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WILLMAR -- Spurred by a growing number of agribusiness and renewable energy initiatives, the governing board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission voted unanimously Thursday to make the agency's ag specialist position a full-time one. The move had been recommended last month by the EDC's joint operating board. Cathy Keuseman joined the staff a year ago as the ag and renewable energy specialist, overseeing projects that range from fuel cell development to pursuing Greenstep Cities certification. Her work load has grown beyond the part-time hours for whic
Kandiyohi County has high readiness for boosting local economic and social development with information technology. An assessment carried out on behalf of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities project ranked Kandiyohi County at the top of a list of 11 participating cities and counties. The county scored well on measures addressing the availability of broadband services and their business and household penetration.
WILLMAR -- The hospital volunteer coordinator was having trouble with her young Somali volunteers. They would fail to show up when it was their turn on the schedule. They didn't call to let her know they weren't coming.
Allen Erickson wore an enormous smile as the small plane landed Monday morning at the Willmar Municipal Airport. "We made it!" he exclaimed from the cockpit to family and friends waiting on the tarmac. "Flew like a bird!" Erickson, 84, exulted as paramedics with the Willmar Ambulance Service carefully helped him over the wing of the little red and white Piper Comanche and onto the ground. Erickson, who has an incurable brain tumor, has been a Rice Hospice patient for more than a year.
WILLMAR -- The dangling tawny-colored earrings in the jewelry case at Gilday's are handmade by women in Afghanistan. A matching necklace and bracelet of green malachite are crafted in cottage industries in the Himalayas. Then there are the tiny bottles of skin-softening marula oil from Africa and the handbags from Nepal. Sandy Evans plucks a sleek black handbag from the shelf and invites a visitor to guess what it's made from. Recycled leather? Recycled plastic? Wrong on both counts. It's recycled tires, Evans explains.
WILLMAR -- Good things seemed to be happening at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The hospital's mortality rate was steadily dropping. Its credit rating was improving and patient satisfaction scores kept getting better. Maureen Bisognano, president and chief executive of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, decided to see for herself how Mercy Medical Center was accomplishing this. "I spent a whole day there, touring through Mercy, just looking at the front lines of care and asking questions," she said. Among the things she found: Patient-centered care. Standardized rooms.
WILLMAR -- Organizers of a community-owned grocery store in downtown Willmar didn't get a $10,000 grant they sought from the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission to help move the project forward.
WILLMAR -- Under a new alignment plan, the boards of the Rice Health Foundation and Rice Memorial Hospital will work more closely together to identify, support and fund some of the key needs of the hospital. The plan was unanimously endorsed Wednesday by the board of directors of the city-owned hospital. It was the next step in a process that began last year with integrating the nonprofit foundation, which was previously a separate entity, with Rice Hospital.
WILLMAR -- Melvin's on the Lake, a popular dining and entertainment landmark in Spicer, has been sold to Zorbaz Inc. Owners Dave and Mary Baker will operate Melvin's for one final summer this year before turning it over to Zorbaz on Oct. 1. The Bakers made the ann-ouncement Monday. "This will be our ninth season when we finish this summer," Dave Baker said. "It's been a privilege and an honor to run such an important entity." Zorbaz owns and operates nine restaurants in northern Minnesota.
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital fared slightly better than the financial break-even point last year, its best performance since 2007. The gains weren't large.