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Winona real estate market looks good this spring

ALSO: D-Day soldier makes his way home; St. Peter to help the homeless; ATV accidents concern officials; and more.

The number of homes in the Winona market year to date is down, while sales and average prices have increased compared to last year. Glen Olson of the Winona Daily News writes that the Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors crunched the numbers and sales for the area reflect both national and statewide housing sales trends. Karen Becker with SEMAR says it’s a sellers’ market without showing signs of shifting. In Winona, new listings are down 6.3 percent compared to last year and the number of homes for sale in April was 18.6 percent lower than last year. “Prices are still increasing despite lower inventory. Not as many people are selling at this point, but they closed a lot more,” Becker said. Meanwhile, Winona County Recorder Bob Bambenek said sales of all properties increased 9 percent over last year with an exceptional start to the year for commercial sales. “It’s been a very active, positive four months,” Bambenek said.

John Anderson has come home. The Navy Machinist Mate 1st Class died on D-Day in the engine room of a landing craft tank that was destroyed by enemy fire. The Associated Press reports that he was interred in a grave in a Normandy American Military Cemetery while his family in Willmar was told his remains had washed out to sea. But family members thought otherwise and several years ago hired Willmar resident Jon Lindstrand, who spent four years tracking down the whereabouts of Anderson’s remains. They learned he might have been in the unmarked grave in 2009, but their request for DNA tests were turned down twice. Then they turned to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who persuaded the Navy to perform the tests for the family, “and guess what, they were right,” Klobuchar said. Anderson was brought back to Minnesota and was buried Saturday near his family at Willmar’s Fairview Cemetery.

St. Peter has pledged to support the Solace Project, a 30-unit apartment building for people at high risk of homelessness who have psychological and chemical abuse problems and are subject to court-ordered treatment. Leah Buletti with the Mankato Free Press writes that the project is planned on land north of the Sunrise Drive water tower in St. Peter. The City Council agreed to sell the three-acre parcel for $137,214. The project has been in the works for about two years. Rick Goodemann, CEO of the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, said the audience is families with children and who have histories of dysfunctional living conditions, mental illness or substance-abuse problems, financial struggles and involvement with social services. These are “people that are exiting the criminal justice system (who) have a difficult time finding stable housing in the St. Peter area” and often couch-hop and end up reoffending, he said. The building will have six one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. Councilman Roger Parras said that while including general housing was considered, the city “wanted it to be dedicated to what it’s supposed to be. … We do have a homelessness problem; we just don’t see it.” 

A spate of ATV accidents involving young riders has caught the attention of authorities in Western Minnesota. Dave Olson of the Fargo Forum ticks off come of the incidents: A 14-year-old boy drove an ATV into the guide wire of a power pole and the ATV rolled; three young people were riding an ATV when it rolled, pinning one beneath the machine before the rider was freed and airlifted to a hospital; and two girls in a side-by-side who avoided serious injury when the vehicle overturned because they were wearing their safety belts. As of May 11, the DNR had received reports of seven fatal crashes involving ATVs and an off-highway motorcycle. Of those incidents, three cases involved victims under 18, said Bruce Lawrence, recreational vehicle coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Those 16 and older must complete an online ATV course before operating an ATV on public land but they are not required to complete a hands-on training session – which is something concerned adults could provide their young riders before allowing them the freedom to ride, Lawrence suggested.

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Insert your “dusting for prints” joke here: East Grand Forks Detective Tony Hart told the Forum News Service that police received a call at about 5 p.m. Thursday reporting the discovery of two severed fingers at a picnic table at the Red River Recreation Area. Authorities haven’t identified the fingers’ owner. They have been sent to a medical examiner for testing.  

Montevideo mainstay Trailways Cafe closed on May 29. Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune gave the place a proper eulogy, saying it was not only the best place in town for a beef commercial or a slice of lemon merengue pie, but the regulars could keep you apprised of every event in town. Jim and Cheryl Curtiss own the restaurant and gas station at the intersection of Highways 7/59 and 212. He said it’s a victim of the times — mom and pop restaurants cannot compete with fast-food chains. “The young people, they’re always in a hurry in their lives,” he said, adding that while the intersection sees an average daily traffic count of 5,600 vehicles, the number of truckers stopping for a meal has declined too, victims of more affordable rail shipping for grain from South Dakota. The restaurant used to be the after-hours meeting place for the crowd from the M and M Ballroom, but the ballroom has closed. Tougher DUI laws have curbed late night/early morning business, and the number of hunters who provided a seasonal shot in the arm has gone down too. These days, the restaurant sees big business with the after-church crowd on Sunday, but that’s about it. The operation opened in September 1962. 

Mark your calendars – Minnesota shrimp will one day rule the seafood market. Alex Chhith at the Worthington Daily Globe writes that tru Shrimp Systems [sic] in Balaton is developing an indoor environment for the domesticated pacific white shrimp. “Our goal is to become the shrimp capital of the world,” said Robert Gervais, an operations manager at tru Shrimp Systems. The U.S. exports shrimp feed and imports $1.5 billion of shrimp each year, Gervais said. “We are working to bring shrimp here because the feed is here,” he said. The company plans to process 6 million pounds of sushi-grade shrimp each year in its six-acre indoor facility and will employ at least 50 people. The first batch of shrimp will be available in two years.

Philosophy: It’s not just for coffee-shop hipsters anymore. For the past several weeks, 32 Carleton College philosophy students have been teaching first-graders at Greenvale Park Elementary. Philip Weyhe of the Northfield News writes that Top of Form Prof. Daniel Groll has been creating hands-on experience for his Philosophy with Children class. In these hourlong lessons, the 95 first-graders listen to stories and then engage in philosophical discussions and questions. “We put a lot of emphasis on not just saying what you think, but explaining why you think that,” Groll said. Students (the elementary kind) answer questions about right and wrong, fair and unfair, real or fake. Carleton student Alex Chang brought the idea to Groll, who tested it last year and found it to be a success. “Children naturally have this ability to ask questions,” Chang said. “I think what philosophy does is it invites that student to ask those questions and have that voice that they’re already prepared to express.”