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September 3: 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 – Forty years ago, Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School in Viroqua was founded by a small group of families looking for a simpler life in the rural valleys and ridges that surround Viroqua and environs. From its humble beginnings as a one-room schoolhouse with three students and one teacher, Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School has grown to serve over 130 children in early childhood through eighth grade. Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School’s milestone anniversary year coincides with the centennial celebration of Waldorf Education worldwide… During the month of September, VIVA Gallery will feature the work of Gary Galger, a Viroqua photographer. VIVA’s monthly First Thursday artist reception remains on hold. Gary grew up in Milwaukee and moved to Colorado in 1976. During his three decades in the state, he took up fly-fishing and photography. He enjoys wandering the area with camera and fly rod in hand. Galger has been behind a lens since he was 13 years old when, inspired by a nature magazine, he asked his parents for a camera. Although he has dabbled in drawing, painting and carving, he always returned to his first love, photography. The practice of Miksang (a Tibetan word meaning the ‘good eye’) has had a pivotal influence on his work, teaching him to see the basic elements of the visual environment: line, color, shape and texture. For Gary, it is both a meditation and the way he practices his craft. His striking compositions have been shown throughout the country and have won numerous awards… The Vernon County Historical Society marked the women’s suffrage centennial with a celebration in Viroqua on the county museum’s north lawn, Wednesday, Aug. 26. The celebration was held on Women’s Equality Day, which is observed in the United States on August 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United State on the basis of sex. The Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration included Maud Neprud (portrayed by Shaynan Holen) welcoming those in attendance. Neprud, who was born in Coon Valley in 1892, was the first Vernon County woman elected to public office and served as County Superintendent of Schools from 1917 to 1919. She was also the first woman in Wisconsin to be elected as a county schools superintendent, according to one obituary. She died in 1981… Westby has a new city logo, which features a ski jumper, the Stabbur House, and the Norwegian and American flags… The Cashton Lions will host a ‘Stuff the Bus’ donation drive. The drive-thru fundraiser will be held  on September 5. The Lions Club is hosting the donation drive to help families with school-age children who may not be able to provide all of the supplies needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lions members also wish to show their support to the area dairy farmers who have also been impacted by the pandemic through the distribution of ice cream treats to their visitors.

LA FARGE – The application of Wild Rose Dairy in the Town of Webster to add 1,000 animal units to their dairy operation was discussed at the meeting on August 19. The matter also concerns the Town of Stark as water running off the ridge where the farm is located flows into two watersheds that flow through the town – Otter and Weister Creeks. It appears that a public hearing on Wild Rose’s application will be held, and the board members felt like they should attend though no date has yet been set for the hearing… The LaFarge School Board made a change to their tech policy at their August 17 meeting. This change will allow students to take Chromebooks home with them for study purposes. Parents or guardians are required to sign off on that approval. The update is especially important if school gets shut down again due to illness, or if a student is confined at home for awhile due to COVID-19… At the Town of Stark annual meeting, held on August 18 after being postponed since April due to COVID-19, Supervisor Barb Sarnowski reported she had attended a Wisconsin Towns Association County Meeting. She said one item discussed was the future of the Vernon County landfill. A straw poll of those attending had all but one town official in favor of expanding the landfill. The only exception was the Town of Viroqua, ironically, the town where the landfill is located.

ONTARIO – As of last week, ownership of the Ontario, Kendall, and Wonewoc Fastrips will transfer from United Co-op of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, to Shane Nottestad of Westby. Nottestad also owns the Zzip Stop convenience stores in Westby, LaFarge and Genoa. United purchased the Fastrips in 2013, when it merged all of the assets of the Hillsboro Farmers Co-op. United will continue its ownership of the Wilton Mill and Wilton Fastrips… The Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School Board discussed a range of subjects at their August 24 meeting, many of them related to COVID-19. N-O-W will offer both five-day-a-week, in-person school and virtual school, starting September 1. The board learned that 33 students have enrolled in the virtual education option for elementary students, and 28 have enrolled in the program for seventh through 12thgrade students. 50 percent of families have indicated they will require school bus transportation. The district will install flexible plexiglass barriers around the bus driver seats… The former Kendall Motors building, now owned by Mary Jo Hill of Kendall, was vandalized a week ago. The spray paint markings include ‘BLM’ (Black Lives Matter) and ‘ACAB’ (All Cops Are Bastards). Some of the vandalism occurred at high points of the building walls, suggesting the damage was done by adults or older children… In a change of direction from two weeks ago, the Brookwood School District has decided to go ahead with cross-country competition in the fall season. Spectators will be allowed, but they will be required to follow CDC guidelines such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. The athletes will be given gaiter-style masks, which they will use when not competing and at the start of races.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – The Prairie du Chien School Board voted 4-3 at the meeting on August 24 to have all five of its sports this fall. Fall sports include football, boys soccer, girls golf, boys and girls cross country, and volleyball. Board members Cassie Hubanks, Lynn O’Kane, and Michael Higgins voted against having fall sports this fall…A Prairie du Chien woman is making colorful masks to fight COVID-19 and also in support of the Lions Club of Prairie du Chien and Seneca. Carol Crusan said that she has been making the unique masks since early May after being taught by her granddaughter Jamie Crusan and Jamie’s mother Dawn Crusan. Carol, who is a member of each Lions Club, sells each mask for a free will donation. The funds are split evenly between the two clubs… A Trump boat parade was planned by the Crawford County Republicans for Saturday, August 29, at 10:30 a.m., in Prairie du Chien… On August 13-16, the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) World Series was held in Beloit, Wisconsin. A local team was able to bring home the gold in Division A. Lifetime Seamless Gutters is a team based in Eastman. Most of the players are local and have been playing for years.

RICHLAND CENTER – On Monday, August 24, Richland Center City Utilities Water Department held a ribbon cutting at the new Southeast reservoir. The project built on land overlooking the Starlight 14 Drive-In has been under construction since late last summer. The reservoir, built out of pre-cast concrete panels, has recently been put into service for the utility. The reservoir holds 500,000 gallons of water, and is the third storage reservoir in the system… The Richland County Board of Supervisors clarified the role of the County Administrator at their August meeting. The board passed a resolution related to the County Administrator being the chief administrative officer of the county regarding his authority to appoint and supervise the heads of all departments except those elected by the voters… Starting on Tuesday, Sept. 9, the Richland County Community Services Building will be reducing the office hours that they are open to the public. The building will now open at 8 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m.