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October 29: 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 – Halloween will be different for children in Viroqua, as the City Council voted Oct. 13 to cancel citywide trick-or-treating, and Viroqua Chamber Main Street announced Oct. 15 it was canceling downtown trick-or-treating because of the COVID-19 pandemic… A virtual costume contest is being held to celebrate Halloween in Viroqua. Dress up in your favorite costume, set the scene with some props, strike a pose and snap a photo. Submit your photo with your name, phone number and age to mcintoshmemoriallibrary@gamil.comfor a chance to win prizes… The Viroqua Area School Board received numerous back-to-school updates at its most recent meeting. District Administrator Tom Burkhalter said the district will continue with the cohort model. The cohort model is for seventh to 12thgrade, and includes two days per week of in-person learning, and three days per week of virtual learning… Saturday, Oct. 24 would have been the 2021 Snowflake Royalty Coronation, when a new court would have been crowned to represent the Snowflake Ski Club. The year 2020 has affected everyone near and far due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a typical year, the royalty would participate in many community events to help promote the club. Unfortunately, this court only made it through the 97thannual Snowflake Ski Tournament before COVID-19 started to make its way here. The girls have never worn their new formal gowns for events, and they were never able to ride on a float at a parade. Since the young ladies were all sophomores at the time of their coronation, they are being allowed to extend their reign through 2021 and their junior years…

LA FARGE – The LaFarge Girls Volleyball team, and the Girls and Boys Cross Country teams, are the 2020 Ridge & Valley Conference champions… The Vernon County Zoning Board met virtually on October 13. Zoning Administrator Ashley Oliphant reported three septic pumping violations, 13 active FEMA cases with seven of them already submitted to Madison, and a dispute with a computer software firm… The Vernon County Muesum reports that there are about 100 old rural schoolhouses still in existence in Vernon County, even if they are no longer recognizable as having formerly been schools. Many schools have been converted into private residences, some have been turned into farm buildings, and others have been repurposed in other ways… The Village of Viola received a grant for $100,000 to purchase equipment for the water and sewer department, public works department, and the police department. The village’s 2007 utility truck has major steering issues, making it unsafe to drive, and the dump truck is 19 years old, rusted, and has major transmission issues, and the mower with snowblower is in need of constant repair. The village oversees the mowing of all the green spaces created when homes are demolished, and an additional 17 properties will be added soon. The village will purchase a truck and Bobcat with an angle broom that can be used for snow removal.

ONTARIO – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Norwalk’s Friends of the Community group’s 23rdannual Thanksgiving dinner will be offered as a curbside pickup from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8, at the Norwalk Community Center… The Elroy American Legion Auxiliary’s Quilts of Valor group presented quilts to Kendall American Legion members Ronald Bloor and Frances Trepes at a recent meeting…Aaron Anderson (stage name Aaron Scott), a Tomah resident and Wilton native, performed in a blind audition on NBC’s 19thseason of ‘The Voice’ recently. Anderson sang ‘Hemorrhage’ by Fuel. He will continue with the show as a member of Blake Shelton’s team… The Kendall Public Library will have special hours on Halloween, from 2-4 p.m. The library, and their neighbors, Three Sisters Treasures, will have treats for any ghosts or goblins that stop by.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – Island restoration/construction continues on the McGregor Lake Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project located in Pool 10 between Marquette, Iowa and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Mechanical dredging is scheduled to start the week of November 2. Phase one of the project was completed in June of this year with 70,000 cubic yards of sand being placed at the upper end of McGregor Lake by the Corps. The McGregor Lake project will include improving/creating over 380 acres of floodplain forest, 270 acres of aquatic habitat, and 21 acres of emergent wetland throughout the 1,063 acre project area. Restoration plans for the remainder of this year include the removal of dead/dying trees and placing sand and topsoil on the current island footprint, raising the island elevation… Visit with the spirits of some notable Prairie du Chien figures on the grounds of Fort Crawford Museum this Saturday, October 31, during their ‘Spirits of Fort Crawford’ event. Reservations are required… Prairie Sand and Gravel owner, Blair Dillman of Prairie du Chien, hosted a meeting with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel, and a few local residents Thursday to discuss the high water in Pool 10 during recent years, along with the loss of numerous trees and some islands. Dan Fasching, the Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District Water Manager for the Upper Mississippi River, told the group via cell phone that the past 10 years, and especially the past five years, have been a wet cycle for the Upper Midwest. In fact, the past five years have been the wettest on record.  Fasching noted that 2019 was by far the wettest on record for the Upper Midwest and the Upper Mississippi River. In fact, he said the volume of water that flowed through Pool 10 in 2019 shattered the all time record. For the year, 77.9 million acre feet of water flowed through Pool 10. The former record was 59 million acre feet in 1993. These records have been kept since 1965. The average volume since 1965 is 38 million acre feet. The locks and dams were built in the 1930s, and were not designed for flood or high water control. “With high flow, we don’t have any control,” said Fasching. “We have some control at normal to low flow.” Fasching also explained that at very high flow, all gates on all dams in the Upper Mississippi River have to be wide open, there is simply no choice. “We just have to get out of the way and let the river do its thing,” he said, in noting that if they attempted to hold water back, severe scour holes and damage of the dams would be the result under such conditions. Blair Dillman asked Fasching how much acre feet of storage is there in Pool 9 versus Pool 10. Fasching explained that there really is no such storage. Fasching said the locks and dams do not have flood storage. They have storage but it’s such a small amount that it only effects things at normal and low flow, not flood flow. In short, regarding the record-setting high flows of the past five years, there was nothing the Corps of Engineers could do to stop the high flows and the near constant state of high water.

BOSCOBEL – When you think of fresh Wisconsin Cranberries, what is the first place that comes to mind? Perhaps Warrens? Hayward? One would likely not venture to guess that it would be rural Richland County. However, tucked away next to Steamboat Rock between Richland Center and Rockbridge you’ll find Steamboat Rock Cranberries LLC - Wisconsin’s southernmost cranberry operation. Steamboat Rock Cranberries is a family affair, built on the dream of Cary Norman, a lifelong Richland Center resident… The Boscobel boys cross country team has done it again. On Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Bulldogs continued their reign at the top of the SWAL Conference by winning their second consecutive conference title…Boscobel’s Pete O’Brien was that he “couldn’t pass it up” when he heard the grunt of the 10-point buck he recently shot in the bow deer season. He took the shot within 15 yards near Mt. Hope, and shot it right through the heart. The buck weighed 200 pounds, with a 19-inch inside spread.