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 -- Human services directors from Yellow Medicine and Lac qui Parle counties say they were surprised to learn their counties are on a list of 15 counties in the state that were identified as "struggling" to provide services. Information citing problems with the state's system for delivering human services, such as health care for children and income assistance for vulnerable adults, was included in a legislative auditor's report that was issued Monday. While the report does not name the 15 counties, the information is public and was released to news media.
WILLMAR -- Recycling wasn't always a part of Cyril Hiltner's daily routine. In the past he put plastic bottles, newspaper and glass in the garbage. But when the Belgrade man started to save and sell aluminum cans, he decided he might as well recycle the other stuff as well. "It's better than throwing it on a dump pile or burying it," said Hiltner, who was unloading his recycling Thursday at the Kandiyohi County Recycling Center. If containers can be reused, it's "stupid" to put them in the garbage, said Hiltner.
WILLMAR -- A narrow, privately owned road leading to Swan Lake in Kandiyohi Township will become a public road on Sept. 1. The decision, which was negotiated between neighboring landowners with differing interests, ends a two-year battle over ownership of the road.
By Carolyn Lange firstname.lastname@example.org With an infectious laugh that can either fill the room or stop short and be replaced with a quiet, somber voice, Denise Rode tells stories about her struggles with mental illness and her journey through the community's mental health care facilities. She had been a healthy, active, straight-A student in high school. When she was 23 years old, she was hospitalized at the Willmar Regional Treatment Center -- diagnosed with schizophrenia. She was catatonic. "I felt like I was trapped.
In the last 26 years, Denise Rode figures she has been a client at the Willmar Regional Treatment Center's adult mental health unit at least 15 times. A fair number of those stays lasted for about a year. A "second home" is how Rode, 49, describes the treatment center. "I know that place like the back of my hand." Rode, who has bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was hospitalized at the treatment center for the first time in 1980, when she was 23 years old. "That state hospital helped me out tremendously," Rode said.
PENNOCK -- For the first time in more than two years, people in Pennock were able to make a pit stop in town on Wednesday to fill up with gas or grab a bag of chips. The city-owned and privately leased and operated convenience store, called the Pit Stop, opened at 6 a.m. Wednesday. Mayor Kevin Crowley was the second customer of the day, buying a cup of coffee around 6:30 a.m. The opening of a gas station and convenience store in the small town, located four miles west of Willmar on U.S. Highway 12, may seem ho-hum.
GROVE CITY -- A new superintendent will be taking over the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove School District July 1. The ACGC School Board voted unanimously Monday to replace current Superintendent Pamela Kyllingstad, possibly with a part-time interim superintendent, at the beginning of the new school year. The board may even consider sharing a superintendent with another district. Because Kyllingstad's three-year contract extends through June 30, 2009, the board agreed to reassign her as principal for the district's elementary schools in Atwater and Cosmos for the last two years of her contract.
BELLINGHAM -- A month-long search for a 79-year old Bellingham woman ended Saturday when the body of Verene Raaf was found in a pasture near the South Dakota border. Raaf hadn't been seen since about 10 p.m. on Dec. 19, when she left the Madison hospital after receiving a blood transfusion.
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty's State of the State address received mixed reviews from local legislators. Sen. Gary Kubly said Pawlenty's speech was nothing more than "words that sound good." But the Granite Falls DFL'er said the governor has a poor history of making good on what he says. "He's got the opportunity to lead, and the guy has some skills to do that," said Kubly. "But he tends to say so many things that he really has no intention of following through on." By contrast, Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, was impressed with the "broad plan" Pawlenty laid out.
WILLMAR -- Jay Kieft of Spicer was named the new director of Kandiyohi County Family Services, following a unanimous vote Tuesday by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners. Kieft will take over the 100-person department March 5. He replaces Larry Kleindl who has been hired as the Kandiyohi County administrator. The county received 17 applications for the job.