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Floyd Storey opening new art gallery in Coon Valley

In a certain light, artist Floyd Storey and the metal he uses to create his pieces have a lot in common — both saw a lot of life before they came together to create art.

Storey, 76, will hold a grand opening for his Central Park Gallery in Coon Valley on May 18, coinciding with the Winding Roads Art Tour in Vernon County. Storey specializes in metal collages, as well as oil paintings that show off the Coulee Region’s natural beauty in his own unique interpretation.

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

A  piece by Floyd Storey titled “Eureka,” on display at the new Central Park Gallery in Coon Valley, is a combination of metal work and acrylic paint on canvas.

“I like materials that are rusticated and are something I can give new life. It’s had a previous life and that’s the part I like. When I make it and I assemble it — that takes me about 2 to 3 months — I try to put equal amounts of polished metal with rustic, textural metals. That’s what makes it more interesting,” he said.

Storey, who lived in the La Crosse area for much of his life after moving there at age 7, was drawn to art later in life after years of working in jobs he wasn’t passionate about.

“I woke up one morning and I said, ‘I’m 35 years old and I haven’t done anything yet,’” Storey said.

He enrolled in Viterbo University and spent eight years studying art and business before he graduated at 43.

“Instead of being an artist, which is what I dreamt of, I went into industry, where I stayed for 20 years,” Storey said.

He spent two decades developing original equipment parts for the auto industry, specializing in luxury interiors, working for Northern Engraving and then companies in Ohio and Europe before he retired to Coon Valley in 2002 to be closer to his wife’s family.

Photos: Discover these 31 public art statues in La Crosse

After his retirement, he started to devote more time to his own art projects, encouraged by his longtime friend Elmer Petersen. Petersen, who is known for his work on La Crosse public art projects like the “Lacrosse Players” and statue of George Poage placed in the recently-renovated Poage Park, became friends with Storey in the late 1980s while doing consulting work for Northern Engraving.

Petersen described Storey’s work as unique, both the metal collages and the paintings.

“His is different. He melds the pieces together and the way he handles it, it’s not like separate chunks,” Petersen said.

Storey has a good sense of how elements interact and how to create good organization and balance in a piece, he said.

“A good painting, if you stand in front of it and stare — you can’t zoom in on anything, you just stare until everything is kind of cloudy — then you’re able to see the arrangement is very good … When you squint your eyes at his work, everything just stays where it belongs,” Petersen said.

As Storey got to work creating his own studio and gallery, Petersen volunteered to show some of his work there as well to help bring in visitors, including several small sculptures and his “Bumper Bull,” which he constructed in the 1960s from scraps of metal bumpers. The piece is special to Petersen, who showed it at the 1968 HemisFair in San Antonio.

The building that now houses Storey’s gallery had a previous life in 1906 as a fire station, dance hall and village jail, Storey said, pointing out the concrete cells which he’s using for storage. He spent three months renovating it and making it into a studio and gallery space, and decided to tie the grand opening to the Winding Roads Art Tour.

He reached out to the organizer, Maureen Karlstad, after going on the tour last year and being impressed with the talent it gathered.

“Viroqua has a lot of good artists there,” he said.

He wanted to be a part of it.

“Being able to go see an artist in their studio is an exciting thing, and you get to see how they work and where they work,” said Karlstad, the resident artist at Pierce Hill Pottery, which operates out of VIVA Gallery in Viroqua.

People who exhibit all over the country are part of the tour, which runs all over the area. Storey’s gallery, which is the first for tourists from La Crosse and last from Viroqua, is the farthest afield, and others run from Gays Mills to Viola to Viroqua.

“That’s part of the call of the tour. People come driving around here just because it’s a beautiful landscape,” Karlstad said.

For Storey, the tour reminded him how important art can be.

“I thought that being successful was making a lot of money, but being successful is liking what you do and making meaningful things,” Storey said. “That’s how I feel now. I wish I had known that then, but it’s a lifetime of work anyway, art.”

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Viterbo nursing program graduate Courtney Moskal aspires to be a friend to patients

Courtney Moskal learned early on compassion makes a world of difference in times of crisis.

Just 6 when her father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, she and her younger siblings spent countless hours in the hospital, accompanying him to chemotherapy appointments. The setting could be overwhelming, the situation scary, but the kindness of the staff made a lasting impact.

“The nurses would give us candy,” Moskal recalled. “I always remember that.”

Now 22, Moskal is dedicated to treating her own future patients with empathy and graciousness, graduating magna cum laude today from the Viterbo University nursing program.

Moskal has been ambitious since childhood, becoming a source of guidance to her siblings at age 11 when her father died. Growing up in Clayton, Wis., a town of just 550, Moskal was valedictorian of her senior class of 28, finding her studies came easy and powered by her late father’s advice.

“Growing up my dad would always say, ‘Study hard, be smart, make Dad proud,’” Moskal said.

A first-generation college student, she selected Viterbo for its relatively small size but was nonetheless frazzled by the new setting, finding her shyness hindered her from connecting with her peers.

Determined to make the most of her time at the school, she began leaving her dorm room door open for people to stop in, visiting with her professors outside of class and getting involved in the community, participating in Relay for Life and volunteering at the Salvation Army.

She set — and achieved — the goal of making the dean’s list every semester, and took on extracurriculars in the health field, joining the Viterbo Student Nurses Association and serving as chair of the survivors and caregivers branch of the La Crosse Colleges Against Cancer organization.

“Courtney is someone who continually seeks out new opportunities for herself. She has a contagious personality and looks at life as full of possibilities,” said Delayne Vogel, coordinator of the Bachelor of Science in nursing program. “She is confident and has developed amazing leadership skills. She is dependable, accountable and has worked hard to reach her goal of becoming a ‘Viterbo Nurse.’”

During the past 11 months, Moskal has served as a Student Valor Intern at the Tomah VA hospital, putting in 800 hours on the rehabilitation floor, and she calls her capstone project in Bethel, Alaska, the highlight of her time at Viterbo. Accompanied by nine other nursing majors, Moskal worked seven shifts in the ER at the sole hospital in the city of fewer than 6,500 residents.

“I always had a passion for nursing, but that really kicked it off and made me feel like a nurse,” Moskal said. “I just love learning new cultures, visiting new places, and that’s kind of the beauty of nursing — it’s always changing. You meet new patients every day.”

Recognizing the lack of preventive care in low-population areas, including both Bethel and her hometown, Moskal aspires to be a nurse practitioner in a rural town and intends to enroll in graduate school in five years to achieve that goal. She has applied to work at a hospital in Eau Claire upon graduation to develop her skills and become more comfortable in the profession.

Moskal credits Viterbo for “bringing her out of her shell,” and is grateful for the friendships and the support, both personal and academic, of her professors. Vogel says Moskal has a bright future as a nurse, and the new graduate knows her dad would be proud.

When it comes to her first day on the job, Moskal will look back to her memories of being a young girl by her father’s side, greeted by the nurses with warmth.

“Patients don’t remember what drug you gave them,” Moskal said. “They remember how kind you were.”

BRUCE NUTTLEMAN, For the Tribune 

Brent Kirchner, shown driving the No. 8 car last season at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, is ready to make a run at the track championship this year with a new car.

Trump promises to lower drug prices, but his blueprint is less sweeping than his campaign rhetoric

WASHINGTON — After repeatedly promising to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug prices, President Donald Trump on Friday released a multipronged “blueprint” he said would deliver relief to patients “very soon.”

But the president stopped well short of backing any major new effort to use the federal government’s power to negotiate lower prices for patients, a strategy he endorsed as a candidate and one broadly used by most industrialized nations.

And though Trump used sweeping rhetoric to attack drug makers, insurers and others he said were fleecing patients, his plan committed to few concrete actions that would immediately challenge industry.

After Trump announced his plan from the White House Rose Garden, pharmaceutical stocks jumped.

“What Trump laid out is policy that Big Pharma can love,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Trump abandoned his campaign commitment to Medicare Part D negotiation … and shamefully aims to beat up on other countries to make them pay more.”

The blueprint includes a series of proposals that the Trump administration says it will study or evaluate, such as possibly requiring pharmaceutical makers to list prices in television ads or giving Medicare Part D drug plans more leeway to adjust which drugs they cover.

Even Trump’s tough talk about going after other nations that negotiate lower prices for their citizens — which the president labeled “free loading” — was accompanied only by instructions to his trade negotiators to raise this issue in talks with U.S. trading partners.

The president has faced mounting pressure to confront the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, which have become a key driver of rising health care costs and a major complaint for millions of American patients.

The U.S. already has the highest medical prices in the world, research indicates.

Nearly three-quarters of registered voters said in a recent nationwide poll that they would be more likely to support a congressional candidate this fall who supports bringing down the cost of prescription medications.

As public outrage increases, there are growing calls by patient advocates and others for more government regulation of prices, a practice common in other industrialized countries.

Last fall, a major report by the National Academy of Sciences recommended a slate of aggressive steps, including government intervention to negotiate lower prices for American patients, limits on prescription drug advertising and new efforts to determine the “value” of drugs by assessing how well they work relative to how much they cost.

But Republicans have consistently opposed such efforts.

Trump has been promising since he took office that he would take on drug makers and make medications more affordable for patients.

And senior administration officials — including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who took office in January — have signaled for months that reining in prices would be a top priority.

The administration has been working to speed regulatory approval of generic medications to get these cheaper alternatives to patients more quickly.

And Azar said Friday that the administration is looking to gather information to take more steps. “This is not a one and done,” he said.

Trump, meanwhile, promised big results. “We will have tougher negotiation, more competition and much lower prices,” he said. “And it will start to take effect very soon.”

After more than a year of White House rhetoric, however, there is considerable skepticism from not only Democratic politicians but also from many consumer advocates.

At the same time, while Trump voiced concern for health care affordability Friday, his administration has taken numerous other steps in recent months that patient and consumer advocates say are putting medical care further out of reach for millions.

Two proposed regulations to loosen rules about what benefits health insurance plans must provide will likely drive up the cost of medical care for sicker Americans who need more comprehensive coverage, including prescription drugs.

The two proposals are vehemently opposed by hundreds of patient organizations, including the March of Dimes, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the American Lung Association and the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society.

The Trump administration also continues to advocate hundreds of billions of dollars in funding cuts for state Medicaid programs, which independent analyses suggest would strip health coverage from tens of millions of Americans, putting prescription drugs further out of reach for these patients.

Coming Sunday for LaX Saturday 051218

Mother’s Day

Readers have shared with us their heartfelt tributes to their mothers, and we’ll share them with you in Sunday’s Tribune — along with reporter Mike Tighe’s story of a Holmen woman, Joyce Abernathy, whose quilted creation “Rooted Deep, Growing Tall” will be unveiled on Mother’s Day at Trinity United Church of Christ.

In Sports

UW-L will be a track fan’s paradise in the coming weeks as Veterans Memorial Field is home first to the NCAA Division III national championships May 24-26 and then the WIAA meet June 1-2. Reporter Colten Bartholomew takes a look ahead.