Around our region published Feb. 1

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Income tax assistance

WILLMAR — Trained AARP Tax-Aide volunteers will provide free help with filing tax forms for low- and middle-income taxpayers, with special attention for senior citizens, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursdays, starting Feb. 2, at the Willmar Community Center, 624 Highway 71 N.E.
To make an appointment, call the Willmar Community and Education office at 320-231-8490 on weekdays.
When you come to your appointment, bring your (and your dependents') Social Security card(s), photo proof of identity, last year's tax return, and all pertinent tax information such as W-2, forms 1099-R, SSA-1099, 1099-Int, etc. Also health coverage forms 1095-A, 1095-B or 1095-C that you may have received from your health insurance provider, or a Health Coverage Exemption issued by MNSure. If you are filing for renter's or property tax refunds, you will need to bring your certificate of rent paid and/or your most current (2016 or 2017) property tax statement and information of any additional nontaxable income such as SSI, veterans benefits, etc.

Ice fishing tournament

SPICER — The Tommy Swenson Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 4, on Green Lake in Spicer. Register at the American Legion in Spicer between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. Tickets are $25, plus a non-perishable food item for the food shelf, and include a chicken dinner at 12:30 p.m.

Peanut Butter and Milk Festival

LITCHFIELD — The 46th annual Peanut Butter and Milk Festival from Feb. 4-11 will host visitors from Hartford, Alabama, in Litchfield. There are three events open to the public.

Join the visitors for snowmobiling on Lake Manuella, south of Darwin, from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Roger & Janet Huhn Farm.

The chili and soup supper will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Forest City Threshers Building, six miles northeast of Litchfield on Minnesota Highway 24. Freewill donations will be accepted.

The potluck banquet and silent auction will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at St. Philip's Catholic Church in Litchfield. Social time starts at 7 p.m. and dinner is at 7:30. Bring a dish to share and meet the visitors from Hartford, Alabama.

Spicer Winterfest

SPICER — Winterfest 2017 runs through Feb. 12 in Spicer with complete details available on the website, www.spicermn.com.

The final weekend, Feb. 11-12, will have the 11th annual softball tournament on Feb. 11 and the Ski and Sleigh Festival from 11 am. to 4 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.

Gardening

Scheduled classes and events over the winter months:

Growing Good Apples: Feb. 15, 12:15-1 p.m., AgCountry Auditorium, University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center, 46352 State Hwy. 329 in Morris. This "Come Grow with Us" class is free, but donations are accepted. Feel free to pack your lunch. For more information, call 320-589-1711.

Library programs

Willmar Public Library

WILLMAR — The Willmar Public Library has the following events scheduled for the coming weeks. OverDrive is the service used by the library to allow borrowing of eBooks and audiobooks. For more information, call the library at 320-235-3162. All are free, register in advance at the checkout desk or by phone if required. Some registrations available online at www.willmarpubliclibrary.org.

Book Your Winter Getaway: Jan. 3-March 3, annual winter reading program for ages 18 and older for reading and/or listening to books. Get a reading log and information about the prizes at the library.

Study Center: 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. Meet in the conference room for a quiet place to study and do homework. Call ahead to see if tutors are available. Laptops available for checkout for teens 16 and older; iPads available to use alongside tutors only.

Children's Story Hour: Preschoolers story hour for ages 2½ to 6 at 10 a.m. Fridays through Feb. 24. It includes picture books, puppetry, flannelgraph stories, music, fingerplays and more. Children are encouraged to check out books before or after the story hour. No registration is necessary. The theme is "Winter Animals" on Feb. 3, "Hearts and Love" on Feb. 10, "Fairy Tales" on Feb. 17 and "Finding Dory" on Feb. 24.

Teen Advisory Board: Feb. 3, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Help plan library programs and events, select new materials for the teen collection, and make the library a fun and welcoming place for teens. Apply online or in the Teen Area. Ages 13 and up.

Teen movie: Feb. 6, 5:30 p.m. Two paranormal researchers join forces with a nuclear engineer and a subway attendant to fight off a slew of ghosts that have invaded New York City. Eventually, they come face to face with an evil entity, rated PG-13, movie snacks provided.

Teen hangout: Feb. 10, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Come to the library for a place to just hang out and do whatever. We've got board games, iPads, and a Wii.

Teen Writing Club: Feb. 13, 5 to 8 p.m. Come share your poems, short stories, etc. with other teens and get help with school writing assignments.

After-school activity hour: Feb. 14, 3:30 to 5 p.m. Once a month the library will have an activity for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. The theme is "Valentine Card Making" on Feb. 14, "Pine Cone Bird Feeder" on March 28, "Easter Crafts" on April 11 and "Plant a Flower/Vegetable" on May 9.

Anti-Valentine's Day Party: Feb. 14, 4 to 6 p.m. Hate Valentine's Day? We do, too. We will be making anti-valentines and playing games to celebrate our mutual disgust, ages 13 and up, snacks provided.

Cookbook Club: Feb. 14, 7 p.m. Are you looking for new recipes or a great way to meet other foodies? Join the Cookbook Club. Everyone brings a dish to share based on the theme. February's theme is Italian. Free, no registration. New members always welcome.

Lunch Bunch Book Club: Feb. 15, noon. February's book is "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly. The Willmar Public Library club meets at Cornerstone Coffee in the Skylark Mall on the third Wednesday of the month. Everyone is welcome.

Board game afternoons: Feb. 15, 4 to 5 p.m. for grades kindergarten through sixth grade. Come play traditional board games, enjoy refreshments, feel free to bring your own board games.

Willmar Teen Filmmakers workshop: Feb. 17, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Learn how to make the most out of your shots.

Teen TV Marathon: Feb. 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. In the year 2046, 30 years after various alien races arrived on Earth, Nolan and his charge Irisa come to the town of Defiance (previously known as St. Louis.) Their arrival spurs a series of events that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for. Rated TV-14. Snacks provided.

Myrtle Mabee Library

BELGRADE — The Myrtle Mabee Library has the following events scheduled. The library phone number is 320-254-8842.

Mystery craft night: Feb. 10, 6:15 to 8 p.m., teens and adults, attendance is limited to 10 and advance registration is required. Find out what the craft is when you arrive.

Paynesville Public Library

PAYNESVILLE — The Paynesville Public Library has the following events scheduled. The library phone number is 320-243-7343.

Arm knitting: Feb. 2, 5:30 p.m., teens and adults, attendance limited to 12, registration required. Learn how to use your arms as knitting needles and make an eternity scarf using thick yarn. Jan Anfinson will cover techniques, supplies and options for this art form.

Preschool Storytime: Feb. 8, 10:30 to 11:15 a.m., ages 0 to 6; stories, activities and crafts intended to help develop reading readiness skills. Attendance limit is 20, registration is required.

Outdoors

Prairie Woods ELC

SPICER — The Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center welcomes skiers and snowshoers during daylight hours at no cost. The seven miles of ski trails have been groomed and tracks have been laid. The trailhead will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. No dogs on ski trails, and pets should be on a leash. Snowshoe and ski rental available, call 320-354-5894. For more information check the website at www.prairiewoodselc.org or call.

Sleigh and Ski Festival: Feb. 12, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A day of winter fun, live music, winter hobby and craft exhibits, sleigh parade, sleigh rides from 1 to 3 p.m. and a chili feed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Try cross country skiing, snowshoeing and rock climbing, rentals are $5 with $15 maximum for families.

Lac qui Parle State Park

WATSON — Lac qui Parle State Park programs are free and held at various locations in the park. A vehicle permit is required to enter the park and they are available at the park office. For more information or to register, call 320-734-4450.

Snowshoe-lacing workshop: Feb. 1 registration deadline for two-day class, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 25 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 26. Learn how to string the laces on pre-built wooden snowshoe frames, then learn how to use them. This workshop requires some hand strength to tighten the cords, participants should be at least 10 years old. Fee is $75 and includes the snowshoe kit and materials. Bring a sack lunch. Class size is limited to 20 people, to register call the park office at 320-734-4450, ext. 222.

Candlelight hike: Feb. 11, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., a one-mile hike by candlelight will start near the entrance to the lower campground and is suitable for beginner-level hikers of all ages. Drop by anytime. After your hike, you can warm up around a fire and roast marshmallows or enjoy a warm beverage.

Sibley State Park

NEW LONDON — The Interpretive Center's hours vary. Sibley State park programs are on the weekends at the Interpretive Center and are led by the park naturalist or visiting expert. The programs are free but a vehicle permit is required to enter the park and they are available at the park office. For more information call 320-354-2002. For current information on naturalist programs visit the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us. Outdoor winter programs may be canceled in inclement or dangerous weather. In event of cancellation, programs will be marked as canceled online at least two hours prior to event.

Trails: Call or check the website for current conditions of the ski and snowmobile trails. The Interpretive Trail Center room and bathrooms are open every day for a view of the park orientation map prior to hitting the trails.

Full Moon Hike: Feb. 10, 6 to 7 p.m. Love is in the sky. Join the naturalist for a guided hike that will tell the love stories of our constellations. Meet in the Interpretive Center Theater.

Snowshoe 101: Feb.11, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Have you always wanted to try snowshoeing but haven't had the opportunity? Join the naturalist as we explore the past of snowshoeing, then strap a pair on for a guided snowshoe hike. Meet in the Interpretive Center Theater.