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Area briefs: WSU ready to build largest solar array on a Minnesota college

The $12 million project will put WSU closer to its net-zero goals for carbon emissions.

Winona Solar panel carport.jpg
A rendering shows what the Winona State University solar array will look like when completed in 2022. The overall project is designed to reduce campus carbon emissions by 25 percent. (Courtesy Winona State University)
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WINONA — A $12 million project at Winona State University will bring more energy efficiency and the largest solar panel energy system on any Minnesota State campus to WSU by the fall of 2022.

The solar panels will produce enough energy to power 170 average homes a year.

The project will cut carbon emissions by 25 percent a year, save 16 percent in water usage a year, and will upgrade energy conservation in 10 different areas on campus. After the project is complete, WSU will be the most efficient university in the Minnesota State System in terms of energy cost compared to the amount of building space used on campus.

"This energy project helps us serve our community, helps students studying data collected on energy use, and helps us improve our world by keeping the university sustainable into the future," said WSU President Scott Olson.

Areas impacted include replacing 21,000 light fixtures with LED technology, installing solar panels on six rooftops and on four future carports, installing a new irrigation system that will use smart controls to adjust sprinkler usage based on real time weather data, and replacing every toilet, shower head, urinal, and faucet aerator with modern water-saving fixtures.

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There will also be building weatherproofing, heating and cooling systems upgraded, and more.

Friendship Wagon ends its run in Preston

PRESTON — After spending Thursday night in Wykoff, the Friendship Wagon made the last leg of its 2021 trek Friday, rolling into Preston where the wagon train of roughly a dozen covered wagons will make it to the Preston Airport at 11 a.m. for lunch before rolling toward the Preston Fairgrounds in the afternoon.

John Davis, who organizes the fundraiser wagon train each year, said this year marks the 32 year of the event – they skipped last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic – which now raises funds for Minnesota Special Olympics.

The wagon train, which includes participants from across the United States, started in Lake City on June 19 covering as much as 20 miles a day, but averages closer to 14 miles a day.

Gypsy moth eradication set for June 28-30

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will treat eight sites from June 28-30 across Houston, Wabasha, and Winona counties to slow the spread of gypsy moths.

The eight sites, covering about 69,000 acres, include three sites in Houston County, four in Winona County, and one that straddles Winona and Wabasha counties.

The ag department uses aerial application of an organically certified, waxy, food-grade substance containing pheromones specific to gypsy moths that confuse the male moths. This makes it difficult for the male gypsy moths to find females for mating.

The ag department has set up an Arrest the Pest information line at 1-888-545-MOTH (6684). The hotline will offer the latest details about treatment dates and times. Residents can sign up for updates about treatment progress by texting “MDA SOUTHEAST” to 468311 to receive text notifications or texting “MDA SOUTHEAST (your email address here)” to 468311 to receive email notifications.

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History walking tours in Winona ready for summer

WINONA — Walking tours through downtown Winona and the Windom Park Historic District will be available this summer through the Winona County Historical Society.

Guided tours feature architecture, businesses, people, fun stories, and trivia games, with Windom Park tours scheduled for July 9, 16, and Aug. 6, 13 all beginning at 2 p.m., and downtown Winona tours scheduled for July 10, 17, and Aug. 7, 14, also beginning at 2 p.m.

Windom Park, is home to the Wenonah statue and is surrounded by the unique mansions of Winona’s golden era. Downtown Winona includes the architecture of the people who built downtown Winona.

Cost is $10 public, $6 WCHS members. Register in advance by calling (507) 454-2723 ext. 0. For more information, visit the Winona County History Center at 160 Johnson St. daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or visit winonahistory.org .

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