Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.
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WILLMAR -- Willmar's Kmart store in the Kandi Mall is on a list of stores slated to be closed by Sears Holdings Corp., the parent company of Sears and Kmart. Sears Holdings Corp said Tuesday that it would close at least 100 stores to raise cash and that it would no longer prop up "marginally performing" locations. The company pledged to refocus its efforts on stores that make money. A list of 79 of the 100 to 120 stores to be closed was posted on the Sears media website. Three other Kmart stores in Minnesota on the list are in Duluth, New Hope and White Bear Lake.
At this time of year, Santa is undoubtedly working around the clock at the North Pole, checking his "naughty or nice" list one last time and keeping the elves in order. It's a good thing he has helpers who can take his place and act as his eyes and ears in the weeks leading up to Christmas. One of those helpers is Don Mord of Kandiyohi, who's been playing the role of Santa for 20 years. This year, Mord acted as Santa for the New London portion of the Kandiyohi Men's Club Santa 18-Wheeler Express.
Sparkling icicle lights. Candy cane walkways. Multicolored lights strung on trees. Twinkling snowflakes in windows. If you're driving around the area this weekend to admire the holiday lights, these are just a few of the sights you'll see. With no snow on the ground yet this year, it was easier for people to climb their ladders and transform their front yards into spectacular holiday displays that would make Clark Griswold proud.
If it's looking a little, well, empty under your tree this year, don't panic yet.
When Becky Armstrong signed up for a mission trip to Haiti, she thought she had an idea of what to expect. Devastated by a severe earthquake nearly two years ago, the country of Haiti is known to be one of the poorest in the world. During her seven days in Haiti last month, Armstrong witnessed "almost unbearable" amounts of hardship, poverty and famine. And until you've been there and seen it for yourself, she said, you don't really understand it at all.
WILLMAR -- Last Christmas, an elderly man in the area prepared to spend the holidays alone. His family lived far away and wouldn't be able to visit him, and he didn't have many close friends.
WILLMAR -- Managing the risk in agriculture is a common refrain when farmers gather to discuss their ideas for the 2012 farm bill. "Risk management is a moving target," said Dave Frederickson, outreach director for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. "(Farmers) want to make sure the next farm bill focuses on risk management.
WILLMAR -- Wearing paint-splattered jeans and a red bandana to cover his mouth and nose, artist Todd Kenyon, aka the Cosmo Kid, blends shapes and colors to create an original, one-of-a-kind painting. But unlike a conventional painter, he doesn't use watercolors or brushes. Instead, he uses spray paint. And it doesn't take him years, weeks or even days to finish a painting -- it takes him about five minutes. Over the last three days, Kenyon and his paintings have been featured entertainment at the Kandiyohi County Fair in Willmar.
WILLMAR -- Sig and Ardyce Lundgren can't go anywhere at the Kandiyohi County Fair without running into someone they know -- usually a relative. "That's the trouble with living here your whole life," Sig Lundgren said Thursday, laughing. "You know most everybody." It makes sense, after all. Both Sig and Ardyce grew up in the area and donated much of their time to the community. Yesterday, during a special senior citizen's program at the fair, the community gave back to them in celebration of their 150-year-old farm. "It's really unusual," Sig said of the accomplishment.
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Fair closed its gates tonight as a thunderstorm hit Willmar around 7 p.m. Officials advised everyone to leave the fairgrounds. The demolition derby, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Grandstand, was canceled, along with the rest of the evening's entertainment and activities. Kandiyohi County and much of west central Minnesota is under a thunderstorm warning until 7:30 p.m. "We have announced there is a severe storm warning and advised everyone to go home," said Cheryl Johnson, Kandiyohi County Fair Board secretary.