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WILLMAR — The Rice Memorial Hospital Board has approved a new intergovernmental transfer agreement for annual payments to the city of Willmar that take the place of property taxes. The agreement, approved by the board on Wednesday, replaces a previous three-year agreement that expired in 2012. As a city-owned entity, Rice Hospital pays no property taxes. The transfer of a yearly payment from the hospital to the city helps support street improvements, fire protection and other city services funded by standard property taxes.
WILLMAR — Business plans for expanding and renovating Rice Home Medical retail stores in Redwood Falls and Alexandria have been approved, clearing the way for work to commence on construction documents. If everything goes according to schedule, a final decision to go ahead with both projects could be made this spring, Rice Hospital officials said this week. The hospital’s board of directors approved the business plan Wednesday for the two stores.
WILLMAR — Citing a host of benefits that come with belonging to the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, the Rice Memorial Hospital Board adopted a resolution Wednesday reauthorizing the city-owned hospital’s membership in the Chamber. The board’s action stakes out Rice’s position over concerns that have been simmering recently among some Willmar City Council members about public entities joining the Chamber.
WILLMAR — Friends of the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Countie s will have the chance to show their support for homeless animals at the seventh annual Save Our Tails charity event this weekend. Organizers hope to raise $20,000 or more to help defray operating costs at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter .
Blowing snow and white-out conditions have forced buses for the Willmar Public Schools to cancel their routes outside the city limits today and bring students back to school. School district officials said high school and middle school students are being brought back to the Willmar Middle School. Buses are returning Roosevelt students to Roosevelt School and Kennedy Elementary students to Kennedy School.
WILLMAR — Influenza activity continues to fall from the peak levels seen last month, but health officials say it’s too soon to breathe a sigh of relief. “It’s not behind us yet,” Jo DeBruycker, manager of the Health Learning Center at Willmar’s Affiliated Community Medical Centers, said this week. The Minnesota Department of Health reported nine deaths from influenza during the week of Feb. 3 to 9. Seventy-two people were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza last week, the Health Department said Thursday.
WILLMAR — Look for Minnesota hospitals to mount vigorous opposition to legislative efforts that could result in mandated nurse-to-patient ratios. “Bad public policy” was the reaction Wednesday of Michael Schramm, chief executive of Rice Memorial Hospital. “It hasn’t been demonstrated to improve quality. It’s only been demonstrated to drive up costs,” he said. “We believe that those decisions need to be made at the local level.”
WILLMAR — Romance is in the air at Mr. B Chocolates, and it smells like fine European chocolate. Workers at the family-owned shop have been busy for days, making hundreds of hand-crafted Belgian-style chocolates to meet the demand this week for Valentine’s Day. “It’s that special thing you give,” manager Mary Reishus said. The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend a collective $18.6 billion this year on flowers, candy, jewelry and other tokens of love for their sweethearts.
WILLMAR — The Cushman A. Rice trust fund gave nearly $70,000 in grants last year to help 254 qualified needy patients pay their bill at Rice Memorial Hospital. The need far exceeds the amount of grant dollars available each year, advisers with Bremer Investment Management and Trust, which oversees the Rice trust fund, told the Rice Hospital finance committee on Friday. The number of people receiving Rice trust grants has more than doubled in the past few years. In 2010, 111 individuals qualified for $45,000 in grants to help pay their hospital bill.
WILLMAR - First came the sleet and freezing rain, then came the snow. Travel came to a standstill across the region Sunday as a large winter storm dumped several inches of wintry precipitation over much of Minnesota. The heaviest snow fell in a large swath across the central part of the state, where many towns got half a foot or more of new snow. “Tough shape” is how a dispatcher at the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office described road conditions Sunday .