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November 19: News from around the Driftless Area
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‘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 Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) said the Highway 35 project between Genoa and Stoddard is finished as scheduled. An almost seven-mile stretch of the highway was closed beginning in April. The DOT said the $14.4 million project involved resurfacing the highway, replacing four bridges, and re-doing the road in Stoddard. While the road is now open to traffic, there are still a few days left of clean up work and equipment removal by workers. Drivers are urged to be aware of their presence around the highway… The Vernon County Sheriff's Department reports that a missing 14-year-old girl from Viroqua has been located. According to the Sheriff's Department Facebook page, "Eva has been found and she is safe. Thank you for all of the shares! What a great community!" St. John had been missing since Wednesday, Nov. 11… Deer hunting is upon us! It’s a great time to stop in at the Redmound Country Store to sign up for the Big Buck Contest.  The Redmound Country Store also offers a great lunch menu and plenty of snacks for hungry hunters.  Reminder the Redmound Store will be closed opening Day November 21, but will re-open November 23 for the rest of the hunting season… Viroqua Chamber Main Street announced on Tuesday, Nov. 17, that Wonderstate Coffee is temporarily closed due to a staff member testing positive for COVID-19. Thank you to all of our local businesses who are facing these unfortunate surprises, and are being transparent and swift in their decisions to make sure their staff are healthy and their service is as safe as possible. Community spread is very high currently, please take every precaution possible whenever out…

LA FARGE – Building referendums have been a thorny proposition for LaFarge School District voters over the years. Failures have been more common than successes, with multi-million-dollar proposals being turned down in 1994, 1999 (twice), and most recently, in 2015. A $2.25 million referendum in 2000 even ended in a tie vote that led to legal challenges that went all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But in 2020, the voters gave resounding approval to a $5,500,000 building and renovation plan. Of the 932 votes cast on November 3, 574 voted yes, and 358 no – a 62 percent majority… The LaFarge High School volleyball team was recognized by the Ridge & Valley Conference for their 2020 championship season. Natalie Marron was named Player of the Year as well as Hitter of the Year. Setter of the Year honors went to Hayden Benson, and Audrey Wirts was Defensive Specialist/Libero of the Year. Coach Alison Benson received the Coach of the Year recognition. The LaFarge squad won the school’s first conference championship in 20 years… The LaFarge boys and girls basketball seasons are still scheduled to begin later this month despite recent surges in COVID-19 infections in the county.

ONTARIO – At the end of October, the Ontario Public Library wrapped up their coloring contest and ‘Guess the Weight of the Pumpkin’ contest. Eliana Millerman and Jestee Tainter are the winners of the coloring contest. The huge pumpkin weighed in at 75.8 pounds, and Ivy Daines had the closest guess at 78 pounds… The Village of Kendall had a 92.41 percent turnout in the November 3 election. The village carried for President Trump, Derrick Van Orden… The Village of Norwalk had a 96.62 percent turnout in the November 3 election. The village carried for President Trump, Ron Kind, Dan Kapanke and Loren Oldenburg. The Village of Ontario carried for President Trump, Derrick Van Orden, Dan Kapanke and Loren Oldenburg… The Village of Wilton had a 86.97 percent turnout in the Nov. 3 election. The village carried for President Trump and Derrick Van Orden.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – Couleecap has helped many area and Crawford County residents through their COVID-19 programs which began in March. Couleecap launched a financial assitance program to help people pay critical bills when the March ‘Safer at Home’ order went into effect. In early June they also launched the Rental Assistance Program to help pay up to three months rent for low income residents meeting the income requirements, and merged the program with the financial assistance program… To support those in need, Nelson True Value in Prairie du Chien is holding a Toy and Food Drive through December 1. The company will forego its usual Christmas party, and instead use that money to empower their employees to give back to area families in need. Each employee received a check to buy toys and food for the drive… Although community members didn’t seem to know how a bull elk showed up on a rural Wauzeka sheep farm on Oct. 25, a regional DNR wildlife biologist suspects it was a wild elk, about two-to-three years old, that came down from a Black River Falls herd… Join other women in agriculture for Coffee Chats on the second Monday of each month, now through March, from 10-11 a.m. The UW-Extension office in Madison is hosting coffee chats as a Heart of the Farm program through the Wisconsin Women in Agriculture unit. Pre-register to join the virtual chats at

RICHLAND CENTER – Another setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic is that the annual Smiles For a Child event has been cancelled. However, Christmas itself has not been cancelled, and no one wants to see children be deprived of a happy holiday season. And so, the Ithaca Lions Club and Hombres M.C. are continuing to cosponsor the fundraising drive. Checks can be brought or sent to either of the two Richland Center banks to be deposited into Smiles For a Child accounts… Weston Elementary students recently celebrated Global Handwashing Day, a time to highlight the importance of handwashing with soap and water, at home, in the community, and around the world… President Trump had an edge over Vice President Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election in Richland County of 876 votes. Derrick Van Orden held a 3,588 to 3,513 edge over Ron Kind, and State Assemblymen Travis Tranel, Tony Kurtz and Todd Novak won re-election.

BOSCOBEL – The most recent meeting of the Boscobel School Board was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, to the surprise of no one. As of Noember. 9, School Nurse Susanne Brinkman reported that there were a total of 143 students out and 40 staff out… Removal of the Bohlman House on Parker Street, an iconic property located south of the Gundersen Boscobel Hospital and east of Gundersen’s Boscobel Clinic, was completed recently. The home was gifted by Vilas and Florence Bohlman to Boscobel Area Healthcare to expand local medical services… In recent presidential elections, Grant County has been a bellweather of who would end up winning Wisconsin’s electoral votes and the presidency. That streak ended in the 2020 presidential election held on November 3. Eight years after a majority of Grant County voters favored Democrat Barack Obama for the second election, and four years after a majority favored Republican Donald Trump, Grant County voters favored Trump 13,981 to 10,942 for Democrat Joe Biden. Iowa County voters followed a majority of the state in voting for Biden 7,828 to 5,907.

PLATTEVILLE – Firefighters from Platteville, Belmont, Cuba City, Dickeyville and Livingston fought a fire at a farm on College Farm Road south of Platteville on Sunday, Nov. 8. The fire started when gasoline was spilled on the hot engine of a bale wrapping machine, and was aided by strong south winds. Three hundred bales of corn fodder were destroyed, and firefighters were on the scene for five hours. One farm worker was taken to Southwest Health for observation due to smoke inhalation… The National Catholic Society of Foresters Court 228 of Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Dickeyville completed a fundraiser for the Southwestern Food Pantry, exceeding their goal of $750, raising $1,714.