Friday, October 30, 2009

Owners of vacant homes, this one is for you

This is a repost of a blog from last winter. The message is a valuable one for owners of homes that will sit vacant for any period of time this winter.

Vacant Houses + Wisconsin Winters = Potential Disaster

It seems to happen every year. A seller has a vacant home and does not get there to check on things regularly because of being busy or being out of the area. The homeowner assumes everything is fine because the furnace was running and the heat was set somewhere in the 50 degree range.

Until the unthinkable happens. A power outage takes out the electronic pilot. Something trips a circuit breaker. A weird fluke interrupts things and the furnace stops functioning. Even if the homeowner or a neighbor is checking in once a week or every few days, a home can sit in the bitter cold for days without anyone knowing.

No heat in these Wisconsin winters means one thing for a home - frozen pipes.

This does not need to happen. There is a nifty little gadget called a Freeze Alarm. It is battery operated and sits in the home, monitoring the temperature. If the temperature falls below or rises above parameters set by the homeowner, the freeze alarm will call for help.

Freeze alarms are not cheap; models can run over $400. However, a basic model can be purchased for under $100. Freeze alarms are easy to locate online, and offers a variety of them. You will also have to maintain a basic telephone line for the freeze alarm to call out on. There are other models that turn on a special light in the home when the temperature falls below a specific level. These models are less expensive, but you need to have nearby neighbors willing to keep an eye on things for you.

Even with those expenses, a freeze alarm can be a bargain when balanced against the cost of repairing burst pipes and the damage they can cause.

Don't be caught unaware this winter.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

Boo! Are you looking for something fun for this trick-or-treat filled weekend?

~ Bring the little ghosts and goblins to Monroe's Downtown Square for the annual Halloween Parade. The parade begins and ends at Monroe Middle School. Children of all ages (and parents if they are so inclined) should line up at 3:45 for the 4:00 pm step off. Trick or Treating hours for Monroe begin after the parade and go until 8:00.

~ Wisconsin's Area 51 is celebrating this weekend. The UFO Capitol of the World - aka Belleville - is celebrating UFO Day this weekend. There will be the annual UFO Parade, a Fun Run, a pet costume contest, children's games, a craft fair, a Haunted Forest, pumpkin carving, food fair, and a Monster Costume Ball. Join in the festivities all day Saturday in Belleville.

~ Curious about the new Justice Center for Green County? There will be a dedication ceremony and open house this Saturday. The dedication ceremony will be at 10 am, and there will be building tours until 1 pm.

~ Toffler's in New Glarus is having live blues and classic rock music to go with their costume party this Saturday evening. The Mud Angels take the stage at 9 pm.

~ Monroe Theatre Guild hosts another of their member's only movie nights on Saturday evening with a showing of the classic Psycho. The showtime is 8 pm, and tickets are $5 at the door. Seating is limited, so call to reserve your seats, 325-1111. Concessions will be available, and all the popcorn you can eat is only $1. Not a member? No problem. Individual memberships start at $15, family memberships start at $20. Get your yearlong membership, and you'll be guaranteed reduced ticket prices for all MTG productions and access to movie nights and other members only events.

~ SLICE has their annual Annual Pumpkin Ball and Costume Contest on Saturday evening. $5 per person will get you ice skating, live DJ, dancing, costume contest and more. Rentals are available, and the concession stand will be open.

~ The Green County Entreprenuers and Inventors Club meets this Monday evening starting at 6:30 pm in the New Glarus room of the Monroe Hospital. This month, Dave Babler, Dave Mosher and Dave Smith will speak on entrepreneurs sharing resources to reduce costs and benefit all. Contact Susan at GCDC if you have any questions: 328-9452.

If you are new to the area and wondering about Trick or Treat hours for your community, a good place to contact is your local city clerk: Albany (862-3240), Brodhead (897-4018), Monticello (938-4383), New Glarus (3 pm until 8 pm), Albany (862-3240), Argyle (543-3113) or South Wayne (439-1011).

Holiday parade

Can you believe that it is almost November already? The 8th annual Lighted Holiday parade in Monroe is pretty much just around the corner.

Monroe Main Street is currently accepting entries for the parade, which takes place on November 27 starting at 6 pm.

Community groups, businesses and other organizations are encouraged to submit entries as soon as possible. The deadline is November 19. All you need to do is download the entry form from Monroe Main Street's website, fill it in and submit it to Barb in the Main Street offices in the Wisconsin Community Bank building or email Tom.

Lighted entries are obviously encouraged, and Precision Drive & Control is generously donating generators on a first come, first serve basis again this year. Entrants need to contact PDC directly regarding generators.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

Hopefully this gorgeous fall weather will hold for another weekend!

~ Monroe Theatre Guild hosts a Business After 5 event for the chamber and a general public open house this Thursday evening. Come by the Stage to see the updates to the building and learn about MTG's upcoming events. Pick up your tickets to Singing on Sunday and Craig Tuttle for either Friday or Saturday evenings, or sign up for one of the upcoming theatre workshops for children or adults.

~ Monroe Lego Club is meeting again this fall and winter. The first meeting will be on Saturday in the meeting room of the Monroe Public Library from noon until 2 pm. Kids are welcome to come and build with other lego enthusiasts. Legos are provided, so please do not bring your own bricks to build with in order to prevent mix-ups, but bring creations to show if you would like. Kids 10 and under must have parent with them or in the library building at all times. Email Lisa if you have any questions.

~ Dad's Corn Maze is offering Pumpkin Carving on Saturday. Pick out the pumpkin of your choice and let your artistic side have at it. Wander the maze before or after carving.

~ Green County Habitat for Humanity is still working on their home build in Monticello. Stop in at the site on Summett Ave in Monticello to help out. Contact Cathy for more information.

~ SLICE is open for public skating this weekend. Bring your skates or rent a pair, then get out on the ice for some exercise and fun. Open skate times are 5 untiil 8:30 Friday evening, 6 until 9 Saturday evening and 4 to 6:30 on Sunday. Plan ahead for Halloween! SLICE is hosting the 2nd Annual Pumpkin Ball and Costume Contest. $5 per person for ice skating, live DJ, dancing, costume contest and more.

~ On Sunday, there will be a Native American Artifact Show in the gym of the Monticello School from 8 am until 2 pm. The show features authentic American Indian and Pre-Columbian artifacts and Indian cultural items. This show is hosted by the Badger State Archaeological Society in conjunction with the Central States Archaeological Societies.

~ Head out to one of our local, independently owned restaurants or cafes this weekend. In these economic times, supporting local businesses and restaurants makes a huge difference in keeping these businesses around. Craving a casual coffee shop atmosphere? Hit Fat Cat Coffee Works, Caribbean Coffee and Cream, or Perks. Looking for good old fashioned diner food? Try Corner Cafe or M&M Cafe. Maybe you want to enjoy some local foods or beverages? Cafe Claudeen, Pancho and Lefty's, Creamery Cafe and Barrett's Brick Cafe all feature some of the bounty of Green County. Going gourmet? The Dining Room at 209 Main or Deininger's can accommodate your palette.

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a three bedroom home in Browntown.

Space, space and more space. Need more space for the family? How about space for the workshop and big boy toys? This three bedroom home on 1.13 acres has everything you need. The rambling ranch has a unique floor plan that includes the all the basics - living room, dining room, bathroom, bedrooms - along with an eat in kitchen and an enormous rec room that has a wet bar and half bath.

Privacy is yours when you relax on the the secluded back porch. Overlook a landscaped yard and miles of valley without seeing the neighbors.

The enormous detached garage is large enough to park two semis with room for more, so bring on the big boy toys! You are near the Cheese Country trail for riding an ATV or snowmobile and only minutes from Cadiz Springs for fishing. Trailer the boat a short drive up to Yellowstone or take the camper and spend the weekend. This garage has room to store all of these and more, more, more!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Computer Recycling Drive

Computer Heroes in Monroe is sponsoring a recycling drive for unused electronics this week.

Throwing away computers and other electronics can release hazardous chemical like mercury, lead, and cadmium into the environment, potentially contaminating both soil and groundwater. Residents of Monroe may bring their old computers and unused electronics to Computer Heroes, secure in the knowledge that the materials will be properly disposed of and recycled if possible by Resource Solutions.

There is no charge for the following items: LCD (flat screen) computer monitors, computer mice, CPU’s, laptops, keyboards, computer cords, circuit boards, UPS power strips, scanners, printer cables, printers, telephones, cell phones, fax machines, VCR’s, DVD players, remote controls, & stereo equipment. There will be a small fee of $10 for CRT computer monitors and copiers. Large televisions or appliances may require an extra fee. Please contact Computer Heroes for a price quote if you don’t see your item listed.

You may bring in the electronics to Computer Heroes on W 6th St in Monroe (near Monroe Furniture and Kutter Harley Davidson) anytime between 8 am and 5 pm this week.

Kudos to Josh and the crew at Computer Heroes for teaming up with Resource Solutions out of Madison and providing such a valuable service for those of us here in Monroe!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sellers and Short Sales

"Short sale" is a phrase that has been mentioned often in the news over the last year or so. We have found that though most people have heard of it, there is confusion over exactly what it is.

If a homeowner is in a position of needing to sell a house, but the current value of the home is less than the mortgage, that owner is in the position of needing to sell short. Sometimes sellers will bring money to the closing table from savings to cover the shortage. Sometimes sellers will be able take out a personal loan to cover the shortage. Other times, the seller will ask the bank to write off the extra amount, take a loss. It is this third instance that the media keeps talking about.

There is no such thing as a typical short sale, but all short sales have one thing in common: they take extra time. There are things that sellers can do, however, to shorten the amount of time it takes.

Before a bank will agree to a short sale, they need to gather certain data from the homeowner. They need documentation of the hardship the seller is experiencing, the reason why the seller is in trouble. The bank will need a complete financial statement from the seller to document that there are no liquid assets that could cover the loss and that the seller is unable to continue paying the mortgage as it stands. The bank will have to order an appraisal of the property to determine current value.

If a seller is proactive and starts talking with the bank as soon as listing a home at a short sale price, the process will be a bit quicker and easier. Buyers are not always willing to wait in limbo for three months or more for the short sale process to be completed. Also, there are no guarantees that short sales will go through at the price that a buyer accepts. A bank might determine that the house is worth more and reopen negotiations.

Some people find financial matters hard to deal with, especially when they are experiencing hardships. Procrastinating and ignoring these issues, though, will not make them go away. Instead, it can cause delays in the short sale process that prevent a short sale from being able to happen in a timely fashion and result in the home going into foreclosure instead.

Sellers, if you are facing a situation that might require you to sell short, it is better to be open and up front with your bank and your realtor.
When hiring your realtor, ask how familiar with short sales he or she is. It is a more complex process requiring more work of your realtor, and an realtor with short sale experience can help the process go more smoothly. Start the process with your bank as soon as possible. Contact the bank, explain the situation and request that they send you the packet of documents you will need to fill out. When you get the packet, tackle it immediately; it really will be a weight off your shoulders.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

Another weekend is approaching quickly. Do you have your plans ready?

~ Monroe Main Street hosts a webinar on Green and Sustainable Downtowns on Thursday, October 17 at Wisconsin Community Bank over the lunch hour. Contact Cara at Green County Extension to register: 328-9440. Cost is $12.50 for the webinar, and that includes lunch.

~ John and Lisa over at Inn Serendipity are hosting a Sustainable Living in the 21st Century workshop on Friday and Saturday. Nationally recognized in the green movement, they are an incredible resource in sustainability and going green. This workshop covers buying a farm property, sustainable gardening, renewable energy, divirsified business planning in a rural setting and raising a family on the farm. There will be resources on getting started and a hands-on tour of the farm, gardens, a strawbale greenhouse under construction and various renewable energy systems. Registration required, $30 per person. Call Lisa or John at 608-329-7056 for information and registration.

~ Toffler's in New Glarus has special events for the weekend's football games. Saturday they are playing the UW game on the big screen, and come in on Sunday for the Packer game and a free nacho bar.

~ Live music at Baumgartner's this Saturday evening. Fever River String Band takes the stage at 8 pm.

~ Dad's Corn Maze just east of Monroe has Flashlight Night this Saturday until 9 pm. Bring your own flashlight and wind your way through the twists and the turns of the maze.

~ The Monticello Lioness Craft Fair is Sunday from 9 until 3 in the school gym. There will be over 60 vendors on hand, and the Lionesses sell nuts every year as well. Don't forget your tickets for the raffle!

~ Plan ahead for next weekend! Monroe Theatre Guild has a lot going on at the Stage building. Get your tickets for Singin' on Sunday and Craig Tuttle, performing on Friday and Saturday evening. There is also a Stage Right Youth Theatre workshop on Saturday, Acting Essentials for Teens.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a commercial building in Monroe, Wisconsin.

Here is your chance to own a piece of Monroe’s history dating back to circa 1865.

The historic Lanz Building is a rare property with over 14,000 square feet on 3 levels located on corner lot in Downtown Monroe. This location is ideal for your business or non-profit, a well traveled corner between Turner Hall and the Square. There is newer electrical, 16” solid masonry walls, exposed brick walls, 11’ ceilings on main floor and 9’ ceilings in basement. The building is loading dock capable, and there is underground parking available. For your customers or employees, there is plenty of parking available thanks to street parking on two sides and a large public lot to the rear.

This building is easily divided inside with multiple exterior access points. Whatever you are thinking - restaurants, retail space, art gallery, museum, office spaces or anything else - this space is wide open and waiting for someone with a vision.


Are you looking for some spooky action to get into the Halloween mood? Visit our area haunted houses.

Okay, so they aren't all houses. Around here, we have a haunted barn and a haunted mill too. Still, they are lots of fun and some help out good causes to boot.

In Orangeville, the Old Haunted Mill is a tradition that benefits the fire department. It is open every Friday and Saturday evening from 7 until 10 pm. Park at the fire department, and purchase your $6 ticket there. The adventure starts there and continues at the mill where ghosts, goblins, ghouls and, of course, Beetlejuice, a classic feature here at the mill, will do their best to frighten you.

Try the Lena Haunted Barn as well. This one is two barn, actually, and a trail that comes around through outside. It is also great fun and a community fundraising event. Park at the Lions Park in central Lena to purchase your $7 ticket. You can wait for the buses that take you to the barns or splurge for the ride in the hearse. Personally, we have always found it worth the extra $5 per ticket for the hearse because of how much time it saves, leaving us more time for dinner before our adventure. Lena is unique for the slide from one barn to the other. Most haunted houses have one slide, but this one is huge and great fun. After you make it out, warm yourself by the campfire outside and enjoy the evening.

Finally, check out Mount Carroll's Raven's Grin. This one is a houses, and is delightfully spooky too. Reservations are recommended for this one, but you can just stop in if you are not worried about wait times. Raven's Grin is a private business, and it is open much later, from 7 until midnight seven days a week, and from 2 until 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, supposedly the perfect time to bring the kids if they like a fright. Tickets are $12 for a tour that lasts about 1.5 hours, and groups are welcome.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Call to Action

The $8000 First Time Home Buyer's Tax Credit has been a boon to many across our county this year. However, this credit expires on November 30, 2009. The National Association of Realtors is encouraging people to contact their congressional representatives and urge them to vote to extend this credit.

Several analysts credit this program with helping home prices and home sale rebound in many parts of our nation. However, there is concern about what will happen when the credit expires. To quote a recent article in the Washington Post, "If the first-time homebuyer tax credit expires as scheduled on Nov. 30, many analysts expect a drop in home sales and prices, though they disagree on how big the drops will be. The situation looks even more dire once swelling unemployment numbers and related delinquencies and foreclosures are factored in."

If you would like to take action and send a message to your representatives, this link makes it easy for you. Put in your name, address and email address, and the system will send out a message to your representatives.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

~ Green County Tourism welcomes Wisconsin Secretary of Tourism Kelli Trumble to the New Glarus Brewing Company Hilltop Site for a tourism meeting on Thursday, October 8. There will be a reception at 5 pm featuring the Bounty of Green County and local foods. At 5:30 Secretary Trumble will speak on the Wisconsin Tourism brand and Green County's relationship with it and culinary tourism. RSVP to Noreen at Green County Tourism.

~ Cycling enthusiasts, remember Earth Rider Cycling's Once in Blue Moon ride this Saturday. Meet at Twining Park in Monroe at 5 pm on Saturday to head down to the Orangeville Haunted Mill (20 mile round trip). If you prefer a shorter ride, meet at Clarno Lumber Parking Lot around 6 pm (10 mile round trip). The ride is free, but a trail pass is required along with lights. Costumes are optional!

~ Area farmer's markets are still open and teeming with local foods. Leeks, herbs, eggs, squash and much much more can be found at Monroe, Lena, Paoli, Belleville, Freeport markets. Know your farmer, know your food, and keep the local economy strong!

~ Rainbow Fleece Farm is having their 19th annual Autumn Fiber Extravaganza from 11 until 4 on Saturday. Come for needlefelting talks and workshops from artisans, spinning, knitting and more. Call Patty at 527-5311 for directions or more information.

~ Did you get your tickets for the Austin Lounge Lizards performance at the Monroe Arts Center this weekend?

~ Goetz Theatre is showing "Zombieland", "Surrogates" and "Fame" this weekend. Sky-Vu Drive-in is still open too! This weekend's features are "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and "The Ugly Truth."

~ Guerin Chiropractic is hosting a free Trigger Points workshop on Tuesday, October 13. Luis and I attended one is September, and it was very interesting. You do not have to be a patient at Guerin to attend. The workshop starts at 6, and supper is included. Call Gloria at 325-2626 to sign up with a partner.

~ Looking ahead to next weekend, Inn Serendipity is hosting a Sustainable Living in the 21st Century workshop, registration required. Green Haven is having their second annual Scavenger Hunt Expedition.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New restraurant open in Monroe

Monroe's downtown is home to a new dining establishment as of this weekend. Many of us have been watching the old Wolf Office Supply building all summer long as the the new owners, Russ and Nadine, have been working hard on the renovations, turning it into a southwestern inspired setting for casual dining.

Pancho & Lefty's is now open for business.

I stopped in today after hearing raves for multiple friends who eat there over the weekend. The dining area and bar are not huge, but they are filled with comfortable tables and chairs. The decor and dark red walls lend to the intimate, relaxed feeling.

The menu sounds great, and the prices are all quite reasonable. The main entrees include steak, chicken, burritos, pulled pork, burgers and more. There are a variety of appetizer choices, including deviled eggs that I have heard are fabulous. Desserts are limited to a lime mousse with gingersnap crust or chocolate bread pudding, and both are affordable add-ons at only $3.50.

Pancho & Lefty's does serve beer, including local options from New Glarus Brewing Company. Russ and Nadine are making an effort to support the local foods movement. In addition to the beer, they have Roth Kase cheese and bread from the famous Monticello Yodeling baker.

Pancho and Lefty's is located at 1018 17th Ave on the east side of Monroe's Downtown Square. They are open for lunch and dinner, and are open all week including Sundays and Mondays. Bring the checkbook as they accept cash or local checks, but no credit cards.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First Time Home Buyer's Tax Credit

60 days and counting for the First Time Home Buyer's $8000 tax credit...

This video is from last spring, but it does a nice job covering information on the tax credit itself. Time is running out, so if you want to take advantage of this tax credit, contact us today!

Things to Do Around Monroe

Here is our weekly look at events going on in the area in the next few days.

~ Frehner Gallery in the Monroe Arts Center has a new exhibit opening on Thursday evening. "Out of the Woods - Remembering Nate Roth" is a tribute to long-time area resident and woodworker, Nate Roth.

~ The Green County Humane Society has their fall garage sale/bake sale fundraiser going on. Located at Monroe Auto Sales, the sale takes place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

~ Bring your tastebuds to the Downtown Square in Monroe on Saturday for the annual Chilifest! This tasty tradition kicks of at 11 am, and will feature food and beverage vendors, artisans, bands and more. Have you seen how great the newly completely renovations to the north side looks? Come check it out!

~ The Orangeville Education Foundation has a 5K run/walk on Saturday morning. The race starts at the Jane Addams Trailhead shelter house, and runs along the trail, a flat crushed limestone surface accessible to all. $20 for race day registrations. Registration starts 7 am, and the race begins at 8 am.

~ Big Brothers and Big Sisters Tour de Cheese bike ride is also on Saturday. These 15, 30 or 60 mile rides begin at Spring Square and end at Minhas Brewery parking lot in Monroe. Same day registration is available for $40, and minors under 17 are free with a paid parent or guardian. Helmets are required. Registration is from 7 until 9 am on Saturday.

~ Saturday is also the day for Albany's annual Fall Festival. Come celebrate the changing of the season with your friends and neighbors!

~ Don't forget about the Monroe Firefighter's Pancake Breakfast on Sunday morning. Fill up on pancakes from 7 am until noon at the firehouse, and stay for rides and games. Adults are $6, children from 4-12 are $4 and kids 3 and under are free.

~ Come out to the Green County Entrepreneurs and Inventors Club meeting on Monday at the New Glarus room of the Monroe Hospital. This month will feature information and discussion on internet strategies for business.

~ Woo00OOOO00oooo! Get ready for the Haunted Bike Ride. Earth Rider Cycling is leading this evening ride on the Badger State Trail to the Haunted Mill in Orangeville on Saturday, October 10. Registration is not required for this ride. Gather at Twining Park, and the riders will leave at 5 pm. Contact Sharon at Earth Rider if you have any questions.