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 -- 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.
ATWATER -- Rising health care costs could affect how much the city of Atwater, and its four full-time employees, pay for health insurance.
An early morning, up-close encounter with the back end of a grain truck a month ago on state Highway 7 near Cosmos helped convince Dave Frederickson it was time to slow down. Frederickson, president of the National Farmers Union, announced last week that he would not be seeking another term as head of the farm advocacy organization during the 2006 convention in March. In a press release, Frederickson said his decision to step down was because he and his wife, Kay, wanted a "more settled existence." Frederickson, 62, who farmed near Murdock for 25 years and served as state senator for the ar
WILLMAR -- There's still no word on when the papers will be signed to transfer ownership of the Willmar Regional Treatment Center to Kandiyohi County and eventually to MinnWest Technology of Willmar. The state and county have apparently reached agreements on their part of the transaction, but MinnWest Technology, which is made up of two local companies, Nova-Tech Engineering and Epitopix, are just starting to review the documents. The companies intend to purchase most of the property and buildings to develop a technology campus.
Jerry O'Connor has worked for nearly 30 years at the Willmar Regional Treatment Center as a mental health practitioner.
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Commissioners approved an early retirement policy Tuesday. Two top-level county officials are expected to take advantage of it. Wayne Thompson, who has served as the Kandiyohi County administrator for 28 years, will retire in 2006. Thompson didn't remark about retiring during the meeting, but it's been no secret he intended to retire next year and several commissioners gently teased him about it. During a brief interview, Thompson, 57, said he will make a formal announcement in July that he will step down from the position.
WILLMAR -- Potential budget cuts for federal human services programs could end up taking money "from the poorest of the poor." Larry Kleindl, director of the Kandiyohi County Family Services Department, told the county commissioners Tuesday that, in light of hardships caused by recent natural disasters, the timing of the proposed cuts "isn't very wise." Kleindl said the possibility of $10 billion to $15 billion being cut from the federal human services budget cut would have "drastic effects" on Minnesota and on the clients served by Kandiyohi County's family service programs.
ATWATER -- For the first time in a decade, residents in Atwater were able to pick up their hometown newspaper last week and see a picture of the school's homecoming king and queen on the front page. It may seem like a small thing, but it represents a huge step for this community, which has successfully launched its own newspaper.
WILLMAR -- In a process that resembles a game of musical chairs, a new player has now been added to the complicated real estate transaction involving the Willmar Regional Treatment Center. In action Tuesday, the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution authorizing the county to receive the WRTC campus from the state, which was part of the plan when legislators approved the $1 transaction this spring.