A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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BELGRADE -- It took three ballots, but DFL delegates gave Bruce Shuck their blessing Tuesday night to run for the 13A House seat. Shuck, of rural Sunburg, beat out Larry Mareck and Amy Oehrlein, who are both from Albany. This will be Shuck's fourth attempt to earn the title of state representative for the district, which includes all of Pope County, western Stearns County and the northern part of Kandiyohi County. The big difference this time is that Shuck's former Republican opponent for the last three races, Rep.
WILLMAR -- High fuel prices are being blamed for a projected $33,320 deficit in the Kandiyohi Area Transit's proposed 2009 budget. Since 2001 the price KAT pays for diesel fuel for its fleet of buses has nearly tr-ipled. "Fuel is the number one factor for the budget being short," said John Groothuis, KAT transit director, after presenting the proposed budget Tuesday morning to the operations board. KAT budgeted $98,700 for fuel this year based on a per gallon price of $3.29. KAT, which is exempt from paying some fuel taxes, currently pays $3.65 a gallon. Groothuis set the fuel line item a
WILLMAR -- Consumer excuses for not using compact fluorescent light bulbs are dwindling now that public and private entities are offering free recycling of used bulbs. Energy-saving CFL light bulbs are gradually replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs. But some consumers long resisted using them because it is illegal to throw the bulbs in the trash. Recycling centers, like the Kandiyohi County Household Hazardous Waste facility, charge business and residential users 50 cents to recycle each bulb. But several new partnerships between utility companies, private business and the county
Even though she's been back in the United States nearly three weeks, Susan Semmler hasn't been able to fully relax at her parents' Lake Andrew home in rural New London. "I've had this uneasiness," she said. Semmler is constantly checking the Internet, or e-mails from colleagues, to hear the latest news from Myanmar, which is still trying to recover from a May 2 cyclone that killed thousands of Burmese and wiped out rice fields and entire villages.
WILLMAR -- Just like corn farmers who went out on a limb years ago to invest in ethanol plants, farmers may soon be considering the economic viability of investing in wind farms to create anhydrous ammonia from water. Farmers are "big users" of anhydrous ammonia, the nitrogen-based fertilizer crucial for corn crops, said Bruce Reuss, chairman of the ag and renewable energy committee of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission. Made from expensive natural gas that comes primarily from China, Africa and India, anhydrous ammonia has gone from $250 a ton five year
WILLMAR -- State budget reductions could mean counties will have to pay for some public defenders and state prisoners. The financial shift is part of a "string of squeezes" the state is passing onto counties, said Jay Kieft, director of the Kandiyohi County Family Services Department. Kieft on Tuesday told the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners that the State Board of Public Defense announced that as of July 8 it will no longer provide public defenders to parents involved with child protection cases, or cases when parents' rights are being terminated. The decision was made because budg
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County's bond rating has taken a significant jump to a more elite level. The county is now one of 11 in Minnesota that have a Moody's bond rating of A1. Carolyn Drude, a financial consultant with Ehlers & Associates, handed the County Commissioners an oversized plaque Tuesday to congratulate the county on its good financial standing. "We think it's pretty exciting," she said. The A1 rating could help the county get lower interest rates for general obligation bonds. "It's pretty good news for the county," said Commissioner Dennis Peterson. Drude said the county had be
SPICER -- A three-mile stretch of road east of Green Lake is serving as an experimental station for the first-ever national study on intelligent compaction. The data will help shape the future for constructing high-quality, uniform and longer-lasting roads in the United States, and the process should save fuel, time and money. On Monday, Kandiyohi County Road 4 was filled with yellow and orange hard hats and vests as engineers, researchers and program coordinators from the Federal Highway Administration, the Transtec Group based in Texas, the Sakai laboratory in Japan, the Sakai manufacturin
WILLMAR -- Tougher economic times and a national trend of declining property values brought out a record number of people Monday to the Kandiyohi County Board of Appeals and Equalization meeting. Usually the annual meeting takes about a half-hour as the board hears concerns from one or two property ow-ners. This year the session lasted for a solid 2½ hours as 11 property owners challenged their property values and asked the board to reduce them. The board members -- all five of the Kandiyohi County Commissioners -- said they've never had so many contested cases in one year.
Vacationers who usually go "up north" to go camping and fishing are staying closer to home this year because of high gas prices. For local campgrounds that's both good news and bad news. Kandiyohi County parks may host more Twin Cities residents this year because they've decided not to spend gas money to drive farther north. Laura Clark, who manages County Park 5 on Green Lake with her husband, Terry, said they've heard from at least a dozen campers this year who are "trying to stay within 100 miles of their home." The high cost of gas is "their number one reason for trying to find somewhe