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News from around the Driftless Area
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VIROQUA –Westby Area High School band director Monte Dunnum was taken by surprise on Monday, April 22, when he was presented a VFW Certificate of Appreciation by Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Wisconsin Commander Gundel Metz for his many years of service as a teacher, and as a friend of veterans… Viroqua-based Kickapoo Coffee Roasters said on April 17 it will change its name, and is welcoming suggestions as it prepares to introduce an as-yet-undecided new moniker in early 2020. “When Kickapoo Coffee was founded in 2005, we chose the name with the intention of honoring where our business has its roots: the Kickapoo River Valley,” T.J. Semanchin, who with Caleb Nichols founded and owns the business, said in a press release. “But Kickapoo is not simply the name given to a river. The Kickapoo are a people.” Semanchin and Nichols said the Native American Kickapoo Nation is composed of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, and the Mexican-Kickapoo…..May is Archaeology Month in Wisconsin, and the Vernon County Historical Society in Viroqua will celebrate on Thursday, May 9, 7 p.m., by hosting Robert ‘Ernie’ Boszhardt, who will discuss ancient and rare Middle Mississippian outposts in Trempealeau and Stoddard. Boszhardt is a professional archaeologist with more than four decades of experience, most of it in Wisconsin. He worked for the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at UW-LaCrosse for nearly 30 years, and is the author of numerous articles and four books on a wide variety of Wisconsin archaeology topics.

VIOLA – Higher Level Organics announced recently that it is the first-ever certified fair trade hemp farm in the world. They partnered with the Agricultural Justice Project, an organization whose mission is driven by the principles that all humans deserve respect, the freedom to live with dignity and nurture community, and share responsibility for preserving the Earth’s resources for future generations. Owner Luke Zigovits has 20 years of experience in hemp advocacy and research. He made the decision to pursue the certification in order to model a new path for hemp production, which has a long history of labor abuse. Higher Level Organics is the first supplier to HempScience, a brand launching in early 2020, focused on full spectrum, organic, fair trade CBD hemp products, produced by small farmers in Wisconsin… Nearly 30 new hunters and mentors met for a day of learning to hunt, an annual program sponsored by the Rockton Sportsmen’s Club. Each year new hunters and their mentors take to the fields in search of a tom turkey to harvest. This year, there were three lucky hunters… Looking to keep yet another structure out of the landfill, Georgia Fortun of Viola, brought information to the Viola Village Board following a recent event where the village was told that they could not, in fact, offer a flood damaged home for relocation. It was reported at the April 18 Viola Village Board meeting that back in March the board looked at the possible relocation of a house and garage at 231 W. Wisconsin Street after it was deemed damaged by FEMA during the 2016 flood. It was the village’s understanding that all they had to do was to clear the site, according to clerk Beth Campbell. This, however, is not the case. After placing an ad for bids for the building’s removal, clerk Campbell was told ‘no’ by FEMA. She was also told that if the village continued on this path, they could lose all FEMA funding. 

ONTARIO – The path to flood recovery for Ontario may have become clearer recently when the Vernon County Board approved $40,000 for the village from the Ho-Chunk National funds. The county receives $1.2 million each year as part of the state gaming contract for the Ho-Chunk land located in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. The communities that will receive $40,000 apiece are Genoa, DeSoto, Coon Valley, Chaseburg, Hillsboro, Ontario, LaFarge, Viola and Readstown. Four of the communities, including Ontario, are expected to use the funds as a 20 percent match for funds from the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration grant. Mississippi Valley Regional Planning will write the grant, and funds can be used to hire an engineering firm to help the village with flood recovery and planning… More than 120 Republican Party members gathered in LaCrosse for the Third Disrict Republican Party caucus early this month. Matthew Hoffland of Sparta reeived the Outstanding Volunteer Campaign Worker Award, which recognizes someone who “goes above and beyond the call of duty” in helping to elect Republican candidates. 

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN – As the Mississippi River continued to rise, some Prairie du Chien residents were preparing and bracing for the next crest, which was expected to reach 22.5 feet by Friday, April 26. The river was at 20.9 feet at 6:45 a.m. on April 24 at the McGregor gauge, according to the National Weather Service. There was a flow rate of 189,900 cubic feet per second on April 24 at Lock and Dam 9 near Lynxville, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers… Crossing Rivers Health accepted 22 simulated patients by ambulance recently, and either treated or transferred them according to their injuries and the hospital’s surge disaster plan. The exercise was part of the training organized by Crawford County Emergency Management in Prairie du Chien, and the emergency room remained open to the public throughout… The Children’s Ranch in rural Prairie du Chien held its annual Easter Party on Saturday, April 20, to the delight of many area children and their families. All youngsters who attended had the opportunity to either ride a horse around the show ring or ride a horse around the show ring or sit on a horse. Markers were available for painting on horses and children could feed them hay, carrots and apples.

RICHLAND CENTER – Passages, a Program for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, hoped to draw attention to Sexual Assault Awareness Month with placement of blue pinwheels on the Richland County Courthouse lawn. Signs placed along with thhe pinwheels indicate the mission of the organization… The Three Eagles Foundation recently donated a DVD of ‘Decoding the Driftless’ to the Muscoda Library. The award-winning documentary focuses on the many unique aspects of of the unglaciated area in Wisconsin and neighboring states. Portions of the film were made at Frank’s Hill near Muscoda and a rock art site in Iowa County… Students from several area high schools were recently announced as the Black Hawk Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Good Citizens for 2019. All but one of these students attended the Good Citizen Tea, held at the American Legion Hall in Richland Center recently. The students included Emma Payne of Seneca Schools, Jenna McCarthy of Wauzeka-Steuben, as well as students from Ithaca, Kickapoo, Richland Center, Highland, LaFarge, Riverdale, and Iowa-Grant high schools.

BOSCOBEL – Pilot/Owner Douglas Fulton and Navigator Mike Williams, partners in VS Helicopters of Valdez, Alaska, flew their 1987 Antonov An-2 into the Boscobel Airport recently. The aircraft is the world’s largest single engine aircraft. The two were enroute to the EAA AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh… The rising level of the Wisconsin River was bringing people to the local landings last week to watch the action, but it was not high enough to be dramatic or to be a problem. The flow is a combination of upstream snow and recent rains. On Monday, April 22, the water level was creeping over the local boat landings, flowing at about 44,000 cubic feet per second, and registering about five-and-one-half feet on the gauge, and rising. The peak flow of 58,000 cubic feet per second was expected on Wednesday, April 24, at about noon, with a nine-and-one-half foot reading on the gauge. The highest ever flow reading for April 22 was recorded in 1973 with a 59,000 cubic feet per second flow, and the highest flow ever recorded at Muscoda was on September 16, 1938, at 79,700 cubic feet per second.

FENNIMORE – Plans for a Kwik Trip expansion in Fennimore took another step forward at the most recent city council meeting. In order to make way for the increased parking included in the expansion project plan, the city council discussed rezoning of two adjacent parcels. A neighbor of the business lodged a complaint that the customers of the business currently use his parking lot to access the Kwik Trip, and have done damage to his property. The council made the motion to approve the rezoning contingent upon the final sale of them to Kwik Trip… Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP) learned recently it would receive a $15,000 grant from Wisconsin Voices for Recovery at UW-Madison. The grant will be used to hire two staff to work in local hospital emergency rooms or other recovery settings.