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Willmar to receive Yellow Ribbon City award for service to military members

WILLMAR -- The city of Willmar will be designated as part of a statewide group that connects and coordinates organizations, agencies and companies to provide support for members of the armed forces and their families.

Local leaders of HomeFront Connection will receive Willmar's designation as a Yellow Ribbon City, part of a comprehensive support program for service members and their families called Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.

HomeFront Connection members Kammy Nelson of Willmar, coordinator, and Conrad Bostron of Spicer, chairman, will receive the designation on behalf of the city during a program Sept. 22 in Farmington. Twelve other cities, two counties and seven companies will also receive the designation from Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Nelson and Bostron announced Willmar's upcoming designation during the regular City Council meeting Tuesday night. About a year ago, Nelson and Bostron appeared before the council to say that an effort was under way to pursue the Yellow Ribbon designation.

Nelson said local volunteers submitted an action plan to train and empower community leaders to support service members and their families during deployment and during reintegration into civilian life. A training event pulled people in from various sectors of the community.

"I feel like we've got an awesome team,'' said Nelson.

The group's mission is to connect military families to their community by organizing family support, providing community education and recognizing service members and their families.

Bostron said he thinks the group is reflective of local and area individuals in the service.

"We're fighting a worldwide war on terror and defending our nation and its separate and individual needs with an all-volunteer force, and we're also doing this as an all-volunteer organization without any outside funding and any sponsorship beside our own fundraising,'' said Bostron.

He said HomeFront Connection volunteers have been involved in everything from fundraising to babysitting to painting to light home construction.

"We virtually have been able to meet every need that's been presented to us one way or other or get them to the resource that could help,'' said Bostron.

Council members thanked Nelson and Bostron for their leadership.

Jim Dokken, past commander of the Disabled American Veterans and Willmar American Legion, said HomeFront Connection complements the work of national veterans' organizations. Dokken said Trisha Appeldorn, Kandiyohi County veterans service officer, also has played a big role in the effort.

"Other organizations can't do it all,'' said Dokken. "It's nice to have another organization because there's a lot of heavy lifting that goes on and we can't do it all in our organizations.''

In other action, the council:

- Approved a resolution setting the preliminary 2011 levy at $3,924,764 and scheduled Dec. 6 as the date for a public hearing with a continuation hearing on Dec. 20 for the levy.

- Adopted the position classification of building maintenance supervisor and appointed Rick Johnson to the position. He is part of a three-member team that handles maintenance duties at city buildings.

- Adopted the position of planner/airport manager and appointed Megan Sauer to the position. Airport administrative responsibilities were previously assigned to the assistant city engineer after the full-time airport manager resigned. However, after the assistant city engineer assumed the duties of acting public works director, Sauer, who is city planner, was assigned airport administrative functions.

- Assessed a total of $1,783 as the city's unpaid cost for mowing weeds and grass on 10 pieces of private property in response to numerous complaints about lack of timely mowing by property owners. City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday said the city is authorized to certify as special assessments those costs not reimbursed by property owners. Also, the council assessed $61.20 in unpaid costs for snow and ice removal at two pieces of private property.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150