Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.
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Every day, people across the country likely consume products made by Associated Milk Producers Inc. without even realizing it. AMPI, which is headquartered in New Ulm and has plants in Dawson and Paynesville, among others, produces cheese, butter and dried whey products. These products are then marketed under 170 private label brands for the retail, food service and food ingredient sectors, said Sarah Schmidt, communications director for AMPI. "We fulfill orders for major grocery store chains and restaurants, with outlets coast to coast," Schmidt said.
8 feet - height of fence that surrounds all of First District 9 - number of Minnesota dairy cooperatives that are part of First District 91 - years First District has been in business 140 - number of employees at First District in Litchfield 1,100 - number of voting member units in First District 6 million - pounds of milk processed every day at First District 3.9 million - pounds of milk processed into cheese every day at First District 13 million - number of burgers First District could supply with a half-ounce of cheese every day
First District Association in Litchfield has come a long way in its 91-year history. But that's not to say it comes from humble beginnings. When the cooperative was formed in 1921, it quickly grew to encompass 13 smaller creameries in the Meeker County region. As a new, larger cooperative, the then-named Meeker County Creamery Association decided its products should be sold under a brand name. The cooperative held a contest to determine a name for the brand, and a Twin Cities woman won the challenge. Her name suggestion?
Each year, in the days leading up to Easter, parents and young children flock to malls across the country to visit the Easter Bunny. At the Kandi Mall in Willmar, it's no exception. Katlin Sams took her 2 ½-year-old son, Connor Iverson, to see the bunny himself earlier this week. Although Connor is too young to really understand the Easter Bunny, Sams said he "just loves going." "He always gets really excited to see the Easter Bunny," Sams said.
WILLMAR -- Dressed in layers to fight off the wind, Peg Fortmann steadily pushed a grocery cart filled with food down First Street in Willmar.
Lois Norbie of Willmar taught Sunday school at her church for years. As she would recite the well-known Bible stories to her students -- the birth of Jesus, the Last Supper, the Resurrection -- she would dream of traveling to Israel and seeing the site of those biblical events for herself. This year, she made that dream a reality. She and her grandson Nick Norbie made the "spontaneous" decision to travel to Israel at the end of February. They had been contemplating the trip for years, and Lois said she didn't want to wait any longer. "I'm 83 years old," said Lois.
Virginia McGeary has been to every St. Patrick's Day parade in Benson since Duffy's Bar started organizing the event 18 years ago. While she has ridden in the parade a few times, this year, she'll be the grand marshal -- and for a very special reason. McGeary, who is half Irish and half French, will turn 100 years old this June. "I've been in the parade before, yes, but it wasn't any big deal," McGeary said. "I'm not in it every year. This year I'm going to be the grand marshal and ride in the parade." McGeary said she enjoys going to the St.
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WILLMAR -- Nationwide, a stronger job market is strengthening the economy, and ret-ailers are reaping the benefits. Last month, re-tail sales increased by 1.1 percent, the strongest gain since September. In the Willmar area, businesses are starting to see that upward trend reflected in their own sales figures. Cullen's Home Center in Willmar has seen a 1 percent increase in sales for the calendar year. That number was boosted by a 14 percent growth in January, which owner Rick Dahle called "a dramatic increase" from last January. "It's normally slower this time of year," Dahle said.