WABASHA — Once again, corn turned into a needed donation for Gundersen St. Elizabeth's Hospital and Clinics in Wabasha.

The "Field of Dreams," a corn field adjacent to St. Elizabeth's, was once again planted and harvested by volunteers, yielding 200 bushels per acre and $26,322 after the sale of the grain. The Schurhammer family again helped with plowing, planting and harvesting during this annual farm project has raised thousands of dollars over the years to buy equipment and fund programs at the Wabasha hospital.

“The farm project plays a significant role in supporting our commitment to keeping care close to home,” said Tom Crowley of St. Elizabeth’s Community Development Foundation. “We are grateful to Jake Abbott’s vision, and we extend our thanks to the Jim, Kathy, Travis and Jenny Schurhammer and many other donors that contribute to farm supplies and expenses. Because of this support, 100 percent of the proceeds benefit our organization and those we serve.”

Harmony Telephone gets $9.7 million for rural broadband

HARMONY — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Harmony Telephone Co. will receive $9.7 million to help expand rural broadband coverage.

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"The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now – as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency," said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. "Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband.”

Harmony Telephone Co. will use a $4.8 million ReConnect grant and a $4.8 million ReConnect loan to install a fiber network that will connect 1,579 people, 96 farms and 31 businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Howard and Chickasaw counties in Iowa.

Harmony Telephone Co. COO Jill Huffman said providing broadband access in rural areas is challenging due to the expense of infrastructure.

“This award will provide opportunities to help households, farms and businesses thrive. Rural residents will have the broadband speed necessary for working and learning from home that their counterparts in urban areas have had,” Huffman explained.

Cropland enrolled in MN CREP near Austin

AUSTIN — Upland cropland along Wolf Creek north of Austin has been enrolled in the Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

Conservation acres now border Wolf Creek near Austin's Todd Park. (Contributed photo)
Conservation acres now border Wolf Creek near Austin's Todd Park. (Contributed photo)(Contributed photo)

The 104 acres of will bloom with native prairie grasses, flowers and trees along Wolf Creek just upstream from Austin’s Todd Park, where rainbow trout were stocked earlier this year.

The Christianson family and Mower Soil & Water Conservation District have finalized an easement with the MN CREP state-federal program to restore cropland in Lansing Township to native prairie and wetlands. Permanently restoring the land – an area the size of 79 football fields – will improve water quality and wildlife habitat through conservation easements that keep the land under private ownership, said James Fett, a Mower SWCD district technician.

“Any MN CREP signup is great for conservation but this is extra exciting given how close it is to another recent signup and Wolf Creek’s new trout fishery,” Fett said.

In March 2020, Steve and Diane Persinger finalized with Mower SWCD an agreement to enroll their 100-acre parcel in MN CREP, which borders the Christianson land to the south.

Winona finalizes polling places for election day

WINONA — The city of Winona has made a change for a polling place in the 2nd Ward.

Ward 2/Precinct 1's polling place will be at the Winona Friendship Center, 251 Main St. It was moved from the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts building from the August primary. Prior to COVID-19, the site was located at Saint Anne/Benedictine Living Community. The Winona City Council approved the change on Monday.

Registered voters in the precinct will get a postcard informing them of the change. Signs will be placed at the Conservatory for the Arts and Saint Anne's buildings directing them to the new polling site.

All voters are urged to review their polling sites, since COVID-19 has led to multiple changes this year.