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2020 – Year in Review
Muscoda YIR

MUSCODA – 2020 was quite a year – one most will likely never forget, no matter how much they may want to.


The Riverdale Wrestling Team competed in the 70 team Bi-State Classic over the holiday break.  With eleven wrestlers entered the team was able to finish 4th out of 19 Division 3 teams and 21st overall.  The team placed four wrestlers, Tyler Hach and Dawson Wilmot 6th, Justice Dilley 9th and Jonah Dennis 12th. Two other wrestlers, Ashton Miess and Jordan Keegan, finished one match short of placing.

It was many years ago, but Betty Hayes Baxter, Avoca, long-time area dance instructor, remembers her first encounter with the Harlem Globetrotters, famous professional basketball players. She was a small girl when her dad took her to see a Trotters performance in Milwaukee. Little did Betty know that a Trotter connection would resurface many years later, to a time when she would be looking down the road at her 90th birthday.


The 40th annual Avoca and Rural Fire Department Fisheree is scheduled for Saturday with fishing on Avoca Lake starting at 7:00 a.m. and continuing until 2:00 p.m. Other activities of the day will be at the Community Building, starting at 8:00 a.m. with the awarding for door prizes.

Two foreign exchange students are now in their second and final semester at Riverdale High School. They both can look back on their time here and smile about their time and experiences they have had. The young men, both rated as seniors, will graduate in the spring and then return home.  Bertalan Pinter is from Hungary and Iva’n Pastor from Spain.


Avoca is springing into the 13th annual St. Patrick’s parade this weekend, Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. Honored as Grand Marshals are LeRoy and Shirley Leeck.

Riverdale girls baskeball place two girls on SWAL All Conference team. The SWAL All Conference team was announced and the Riverdale Lady Chieftains had two girls voted to the first team. Tess Johnson (right) and Madison Couey (left), both Juniors were named to the first team. Tess had a great year, she averaged 17.7 points a game, shot 73.8% from the free throw line. Madison also had a great year, she averaged 13.8 points a game and shot 66.1% from the free throw line. Both girls were our captains this year and our floor leaders. Tess and Madison both put the time in during the off season by staying in the gym and playing summer basketball. It is a very deserved award!

Gov. Tony Evers today declared a public health emergency in response to new cases of COVID-19, directing the Department of Health Services (DHS) to use all the resources necessary to respond to and contain the outbreak. Just this week, Wisconsin has had 5 new cases of COVID-19 and Illinois and Minnesota have also seen increased cases. With these new cases there needs to be extensive contact tracing to contain the spread of COVID-19. Wisconsin also has 37 residents returning to Wisconsin from the Princess Cruise Ship who may have been exposed and need to be in monitored self quarantine for 14 days.


At the start of last week, Wisconsin had 47 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. One week later, as of Monday afternoon, Wisconsin had 416 diagnoses of COVID-19, and four Wisconsinites had died.

With the closure of public schools and the Safer at Home Order enacted by Governor Tony Evers, the Riverdale School District has been collaborating and creating ways to stay connected with students and families. We have worked diligently to provide educational support and a learning structure that works well and meets the needs of our learners. Some of the factors we have been carefully considering include the safety and health of our community and staff, student needs, internet service to our residents, availability of devices, and delivery of meals and materials to families.


Local “sidewalk engineers” and “just curious folks” had plenty of watching opportunities last week as two major projects in Riverside Park were moving forward. Last summer the planned upgrading of the park boat landing did not take place because of continual higher than normal Wisconsin River levels present during most of the summer and autumn. Currently the river flow is near the 100-year average for this time of year, permitting landing reconstruction to begin last week and progress.

Zea Rebekah Miller has been named valedictorian and Jordan Marie Kratochwill has been named salutatorian for the Riverdale High School 2020 graduating class. 

The Muscoda village board held a special meeting Tuesday, May 19 and approved opening the parks for full use, including restrooms and bathhouses, shelters, playground equipment, Jaycee ballpark, etc. It was also decided the flowerpots in the downtown area will be a village effort this summer. In past years it was a Chamber of Commerce project.


A couple of kayakers were camped in Riverside Park last week as part of their leisurely trip on the Wisconsin River. They were in no hurry. Why should they hurry? They said their paddles had previously taken them the full length of the river, from where it starts as a trickle coming out of Michigan Lake Desert, until it ends at the mighty Mississippi. The current trip was about enjoying nature and the river for a couple of weeks, with 20 miles of paddling a day about right.

Meeting Tuesday evening of last week at the Riverside Park “Chamber of Commerce Shelter,” organization members discussed the previously made decision to not hold a 2020 Fall Opener because of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic and efforts to prevent its spread by limiting large groups of people gathering in a small space.


The book is a sequel to his 2014 book Bringing Ethan Home. Bomkamp says: “I read a book about military dogs and wanted to write a story with a military dog as a character. In the first book the main character Ethan is just out of high school and decided to go into the Marines. He is paired up with a military dog as a handler. He ends up in Afghanistan and meets an Afghani boy named Jalal who helps as a translator. Ethan and the boy become friends and then Ethan is injured in a roadside bomb blast.  The boy thinking he is dead rescues the dog and hides out on the mountain above his village. In the end of the book, Ethan survives and the boy is brought to America because his life is in jeopardy for helping the soldiers.

A lightning bolt during a Tuesday night thunderstorm is being blamed for the fire that destroyed the Sportsman Clubhouse and most of its contents. A neighbor was credited for reporting the fire about 6:00 o’clock Wednesday morning, several hours after the storm had moved on.

The COVID-19 coronavirus continues to grow in Wisconsin. Grant County’s total of positive cases increased from 210 July 13 to 251 as of Monday, jumping from 3.94 cases per 1,000 population to 4.82 per 1,000, according to the state Department of Health Services and the Grant County Health Department.

The Muscoda Chamber of Commerce met in the Chamber Shelter in Victora Riverside Park Tuesday evening of last week with discussion regarding a possible replacement for the 2020 Fall Opener that had been planned for September but cancelled because of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic and resulting recommendations for limiting crowd sizes. 


Diana Michek recently retired from her Clerk of the Town of Pulaski position after 23 years working for that Iowa County township. The change came about as she and her husband Rodney sold their fifth generation Michek farm adjacent to County Highway P to their daughter and son-in-law and then moved to a home in the Carbil Road area of the Town of Muscoda.

Saturday turned out to be a good day for local Lions Club members to carry out the motto of their organization: “Where there is a need there is a Lion.” It was Stuff the Bus Day for Riverdale Schools as the Lions collected school supplies and money to provide needed items for children in the local school district. The collection effort was carried out from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the school district bus parking lot.

The Village of Muscoda’s Board of Trustees met in special session on Tuesday night July 21st to receive the results of the Village’s financial audit report for the year ended December 31, 2019. A representative from the Johnson Block & Company, Inc. Certified Public Accountants, presented the results to the Board. 

The results presented by the auditing firm were very positive as to the Village’s financial position. The report noted that the village continues to maintain an excellent supply of working capital. Governmental funds of the Village reported an increase in the overall fund balance.

The past week saw double-digit percentage growth in COVID-19 positive tests all but one Southwest Wisconsin county. Grant County’s total of positive tests increased 11.5 percent, from 357 Aug. 10 to 398 Monday — 4.05 percent of those tested — according to the state Department of Health Services, with 9,420 negative tests.

Tis the season for political conventions – for the Democrats last week and Republicans this week. Muscoda native Mary Hanrahan has a unique opportunity to compare the 2020 virtual, rather laid-back versions, with the high- energy hullabaloo-filled conventions of the past. She personally witnessed and voted at Democrat conventions of 1980 in New York, 1984 in San Francisco and 1988 in Atlanta, as an alternate delegate for the party.


New teachers face new challenges. This group of new teachers at Riverdale, as well as the veteran staff members, are facing many new challenges as the Coronavirus-19 Pandemic school year begins. The new staff members gathered for a photograph last week in front of the elementary school front entrance, observing pandemic social distancing recommendations. Shown front, from the left are Ashley Knutson, Kindergarten teacher, and Abbey Byrne, 4th grade teacher. Middle row: Rebekah Noll, Elementary Music teacher, and Tanner Williamson, Special Education teacher. Back row: Kally Koch, Agriculture teacher; Dawn Wirthwein, Special Education teacher, and Kally Clary, 5th and 6th grade Math and Science teacher. District Administrator Jon Schmidt noted many challenges are being faced by Riverdale administrators, school board members, teachers, children and parents as classes get underway with 5-day face-to-face teaching as well as virtual on-line offerings. On Wednesdays classes will end at noon. He said whatever the type of classes preferred, the Internet and computers will be important learning tools as the district works to educate the children and keep them safe. He said masks will be required and as many classes as possible will be held outdoors, such as physical education and music. He noted the district enrollment count will drop as some parents prefer to home–school their children during this unusual year.

Blue River Autumn Fest continues. “2020 – What a Year” was the theme of the Blue River Autumn Fest Parade held Sunday afternoon.  And what a year it has been, with community, state and national events canceled because of the Coronavirus-19 Pandemic. At Blue River a scaled-down Autumn Fest was held, with men’s fast pitch ballgames starting Thursday and continuing through Sunday. An unidentified parade walker was doing his best to eliminate the Coronavirus-19 threat that has caused so many problems this year.

Bob Vergin, Avoca, a recently retired 81-year-old truck driver, can look back on 50 years of driving big rigs more than three million miles, probably more, during that span behind the wheel. He proudly says he has a “clean record” for his years on the road, no accidents, except for the time a car driver ran his vehicle into Bob’s rear duals as he was making a turn. It was the Corona Virus-19 Pandemic that prompted Bob to leave the road – because it’s supposed to be safer at home now than it would be traveling through several states on a regular basis. 

September of 2020 has given the staff, students and families of the Riverdale School District a new experience in kicking off a school year. Everything from online registration, regorganizing lunches and bus routes, physical distancing in our buildings, face coverings, new hygienic procedures and creating new strategies that will work virtually and face to face have been a few of the new practices and challenges that have been incorporated this year.  


Meeting in special session Tuesday, September 22, the Muscoda village board approved allocation of “Covid-19 Recharge Funds” received through WPPI, the provider of electricity to the community.

At the end of September, the trends seemed to be clear on COVID-19 cases in Grant County - it was taking place in Platteville, and it was mostly college-age people getting infected.

The Riverdale School Board met last Monday night, October 12 for their monthly board meeting. During the report portion of the meeting, School Nurse Cedar Schneider shared the monthly Covid-19 cases and news with the board. During a recap of the meeting, District Administrator Johnathan Schmidt shared “We’ve been pretty lucky,” Schmidt said. “We’ve only had three positive (Covid) cases in the district and not a lot of close contact with those individuals.” At this time, Schmidt shared that Schneider noted there were no active cases with four pending, 11 students out awaiting results from siblings, and two staff pending with 18 close contact quarantines. 


Muscoda Village Administrator Cinda Johnson reports there were 76 newly registered voters casting their ballots during the Presidential Election held Tuesday of last week. Those voters were casting their ballots for the first-time-ever, or voting in Muscoda for the first time – enough to tip the local vote one way or another in some instances.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and for many it may look different than ever before. As with most things in 2020, the pandemic has slowed down grand plans we may have had in previous years. Although this may be the case, through food, a comforting celebration can still be had. 

During our November 9th board meeting the Riverdale School Board voted 9-0 to go ahead  with winter sports under the safety guidelines of the WIAA. Schools in the SWAL Conference and surrounding conferences in southwest Wisconsin are currently going to continue with winter sports.  We will monitor our teams, students, and upcoming opponents to make individual decisions on upcoming contests.


Will the current Covid-19 pandemic have an effect on the local Christmas tree market in 2020? Tom Franklin, Muscoda, a 31-year veteran of selling Christmas trees in this community, says his tree supplier in northern Wisconsin thinks it may be a good year for the tree business. Perhaps with people staying home to avoid contacting, or spreading the virus, folks with have more time to decorate a tree for the holidays. And hopefully, a decorated tree in the living or family room can brighten days during an otherwise somewhat dark season. Some businesses have experienced increased activity as people remodel their houses or get in involved in hobbies while staying safe at home.

Katy Grimm, who has operated her Pink Spot coffee shop adjacent to Wisconsin Avenue in Muscoda for about 10 years, says the current Covid-19 epidemic has made her business more challenging. But she notes because it’s a one-person operation, at least she doesn’t have to worry about the welfare of employees, as is the case with many locations providing a food service. 

The Riverdale School Board met Monday night in person and virtually.  Jon Schmidt, District Administrator, gave an update regarding students and staff COVID cases after the Thanksgiving break.  There was not the expected surge in cases during the following two weeks of the break.  However, there was an increase in close contacts and cases after the anticipated two weeks.  The school district will continue to keep students face to face as long as there is enough staff to operate and we feel that the school environment is safe for students and staff. 

On December 17, The Richland Hospital, Inc. received their first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine. Following federal and state guidelines to begin vaccinating frontline healthcare workers, the first wave of hospital employees have received the vaccine. Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Program Manager Lyle Kratochwill discusses the importance of this historic event, “While we are all very hopeful that this will be the turning point we’ve been waiting for since this pandemic began, we need to continue to be vigilant. We need to continue to wear our masks, wash our hands and keep our social distance. While some doses of vaccine are here and more are on the way, it will take many months to vaccinate everyone who wants it.”