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WILLMAR -- For the fourth year in a row, the property tax levy sought by the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission will remain the same, at $455,000. Members of the EDC joint powers board voted at their meeting Thursday to forward the levy request for ratification by the Willmar City Council and Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners. Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission, said the agency is looking at a budget of $485,000 for 2011, an amount he said is "a very slight reduction" from this year's budget. "In keeping with the
WILLMAR -- Refund checks are starting to trickle through the mail to Medicare recipients whose high prescription drug expenses pushed them into the "doughnut hole" last year. The one-time tax-free rebates, for $250 apiece, are being issued under a provision of the new health care reform law that aims to close the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage. Kate Selseth, aging program director at the Minnesota Valley Area Agency on Aging, and her staff have had few phone calls or questions so far about the refund checks.
WILLMAR -- As inpatient volume at Rice Memorial Hospital continues to decline and an operating deficit persists, hospital officials have redoubled their efforts to find ways to improve the financial situation. "We are looking at anything and everything to get things turned around," Mike Schramm, the city-owned hospital's chief executive, told the board of directors at a meeting Wednesday evening. "We have to think outside the box and be creative, knowing that things have changed significantly in how we take care of patients," Schramm said. As of the end of June, Rice had amassed a $1.1 mill
WILLMAR -- The buildings are ready, the pipeline has been installed, the tanks and ditches are in place. The next stage in completing Willmar's new multimillion-dollar wastewater treatment plant involves one of the more arcane steps in the process: colonizing the new facility with the millions of microbes that digest and break down municipal waste. Rhonda Rae, program manager with the Willmar office of Donahue and Associates, the engineering consultants for the wastewater treatment plant, outlined for the Willmar City Council on Monday night how this will take place. Starting in early Augus
WILLMAR -- Counties in west-central Minnesota didn't see their economies skyrocket during the boom times that preceded the recession, but neither did the bottom fall out when the economy turned sour. A new analysis by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development shows that while the recession resulted in job losses all across the state, rural counties on average were hit somewhat less hard. Kandiyohi, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties lost less than 3 percent of their total employment.
WILLMAR -- Members of the Willmar City Council are voicing reservations about a recommendation by the Willmar Charter Commission to remove the Municipal Utilities Commission from direct oversight by the city council. The revision is just one among numerous changes proposed to the city charter, the document that creates the framework for how the city of Willmar is governed. It was the issue that triggered the most discussion, however, when charter commission members presented a draft of their recommendations Monday night to the city council. Agreement by the council will be crucial when it c
WILLMAR -- The bare feet of summer don't always mix well with barbed wire or rusty nails. That's why local health officials say it's a good idea to have a tetanus vaccination that's up to date. "If you can't remember when the last one was, it's probably time for you to get it," said Stacey Zondervan, director of patient services at Family Practice Medical Center. Clostridium tetani spores live in soil, dust and manure, where they persist for months or even years.
WILLMAR -- Despite all the transportation, nutrition, respite and other services in the region to serve the aging population, Lynn Buckley still sees elderly individuals who fall through the cracks. These are services that can "help the seniors remain independent in a very economical and cost-efficient way," said Buckley, coordinator of the Caring Connections program at Redwood Area Hospital in Redwood Falls.
WILLMAR -- Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has pulled out of the application process for federal stimulus money to help build a railroad bypass on the west edge of Willmar. In a letter sent Tuesday to city officials, the railroad said that after a further review of the application guidelines, it saw "no possibility" that BNSF would be able to obtain a planning grant for the proposed multimillion-dollar project. Local officials said Wednesday they're disappointed with the turn of events. "The greatest disappointment is the loss of what we thought were the benefits," said Steve Renquist,
WILLMAR -- Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has pulled out of the application process for federal stimulus money to help build a railroad bypass on the west edge of Willmar. In a letter notifying local officials Tuesday of its decision, BNSF said that after reviewing the application guidelines, the railroad saw "no possibility" of being able to obtain a planning grant for the proposed project. Local economic development officials said today they're disappointed with the turn of events. "The greatest disappointment is the loss of what we thought were the benefits," said Steve Renquist, e