May 6: 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 –Approximately 150 Wisconsin Army National Guard soldiers from the 107th Maintenance Company will deploy to Eastern Europe this spring. The Sparta-based unit, with detachments in Viroqua and Camp Ripley, Minnesota, will mobilize to U.S. European Command in Eastern Europe to conduct maintenance and recovery operations in the region in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, and a multinational joint exercise – Defender-Europe-2021… The Legal Affairs Committee of the Vernon County Board of Supervisors again discussed decreasing the size of the county board at their April 14 meeting. Supervisor Shawn Redington, who represents District 29 in parts of the towns of Greenwood and Hillsboro, was the first to bring the topic up. He also suggests that many of the county board committees be combined. Redington contends that surrounding counties all have smaller boards, and feels Vernon County should go the same way… Friends of Vernon County Parks & Forests will offer ‘Yoga in the Park’ at Sidie Hollow County Park on Friday, May 7, at 6:30 p.m., with instructor Jackie Burhans. Participants should bring a yoga mat, water, and an enthusiasm for nature… Friends of Vernon County Parks & Forests will offer their first ‘Music in the Parks’ event at the Sidie Hollow Campground on Saturday, May 15, at 1 p.m. Music will be provided by ‘Spring String Thing.’ They’ve got a mini-music festival planned with High & Rising, Pigtown Fling String Band and Crooked Willow. Each band will play two sets of music at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pack a picnic and a cooler, and stay for the entire day, or book a campsite and stay.

LA FARGE – The Kickapoo Valley Reserve has announced an all-outdoor lecture series for the spring of 2021. Hikes are free and open to the public. Register for the talks at the KVR website. On Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m., the subject will be ‘Spring Ephemerals.’ Cathy Chybowski, naturalist and life science teacher, will take participants on a walk to look for a profusion of spring ephemerals and more. Learn what an ephemeral flower is, why they are seen in the spring, why they bloom in the woods, and so much more… Hayden Benson of LaFarge High School has been named to the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Team. It is an honor to be named a participant to the WBCA All-Star games as this event showcases seniors in each division who possess great talent and tremendous character… A three-alarm fire in McMinnville, Oregon, on Tuesday, April 20, destroyed the Organic Valley Creamery. The company, based in LaFarge, owns the creamery. Fire officials stated that damage to the facility could be upwards of 40 to 50 million dollars. The buildings are completely insured. Residents within a half-mile radius of the plant were told to evacuate when the fire was burning due to the possibility of an ammonia leak. When it was determined that there was no damage to the large ammonia tanks, the order was rescinded. The McMinnville Fire Department said the fire was accidental, and broke out during routine maintenance in one of the dry warehouses. None of the 47 employees was injured in the fire.

ONTARIO – The Wilton Fire Department burned the former Sterling-Schwartz home near the intersection of Highway 71 and Walker Street on a recent Saturday morning. A new Dollar General will be built on the site later this year… A Monroe County highway worker was recently injured in a two-vehicle crash near Kendall. The incident is a sobering reminder of the importance of paying attention while driving in work zones. In the accident, a Monroe County Highway Department truck was struck from behind by a semi traveling eastbound on Highway 71. The highway truck was the last in a row of vehicles that were performing maintenance work on the shoulder of the road. The driver of the highway truck was injured in the crash and taken to the hospital, and the driver of the semi was uninjured… The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department has announced it is seeking members of the public to join the Monroe County Sheriff’s Reserves. After some years of not expanding, the sheriff’s department has restructured the program, which has been in existence since 1966. Members of the Reserve help by assisting with a number of law enforcement services, including large event security, traffic control, inmate transport, and guarding and crime scene security.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – The Prairie du Chien Historical Society began welcoming the public back to Fort Crawford and the Prairie du Chien Museum beginning on Saturday, May 1, and will be open throughout the season until October 31. The museums will be open seven days per week, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The 2021 season marks 25 years of existence for the Prairie du Chien Historical Society, which has many celebratory events planned for the season… St. Peter Lutheran Church members recently held their spring ‘Gods Work, Our Hands’ trail clean up event. Church members young and old were able to help clean up trash along the bike trails of the by-pass and South Marquette Road… Fifteen years ago, a monthly mobile food pantry began at St. John’s Catholic Church in Patch Grove. The pantry, formed to serve the need of the community, remains in operation to this day, and serves families from Grant and Crawford counties, and Northeast Iowa. The food the pantry distributes is supplied by Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. Recipients can travel from anywhere to the pantry, and no income guidelines are required. Distribution occurs every second Tuesday, starting at 12:30 p.m. About 14 volunteers staff the mobile pantry, and food is distributed in a COVID-friendly drive-through format… Former Prairie du Chien Chief of Police Gary Knickerbocker was recently ‘pooched’ on his 76th birthday. This involved his neighbor making a donation to Rivers & Bluffs Animal Shelter, allowing for canine cutouts to be placed in Knickerbocker’s yard… Iowa turned away over one quarter of its allotted COVID-19 doses week before last due to low demand. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the state declined 18,300 of 34,300 Moderna vaccine doses, as well as 3,510 of 46,800 Pfizer doses. Among the 43 of 99 of Iowa’s counties declining at least some of their doses was Clayton County.

BOSCOBEL – A serious injury accident involving three vehicles on Highway 61 a half-mile south of Dry Hollow Road, in Marion Township just to the south of Boscobel, was reported to the Grant County Sheriff’s Department on Monday, April 21 at 3:22 p.m. Clayton Ottman, 26, Boscobel, was operating a 2007 Ford Focus southbound on 61 when Ottman crossed the centerline, and entered the northbound lane. Jobert Bermudo, 36, Readstown, was northbound on 61, driving a 1982 Chevy K10. Bermudo attempted to avoid Ottman, but was struck head-on, causing Bermudo to go airborne and overturn, coming to rest in the southbound shoulder on its top. Ottman’s vehicle then collided with a 2019 Dodge Ram driven by Darren Cornell, 50, Boscobel. Bermudo and Ottman were transported to Gundersen Boscobel Hospital with injuries. All three vehicles were towed from the scene… Grant County Board Chair Robert Keeney feels confident that Grant County’s plan to replace the obsolete emergency communication tower system is ‘shovel-ready’ enough that it will qualify for the Federal Community Project program. The project would create a system with 11 new communication towers spread across the county that would give complete radio coverage and eliminate dead zones. The towers will be tied together with 172.4 miles of fiber optic lines set up in a loop, ensuring that the system would continue to function even with a break in it… The Boscobel Public Library held a Children’s Bike Rodeo recently in the Kronshage Park parking lot, with 37 kids participating.



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