A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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ATWATER -- About 200 children were evacuated Wednesday from the elementary school in Atwater after a natural gas line was accidentally severed during a construction project in an alley near the school. The students were taken to a nearby church and then bused home early. A dozen homes in a two- to three-block area were also targeted for evacuation. Most residents were not at home. Of the four residents who answered the door, three went to friends' or relatives' homes, according to Atwater Police Chief Reed Schmidt.
WILLMAR -- A decision by the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission to pull out of a joint powers agreement for the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging has forced the three remaining regional development commissions to reorganize as a new joint powers organization. Those three remaining regional development commissions -- including the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission based in Willmar -- also must reapply to the state to become the service provider to the 27 southwestern counties currently served by the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging.
WILLMAR -- Expect to see neighborhood trees draped in white, flowing strands of Charmin any day now. At least two area school districts, Willmar and New London-Spicer, are celebrating homecoming festivities this week, and students from both districts have a long tradition of targeting classmates' yards with toilet paper. For the students who complete their mission, the result can be a satisfying coup of juniors against seniors. But for the students who get stopped in their tracks by authorities, the toilet paper that's confiscated can be a welcome gift. Willmar Police Capt.
WILLMAR -- Members of the House Transportation Finance Committee were told repeatedly Monday night in Willmar to pass a transportation bill with a gas tax increase. The committee, which is made up primarily of metro legislators, listened to testimony for more than two hours about the need for additional transportation funding in rural regions, like Kandiyohi County. Nearly all who testified expressed disappointment that the transportation bill was vetoed by Gov.
Minnesota townships have been given a two-year reprieve from a state election mandate that many small townships couldn't afford to meet and were at risk of violating. During the special legislative session this week that dealt with flood relief for southeastern, lawmakers also approved a bill to give townships until 2010 to meet a requirement to use electronic equipment designed for voters with disabilities for their March election of officers. If the bill hadn't been approved it would've cost $1.6 million for townships to hold their elections this March, said Kent Sulem, general counsel for
GROVE CITY -- The Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board agreed to take the high road and ask voters to approve a middle of the road operating levy in November. During a special meeting Thursday, the school board reviewed several financial scenarios ranging from $850 to $1,250 before voting unanimously on a proposed operating levy of $1,075 per pupil unit. While saying a higher levy would generate much-needed revenue for the district, which is in statutory operating debt, board members acknowledged there is a financial threshold that voters would accept and agreed to a lower figure. Dr.
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners got a primer Tuesday on bridge inspections. During a tour of county road construction projects that are under way, completed or need to be done in the future, the commissioners spent some time under a New London timber-frame bridge, learning about the checklist of safety items bridges are required to pass to be safe.
WILLMAR -- A four-lane stretch of road that will provide a straight shot across the old Willmar airport and create a faster link between the north and south sides of Willmar is shaping up quickly. Much of the 10-acre storm water retention pond is completed, new 12-inch water mains are being installed and the basic roadbed has been laid down. The utilities will service Willmar's new industrial park that the road will bisect. The nearly mile-long project began this summer and should be completed by next year.
WILLMAR -- For 40 years the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory in Willmar has been quietly monitoring the state's turkeys, chickens and commercially raised upland game birds for diseases that could, if left unchecked, seriously impact the poultry industry and possibly contribute to a worldwide influenza pandemic. Dr. Dale Lauer, veterinarian and director of the lab, suspects not many residents realize the heavy responsibility that is handled every day at the lab. "This lab is our first line of defense for an influenza outbreak," Lauer said.
WILLMAR -- In some rural Minnesota communities, the only business in town may be a bar that also sells milk, bread and peanut butter so that residents don't have to drive 20 miles to buy a few groceries. It's businesses and communities like those that Rep. Bud Heidgerken, R-Freeport, is afraid may lose out Oct.