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WILLMAR -- Unemployment and uncertainty about the economy have slowed the housing market in Kandiyohi County this past year. But homes are continuing to be bought and sold, especially houses in the mid- to lower price ranges. The region appears to have avoided the worst of the housing bust being seen in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs, local real estate agents say. "Locally we haven't seen a significant change, mainly because our local economy continues to be fairly stable," said Bruce Vogel of Lakes Area Realty. Over the past 12 months, "we kind of just remained stable.
Brenda Wiese was still new to Rice Memorial Hospital's Grief Center in Willmar when a high school-aged boy came in to talk to her about the recent death of a classmate. Wiese hadn't dealt with many adolescent males and wasn't sure how the session would go. Would she say the right things? Would it be helpful? Apparently she passed the test, because the youth told two of his friends about the visit.
By the time the Rice Health Foundation's annual holiday festival next weekend is over and done with, more than 100 volunteers will have been involved in everything from handing out programs to enlisting corporate sponsors. This year's festival will be held Nov. 13 and 14 at the Willmar Conference Center and Holiday Inn. It is the Rice Health Foundation's main fund-raising effort of the year.
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital officials are optimistic the city-owned hospital is managing to successfully adapt to fewer patient admissions, a mood that's reflected in the budget developed for 2010. Members of the hospital board's finance committee had their first look Friday at a proposed budget for next year of just under $100 million. It's based on a projected daily census of 40 inpatients, the lowest level of inpatient volume in officials' memory. But in spite of the shrinking census, the hospital budget is projecting a $1 million margin next year, or the equivalent of a 1 percent
Rick Moldenhauer brought an entire show-and-tell Thursday to a seminar on energy drinks: 16-ounce beverage cans, highly concentrated "energy shots," and even caffeinated versions of breath mints, candy bars and beer. By themselves, these pro-ducts aren't inherently bad, Moldenhauer told his audience. But when they're consumed in large quantities or mixed with other substances such as alcohol, "there are repercussions," he said.
WILLMAR -- They come in cans with aggressive-looking labels and names like Rockstar, Monster Energy and Cocaine. Kids like them, but they -- and their parents -- may not realize the effects of consuming energy drinks supercharged with caffeine. Authorities have become concerned enough to start including information about energy drinks in the DARE curriculum taught to Willmar grade-school students, says Julie Asmus of the Willmar Police Department. "The issue is about the amount of caffeine and what it does to your body," she said. She's especially alarmed at the young ages at which some ki
WILLMAR -- A young chocolate Lab named Betsy was first to exit a trailer parked outside the back entrance of the new Hawk Creek Animal Shelter. She danced on the pavement and tugged at her leash as Dawn Olson led her to the door. "It's our first one!" Olson exclaimed. After Betsy came another dog, then three cats in carriers. It was moving day Wednesday as the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County pulled up stakes at the county Highway Department, trading its former building for a brand-new home in the Industrial Park. "It's just been so long in the making.
WILLMAR -- The phones in the occupational health department at Affiliated Community Medical Centers have been ringing like never before. Department manager Kris Gulbrandsen and her staff have been fielding tons of questions from employers about the H1N1 novel influenza virus. What symptoms should employees be on the lookout for? How long should sick employees stay home? What can workplaces do to reduce the risk of spreading germs? "It's the unknown," Gulbrandsen said. Local health officials attempted to answer many of these questions at a seminar this week for local employers.
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital took extra steps in its emergency room Thursday to segregate patients in the waiting area who come in with influenza-like symptoms. A curtain went up Thursday afternoon to divide the waiting area. "We'll ask symptomatic patients with coughs and flu-like symptoms to stay on one side," said Kathy Hunt, director of critical care services. The ER also has begun restricting the number of people who can accompany the patient into the exam room.
Ask just about anyone who works with or provides services for older adults, and they'll list dementia as one of the most pervasive needs. "It's everywhere," says Sheri Nordmeyer, program director of the Willmar Community Senior Network. A new group, the West Central Dementia Awareness Network, hopes to increase the regional level of education, resources and support to help make life better for people with dementia and their families and caregivers.