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Signs will designate Willmar as Yellow Ribbon City

During an address Monday to members of the Willmar?City County, Kandiyohi County Veterans Service Officer Trish Appledorn displays a photo showing how the city of Stillwater uses signs to display its designation as a Yellow Ribbon City. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- Motorists will soon see that Willmar is part of a statewide group that connects and coordinates organizations, agencies and companies to provide resources and support for members of the armed forces and their families.

Five signs declaring Willmar as a Yellow Ribbon City are expected to be placed at state highway entrances to the city in recognition of local efforts to care for military members and their families through various programs.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a proclamation on Sept. 20 designating Willmar as a Yellow Ribbon City. Yellow ribbons and flags are displayed in many cities in support of service members.

The Yellow Ribbon Campaign honors cities and citizens who have sworn to uphold this standard of caring and support for military members and families. Local leaders working toward the designation told the council last month that Willmar would be receiving the award on Sept. 22, and they returned Monday night to thank council members for their support and to display the signs.

Trish Appeldorn, Kandiyohi County veterans' service officer who joined about half a dozen organizers in receiving the award on behalf of the city, said they are fortunate to be living in a military-friendly city and county.

"We have all worked very hard with gaining this award and proclamation,'' said Appeldorn. "We want to thank the council and people of Willmar for helping us get this proclamation for the city of Willmar.''

Doug Reese, serving as mayor pro tempore in Mayor Les Heitke's absence, said a number of council members are veterans and have children who are in the armed services.

"Having that designation and the care and support of our whole community for the families, especially in times like this where they are missing their child's birthday or their first softball game or whatever it may be or even the birth of their child, these families do need the support and Yellow Ribbon will be there for them,'' Reese said.

Council member Bruce DeBlieck thanked the group.

"I for one have children in the military and have served both at home and abroad as well and I know it's a lot of stress on a family when you have a member in the service,'' he said.

Council member Jim Dokken thanked the group and credited Pawlenty and others for starting a program to reintegrate military service members into civilian life.

"It's a huge accomplishment for our city,'' he said.

In other business, City Administrator Michael Schmit told the council he is working on complaints about school buses traveling east from the new Roosevelt Elementary School parking lot road through a residential area on 15th Avenue Southwest.

Schmit returned Monday from a week's vacation and discussed emails expressing concern about school bus traffic patterns.

Schmit said the verbal agreement with the bus company after the city agreed to construct the new roadway was that bus traffic could not go through the residential area, and that buses were to travel west to 22nd Street Southwest and disperse north and south.

"We knew that there may be an exception -- one, two or three buses -- that might for some reason have to turn right and go through that residential area, but not the majority of the buses for sure,'' said Schmit.

He talked to Willmar School Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard about two weeks ago when a resident told council member Ron Christianson about bus traffic.

Schmit said he was assured by Kjergaard that he would meet with the bus company to make sure the understanding was intact. Schmit said Kjergaard was out of his office until Wednesday. Schmit said he'll learn what Kjergaard's discussions with the bus company are after he returns.

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