A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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This Christmas, many families will be trying to celebrate the holiday here in Minnesota while a husband, wife, son, daughter or other close family member are away from home on military duty. With the hubbub of Christmas preparations occupying most people's time, it can be easy to forget about the soldiers who are gone and their families back home. The West Central Tribune spoke to four women from the community who have a husband or fiancé deployed to Iraq this Christmas.
Chasity Ommodt didn't really want to get ready for Christmas this year. Instead of pulling out the numerous boxes of decorations and trimming a big fresh-cut tree, the New London woman said she wanted to just get a small table top tree "put a little tinsel on it and -- viola -- there's Christmas." At the urging of her oldest daughter, however, Ommodt bought a live tree and -- for the first time in her life -- hefted the tree into the metal basin and got it to stay upright without leaning against a wall. Ommodt's husband had always done that task in the past.
The buzz and rush of Christmas preparations have given Colleen Walquist of Willmar something to focus on so she isn't constantly reminded that her soul mate, 1st Lt. Robert Walquist, won't be home for Christmas. Because of the extra energy she's pouring into Christmas to "make everything perfect" for her four children, Walquist was ahead of schedule for shopping, wrapping and decorating for the holiday. She's been thankful for the distraction of the holiday preparations, but at the same time is dreading spending Christmas without her husband. Lt. Walquist is currently deployed in Iraq.
Fellowship with family and friends, laughter, playing games and eating a lot of traditional food -- including a 12-course Ukrainian meal -- is how Helen and Alan Arends usually spend Christmas. On New Year's Eve they eat German pancakes. This year, however, Alan Arends will be eating in the mess hall in Baghdad with other National Guard troops on the holidays.
Megan Fladeboe and her fiancé, Nate Willprecht of Willmar, have been together four years.
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Commissioners gave themselves a 3 percent raise for 2008. At their meeting Tuesday, the commissioners set their base salary at $28,140. County Administrator Larry Kleindl recommended the raise, saying it would be "in line" with the 3 percent cost-of-living increase non-union county employees are receiving in 2008. Although no union contracts have yet been settled, Kleindl said a 3 percent increase is also being proposed for the union contracts. The commissioners will also receive a $70 stipend for attending committee meetings.
WILLMAR - A crisscross network of people who grow, pack, transport, distribute, buy and eat food, and then dispose of or compost the leftovers, exists in every community. The network that joins people with life-sustaining food, however, is interrupted by poverty, lack of nutritional education and a system that, for the most part, forces people to rely on a distant food source that's vulnerable to soaring gas prices, natural disasters, a changing climate and even terrorism. For the last several months the Kandiyohi County Food System Steering Committee has been studying the food network in Ka
WILLMAR -- For three years in a row Affiliated Community Medical Centers has taken Kandiyohi County to court to have the value of its Willmar clinic property lowered. Every year a tax court judge has obliged and reduced the property value. It appears the medical clinic will file a similar lawsuit again this year. Kandiyohi County Assessor Tim Falkum told the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that Affiliated Community Medical Centers has filed initial papers in court, sending the signal for another possible lawsuit. He said his office is continuing to work with clinic attor
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Area Food Shelf has two weeks to raise $4,000 to meet expenses for the 2007 operating budget. Christie Kurth, director of the food shelf, said she hopes holiday contributions that have been arriving recently keep on coming. "We have been seeing a consistent number of donations coming in through the mail," Kurth said. People are sending holiday donations in memory of loved ones, she said.
GROVE CITY -- Geography, logistics and convenience for parents appear to be the primary reasons why the open enrollment option is being used in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District. A survey of parents and guardians who use open enrollment to send their children to the ACGC district or to send their children outside the district was conducted by Minnesota State University-Mankato at the request of the ACGC School Board. The results of that survey were presented Monday. "Convenience seemed to be the major reason," said Dr.