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In brief: April 18

Loans available for prospective low-income home buyers

The USDA Rural development Agency has announced it is accepting applications for a program to help low-income families buy, build, rehabilitate or improve homes located in rural communities with populations of 20,000 or less.

Maximum loan limits vary from county to county. In Lake County, the upper range is $178,000. Cook County’s limit is $202,700 and northern St. Louis County’s is $178,300. Approval is based on household income and monthly debt obligations. No down payment is required and a portion of the loan’s closing costs may also be covered.

Applicants must be unable to obtain credit through other lending sources, have an acceptable credit history, meet income guidelines, have repayment capacity to meet loan and other financial obligations, be without adequate housing and plan to live in the house as its permanent occupant.

For more information about this program contact the USDA Rural Development at 1202 Eighth St., Virginia, Minn. 55792, call 218-741-3929 ext. 4, or visit

It’s time to vote for Best of the Lake

Lake Superior Magazine is encouraging area residents to stuff the ballot box in support of their favorite places, merchants, events and foods. Best of the Lake votes will be accepted through June 1. A winner will be selected in 12 categories in Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario and Wisconsin – voters can pick the best on each shore.

This year’s categories:

• Best Spectacular View

• Best Local Fish Dish or Sandwich

• Best Restaurant or Lodging Staff

• Best Overnight Stay or Lodging

•Best Shopping Experience

• Best Art Gallery/Museum

•Best Toe-dipping Beach

• Best Family Attraction

• Best In-town Hike

• Best Waterfall

• Best Boat Ride

• Best Annual Event

The April/May issue of the magazine includes a pull-out ballot and voters can make their selections by visiting, too.

Winners will be announced in the August/September issue of Lake Superior Magazine. Each winner will receive an award certificate and a special badge for its website. The list of winners appears in the annual Lake Superior Travel Guide, too.