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2020: Year in Review Part Two
Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout
Year in Review 2020

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

MAY:Scansin Brand, a Madison-based apparel design shop owned by Nicolas Boehm, recently launched its ‘Save ___’ campaign to encourage individuals to support local bars, restaurants and workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Boehm is a 1994 North Crawford graduate, and son of Alice and Gerald Boehm of rural Gays Mills… Seneca Schools SAE spotlight for the week is Dawson, a junior taking several ag classes this semester. Dawson is completing his SAE in animal science. “Let me just say he is knocking it out of the park in all things Ag,” said Ag Education Teacher Kally Koch… At least 20 meat processing plants have closed temporarily across the country, including one in Wisconsin, following the spread of COVID… The North Crawford School Board met for the first time with newly elected members Ed Heisz and Tanya Forkash participating. Next up, was election of board officers. Mary Kuhn was re-elected without contest to the position of board president. She nominated Jill Stefonek for board vice president, and Terry O’Donnell for board treasurer. Both were unanimously approved without contest. The board went on to approve Judy Powell as clerk, Jim Dworschack as Wisconsin Association of School Boards delegate, Tanya Forkash as CESA-3 delegate, and Jill Stefonek as correspondent. Committee assignments were made. As Terry O’Donnell is now board treasurer, he will replace Jim Dworschack on the Finance Committee… Sarah Lenzendorf has been named the valedictorian and Kolton Chambers the salutatorian of the Seneca High School Class of 2020…

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ELLEN BROOKS AND DAVE HACKETT have monitored water quality on Halls Branch Creek for over 20 years. The two were recognized in May of 2020 for their years of dedication by UW-Madison Division of Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are pleased to recognize Ellen Brooks and Dave Hackett for 20 years of volunteer stream monitoring with the Water Action Volunteers program… It was a sign of the times at the Seneca School Board meeting Monday night–the five board members present in school’s band room were all seated more than six-feet from each other. As were district administrator Dave Boland and the Independent-Scout reporter… Sugar Creek Park playground expansion is underway. Thanks go to the Ferryville Vision and Promotion Board for their dedicated fundraising efforts. Al Kirchner and Larry Quamme measured it out and flagged the space recently. John Dunnum and his crew from Concrete Concepts-Ferryville - removed the old swing sets last week, and started the prep to pour the playground pad… Driftless Wisconsin was awarded a $29,910 JEM (Joint Effort Marketing) Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism designed to promote the area to potential visitors and help area businesses recover from the covid-19 economic crisis… Following a year of unprecedented change for the cooperative and the world around it, Organic Valley today announced its fourth consecutive year of total sales exceeding $1.1 billion and a significant improvement in net earnings from ongoing operations as compared to 2018 results… Last week, Wisconsin State Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) submitted a letter of resignation to Senate President Roger Roth indicating her intention to resign from her position as State Senator… Local resident Jayne Swiggum has decided to throw her hat in the ring with a campaign for Wisconsin State Senator of the 32nd District. She is currently gathering signatures to have her name placed on the ballot in the Democratic Primary Election in August… The Conway Lake Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project located in Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River has started its construction phase. Many boaters and other river users may have noticed construction equipment in the Shore Slough area, north of Lansing, Iowa… The Crawford County Ridge Runners ATV/UTV Club held a ride on Sunday, May 24. The ride kicked off in Steuben, and from there headed to Seneca, Gays Mills, Soldiers Grove, Rolling Ground, and Mt. Zion. About 25 UTVs participated in the event… Katherine Schellhorn has been named the valedictorian and Hallie Toedter the salutatorian of the North Crawford High School Class of 2020.

JUNE:The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department and the Circuit Court System have adapted to operating in the COVID-19 pandemic to function quite well. There is now virtually no in-person activity in the Crawford County Courthouse. Appearances, status hearings, bail hearings, pleas and sentencing are all being handled remotely via Zoom meetings… The Wisconsin Election Commission has approved spending $7.2 million in federal CARES Act funding, including a $4.1 million block grant program to help local and state election officials and voters prepare for Fall 2020 elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic…  Janelle Anderson is the new Ferryville Farmers Market Manager… Highway 82 across the Mississippi River between Highway 35 and Lansing, Iowa, will be closed for construction June 6-14, 2020. The closure is necessary to facilitate construction improvements along 1.4 miles of Highway 82 between the intersection of Highways 82 and 35 at the Mississippi River. Traffic must use alternate routes during the closure… Sue Ristow has worked with husband Bruce Ristow to monitor water quality on Tainter Creek in rural Soldiers Grove for nine years. The Ristows were recently honored by Water Action Volunteers for their many dedicated years of service… After moving quickly to withdraw the village’s Declaration of Emergency, the Soldiers Grove Village Board made the decision to move forward with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application to address needed upgrades to their sanitary sewer system… Nicole Fortney from Royal Bank Gays Mills, delivered a check to Gays Mills Food Pantry manager Kent Salmon. Use of food pantry services has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic… A feature on the Discovery Channel featuring Wisconsin land trusts, and the work on the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, premieres Sunday, June 14 at 5 p.m. on WXOW… 

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KAYLA BEERS, left, became the 2020 Crawford County Dairy Princess in June of 2020. She was crowned at a ceremony in Boscobel, with 2019 Dairy Princess Regan Kramer presenting her with the crown, sash and a bouquet of roses.

Kayla Beers became the 2020 Crawford County Dairy Princess last Saturday in Boscobel, when Regan Kramer, the 2019 Dairy Princess presented her with the crown, sash and a bouquet of roses. Little Miss Squirt is Kaylee Jelinek and Little Miss Squirt Attendant is Johanna Sime… The closure of Highway 82 across the Mississippi River between Highway 35 and Lansing, Iowa, has been extended to July 2… At their Tuesday, June 16 meeting, the Crawford County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously by voice vote to place a Fair Maps referendum on the ballot for the November 3, 2020 election.

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JOSEFINE JAYNES was the youngest candidate on the ballot running for the 96th Wisconsin State Assembly seat. Jaynes is shown at a Democratic Party candidate forum held in Gays Mills.

JULY:  The youngest candidate on the ballot this year, Josefine Jaynes, showed she could hold her own with the more experienced candidates at the Democratic Party’s candidate forum in Gays Mills on Monday… Nikki Grossman and Joe Hart, who make up the Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers dreamed up an idea after watching their entire 2020 performance season disappear due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Wisconsin-based country/Americana music act has planned a socially distanced, private outdoor concert series called ‘Safe&Sound’ on their seven-acre homestead near Soldiers Grove… Now in its seventh year, Ethos Green Power has purchased a five-acre property from the Vernon Economic Development Association. Next to the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua, the solar company aligns with the focus on healthy rural small business. Plans are in the works to construct a 7,200-square-foot warehouse and workshop for the expansion of the business, beyond the current location at 729 N Main Street in Viroqua… Travel Wisconsin recently asked residents to nominate their favorite brewery on social media in the ultimate Wisconsin Brewdown. With a reach of nearly 124,000 people, and more than 2,500 responses, Driftless Brewing Company of Soldiers Grove ranked among the top 20 in the state… As a full moon rose over the hills, the Gays Mills Fire Department began their annual fireworks display at the ball diamond. It was a beautiful night and the event was well-attended…

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BERNICE LUND, right, celebrated 40 years of working at the Apple Valley Veterinary Clinic at Dr. Richard Dudgeon’s homemade ice cream social last summer. The event is an annual social highlight. On hand for the event, featuring 20 flavors of ice cream, was Lisa Greene and her canine friend Cletus.

 The Apple Valley Veterinary Clinic in Gays Mills will celebrate 40 years of service for Bernice Lund. Lund’s smiling face and sympathetic voice are the first thing many animals visiting the clinic experience… The McGregor Lake Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project located in Pool 10 of the Upper Mississippi River has concluded its first phase of construction which included the placement of approximately 70,000 cubic yards of sand at the tip of McGregor Lake… Randy Swiggum and his brother Dan from Monona, Wisconsin, appeared in front of the Soldiers Grove Village Board at their meeting to discuss support for a project to regenerate Myrtle Lake. The lake is located in the old part of the village in the park… Westby Cooperative Creamery is giving its 6,280-gallon silo on Main Street a facelift and wrapping it to look like a giant cottage cheese container. The change pays homage to the area’s dairy heritage and designation as ‘The Cottage Cheese Capital of Wisconsin’… The Crawford County Board passed a resolution adopting Act 185, which pushes back the deadline from July 31 to October 1 for people to pay their second installment of 2019 real estate taxes… Numerous emergency responders rushed to save a 71-year old Liberty Township man who was trapped in a grain bin. David Reiter was trapped in a bin that was half full of shelled corn, about 10,000 bushels… Shockwaves rippled through the trout fishing and conservation communities late last week when news of a planned 18,000-bird organic egg facility in the Timber Coulee Creek valley came to light. Landowner Les Reimer has already begun site preparation for the barn, at the intersections of Olstad Road and Dogwood Lane in the Vernon County Town of Coon. Approval of a building permit was on the Town of Coon Board meeting agenda for Tuesday, July 21… Even though COVID-19 canceled the 10th Annual Stump Dodger Bash,  Jim and Allison Showen still wanted to contribute to The Wheel of Todd. They had a couple of bands that wanted to play for free, and they sold can coozies and had a donation bucket at the July Fourth music event. Donations totaled $4,067. The Showen Family is one of the charitable organization’s major contributors… In the morning hours of July 15, 2020, the Muscoda Sportsman’s Club clubhouse was destroyed by a fire started by an overnight lightning strike. While the club has insurance to cover part of the building, and some of its contents, the money falls short of what is needed to rebuild… Outgoing village clerk Tammy Kepler introduced Kaitlynn Gander, the new Soldiers Grove Village Clerk. Gander lives in the village with her daughter Emree. Kepler served for 14 years…

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BUN CARLEY’S year to win came at the 2020 Kickapoo Valley Open horseshoe tournament held in Gays Mills. The 2019 winner Ken Heinritz, shown just in back of Carley who is pitching, took third this year.

2020 was Bun Carley’s year to win the Kickapoo Valley Open Horseshoe Tournament held last weekend at the Kickapoo Ringer’s competition horseshoe pitching facility near the Gays Mills Log Cabin Village. Last year’s winner Ken Heinritz took third this year.

AUGUST:Nurse Jayne Swiggum remained undeterred and gathered the necessary signatures to have her name appear on the ballot for the 32nd District State Senate Democratic Primary Election scheduled for Tuesday, August 11. She proceeded into her campaign refusing to take any campaign contributions. Her efforts were noticed by an independent film production company, Stray Pony Productions, who have begun a video production featuring Swiggum’s run for State Senate… The Ferryville Vision and Promotion Board reports that the playground is going up at Sugar Creek Park, thanks to the many donors and volunteers. Installation has started with the village’s contractor, Lee Recreation from Cambridge… Making a $4,000 donation, the Village of Wilton recently was the first contributor toward an effort to buy flood-monitoring equipment for the Kickapoo... Wild Rose Dairy, a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) dairy located in rural LaFarge, responsible for manure spills into Otter Creek in 2017 and 2019, is seeking WPDES permit renewal and to expand their operation… Citron Creek, as it runs through the farm of Eastman Township farmer Don Dudenbostel, has been the location of an ambitious streambank restoration project that was completed last week. The project involved massive re-sloping of the banks of one-half mile of stream. This was to address the nine-foot vertical banks that had developed along the stretch of stream due to heavy rainfalls and sedimentation. The resulting sloping, grassed banks are designed to reconnect the stream with its floodplain, slow down and spread out the runoff from heavy rainfall events, and prevent the Dudenbostel’s topsoil from eroding… Seneca’s three fall sports seasons will be moved to spring, the Seneca School Board decided at their meeting Monday night. On a 6-0 voice vote, the board approved moving football, volleyball and cross country to a season following the end of winter sports and before the start of spring sports…

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TODD OSMAN of Gays Mills is seen descending into the cave on the property of John Shimpach in Marietta Township. The cave is big enough to stand up in, and participants reached it by descending into the cave holding onto a rope.

The public was invited to participate in a Karst Geology Exploration sponsored by the Crawford Stewardship Project. And perhaps the most eye-opening part of the tour was a visit to the land of John Shimpach, which contains a cave large enough to stand up in. Shimpach’s property where the cave is located is just off Harvest Lane in Marietta Township, about a half mile from the proposed location for Roth Feeder Pigs II… Ellen Brooks and Dave Hackett own 37-acres near Gays Mills. They have found a way to permanently protect this land that they have nurtured and loved with a conservation easement through the Mississippi Valley Conservancy… Don and Kim Dudenbostel and their family were honored as Conservation Farm Family of the Year last week at the Crawford County Conservation Awards Ceremony… The Crawford County Board voted at their August meeting to lend support to a proposal from a Green Bay company, called Bug Tussel. The proposal involves building 16, 300-foot-tall, cell phone towers in every area of the county. It will involve the county borrowing $250,000 to make the project happen. Crawford County Clerk Janet Geisler confirmed that the item listed on the board’s Tuesday, Aug. 18 meeting agenda, in the ‘Recognitions and Appearances’ portion of the agenda, the board had decided to take a vote on the matter. Attorney George Wilbur, who practices in La Farge and serves as the Whitestown Board Chairperson, stated that what appeared in the Crawford County Board Agenda violated the open meetings guidance of what constitutes proper notice… Deputy Sheriff Jake Johnson and Conservation Warden Shawna Stringham were recognized by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department for their efforts in saving the life of a man in his 50s who had collapsed during a bicycle ride near Ontario. Dispatcher Corinna Halvorson efficiently dispatched volunteers from Ontario EMS/Fire and also sent Johnson and Stringham, who were nearby.