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June 13: News from around the Driftless Area
News From Around the Arrea

‘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 –When the sun rises on the morning of June 15, the Torgerson family will already be up and taking care of business, the way they do every day on their family farm just outside of Viroqua. But, this day will be a little busier. You see, more than 2,500 people will be making a trip to their farm for the 2019 Vernon County Dairy Breakfast. People will get to take a look into what small family farming is like, and hopefully, get an appreciation for what farmers do every day. Dale Torgerson took over the farm from his father Roger, and continues the multi-generation farming operation today with his family – his wife, Brenda, and his three daughters, Erin, 15, Katy, 11, and Myle, 9. For the Torgerson family, perseverance through painful times has been vital. Due to an illness experienced by Dale in 2011, the family came close to losing the farm. After spending some time in the hospital, Dale recovered and got back to farming. During that time, friends, neighbors and families pitched in to help with the farming. Both Dale and Brenda work at several jobs off the farm, in addition to farming, and the kids all work too. The Torgerson farm is located at E8003 Upper Maple Dale Road, Viroqua. Breakfast will be served from 7-11 a.m., with a grilled cheese cook-off at 11:15 a.m… The Viroqua Beer Walk will take place on June 28, starting at 6 p.m., and tickets are selling fast. Participants will enjoy delicious local food and craft beer at 20 stops in downtown Viroqua. All proceeds will benefit place-making efforts in Viroqua. For more information, go to

VIOLA – The Organic Valley Retail Store in LaFarge has officially reopened after being severely damaged in the August 2018 floods. The store opened Monday, June 3. Wieser Brothers Construction of La Crescent, Minn., reconstructed the building in a manner that makes it resistant to flooding. The retail space was increased from 500 square feet to 1,200 square feet. A grand re-opening celebration is planned for Saturday, June 29. The event will offer brats, hot dogs, burgers, and other food products. Store hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays… It was a great day for fish at the Liberty Bar annual Catfish Fry on Saturday, June 1. The event brought in people from near and far to taste the deep-fried treats. In partnership with the Viola Sportsman’s Club, the bar hosted their spring raffle drawing at the event, as well as a meat raffle put on by the youth of the trap team to help fund their activities… The Vernon County Museum’s genealogy class will take a field trip to Norskedalen on Thursday, June 13. Students should arrive at the visitor’s center by 9 a.m., and daily admission rates of $6 will apply.

ONTARIO – Wilton Public Library Director Gina Rae’s last day will be Wednesday, June 19, as she will take on a new position with the Winding Rivers Library System, based in West Salem… Lucas Bender, owner of the Long Shot Saloon in Norwalk, has purchased the former Kick Back Bar in Kendall. Prior to owning the Norwalk tavern, Bender operated the Lone Star in Wilton… Wilton was the victor in a food-drive competition among the Wilton, Norwalk and Ontario police departments. Garnering 825 food items in May, Wilton led the pack… Echo Valley Hope, a rural Ontario-based nonprofit, held a discussion on community rights on Saturday, June 8, in the basement of the Ontario Library. Paul Cienfuegos, a leader in the national effort to secure local self-government and community rights spoke at the program. “The right for citizens to gather to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their communities is essential,” the press release stated.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – City of Prairie du Chien representatives gave a presentation to Crawford County officials about Blackhawk Junction Mall at a joint County Finance/Delinquent Tax Committee meeting on May 29. City Administrator Chad Abram told county officials that the city would like up to six months to work with county leaders to initiate a strategic development plan for the mall. The county recently took ownership of the property due to foreclosure for because of unpaid back taxes in the amount of $488,988… Construction has begun on the Famechon Hill project on County N. The project is estimated to cost $3,868,000, and the contractor is Peter James of H. James and Sons of Fennimore. Crawford County will get a federal grant for $2.98 million for the project, which will involve reconstruction of the intersection with Highway 35, and also 1.46 miles of N going up the hill… Area crafters will come together to offer their creations at the third annual Wauzeka Craft Fair, to be held Saturday, June 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Century Hall. Additional vendors from around the region are welcome – a 10x10 table will be provided. For more information, contact Roni Gundlach at 608-875-7718… The annual flea market held in conjunction with the Rendezvous every Father’s Day weekend was formally canceled Tuesday in the wake of Monday’s historic announcement that, for the first time in 44 years, the Rendezvous would not be held due to sustained, historic, Mississippi River flooding.

HILLSBORO – On Thursday, May 30, Hillsboro experienced a power outage that impacted roughly two-thirds of the town. According to Alliant Energy, the outage started at 3:43 p.m., beginning with a series of minor surges before escalating into a full blackout. Reports indicated that 314 Alliant Energy customers were impacted in the Hillsboro area. The blackout lasted approximately two hours and 42 minutes before being restored at 6:25 p.m.

RICHLAND CENTER – The 60thanniversary of the Wisconsin High School Rodeo State Finals will be held on June 14-16 in Richland Center, at the Richland County Fairgrounds. June Dairy Days and the Rodeo Parade will be held downtown in Richland Center on Saturday, June 15 at 10:30 a.m… The Richland County Master Gardeners and UW-Platteville/Richland Center Continuing Education Institute held their seventh annual Garden Expo on Saturday, March 23. The classes covered a variety of topics for homeowners and gardeners… Richland Middle School and Counselor Gretchen Kanable have been awarded $2,000 by the Wisconsin Retired Educator’s Association Foundation for its ‘Richland Snack Pack for Backpacks’ project.

BOSCOBEL – A 29-year-old Bagley man has been charged with 77 counts of criminal damage to property after going on a tire-slashing spree in the village on Tuesday, May 28. On that day, around 12:30 a.m., the Grant County sheriff’s Office started to receive multiple reports of a subject slashing vehicle tires in the village of Bagley. Witnesses were able to observe Joseph Neeley, 29, Bagley, slashing multiple vehicle’s tires. They attempted to stop Neeley, but he was able to run across the railroad tracks and attempted to hide next to the BNSF railroad tracks. Deputies located Neeley and were able to take him into custody and transport him to the Grant County Jail… The ‘Music at the Mill’ series of events in Boscobel will be held on early Wednesday evenings on June 12, July 10, and August 14 at the Wisconsin River Outings in Boscobel. The first date on June 12 will feature the Boscobel High School’s Jazz Band followed by Tony Hubl’s band, Aquatic Hitchhikers. This is a BYOB and BYOC (chair) event, and the cost of entry is only $5 per person and doors open at 6 p.m.

FENNIMORE – It was an emotional moment for the State Champion Fennimore Golden Eagles 4x400 relay team at the WIAA State Track Meet in LaCrosse. The relay team’s members, sophomores Brynlee Nelson and Lauryn Bunn, senior Madelyn Adam, and freshman Delanee Klass, won the Division 3 girls 4x400 state championship by smashing the school record in the event with a winning time of 4:03:78… On June 1, at 1:20 p.m., the Fennimore Police Department received a report of a Holstein steer loose near the southwest border of town. Apparently, the animal had been wandering for several days but did not appear to be in any kind of distress.

LANCASTER – The first phase of the SWIGG water quality testing study in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties is now complete with the results of the second round of well water testing being released. The second round of testing involved sampling 539 wells in April. Overall, from the second round of sampling, 27 percent of wells did not meet health standards for total coliform, E.coli, or nitrate – less than the 42 percent that tested positive in the first round of sampling in November of 2018. Sixteen percent of the samples were positive for total coliform; two percent were positive for E.coli; and 15 percent exceeded the 10-parts-per-million federal drinking water standard.