Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a building site just outside of Monroe.

Build your dream home on this spacious 2.91 acre lot on Alphorn Road, just south of Monroe.

You will have the best of both worlds in this rural subdivision - room for your family to spread out and enjoy views of the rolling countryside, but a drive of less than a mile to Monroe.

This gently sloping lot allows for construction a home with exposed basement. Enjoy sunrises from your back windows as you look out over acres of farmland.

This lot would be perfect for a home with passive solar orientation, and photovoltaic panels could be a possibility here as well.

Priced at only $26,000, this is a lot that has many possibilities.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Renewable Energy, the easy way

Going green is a popular thing to do lately. If you are starting to think of renewable energy sources for your home or business, start the easy way. Instead of jumping straight into solar panels or wind turbines, take a look at your electricity provider.

If you get your electricity from Alliant Energy, sign up for their Second Nature program. When you enroll in Second Nature, you are doing your part to encourage the growth of renewable energy sectors. If you use X kilowatt hours a month, Alliant will purchase at least X kilowatt hours from renewable energy sources.

There is a surcharge on your electrical bill for the program. In our family, it amounts to about $15 per month. Alliant does offer the choice of particiapting at different levels too. You can commit to have 100% of your electricity come from green sources, or you can select the 50% or 25% level, whatever fits with your budget. This is not an all or nothing thing. Every little bit helps, so do what works for you.

Take the time to look into the personal renewable energy systems, but until you are able to get those installed, at least you can know that you are doing your part to lower your fossil fuel impact as well as create demand for renewable energy right now.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Interest Rates

Up, down, down some more, up a little, down a little. Interest rates have been zigzagging in recent months.

One thing is for certain, these current levels are historically low. Mortgage interest rates are based off of prime rate. Looking at the history of prime, going back to 1947, is amazing. Prime has flucuated from 1.75 to 21.5. Take a look at the figures in that chart. The levels we saw in recent months are incredibly and buck the historical averages.

As of June 1, prime was 3.25. This is a level we saw in December 2008 for the first time in 54 years.

If you are waiting for the housing market to hit bottom and interest rates to drop before taking the plunge to getting your mortgage, it is a risk. Looking at history, we are in a golden period right now. The period after WWII had issues that kept prime low, and the Fed is taking action right now to keep prime low too. How long will it last? You'd need a crystal ball to know for sure.

Some people are waiting to buy houses until the prices drop a little lower, closer to hitting bottom. This is a gamble that could end up costing thousands due to the interest rates.

Say buyers are looking at a $135,000 home (median for Green County). They are unsure of when to buy.
  • If they would have bought when the mortgage rates were 4.75%, they would pay $118,522 of interest over the course of a 30 year loan.
  • If they purchase when the mortgage rates are 5.5%, they will pay $140,942 in interest.
  • If they purchase when the mortgage rates are 6.25% (still considered a great rate just a decade ago), they will pay $164,237 in interest.
What happens if they wait to purchase, hoping prices drop? If that $135,000 drops to $130,000, but the interest rates don't drop back down to the 4.75% levels, what happens?
  • They will pay $128,422 in interest if their mortgage is at a 5.25% rate.
  • They pay $135,722 in interest if their mortgage rate is 5.5%.
  • They pay $158,157 in interest with a 6.25% rate.
We do know from looking at history that these super-low rates will not last. We know that the government is working to keep rates low for a while, but how low and for how long, no one knows.

The only thing I know for certain is that if a buyer is waiting for prices to drop "just a little more", but the interest rates bump up even .5%, they will cost themselves thousands of dollars in the long run.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hey shutterbugs!

The Monroe Arts Center is sponsoring the 20th Annual Photography Contest and Exhibit.

All local photogs are welcome to participate. There are three classifications:
  • Junior, for youth under age 18
  • Beginner, for people who have no formal training and/or minimal experience
  • Advanced, for people who have experience, training or who have been published.
Everyone may enter up to two photographs. All entries must be framed suitably for exhibit at MAC. Sizes must be between 8x10" and 16x20". All photographs must have been taken after January 1 of 2008. The entry fee is $20 per person, and the deadline for submission is August 14.

There are a number of categories this year:
  • Black and white
  • Landscape
  • People
  • Buildings
  • Unclassified
  • Mixed media
  • Reflections (using mirrors, water, glass, etc)
For an entry form or for more details, contact MAC at 325-5700 or visit their website.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

It looks like the hot weather, sunny weather will hold throughout the weekend. Are you looking for something to do outside to enjoy the sunshine or inside to beat the heat?

~ Bring your lawn chair to Downtown Monroe to enjoy the second Concert on the Square. Red Hot Dixies take the stage at 6:30 pm. Order your boxed lunch in advance from Turner Hall, Garden Deli or http://www.turnerhallofmonroe.org/.

~ New Glarus hosts the Heidi Festival this weekend. Come watch the Heidi play, shake a leg in the Street Dance, sign the kids up for the children's tractor pull, browse the Art Fair, and enjoy a wagon ride. The festivities take place Friday through Sunday.

~ Don't forget about MTG's Odd Couple! This is the final weekend for the show, and I have heard it is great. Maybe we'll see you there.

~ Have you been to the Piazza yet? This is a large private party where crashers are welcome. Terry and Nancy host incredible music acts in an intimate, outdoor setting. Come for the potluck dinner after 6:30, music starts around dusk. Bring a dish to pass and your beverage of choice. Reusable tableware is provided. The cost is pass the hat. The musical act is Cajun Strangers, and the potluck theme is "From France to Nova Scotia and Down to New Orleans."

~ A new exhibit opens at the Stephenson County Visitor's Center by Freeport this week. "Cruisin' in Style" is an expo featuring automobiles, old and new. There is also information on Freeport's annual Cruise Night in August.

~ Stef at Goose Chaser Farm has a culinary workshop scheduled for Sunday, June 27 at her farm. The class this month focuses on Fresh Cheese. Make cheese, and then learn what to do with it. $30 per person, registration required.

~ Splish splash! Area pools are open for business, and they are very popular places in this heat. Monroe, New Glarus, Monticello, Brodhead, Lena, and Freeport all have community pools open to the public. Purchase a season pass or just come for the day, but remember the sunscreen! Don't forget about Yellowstone Lake or Lake Le-Aqua-Na if you prefer nature's swimming pools.

However you spend this weekend - at any of the above place, picking strawberries, biking the trails, watching the kids chase fireflies at dusk or hanging out in the hammock with a glass of lemonade - enjoy the fleeting days of summer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pardon our Dust

Look out for excavators and dump trucks in Downtown Monroe this summer.

You don't quite need to bring your own hard hat, but do prepare for a few extra minutes when heading downtown. Look out for the signs indicating which side of the square is closed for construction, and beware the sidewalks that are being redone.

If you want to plan before heading Downtown, visit Monroe Main street's website for a map of the current traffic flow routes. Pop by the Under Construction Gallery for photographs of the current work if you are curious and can't make it downtown.

Downtown is far from shut down just because of a few traffic cones and a little dust. Stores and restaurants are still open for business. The farmer's market is still being held on the Square on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. The Concerts on the Square are still on. The next one is this Thursday as a matter of fact.

You might have to park a little farther away from your destination or take a slightly different route for a little while, but the end results will be worth it. Main Street is coordinating a streetscaping project to redo the look of our downtown, making it much more welcoming and pedestrian friendly. At the same time, the City is completing underground work that truly needs to be done. The old coal bins under the sidewalks are being filled in, plus the water and sewer lines are being redone and modernized, a very postponed job.

Kudos to the City of Monroe and Monroe Main Street for using almost exclusively local contractors for this job. Only one part is going to a non-local business, and I heard through the grapevine that this is because the local contractor was booked. In our current economy, it is so important to keep things local.

Keeping things local is also why we need to keep shopping our Downtown in spite of a little dust and inconvenience. I want to be sure that my favorites weather out this construction with minimal impact so that they are here for me next fall, next year too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is an energy efficient home in Freeport.

This well thought out, custom built home has all the details! Go green without even trying with energy saving features that make sense for every family.

Light pours through tilt-out, low E, double paned windows. The entire home has solid 6 panel oak doors, even the closets. Oak trim is also throughout the home. The custom kitchen has oak cabinets and a huge pantry with swing out shelving.

Stay warm or cool without paying a fortune thanks to the high efficiency features not found in just any home. There is R-38 insulation in the attic and R-18 in the 2x6” construction walls. The builders utilized a raised heel truss system to allow space for the full depth of 24" of insulation to extend to the edges of the walls, an energy saving feature that also helps prevent the build-up of ice dams. There is a high efficiency furnace and water heater. In the summer, you will appreciate the efficacy of the whole house fan and how quickly it can cool off your new home without even using the central air.

Upstairs are four spacious bedrooms including a master suite with walk-in closet, double wide jetted tub and extra large shower. In addition to the formal living room and dining room this home features a roomy family room with gas fireplace and a bonus room with exterior access. If you work from home, this is the perfect place for your home office.

A spacious deck overlooks the development and miles of countryside. There is a walkout basement with 9’ ceilings and a bathroom rough in, should you ever decide to expand your living space.

Enjoy your life in this home near all of the Freeport area amenities. You will be close to the Jane Addams Recreational Trail, lakes and rivers. Freeport has a multitude of parks. Krape Park is home to four season recreation opportunities including ice skating, paddle boat rentals and even a Merry Go Round. Read Park has a public aquatic center and skate park, the Oakdale Nature Preserve is a stunning public natural space with miles of trails. Little Cubs Field is a unique community asset, a nearly exact replica of Wrigely Field, Little League sized, that is free for anyone to use. Freeport is home to golf courses and an active league sport community. Enjoy the arts through community theater, professional performances and more.

All of these features plus a desirable location in the Cherokee Hills subdivision makes this one of a kind home a must see!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

Come out, come out wherever you are! What are you going to do this weekend?

~ Sign the kids up for free junior golf lessons at the Monroe County Club. All kids 13 and under are eligible for a free lesson to introduce them to golf. Call the Pro Shop at 325-3159 to register. I just spoke with them to sign up our children a little bit ago, and there are plenty of open slots still.

~ Don't forget the traditional balloon glow at the Fairgrounds this Friday and Saturday evening. All the festivities for the balloon rally take place over there this weekend, and walk-in admission is free.

~ Laugh away at the antics of Felix and Oscar in Monroe Theatre Guild's production of The Odd Couple. There will be shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, along with next weekend as well. Tickets are $10 for member, $12 for non-members. You can purchase them at the box office in the STAGE building or at the door.

~ There is a new exhibit opening up at Frehner Gallery at the Monroe Arts Center. Reality3 features three artists from the Momentum Art Guild of Northwest Illinois. This is a multi-media ehhibit featuring watercolor, pencil, acrylics and digital photographic compositions. The opening reception is at MAC on Thursday from 5 until 7 pm, and the artists will be on hand to talk with during the reception.

~ UW Alums! Come to Toffler's in New Glarus on Thursday from 6 until 8 pm for a special Alumni Happy Hour. I'm not sure that I'll be able to be there (the art opening is calling my name), but go big red! Come back to Tofflers on Saturday evening after 8 for live music. The featured act this week is acoustic rock with Mark Croft and violinist Julia McConahay.

~ Manny B is playing at Baumgartner's on Saturday evening. Manny does a great show and plays a mean guitar. Stop on in for an evening of camaraderie, good drinks and a good time.

~ The FHN summer family movie at Lindo Theater in Freeport for this Saturday is "Imagine That." Showtime is 10 am; $3 per person.

~ June means strawberries, at least to seasonal food-focused people like myself. Have you gone picking yet? The grocery store version can't hold a candle to a freshly picked, perfectly ripe berry. Christianson's Farm just south of Monroe is open for picking. Pick your own for $2 per quart of Honeoye, or pick up pre-picked berries for $4 per quart. They are at the Farmers Market too. Margharita does not spray her berries with chemicals.

~ Take dad to the Lions Park in Lena on Saturday or Sunday for a game of family mini-golf. Parents play free when the whole family plays together ($3 for kids).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

May Market Report

I cannot believe that it is mid-June already. Somehow I missed doing the market report so far this month.

First, the number of single family homes that sold in Green County in May of 2009:
  • 33 homes sold in May of 2009,
  • The average sale price was $189,363,
  • The median sale price was $155,700,
  • The highest priced property sold was $765,000,
  • The lowest priced property sold was $20,500.
Things have dropped a little bit since May of 2008:
  • 30 homes sold in May of 2008,
  • The average sale price was $148,946,
  • The median sale price was $127,250,
  • The highest priced property sold was $395,000,
  • The lowest priced property sold was $54,000.
The median home price and average home prices both jumped up from the April numbers, and the number of homes sold increased dramatically too.

I find it very interesting how the numbers compared to this time last year. The number of homes selling is about the same, 10% different, but the average and median prices are dramatically different. This is not just a reflection of the $765,000 home selling. There were homes that closed in every single price range, including the $200-300K, $300-400K, $400-500K and $600-700K ranges. This is is big improvement in the local market, which has seen homes over $200K moving slowly in the last year.

Things are also moving more quickly. The average days on market for the homes that closed in May was 97, down from 109 in May of 2008 and from 145 in April of 2009.

All in all, these are very positive numbers for our area.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Help MASE improve the Honey Creek Skatepark


M.A.S.E. (MONROE AREA SKATEPARK ENTHUSIASTS) has qualified Honeycreek Skatepark to be one of 50 skateparks in the U.S. that are eligible to participate in a contest that is giving away (2) $5,000 grants. During the Balloon Rally, M.A.S.E. will have a booth set up handing out Mattel’s X-Games fingerboards to ages 8 -13. (Mattel’s X-Games Fingerboards are not recommended for children under 6 years of age.) Also available will be fingerboard skatepark equipment for you to use to try out your fingerboard skills.

The 2 skateparks that can advertise for ESPN, Mattel, and X-games the best, will each win a $5,000.00 grant for skatepark improvements. During both evenings, MASE will ask all kids who are approximately 8-13 year olds to help them by being in a group pictures for the contest. All participants in the evening photo event will be eligible for door prizes, X-game skateboards with helmet and pads, fingerboard skate park equipment that was used for the event, X-games fingerboard T-shirts, and more.

MASE needs 8 - 13 year olds to participate and help them win the contest.

For more information on Mattel’s line of X Games Fingerboards, please visit www.xgamesfingersports.com

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Up, Up and Away

The Monroe Balloon Rally is just days away. The 24th annual event is happening with a few changes this year. There will be balloon launches and flights of course. The evening balloon glow is always a popular event. Bring the kids for the Junior Flight School children's activities. Browse the arts show, and enjoy live music.

The events this year take place Friday evening and all day on Saturday at the Green County Fairgrounds. This year, admission is free if you walk in. Parking inside the fairgrounds is available for $3.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Stirring the Pot"

This week starts the first of a three-part series of free community picnics. “Stirring the Pot: Dialogue, Discussion and Dinner in the Dairyland,” is sure to be an engaging and fun forum for area residents to gather and learn more about creating a healthy, green and sustainable local food system.

Come sit on the Monroe Arts Center lawn on a blanket and enjoying your picnic. Watch area chefs share secrets for cooking fresh, tasty dishes. Wander over to the MAC parking lot area enjoy local music and various activities to prompt discussion about food.

This first picnic on Wednesday, June 17 features a spring theme, with discussion focused on the theme “Roots and Seeds of Spring,” prompting discussion around how our food experiences and memories shape our attitudes today. On July 15, the second picnic will take place with a “Summer Abundance” theme. The final picnic is on August 19 and turns to fall harvest perspectives. National humanities experts Dr. Steve Stevenson and Kathy Ruf will be on hand to share their perspectives working in the areas of preserving family farms and encouraging local food systems.

The “Stirring the Pot” picnics all start at 5:30 pm, following the Wednesday Monroe Farmers’ Market. The upcoming June 17 event will kick-off with demonstrations by Blackhawk Technical College’s Chef Mark Olson, who will be demonstrating Goat Cheese and Oven-Dried Tomato Strudel showcasing local Green County raised and produced items. Steph Culberson of The Goosechaser Farm in Blanchardville will then share her technique and tips for making spƤtzli, the traditional Swiss egg noodle dish.

Please bring your own picnic and blanket or lawn chairs and help reduce waste at this event by bringing reusable dishware. The event will be held inside the Monroe Arts Center in case of rain. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer and help with these events, please contactCara Carper, UW-Extension (608-328-9441, cara.carper@ces.uwex.edu). No reservation is needed. For those with disabilities who need table seating, call Cara as well.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lambs and Lettuce Festival

Circle M is a sustainable market farm about thirty minutes northwest of Monroe. The owner, Kriss Marion, has become well known for her blog on farm life. Honest, frank and frankly funny sometimes, the blog features everything from "pigwatch" for a birthing sow to CSA share updates.

Circle M offers CSA shares (though they are full for the 2009 season), sustainable meats, and Maid Marion woolen goods. If you want a taste of farm life itself, they will arrange for you to spend a day or two on their farm, working and learning.

If you would rather just come hang out on a farm for a while and see the animals and fields, consider attending their Lambs and Lettuces Festival tomorrow, Saturday. Many of our area market farmers know that people like to come out, visit and ask questions. The farmers enjoy it, as a general rule, but unexpected visits are hard to accommodate due to the realities of farm life and the work involved. For this reason, many of these farmers offer open houses days like the Lambs and Lettuces Festival. (Stay tuned for more information on an open house day at Inn Serendipity on July 11, coming in a future blog post.)

The festival begins at noon. Throughout the afternoon there will be demonstrations and activities. Learn about horse grooming or felting, watch a demonstration of shearing or spinning. MooGrass, a local bluegrass band, takes the stage about 4:30 pm, and there will be a community potluck dinner around 7, so bring your favorite local foods dish to pass. Stay for a bonfire and knitting circle after dinner as night falls. The stars look different out in the country, so come, sit and dance and enjoy an afternoon and evening on the farm.

The farm store will also be open. They offer yarns along with wool for felting and spinning. Bring the cooler along and pick up some sustainably raised meat.

Circle M is about 40 minutes southwest of Madison or about 45 minutes northwest of Monroe at 1784 County Road H, Blanchardville, WI. RSVP is not necessary, but feel free to call 608-523-4341 for directions or more information.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a starter home in Monroe.

This charming home has been professionally remodeled and updated. It is move in ready for you! There is a new high efficiency furnace, new kitchen appliances, new plumbing and new carpeting throughout this beautiful home. The generous backyard is fenced and has a deck overlooking it. There is a storage shed and plenty of room to play. Why look at those fixer uppers? This home finished and ready for your family.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

Bring the canoe, load up the lawn chair! Here is a look at what is going on in the Green County area in the upcoming week:

~ Come Downtown on Thursday evening for the first Concert on the Square of the summer. Horsefeathers takes the stage at about 6:30. There is still time to book a boxed supper from Cafe Claudeen, Turner Hall or Garden Deli.

~ Young Professionals, come join me as I take the YPs of Green County on a tour of a local home. I will be talking as an EcoBroker about green home ownership, specifically environmental features that make sense for every home owner.

~ Stop in at The Green Door between noon and 7 pm on Thursday for their summer entertaining open house event. Stop in before you come to the Concert on the Square. Have some nibbles, browse the entertainment collections, chat with Judy and Nancy.

~ Chicago Ave in Downtown Freeport is the site for Music on Chicago, featuring oldies music in the historic Downtown area.

~ On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, New Glarus hosts the Roger Bright Polkafest. What kind of polka do you do? Skip your workout and come dance. The polka is more of a workout than an elliptical machine, plus it is a lot more fun!

~ If you prefer activity on the water, Canoe Fest begins on Thursday in Darlington and runs through Sunday. This event, in its 43rd year now, features canoe races, a parade, fireworks show, outdoor concerts and more.

~ Spice it up a little at the Pedal/Paddle. The Lena Park District sponsors this day of outdoor activity on the Jane Addams Trail and Pecatonica River. Bike 8.25 miles on the trail, then hop into a canoe or kayak for an 8.35 mile flotilla on the river. Worried you aren't up to the challenge? There will be a sag wagon and pontoon to help if you need a break. $20 if you have your own canoe, $30 if you need to rent. Call 815-369-5351 to register.

~ The New Glarus Brewing Company officially opens their Hilltop Facility for tours on Saturday, June 13. The grand opening takes place all day from 10 am until 5 pm. The Jimmys will be on hand to play R&B, so sit and stay a while.

~ Monroe Theatre Guild Youth Choir will perform their first concert on Sunday at 7 pm at the Stage Building in Monroe.

~ Get your picnic baskets ready! The first "Stirring the Pot: Dialogue, Discussion and Dinner in Dairyland" picnic happens on the lawn of the MAC following the Farmers Market on Wednesday, June 17. Guest chefs take the stage at 5:30 with a community picnic dinner and discussions following. There will be three picnics total, one in each June, July and August, sponsored by the group working to bring the Community Commercial Kitchen to Green County.

Have a great weekend here in Cheese Country!

Energy Saving Summer Cooling Tips

Summer cooling can be as expensive at winter heating. A few small steps can help reduce your energy consumption and lower your energy bills tremendously.

Our grandparents knew the basics:
  • Close blinds and curtains on the east side of your home in the morning and on the west side of your home in the afternoon. This will reduce the amount of solar gain - the energy of the sun entering your home and heating it up. An awning over southern windows can substitute for deep eaves, giving your home shade over these windows and reducing the solar energy coming into them.
  • For the long term, deciduous trees planted to block southern or western afternoon sun can help tremendously. The leaves will fall off in winter, allowing for solar gain in the months where we need it the most.
  • Turn off lights in rooms that you are not using.
  • Open your windows as the evening cools; close them again in the morning. This traps the cool night air in your home, helping it stay cooler all day long.
  • Keep doors closed as much as possible during the day. It is the same principle as keeping the refrigerator closed as much as possible during a power outage.
  • Use fans to keep the air in your home moving. A fan in an occupied room can make it feel a little cooler. Another option is a whole house fan or attic fan to draw the hot air out of the top of the house. Two of our sellers have these installed in their homes (Monroe and Freeport) and rave about the efficacy.
If you are using central air or a window air conditioner
  • Clean the filter on a regular basis.
  • Do not block the flow of air from the window unit or central air vents with furniture. Also be sure to keep the air return grills clear.
  • Keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees or higher. Each degree higher reduces your summer heating costs by about 7%.
  • When it is time to replace an older air conditioning unit, look for high-efficiency units with higher SEER ratings.
The summer heat is a treat after the cold of winter. If you give your body time to adjust naturally to the heat, 85 or even 90 degree days can be enjoyable even without high air conditioning bills.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Business Spotligh - Europa

Europa has been a mainstay business in Monroe for years. The store is well known for heritage lace, stocking items of a quality that is difficult to locate in this pre-fab world. The inventory also has always included a variety of collectibles and interesting items.

Europa has had some changes in recent months, though. After moving to the Downtown Square, Europa then changed owners. New ownership always alters a store slightly, and the new owner, Heather, has been busy updating the stock at Europa, so if you have not been in lately, stop by for a peek at what is new.

Naturally, the heritage lace items are still present. If you are looking for lace curtains, tablecloths or runners, Europa should be the first place on your list to look. These items are incredible in their quality, and they will last for generations.

However, Europa has much more than just lace items. If you are looking for interesting home decor pieces, you need to check out the inventory at Europa. This is not the place to find run of the mill pieces. The items here are stylish, unique and sure to liven up any interior. Heather has figurines, table top pieces, artwork and more. There is something here for everyone, every generation. Her selection of glassware includes everything from classic leaded crystal to fun decorated martini glasses.

Need a unique baby gift? Heather stocks a variety of interesting items including a selection of locally made blankets, taggies and hats crafted from plush fabrics and adorable patterns. She also has figurines and other gift items for the new little one in your life.

Brides, after shopping at Julie's Bridal next door, be sure to stop at Europa to pick out your wedding stationary items along with specialty items like champagne flutes, unity candles and more.

Europa is one of those stores that is plain old fun to browse through. Stop in next time you are on the Square in Monroe and take a look for yourself.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is ranch home on Skinner Creek.

Unparalleled style at any price!

This 2 year old, 3 bedroom ranch home has an enormous, bright and open great room with a large stone fireplace. The dramatic formal entry is a lovely way to enter your home every day or greet your guests. Your family will appreciate the oversized closets in all bedrooms, and the 2x6 construction with R19 insulation rating will help keep the utility bills low all winter.

This home is located on 2.57 acres with both woods and pasture. Nature lovers will love looking out there windows and gazing at deer and wild turkeys drinking out of Skinner Creek as it moseys through your land. You will be walking distance to Cadiz State Park and just a couple of minutes outside of Monroe.

Asking price is $189,000.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Things to do

~ Tour a local garden with the Green County Garden Club on Thursday. Jeff Burandt will give a guided tour of his ponds and a discussion on water gardening. Call Wanda at 608 219-8480 for time and address.

~ Have you signed up for the Sugar River Golf Outing? The Belleville Chamber put together this outing for Saturday at Arguement Golf Course. $25 includes includes 9 holes of golf with a cart, along with steak dinner and beer after wards, and prizes. Call Dave Ace at Eyeball Machine or Regina Moyer at Amcore Bank-Belleville to sign up.

~ Come listen to live music this Saturday at either Baumgartners (Monroe) or Tofflers (New Glarus).

~ If you prefer your music outdoors, come to the Brooklyn Bluegrass Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Ameteurs and professionals will gather for workshops, concerts, homemade food, campfires, local beer and more.

~ Are you looking to try something new? Susan Myoyu Andersen Roshi is having an introductory class on Zen meditation at the Great Plains Zen Center on Saturday, June 7 from 9am - 11:30am. Suggested donation is $15 ($8 for seniors and students). The Zen Center is wheelchair accessible.

~ The Zor Shrine Circus is coming to town next week. Come to one of the shows on Wednesday, June 10 at the Green County Fairgrounds. Do you need some buy one, get one free tickets? Drop us an email and we will mail you some.

~ Next week, come Downtown in Monroe for the first Concert on the Square for the summer. Horsefeathers plays rockabilly on Thursday, June 11 from 6:30 until 8:30. Box lunches are available from some of the Downtown restaurants: Cafe Claudeen, Garden Deli, Turner Hall.

~ Thespian alert! Monroe Theatre Guild is auditioning for the role of Scrooge for this winter's performance. Auditions will be next Friday, June 12. You can pick up the script, which is new this year and an original piece written by Fr. Klarer, at the library.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Questions and Answers

Yes, I know I just talked about the first time homebuyer tax credit last week, but there is so much misunderstanding out there about who qualifies and who does not that I thought I would pass this along to our readers. I will admit that even I had thought incorrectly on one of these scenarios.

This is from Steve Bechtolt, vice president of residential lending here at Wisconsin Community Bank in Monroe. Steve and the people at WCB are very helpful, and I would not hesitate to recommend any of them to buyers looking for financing.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit: Scenarios

Q. If a single person (Taxpayer A) qualifies as a first-time homebuyer at the time he/she purchases a home with someone (Taxpayer B) that is not a first-time homebuyer and then later that year they marry each other, is the credit still allowed?

A. Eligibility for the first-time homebuyer credit is determined on the date of purchase. If Taxpayer A, a first-time homebuyer, buys a house and then later that year marries Taxpayer B, not a first-time homebuyer, the credit is allowable to Taxpayer A. Taxpayer A may take the maximum credit.

Q. Taxpayer A is a single first-time home buyer. Taxpayer B (parent) cosigns for A and does not qualify. Both names are on the mortgage. Can Taxpayer A claim the credit and, if so, how much?

A. Yes. Taxpayer B is not a first-time homebuyer and cannot claim any portion of the credit, but A may claim the entire credit ($7,500 for purchase in 2008; $8,000 for purchase in 2009), if the home was purchased as Taxpayer A's primary residence.

Q. A taxpayer owned her principal residence. Several years ago, she decided to relocate to a rented apartment, but did not sell the former residence. Instead, she rented it out to tenants. Now the taxpayer plans to buy another house and make it her new principal residence. Does she qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. A taxpayer who owned rental property within the past three years is still eligible for the credit. The taxpayer cannot have owned and used a home as his or her principal residence within the last three years.

Q. If husband and wife wanted to sell the home that the wife owned when they got married, and the husband had not owned a home within the past three years, could he qualify as a first-time homebuyer for the credit even though the wife would not qualify?

A. No. The purchase date determines whether a taxpayer is a first-time homebuyer. Since the wife had ownership interest in a principal residence within the prior three years, neither taxpayer may take the first-time homebuyer credit. Section 36(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code requires that the taxpayer and the taxpayer's spouse not have an ownership interest in a principal residence within the prior three years from the date of purchase. The husband may not take the credit even if he filed on a separate return.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sponsors needed

The folks over at Monroe Theatre Guild are gearing up for their next performances. Odd Couple is set to debut on June 19. Then, in July, MTG has the first run of their new Fairytale Theatre children's theater workshop and performance.

Up to 60 children ages 8-18 may enroll in this combination workshop and performance event. However, Fairytale Theatre is much more than just a play for children. High school students will direct it under the tuttelage of Dave Bristow, learning the art of directing in a hands on fashion. Kids ages 12-18 have the option of enrolling as part of the scenic and technical crew. They will learn directly from MTG powerhouse Suzanne Miller as they help to design, build and paint the set. This crew will also learn all of the backstage jobs - lighting, running the crew, and stage management.

The cost for this workshop and theater exeprience is $50 for member, $60 for non-members, but MTG wants to be sure that money will not stand in the way of any child who truly wants to take part in this experience. MTG is actively looking for sponsors for scholarships at the moment. Please consider sponsoring a scholarship yourself or in conjunction with a couple of friends. Five friends each contributing just $10 would enable a deserving child to participate in Fairytale Theatre this summer.

If you are able to sponsor a scholarship or raise the funds for scholarship, you can send a check to Monroe Theatre Guild, c/o Suzanne, 907 13th Avenue Monroe, WI 53566. Include a note stating that is for a scholarship for Fairytale Theatre. Sponsors will be named in the show program, but you do have the option of remaining anonymous if you prefer.