials is lower than surrounding schools, and suggested an increase to what most other schools pay.

ONTARIO – Royall’s Nolan McKittrick works to tip Mineral Point’s Lucas Sullivan over during the 106-pound semifinal match at the Division 3 sectional meet in Westby week before last. McKittrick won 3-1 and claimed the championship with a 7-1 decision over Iowa-Grant/Highland’s Mason Welch. McKittrick was the lone representative from the Scenic Bluff Conference at the WIAA state meet… The Monroe County Highway Department advises residents and other highway users to be prepared for the annual limitations of the weight of vehicles travelling on county highways… Earlier this year, Brookwood FFA adviser Bailey Hart received a $10,000 grant from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education through the Bayer Company. The money was spent on laptops, headphones and computer mice, which are used every day to help students create projects and complete other activities… Gundersen Health System’s Mobile Mammography Coach is now equipped with 3D mammography, bringing advanced imaging technology close to home at Gundersen St. Joseph’s Hospital and Clinics… The Ontario Knit Wits are sponsoring a raffle to benefit the Ontario Public Library. They have 11 prizes, including quilts, tea baskets and soap baskets.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN –Smile, you might be on camera. The City of Prairie du Chien is working toward installing video cameras at various spots around the city to improve security and safety. City Administrator Chad Abram said the project and the funding have been approved by the finance committee and the common council. Abram said the initial approved cost of the project is $35,702.76. Funding has been provided through capital funds borrowed for the police department in 2019… The River Ridge FFA Banquet was Jan. 19. There were 150 members, alumni, parents and guests in attendance. The Distinguished Service Award was given to Ray Breuer. Fifteen ‘Greenhand Degrees’ were awarded, and 13 ‘Chapter Degrees’… On Feb. 13, the Wauzeka-Steuben Learning Center students prepared a ‘Sweetheart Supper’ for Valentine’s Day. The menu included salad, pasta, garlic bread and dessert.

RICHLAND CENTER –Richland Center High School band teacher Jeff Behrens has been named a 2020 recipient of a Kohl Teacher Fellowship, which recognizes and supports teaching excellence and innovation in Wisconsin… A chance to see plenty ‘big ones’ that didn’t get away was available weekend before last at the Driftless Area Deer Classic, held at the Richland Center Community Center. Among those present at a vendor table was Doug Duren, a site and land management consultant who is involved in efforts to prevent the spread of CWD (chronic wasting disease) in deer herds. He spearheaded an effort to raise funds to provide six dumpsters for the proper disposal of deer bones and carcasses to prevent the spread of CWD in southwest Wisconsin. This effort kept an estimated 1,400 carcasses from being moved or disposed of in areas where CWD could infect other deer.

BOSCOBEL – Last year, the City of Boscobel identified about 200 ash trees infected with the Emerald Ash Borer, and invasive species that kills infected trees within 10 years. About 25 percent of those 200 infected trees have been cut down, and last week city crews resumed removing the rest. Many were located on West Oak Street and in the Bluff and Hill Street area behind Dairy Queen. The city’s tree replacement program has not been funded in several years, but this development may put the budget item back on the table… Army combat veteran Casey Chamberlain is preparing for the 2020 National Veterans Golden Age Games, coming up in Madison in June. Where do veterans turn when they are medically retired after an extensive military career, and when several surgeries isolate them even further from life and happiness? Well, for Casey Chamberlain, the National Veterans Golden Age Games provided exactly the inspiration and motivation she needed to find purpose and enjoyment in her post-military life. Chamberlain, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army Reserves originally from Boscobel, is gearing up for the 34thAnnual Games. While on active duty, Chamberlain played women’s pro-football for five seasons in Minneapolis and Daytona, later playing for the Orlando Fire for two seasons, and then in Madison for the women’s pro team. In 2008, she deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where she oversaw the remains of soldiers that were killed in action to make sure they left the country within 48 hours. Later, she deployed to Kuwait where she was the contract Branch Chief. She was injured while overseas and had numerous surgeries upon her return home for her knee, back and ankle. She was medically boarded out in May of 2016 after 37 years of service.