Fall: A time of beauty, sadness and hope 


(Author’s note: Many of you know that I spent nearly 32 years in the newspaper business and that I still write a weekly column. As we enter into fall, I thought I’d share one of my favorites that was penned a few years ago. It’s about capturing the moment in the midst of our busy lives) 


I stopped the other day on a country road for a moment or two, a brief respite towards the end of another busy day.

I drive by my point of rest every day. It’s a barn no longer in use next to an abandoned farmhouse.  The barn’s not that old -- the rounded roof appears to be in good shape and it still has its faded red paint. Next to it is a small silo. 

There are many of these scenes dotting the countryside. Buildings on smaller family farms no longer needed where the economics of farming has ended their usefulness. They stand, silent and empty, eventually succumbing to the forces of nature.

But on this late afternoon I was beckoned to stop. The hillside behind the barn was a canvas of  reds, orange, yellow, brown and green illuminated by the sun and framed by a bright blue sky. The setting sun was already casting a shadow on the floor of the valley and in a few minutes the scene would be lost.

I pulled off the road to capture this moment of pure autumn in Wisconsin. 

The timing may change slightly each year depending on the weather, but the palate of Mother nature comes just the same. Daylight hours diminish and the photosynthesis in trees slows and stops. Deciduous leaves dominated by green chlorophyll the rest of the year show the yellows, orange and brown from carotenoid pigments and the reds from anthocyanins.

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism tracks the changing colors across the state in its weekly color report. Leaf peepers travel across the state to take in an art show unrivaled by any museum. The show builds, climaxes and fades away in a drab final scene as the browns of late fall turn into winter.

It’s also harvest time and farmers hope for an Indian summer, marked by sunny, dry and warm temperatures after the killing frost. It extends the small window to bring in the crops. On our farm the corn has already been harvested, soybean harvest is underway and I have hopes of a late hay cutting.

The beauty of fall is tinged with some sadness. The shortened days and cooler temperatures are our annual reminder that we’re growing older.

 Work undone.

 Words unsaid.

 Regrets remembered.

The English poet John Keats captured the melancholy of fall in this poem “To Autumn” published in 1820. Here’s the last stanza:


Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


It was one of Keats’ last works, inspired by a walk he took near Winchester on September day in 1819. He died less than a year after the poem was published.

Life is often as tenuous as the withering stem that holds the leaf to the branch. We know not if we’re in the autumn of our lives or whether spring will come. 

She teases us, autumn does, with her fleeting beauty. “Take my hand,” she whispers through the rustling leaves. So we do and we dance amidst the blazing landscape, leaving our cares and worries behind, if only for a while. 

Inhale autumn’s beauty.

Be still.

Thank your maker.

Enjoy the dance.


Chris Hardie, CEO

Rising Stars Under 40 to be announced

The 7 Rivers Alliance and the River Valley Media Group will announce the winners of our annual Rising Stars Under 40 event on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Normally we hold a reception and invite all the winners and their families to attend, but with COVID-19 safety in mind, we’re holding a virtual reception this year. We will announce the winners and feature video presentations. 

Profiles of the winners will also be featured in print and online coverage in the La Crosse Tribune and River Valley Media Group publications.

To register for the reception, go to

Nothing makes the 7 Rivers Region successful without its incredible people. Selecting winners from all of the outstanding nominations is not an easy task -- everyone nominated clearly makes a difference in their community. Reading the nominations is a humbling and rewarding experience. These are men and women in our region whose endeavors enrich our lives and raise the bar for all of us. 

Please join us in congratulating and thanking the Rising Stars of 2021.

State of the Region event Nov. 17

Save the date for the 7 Rivers Alliance State of the Region event Wednesday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to noon in a virtual format. 

Some of the topics will include follow-ups on initiatives that were launched from the 7 Rivers Alliance Workforce Development plan like the First Friend Newcomer Connection Program from the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, talent attraction and the latest in how our regional economy is recovering from the pandemic. 

Stay tuned for further information and how to register. 

LADCO promoting development properties


The La Crosse Area Development Corporation (LADCO) is a not-for-profit entity which has been operating for 49 years as an economic development agency for the greater La Crosse area. One of LADCO’s major roles is to facilitate the promotion real estate solutions within the La Crosse Coulee Region. Below are a few featured properties within the Coulee Region. If you’d like more information, please follow the links or contact Economic Development Coordinator, Sam Bachmeier, at or (715) 563-7100.

ENTREPRENEURS WANTED! Welcome to the Coulee Region Business Center, a 35,000 SF start-up incubation facility that provides below-market lease rates and entrepreneurial resources for your start-up businesses. The spaces range from 1,000 SF to 5,000 SF and accommodate a variety of uses, including light manufacturing and retail. Our facility also includes an 1,800 SF commercial kitchen, fully equipped with commercial kitchen appliances and amenities. Learn how you can position your business for success by visiting the Coulee Region Business Center website or contacting CRBC Manager, Sam Bachmeier at or (608) 784-5488.

119 & 127 Sand Lake Road, Onalaska

3,800 – 7,000 SF of commercial space for lease. Center 90 shopping mall has gone through a major remodel, with a completely new front, large office space and showroom area.
Located just minutes from Downtown Onalaska and US HWY 53, this space has a ton of potential!
For more details, please contact Chuck Olson at Coldwell Banker River Valley Realtors.  

Bluffview Business Park, Holmen

Commercial/Industrial sites ranging from 2 acres to 80+ acres, starting at $2.50/SF.
The site is highly visible, located at the HWY 53 and 35 interchange. Across the highway is a large residential development. The site is serviced by Xcel Energy and Village of Holmen utilities.
The location is 15 minutes from the La Crosse Regional Airport and Downtown La Crosse.  
For more details, please contact: Chuck Olson at Coldwell Banker River Valley Realtors. 

Lakeview Business Park – West Salem

The Lakeview Business Park is a unique high-end commercial and industrial development in West Salem, Wisconsin.
The park features low utility and tax rates, an attractive, professional design, and comprehensive transportation access, including Interstate Highway and rail service.
Also, fiber optic communications and three-phase electric infrastructure are available at this site.
In addition, the West Salem area boasts a high quality of life, with short commutes, affordable housing, and abundant recreation.
For more details, please view the Site Details.
Property Contact: Seth Hudson at Cedar Corporation

Diversity Council annual conference is Oct. 28.

The Greater La Crosse Area Diversity Council will hold its 10th annual conference Thursday, Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The topic will be “Breaking Barriers: TIA (Taking Intentional Action) to Enhance Inclusion in the Coulee Region. Reconnecting in Business and Community.”

The virtual meeting will be a learning opportunity that calls for inclusive action across the region, in our workplaces, in our community and in ourselves. 

Click here for more information about the conference. 

Click here to register. 

 LADCO to host industry appreciation event Nov. 11

The LADCO staff and Board of Directors are excited to invite you to the 24th Annual LADCO/Coulee Bank Industry Appreciation on November 11th at the Omni Center in Onalaska! Please find the attached Save-the-Date and registration form. To learn more or to register online, please find the following link, below.

24th Annual LADCO/Coulee Bank Industry Appreciation Webpage


Juneau County to create holiday pop-up shop program

The Juneau County I&E Club have partnered with SCORE to create the Target Bluff Holiday Pop-Up Shop Program, which runs through Christmas. Do you have a product you'd like to test in the marketplace before leasing a storefront? Join us - this program is for you!

 Up to 10 Juneau County small business owners/ retail product developers will be selected to: 

  • Receive a retail space in the Target Bluff Shops mini mall in Camp Douglas from November 1 through December 24 for free.

  • Attend three one-hour businesses training sessions for free to ensure you have the greatest success in your pop-up retail space.

  • Benefit from free professional marketing and promotion for this Pop-Up Holiday Event driving even more consumer traffic to the Target Bluff Shops for Holiday Shopping this year.  

Questions: Please contact Terry or Tamaya at the I&E Club (608) 427-2070 or Janet Horstman at Target Bluff (608) 487-4674. 

Two La Crosse area businesses honored by WEDA

MADISON -- Two La Crosse area businesses were honored by winning Wisconsin Economic Development Association awards.

Kwik Trip and Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions received 2021 Community & Economic Development Awards during a ceremony in Madison on Wednesday, Sept. 15. A third area organization – the Dave and Barb Skogen Boys and Girls Club of Holmen -- was also a finalist.

The CEDA Awards program recognizes businesses, projects, and organizations that are making significant contributions to Wisconsin’s economy. 

Kwik Trip and Greenfire Management Services, LLC., of Milwaukee, were named the winners in the Economic Driver category, which recognizes businesses committed to long-term investment in their Wisconsin operations that have a significant economic impact in their community and across the state.

Kwik Trip was nominated for the award by the 7 Rivers Alliance, a regional economic development organization, and the La Crosse Area Development Corporation (LADCO). The company has invested more than $378 million into its La Crosse headquarters and manufacturing operations and employs more than 30,000 at more than 750 stores. 

“Kwik Trip’s commitment to both the La Crosse area and the state of Wisconsin is tremendous,” said Chris Hardie, 7 Rivers Alliance CEO. “We are proud to have them as our neighbors.”

LADCO also nominated the City of Onalaska and Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions in the Private-Public Partnership category. The project was for the redevelopment of Onalaska’s waterfront and for the development of Great River Residences. This project has truly transformed Downtown Onalaska, and has acted as a catalytic project, spurring additional investment and increases in land value for years to come.

The Dave and Barb Skogen Boys and Girls Club of Holmen -- also nominated by LADCO -- was a finalist in the Real Estate Redevelopment and Reuse category for the conversion of the former Festival Foods store in Holmen to a new club.

Sam Bachmeier and Tim Kabat from LADCO stated, “LADCO congratulates the award winners and finalists for their dedication to their communities and the collective impact these projects create. Kwik Trip, Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions, and the Holmen Area Boys and Girls Club are incredible partners and help to make the Coulee Region a wonderful place to live, work, shop, and play.”

The awards were held at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison Sept. 15. 


Local recipients of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association state awards gathered Wednesday Sept. 15. From left to right is Jake Erickson of the La Crosse Boys and Girls Club, Cody Key of Kwik Trip, Marcia Anderson of the Green Bay Packers board of directors, Joe Zietlow of Kwik Trip and Marvin and Michelle Wanders of Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions. Anderson presented a state award to Kwik Trip.  

Website training to help you grow your business

The Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission (MRRPC) and the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-La Crosse are pleased to present a series of FREE training sessions for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Register here


Strategic doing: Leading complex collaborations

Southeast Service Cooperative and SE MN Together have partnered with the Agile Strategy Lab at the University of Northern Alabama to bring the Strategic Doing: Leading Complex Collaborations Training to Southeast Minnesota.

This 2 1/2 day learning experience, scheduled for Monday, November 8 through Wednesday, November 10, at SSC's Wood Lake Meeting Center in Rochester, will teach the deep skills, tools, and frameworks of agile strategy and collaboration. The Strategic Doing discipline teaches participants how to design and guide complex collaborations by following simple rules. Taught by fellows who are both skilled teachers and have practiced the discipline for several years, the session is practical, interactive (including an extended simulation), and action-oriented.

 Visit the Strategic Doing website to learn more about the Strategic Doing discipline and/or click on the video below for a brief introduction. Click here for a description of the training. Click on the button below to register or contact Kari Kubicek at SSC. 


Strengthening communities, small businesses is critical

As the percentage of manufacturing and agricultural jobs in rural America continue to decline, many rural communities, including many in Wisconsin, have been able to reverse negative economic trends by strengthening community assets and locally owned small businesses in downtown commercial corridors.

The COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on much of that progress. Through programs like the Main Street Bounceback Grants and the efforts of the Office of Rural Prosperity, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is working hard to get that progress back on track.

While vibrant downtowns and commercial corridors are critical to the economic well-being of all our communities, they are especially critical in Wisconsin’s rural areas. Why?

Read more

Oktoberfest in the Capitol 2021 is Oct. 6

Oktoberfest in the Capitol connects you with area elected officials, in a virtual format, to spread the Western WI voice on issues including: workforce shortage and economic recovery, child care, transportation, broadband, and healthcare. Free to attend.

To register: Oktoberfest in the Capitol 2021 - Oct 6, 2021 - #MICRONET_HEADING# - La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce (


Northeast Iowa studio art tour Oct. 8-10

Iowa’s largest and longest-running studio art tour returns Friday through Sunday, Oct 8 through 10, showcasing 42 artists at 31 locations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
The 24th annual Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour will offer behind-the-scenes views into artists’ studios usually not offered to the public. Tour participants can set their own pace while driving from studio to studio.
The event will feature many well-known, award-winning national caliber artists displaying and selling pottery, paintings, woodcuts, baskets, jewelry, woodworking, kaleidoscopes, photography, collage, fiber arts and more. 
Most studios require masks. Some will be closed. Due to the ever-changing nature of COVID-19, check the Iowa Art Tour website for each studio’s safety guidelines at 
The full-color brochure features artist contact information, a map with GPS, and lodging and dining along the route. The brochure is available at participating studios, advertisers’ locations, the Decorah Visitor Center, and as printable PDF web downloads. The tour is free of charge and sites are all within 40 miles of Decorah.
A special “Preview: Artists of 24th Northeast Iowa Tour” exhibition features newest artworks displayed at ArtHaus until Saturday, Oct. 2. For more information or for a brochure, visit, email, or call Winneshiek County Development and Tourism 563-382-6061

Great River Road gets grant for clean up activities

The Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission and the Friends of the WI Great River Road have been awarded a Micro-Grant by the National Scenic Byway Foundation and Toyota Corp.  The Wisconsin GRR Grant is focused on clean up activities for US Hwy 35 – WI All American Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

De Soto High School Students of De Soto WI had two teams of students and faculty doing separate clean up projects on Sept. 23.

Future clean ups are the Mississippi River shoreline and selected easement areas on Oct. 3 by the La Crosse Rotary Club.   Also an Adopt A Highway event north of Stoddard, WI by the Stoddard Lion’s Club will be done soon.


Racism and the Economy: Focus on the Wealth Divide

The Minneapolis Federal Reserve will hold its ninth installment in the virtual event series, which examines the impact of structural racism on our economy and advances ideas to improve economic outcomes for all Americans.
The next program is Wednesday, October 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for Racism and the Economy: Focus on the Wealth Divide. This is a virtual event series focused on how racialized barriers to wealth accumulation deny families and communities long-term economic mobility and financial resiliency.
Wealth is usually defined as the value of one’s assets minus debt, and it serves as a critical component of economic opportunity in the United States. Opening speakers will examine past and present structures and institutions that contribute to persistent wealth disparities.
A panel of practitioners, scholars, and community leaders will propose and discuss bold strategies to finally reverse these trends. The Federal Reserve has long studied wealth disparities because equal access to wealth is so important to achieving full employment and an inclusive economy.

Register now

Hokah, La Crescent receive state economic grants

Fillmore County Journal

State Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) announces that the cities of Hokah and La Crescent are among the 32 recipients of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grants.

“I congratulate these cities and the department for working together in securing these grants,” Davids said. “This funding will go a long way towards rehabilitating buildings in these communities.”

Davids said Hokah will receive $721,625 for owner-occupied housing, rental and commercial rehabilitation, while La Crescent will receive $552,000 for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation.

According to DEED. SCDP grants are part of the Community Development Block Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The grants are administered by DEED’s Small Cities Development Program Unit. The SCDP grants pay for rehabilitating housing and commercial buildings and updating public infrastructure in small cities and counties.

Eligible projects must meet one of three objectives: benefit people of low and moderate incomes; eliminate slum and blighted conditions; or eliminate an urgent threat to public health or safety.

More than $19 million was awarded for infrastructure and rehabilitation projects in 32 Minnesota cities.


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