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WILLMAR -- Amid the research about early childhood learning, one of the figures that jumps out at Renee Nolting is this: By the time children from families with limited resources reach kindergarten age, they've heard 32 million fewer words than children from middle-class households. As little as one book a month can help narrow this gap and increase the likelihood that more kids will be prepared for kindergarten, said Nolting, executive director of the United Way of West Central Minnesota. "It really does start in those early, early years," she said. It's among the reasons the United Way ha
WILLMAR -- Willmar city officials are trying a new tactic this summer with the 2012 street improvement program: They'll test whether concrete holds up better than asphalt at one of the busiest and wettest stretches in town -- the entrances and exits from Walt's Car Wash on Roise Avenue. "I can't guarantee that concrete is going to be the answer to that street," said Holly Wilson, public works director for the city. But it's a chance to evaluate the durability of using concrete, she said.
WILLMAR -- After more than 90 minutes of debate, the Willmar City Council deadlocked Monday night on whether to grant a 15-year tax abatement for the redevelopment of the historic Lakeland Hotel building -- a tie that was finally broken when Mayor Frank Yanish voted in favor of the measure. The 4-3 vote means the developer, the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, will receive the property tax abatement it sought from the city to help subsidize operating costs after the project is completed. Supporters of the project had hoped for unanimous support from the City Council. Rick Goodeman,
WILLMAR -- Pets with ID tags are more likely to be reunited with their owners -- and reunited sooner -- if they're ever lost. It's a message the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter is trying to reinforce with a newly launched project to increase the number of companion animals in Kandiyohi and Meeker counties who have tags. "It makes a difference," said Bobbie Bauman, director of operations for the shelter. With a $3,300 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter recently acquired an engraver for making pet ID tags. Staff can now provide a
WILLMAR -- When the final rifle volley of the American Legion honor guard fades into silence, it's the sign for Delbert Schueller to raise his trumpet to his lips for the playing of taps. Schueller, 81, has performed this poignant graveside ritual hundreds of times for deceased Willmar-area veterans and their surviving families. And it's meaningful every single time, said Schueller, a 1950s-era veteran of the U.S.
WILLMAR -- With poker chips and handheld instant polling devices, the participants at a forum Wednesday night on health care reform worked their way through a series of questions. What does it mean to be healthy? How can health care costs be reduced?
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital is investing more than ever in workforce preparation, training and education, to the tune of thousands of hours annually, according to the hospital's latest human resources report. The report, which was shared Wednesday with the hospital board of directors, documents workforce statistics and what Rice is doing to recruit, retain and train its employees. When it comes to quality care and good outcomes for patients, one of the key driving forces is the staff, said Joyce Elkjer, director of human resources. "I think you can take pride in our employees," she to
WILLMAR -- The operating board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission voted Thursday to invest in software to develop and maintain a client database. The move will give the EDC several capabilities it hasn't had before, staff members told the board. The software was developed by Synchronist and is tailored to economic development functions such as tracking and reporting business statistics and keeping track of business retention and expansion among the 2,100 businesses in Kandiyohi County. It will help provide "the best information we've ever had," said