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May 23: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 –Law enforcement officers from throughout Vernon County and members of the public gathered on the lawn of the Sheriff’s Office for the Vernon County Law Enforcement Memorial Service, Tuesday morning. The service opened with the presentation of flags and a welcome by Chaplain Donald Ehler and Sheriff John Spears. “So far this year,” Ehlers said, “41 officers have lost their lives, one of whom was from Wisconsin…” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, closed Blackhawk Park, near DeSoto, the week of April 22, due to high water. The park remains closed, and will be reopened as conditions allow. If you have upcoming reservations at Blackhawk Park, park staff will contact you as your reservation date approaches, or you may contact park staff at 608-648-3314… For the 15thyear, bicycle enthusiasts of all ages came together for the Viroqua Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 11. About 225 riders participated in this year’s event, which took people on a six-mile loop through the city… Coon Valley’s park buzzed with activity on Saturday, May 11, as volunteers used rakes, shovels, and other tools to clean up the green space… The Friends of Vernon County Parks and Forests, working with Vernon County Land and Water Conservation employees and the Chaseburg Saddle Club had a fun-filled work day at Duck Egg County Forest on Saturday, May 4.

VIOLA –LaFarge VFW Post 9075 not only held a flag retirement ceremony on Monday, May 13, but they attempted to burn down the shelter over the village park barbecue fire pit. Over 600 small cemetery flags and upwards of 200 larger damaged or soiled flags from around the area were incinerated. The ceremony was held using VFW guidelines concerning folding, Pledge of Allegiance, and other proper etiquette. After the flag ceremony, the post held their monthly meeting in a nearby park shelter. The fire nearly got out of control as the VFW members found out quickly how fast the flags were consumed. It was rather comical for a short time, until the flames started lapping on the metal roof of the small shelter. Quick fire suppression handled the situation… LaFarge middle schoolers planted 275 tree/shrub seedlings in an hour on Friday, May 17, and then joined the elementary school students for the annual 5K run/walk on the Old 131 Trail… The Liberty Bar will offer an all you can eat catfish fry on Saturday, June 1, starting at 4 p.m. Music by The Lovely's will start at 7:30 p.m.

ONTARIO – A brush fire between Town of Glendale patrolman Steve Murray and board chair Raye Walz erupted into a roaring blaze last month, when Murray resigned from his 13-year position with the township. Or did he really quit? It seems to depend on whom you talk to. The trouble began in February, when Murray suffered a medical emergency requiring the implantation of a pacemaker. After missing a few days of work, Murray was released to return to work for 22.5 hours per week, a weight limit for his left arm, and a prohibition against operating any equipment requiring a CDL license. Murray conceded he had exceeded the hours on one occasion when neither of his co-workers could work. The conflict deepened when Walz found Murray operating the town loader. Murray claimed the loader does not require a CDL to operate, while Walz alleged the board had voted to keep Murray off any equipment for fear his health could result in an accident with damages for which the town could be held liable… The Ontario Village Board adopted an ordinance recently regarding food carts, which are expected to help assuage the losses of the Kickapoo Paddle Inn and the Milk Jug Café, both of which were severely damaged in the 2018 floods. To apply for a permit, a vendor needs to have proper licenses from the state and liability insurance… The Wilton Village Board denied the Town of Wellington’s request recently that the former forgive or reduce two Wilton Ambulance Service chargebacks, a figure that reflects unpaid bills from Town of Wellington patients. Dan Bucholz, an employee of the Town of Wellington, had made the request, noting that unlike the Wilton Ambulance Service, Ontario Fire & Rescue does not pass on unpaid ambulance bills to the municipality in which the incident had occurred.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – The Prairie du Chien Police Department is hosting training with multiple jurisdictions at the St. John's School this week. Expect an increase in police vehicles in the 700 block of South Wacouta/Michigan… The Crawford County Health and Human Services Department is engaging in a campaign to fight the opioid epidemic in Southwestern Wisconsin, particularly in Crawford County. Crawford County Nurse Cindy Riniker applied for a $20,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and received $17,999.21, of which $13,060.21 will be used to wage a media campaign, including four billboards, newspaper advertisements, radio spots, advertisements in Star Cinema of Prairie du Chien, and posters… On April 5 and 6, quilters once again convened on Hoffman Hall in Prairie du Chien for the 10thAnnual Quilt the Days Away Retreat. A total of 58 quilters coming from Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin participated in the event. Old friendships were renewed and new friends were made.

RICHLAND CENTER – A huge number of people headed over to the Richland County Fairgrounds the weekend of May 10-12 for the 2019 Motorsports Mayhem event. There was fun and excitement for people of all ages, and proceeds from the event will go to a variety of charitable causes... The Rockbridge Cemetery was established in 1897, with recorded burials dating back as far as 1856. A garage sale fundraiser will be held on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, May 23-25, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 25383 Schoonover Street in the Village of Rockbridge. Proceeds raised will be used to straighten and prolong the life of tombstones that are deteriorating. Financial support from the community is needed. Donations can be directed to: Rockbridge Cemetery, c/o Allen Schoonover, 25383 Schoonover Street, Richland Center, 53581.

BOSCOBEL – Efforts to improve water quality throughout the Wisconsin River basin continue to move forward with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval of the Wisconsin River Basin Total Maximum Daily Load (TDML) plan. The approved TDML plan aims to reduce phosphorous in a vast area of Wisconsin spanning the central corridor and covering more than 91,000 miles… It’s a mad dash to the bounce houses and the dunk tanks once the Champion Games get underway. The Boscobel High School track was the site of the 27thAnnual Games once again on Friday, May 10. With over 1,400 participants, it is one of the largest events in Boscobel each year. CESA 3’s Champion Games is a unique opportunity for PreK-12 special education and disabled students, along with non-special-education peers, to participate in a unique track and field event and numerous other fun activities, including face painting and flying disc competitions.

FENNIMORE – Some may remember the male Big Brown Bat that was found shivering on the sidewalk near the Fennimore Times during the polar vortex last January. The bat managed to survive the ordeal and was sent for rehabilitation to the Dane County Humane Society Wildlife Center in their bat room. The little fellow made his way back last week, and was released in Oakwood Park. The bat cleared the White Nose Syndrome test, and has been deemed perfectly healthy. The staff of the Fennimore Times hope that he has a ripe long life, enjoying eating his weight in mosquitoes each night, and have lovingly dubbed him ‘Little Newsy…’ Fennimore Fun Fest, a beloved, family-friendly, event is coming up on Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1. Some new events at the Fest this year will be the Badgerland Midway Rides and Fair Food. New on Friday will also be a dodgeball tournament… Bruce Bengtson of Madison returns to Sinsinawa Mound’s Summer Organ Concert series at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, June 12. He retired in June of 2018 after 40 years as director of music at Luther Memorial Church in Madison. Bengtson continues to play services and concerts; accompany vocalists and instrumentalists; and is active in the Organ Historical Society, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and the American Guild of Organists.  Bengtson has been featured in concerts in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Europe. For more information, contact Guest Services at 608-748-4411 or visit the website at