A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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WILLMAR -- A former Willmar man was injured Monday in Iraq while on patrol. Marine Lance Cpl. Jesse Ortega, 20, had injuries to his arms, legs, face and lungs, according to his sister, Lourdez Schwab, who lives in Willmar. In an interview Thursday, Schwab said her brother was initially flown to a hospital in Germany for surgery and was expected to be transferred to the United States for additional medical care today. His wounds were classified as "very serious," said Schwab.
ATWATER -- The Atwater City Council cut $73,400 from its 2006 budget Wednesday. The action was taken after "scrutinizing" the numbers in a line-by-line process, said Councilman Dale Tagtow. Most areas of the proposed budget were shaved, said Tagtow, including employees' salaries. Following a series of negotiations, the council approved a 2 percent across-the-board salary increase.
WILLMAR -- Proposed federal cuts of $50 billion to social service programs could take a toll on local programs and people. "These cuts would have a devastating effect," said Larry Kleindl, Kandiyohi County Family Services director, during the Kandiyohi County Family Service meeting on Tuesday. "They would take a swipe at poor Americans." Kleindl, who gave an update on the proposed budget cuts to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners, said the proposal had passed the Senate but was delayed in the House.
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners gave final approval Tuesday for three new gravel pits, but not before additional conditions were added to the conditional use permits. A condition on a gravel pit in Dovre Township will require that the pit owner, Richard Hanson, or the gravel pit operator, Duininck Bros.
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County's good credit rating is being rewarded with a favorable interest rate on a $3.7 million bond that'll be used to build roads. The county received eight bids Tuesday for the general obligation road construction bond.
GROVE CITY -- Ballots asking voters to approve a tax increase to raise revenue for their schools were put in the mail Tuesday in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District. About 3,689 ballots were mailed to district residents, according to Superintendent Pamela Kyllingstad. Completed ballots for the special referendum must be returned to the district office by 8 p.m. Dec. 1. Kyllingstad said residents using the mail-in ballots should carefully follow instructions for casting a valid ballot. The process includes having someone witness your vote.
WILLMAR -- Legislation passed this year will allow local units of government to seek waivers from or changes to "stupid mandates." State Auditor Pat Anderson was in Willmar on Monday to talk to county officials about how to apply for the waivers from administrative rules or procedural laws and how to propose reforms to specific mandates the state has placed on local governments. The initiatives will provide ways to deal with rules that "just don't make sense" and end up frustrating local governments and costing taxpayers more money, Anderson said. As an example, she cited a rule
In case you didn't notice, this past week was winter weather awareness week. With unusually high temperatures, it may have been a little difficult to think about packing a snow shovel and winter survival kit in the trunk. Instead, people were outside raking, painting, camping, fishing and planting new trees during day after day of higher than normal temperatures. "Just weird" is how forecaster Tood Krause, with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, described the long stretch of warm weather.
WILLMAR -- Plans by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to change how adult mental health care is funded have been put on hold -- at least for the time being. In a letter sent Wednesday to local legislators, Assistant Commissioner of Chemical and Mental Health Services Wes Kooistra said the state will "step back from the financing changes we proposed for the Adult Mental Health Initiatives." "I'd like to think we bought some time, and that's a good thing," said Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, in an interview Wednesday. "We have their attention.
WILLMAR -- A deep passion to help people with mental illness, good intentions and repeated apologies for a poorly worded memo spilled together Tuesday as local legislators, state directors, county officials and employees of the Willmar Regional Treatment Center met to discuss recent changes in how adult mental health programs will be financed in Minnesota. Sen.