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WILLMAR -- Melanie Vander Ark of Willmar is starting a new home child care business and plans to call it Caterpillar Clubhouse of Willmar at 1021 13th St. S.W. in Willmar. Vander Ark is writing to assume the name for her business.

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LITCHFIELD -- Clark Gustafson of Litchfield has been appointed to the Central Minnesota Workforce Investment Board in Monticello. The board and the Central Minnesota Joint Powers Board guide and oversee all job training and job placement activities in 11 counties and include Kandiyohi, Meeker and Renville.

Gustafson, director of Meeker County Social Services, will represent public assistance agencies. Meeker County Social Services has 49 employees who deliver social service programs, income maintenance programs and child support services to Meeker County residents.

Gustafson brings his expertise, network, connections and point of view to the diversity of business, education, and other government stakeholders in providing and supporting persons who are unemployed, under-employed or seeking to gain stronger self-sufficiency.

Before joining Meeker County, Gustafson was a social worker and was promoted to director in Lac Qui Parle County. He is a long-time member of the Meeker County Emergency Food Shelf, the Minnesota Social Service Association and served as president from 1996-1997, and is a member of the historical society in Litchfield.

WILLMAR -- Brice Bakker and Trevor Bakker have opened Bakker Brothers Auto Body at 233 Benson Ave. S.E., Willmar. The business is located in the old "Dean Jones'' building, across from Manz Auto.

Brice is also owner of Bakker Mechanical, heating and cooling systems. Trevor is a graduate of the Ridgewater College Auto Body Program. They work on all makes and models of vehicles. They offer windshield replacement, paintless dent removal, buffing and detailing, and all auto body repairs.

Free estimates are available. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 320-222-7274.

WILLMAR -- O'Reilly Auto Parts announces the company has opened a store at 1500 First St. S. in Willmar. The store will hold a grand opening Wednesday through Nov. 10. Attending the 1 p.m. Nov. 2 ribbon-cutting ceremony will be district manager Joseph Doyle, store manager Steven Tammen and several community members.

Tammen will present a $200 check to the Willmar Fire Department.

O'Reilly Automotive Inc. is one of the largest specialty retailers of automotive aftermarket parts, tools, supplies, equipment and accessories in the United States, serving both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets.

Founded in 1957 by the O'Reilly family, the company operates more than 1,800 stores in 26 states.

WILLMAR -- Bev Werder was honored as the "2009 Woman of the Year'' during the Minnesota Business Women's annual employment recognition banquet Oct. 20.

Werder is president and owner of Compassionate Care in Willmar. Compassionate Care provides affordable, professional and personal homemaker, transportation and companionship services for the homebound and elderly.

In business for more than eight years, Compassionate Care assists clients in maintaining their independence in the security and familiarity of their home setting for as long as possible.

Besides her career, Werder is active with Willmar's Downtown Ministry Committee, the West Central Dementia Awareness Network Committee and the Willmar Senior Coalition. She is a volunteer with Rice Memorial Hospice, Meals on Wheels and YMCA for active older adults.

Werder has walked in the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk and the Breast Cancer Awareness walk.

Werder said women can contribute the most to their community "by believing in yourself. Do the research to make happen what you want to happen. Get involved in the community and surround yourself with supportive people and learn from other professionals."

Werder said the cornerstones of her personal growth "have been faith, strong family support, a strong team walking by me and being surrounded by others with expertise."

WILLMAR -- As part of National Business Women's Week, Minnesota Business Women honored Heartland Community Action Agency as "2009 Employer of the Year.''

Heartland Community Action Agency was founded in Willmar in 1965 and serves approximately 12,000 individuals a year in Meeker, McLeod, Kandiyohi and Renville counties.

Heartland's mission is "to eliminate poverty and advocate for low-income families."

That mission is focused on employing strategies that move people out of poverty permanently, as opposed to "band-aiding" their situations.

Of Heartland's 102 employees, 94 are women. Heartland administers programs vehicle donation, Head Start, energy assistance, home weatherization, emergency housing and food distribution.

"Heartland is in the forefront of serving the needs of working women," says Joan Macik, Heartland executive director. "We understand the balance that working women face daily, and allow for flexible hours whenever necessary."

WILLMAR -- Megan M. Koski, CPA, recently joined the staff at Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing, PLLP, of Willmar. She is a certified public accountant with seven years of auditing experience. She has been with Ernst & Young, LLP, since October 2002. She specializes in auditing of nonprofits and commercial organizations.

Koski graduated from the University of Minnesota, Curtis L. Carlson School of Management, with a bachelor's of science degree in business accounting. She obtained her CPA designation in October 2004. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Koski and her family live in Dassel.

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