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November 26: News from around the Driftless Area
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 –Traction Trailworx LLC is out at Sidie building new trail (an incredible reroute of a key piece of an old favorite). The project will take a slight rest during the deer hunting season, and will continue after until Mother Nature says so. DNR (trail) will remain closed until further notice. This applies to ALL Trail users. Professional Trail building carries an expense for Vernon Trails. Please respect the closure and the work… The Coulee Region Humane Society is hosting a Caricature Fundraising event to help raise money for the animals in their care. They are offering a total of 40 portraits, which will be illustrated by artists Mike Klen and Michael Martino from Coulee Caricatures. The cost is $25 per illustration and $5 for each additional pet/person. A total of five subjects will be allowed. Please call 608-781-4014 between 9 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday and 1 pm – 5 pm Saturday & Sunday to reserve your portrait… #ShopSmallSaturday takes place on November 28th! Shoppers are encouraged to use online shops for local businesses if they have them, or call and request curbside pick up whenever possible to reduce in-person contact (and ALWAYS mask up!) Local businesses are working hard to make shops as available as possible––including the Viroqua Public Market that has reduced their hours to increase sanitation time! Viroqua Area Main Street encourages shoppers to show the city’s superb small businesses some love this holiday season… Driftless Provisions in Viroqua is thrilled to share that their Venison Salami Picante and Spicy Finnochiona have been chosen this year as Good Food Award Finalists... The McIntosh Memorial Library, Vernon County Historical Society, and Ridgeland Restorations LLC are partnering together for bimonthly “Conversations” programs. The program is held on the first and third Friday of every month at 10:30 a.m. Funding for the program provided by Bader Philanthropies, Inc. The presentations are held on Vernon Communications Co-op Community television channel 14 or the Library's YouTube Channel, McIntosh Memorial Library Viroqua… The Viroqua Fire Department is sorry to inform the public that this years Toys for Tots Chili Supper will not happen, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have discussed this with local officials, the Toys for Tots leaders and members of our department. We know this a community event that many look forward to every year. With that said, we are trying something different this year. This year the fire department will be hosting a "Toys for Tots Donation Drive Thru"!! On December 2nd, starting at 5 p.m., the fire department members will be outside near our new training tower to collect donations for Toys for Tots. In exchange for your donations, every person in your vehicle will receive a token for a scoop of fresh frozen custard to be redeemed at the Viroqua Culvers. One more surprise... Santa agreed to come on down and say "Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas" to all the passing cars!

LA FARGE – The LaFarge Area Partners Association will hold a ‘Lights of Love’ ceremony on December 5, at 5 p.m., near the large tree at the United Methodist Church on Penn Street. The ceremony is to honor and remember the loss of a loved one. Jars and posters have been placed in local LaFarge businesses for donations and sign-up sheets. A two dollar donation is requested. Names will be read at the tree lighting ceremony. Proceeds will go to LAPA for the revitalization of Main Street… Dean Steinmetz spoke to the LaFarge Village Board at their November 9 meeting about an Economic Development Administration grant, which had generated a public hearing and future flood scenarios. He told them that a proposed levee would have three options to protect the village. One would be a 100-year flood design, another a 500-year flood design, and the third would be a smaller levee that would allow water to go over the highway by Nuzum’s and block Highway 82 during a 50-year flood. Even if the board picks a levee system, it will require money and could be eight years before it is completed… An old-fashioned wood-cutting bee took place recently at the farm of Danny and Paula White on Summit Ridge in rural LaFarge. More than thirty people, including members of the LaFarge and Viola fire departments, participated to help the Whites replenish their woodpile for the coming winter. Danny White was injured in a tractor versus dump truck accident in July, and subsequent complications have left him unable to complete the heavy chore himself.

ONTARIO – William Reekumani (Ho Chunk – ‘Walks with the South Wind’) Greendeer, 66, Cashton, passed away on Thursday, November 5. Bill was a medicine lodge member, and was proud of his culture, helping to preserve and share its customs. He was an environmental activist, and was passionate about ‘Rights of Nature.’ Bill served as a representative to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. He was also a talented artist, and loved motorcycles, especially Harley-Davidsons… County Line newspaper editor emeritus Karen Parker writes in her Nov. 12 ‘Backtalk’ column, “The Wilton Village Board is divided over mask wearing because they “can’t tell people what to do.” Really? Try sitting down at the next meeting with a cigarette and ash tray and see how long it takes the board to recover its ability to tell people what to do. How did something as straight forward as public health become a political football?.. Our legislature met last spring, decided how to spend the CARES money sent by the federal government, and then disappeared. Occasionally, they crawl out of their hole and encourage the Tavern League to sue the governor over his maximum occupancy limits to bars and restaurants. As taxpayers, we should be outraged that they are collecting some $50,000 a year to just stay home...” A long time county official and familiar face in Monroe County announced her retirement on Nov. 2. Sharon Nelson, who has served with the Monroe County Health Department for 44 years and is currently the director. She will be joined in retirement by the assistant director, Pam Rainwater, who has been with the department for 36 years. Nelson said abuse from the public over the virus was not a factor in her decision as it has been in other counties.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – COVID-19 related issues dominated the regular Prairie du Chien School Board meeting in November. It was reported that there had been 30 people, including support staff, teachers and students who had tested positive within the school district as of Monday night. There were nine active positive cases at that time. Also, there were 130 people who are under quarantine, including support staff, teachers and students. Aside from the school board meeting, in a letter to parents sent by District Administrator Andy Banasik and School Nurse Ashley Burns, Prairie du Chien High School will be moving to virtual learning starting Wednesday, Nov. 11. This move is due to two positive cases of high school staff, subsequent quarantines of other staff, and a shortage of substitutes to fill the positions. There are no student close contacts identified for either of these two high school staff cases. The district’s current plan is to return to its blended/face-to-face/virtual learning options on Thursday, Nov. 19… The Vietnam Veterans of America and River Town Ironworks, in Prairie du Chien, recently donated a metal Back the Blue flag to the Prairie du Chien Police Department in a gesture of support for local law enforcement. The flag is displayed at the law enforcement center. Steve Pape, of Guttenberg, Iowa, a national associate member of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), spearheaded this effort, alongside River Town Ironworks’ co-owner Jim Armstrong and the company’s employees… In an effort to mitigate the local spread of COVID-19, the Guttenberg city council on Nov. 9 unanimously passed a resolution mandating the use of face coverings in public places within the city limits. A letter from Dr. Michele Dikkers, chair of the Clayton County Board of Health and a family physician, had cited an alarming rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county. She asked the city to ask all businesses to wear masks. Dr. Andrew Smith spoke of the strain currently placed on the local hospital and healthcare workers by the large increase in cases.