A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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WILLMAR — A high-performance, high-resolution DNA sequencer — equipment typically reserved for metro scientific communities — arrived in Willmar last month to help provide solutions to problems facing the turkey industry. Funding for the $100,000 Illumina MiSeq sequencer is a cooperative effort between the University of Minnesota and four companies in the poultry industry, including Jennie-O Turkey Store and Willmar Poultry.
NEW LONDON — Synthetic turf will be installed next year on the New London-Spicer School football field. On a 6-1 vote Monday, the board approved the project after hearing from a strong contingent of supporters during the last couple months. The project, estimated at $600,000 to $740,000, will be paid for with a 10-year lease levy. A $60,000 donation from the sports booster club will offset most of the cost for the first year's payment.
WILLMAR — A festive Christmas light celebration Saturday night near Willmar had a tragic end when several passengers and the driver of horse-drawn wagon were injured after the horses got spooked and ran for about a mile before crashing in a yard. The passengers had non-life-threatening injuries but emergency life-saving measures were performed on the driver, who was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital in critical condition and later transferred to the Hennepin County Medical Center.
WILLMAR — Several inches of new snow fell over west central Minnesota over the weekend, making roads slick and resulting in numerous accidents. Some accidents resulted in property damage, but others may have involved injuries, including accidents that occurred Sunday evening where information was not yet available prior to press time. According to a preliminary report with the National Weather Service, anywhere from three to 10 inches of snow fell over the region. Reports from Kandiyohi County ranged from 3½ to 6½ inches of snow.
WILLMAR — The driver of a runaway horse-drawn wagon that was carrying passengers as part of a local Christmas light celebration Saturday night is in critical condition after the wagon crashed in yard. Some of the 15 passengers in the wagon were also transported by ambulance to Rice Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Most were treated and released, according to a news release from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office.
BENSON — When cancer strikes a young family it's hard to explain to toddlers that mommy is too sick to pick them up and play with them. How can a preschooler understand that the cancer-killing medicine that could keep their parent alive is making them sicker-than-a-dog and the house needs to be quiet so they can sleep? What can a mother say to their first-grader about being scared to die?
SPICER — The light is shining a little sharper, and a little cheaper, in Spicer after the city replaced old fluorescent light fixtures with new LED light bulbs on the state Highway 23 corridor, on city streets and inside municipal buildings. The total cost of the recently completed retrofit was $219,000, said City Administrator Leslie Valiant. The annual energy savings is projected at a minimum of $9,370 per year, according to Kurt Schoenecker, project manager with Apex, an energy consulting company from the Twin Cities.
NEW LONDON — Now that voters in New London and Spicer have given the OK to a local option sales tax, it's up to legislators to give the final approval before additional tax revenues can be collected in each of the towns. "We need to generate a bill and put that on their docket and hope they pass it," said Leslie Valiant, Spicer City Administrator. "Hopefully we have everybody on board with it." So far it looks like getting legislative approval should not be a problem.
NEW LONDON — Concerns about potential health risks of synthetic turf were discussed Monday by the New London-Spicer School Board. The board is considering installing turf in the district's high school football field to make the limited-use grass field available for physical education classes and additional sports practices and games. Armed with copies of articles and documents on the topic, board member Naomi Johnson said her research indicates chemicals, including lead and mercury in some synthetic turfs, could be dangerous for youth.
WILLMAR — For many families, having a home-cooked meal together is a rare event. Given busy work schedules — plus getting kids to school and extracurricular events, volunteering for community organizations and taking care of elderly parents — gathering around the kitchen table is often supplanted by bags of fast-food passed to the back seat of the minivan.