Home sales are bucking national trends in the Mankato area, reports Tim Krohn of the Mankato Free Press. While both sales and sale prices are up and mortgage rates remain steady, the only problem remains a lack of inventory, says Jeff Kaul of Century 21 Atwood Realty. “In all of Blue Earth, Nicollet and part of Le Sueur counties there are just 452 active properties for sale,” Krohn wrote. In the first nine months of the year, sales were good and prices increased over 2012. Blue Earth County saw an increase of 34 percent over the first nine months of last year. The average sale price was up 12 percent. In Nicollet County sales through September rose 41 percent and the average sale price increased 2 percent over last year. Krohn listed nine-month sales stats from some other counties: Brown, up 19 percent; Faribault , up 18 percent; Le Sueur , up 18 percent; Martin, up 22 percent; Waseca, up 33 percent; and Watonwan, up 27 percent.
The Owatonna school district has only one problem with implementing all-day kindergarten – space. Peter Byrne of the Owatonna People’s Press writes that Wilson Elementary already has all-day kindergarten, but since Gov. Mark Dayton signed all-day kindergarten into law in May, the district’s other three elementary schools will implement it too. “The major challenge will be space,” said Tom Sager, director of finance and operations for the Owatonna school district. One option is to move the Montessori program to another place. Another is to open a separate building for some programs. Yet another is portable classrooms placed outside the elementary schools for older students. While the district tries to figure out the specifics of the program, the school board knows the benefits. “This is hands down the best investment of a dollar in education,” said Bill Bernard, vice-chair of the school board. “Even the most financially conservative within our community should be happy that this has moved forward.”
The Mayo Clinic announced it will start a $72.1 million project to add five floors to the Mary Brigh East Building and renovate the third floor of the Domatilla Building at Saint Marys Hospital. Both projects, which are part of Destination Medical Center, will begin in 2014, with completion expected by early 2016, writes Jeff Hansel of the Rochester Post Bulletin. “The five floors being added will include three floors for patient care rooms, each with 23 private rooms, for a total of 69 private rooms with an additional 131,800 square feet, the clinic said. The remaining two floors will be used for shell space and mechanical infrastructure, with a total of 25,300 square feet. Replaced will be 73 inpatient beds currently located in the Joseph Building, built in 1922. After the renovation, the Joseph Building will be used for hospital-based staff clinical support space. That will be key to Mayo’s ongoing efforts to transform the clinic and Rochester into the world’s top Destination Medical Center, a $6 billion effort with nearly a half billion dollars in taxpayer money from city, county and state coffers.”
The Austin City Council gave City Administrator Jim Hurm his walking papers on Monday, reports Matt Peterson of the Austin Daily Herald. The council was mum on its reasons, “but an evaluation completed in September clearly indicates city department heads weren’t happy with Hurm’s job performance. ‘Mr. Hurm’s performance was deemed unacceptable with respect to staff supervision and department heads,’ the report states. ‘A majority of department heads felt that Mr. Hurm did not properly manage the goals and expectations of city departments, would not accept and share responsibility for decisions made, and, further, stated that he did not effectively communicate pertinent information to their departments.’ ” Hurm has been Austin’s city administrator since 2003.
Sometimes lost in the stories about the release of priests’ names who have been accused of sexually abusing minors is that the Diocese of Winona is also included in that order, writes Jerome Christenson of the Winona Daily News. The diocese must disclose this month the names of 13 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, a state judge ruled Monday. The diocese has until Jan. 6 to reveal the names. The dioceses must release the priests’ names, birth year and age, year of ordination, whether they’re alive or dead and the year of death, the parishes they served, their current status, and the city and state where they live. Many dioceses in Minnesota have already released this information: 26 in the Diocese of St. Cloud, 17 in the Diocese of Duluth, 12 in the Diocese of New Ulm, and five in the Diocese of Crookston.