David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
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WILLMAR -- Dean Peterson of Glenwood grew up in Kerkhoven but hung out as a kid on Fourth Street in downtown Willmar. "If you wanted to be where the action was, you went to Fourth Street,'' recalls Peterson, 55. "That was before the Kandi Mall was built. It was a happening place. All the main businesses were right there.'' One of those businesses was the Willmar Theater, a grand place to watch movies, as many locals will testify. The theater was closed in 1980 and the building was converted into office space known as Heritage Square.
WILLMAR -- The Westwind development is offering affordable single-family housing opportunities as well as affordable rental housing. Homeownership is more affordable because developer Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership established a "partnership community land trust'' for the nearly 17-acre development that's officially known as Westwind Estates Third Addition Community Land Trust. The Westwind Estates Third Addition Community Land Trust has townhomes for rent and single-family homes for sale. There are two distinct ownerships: the townhomes are owned by Westwind Estates Townhomes Limi
WILLMAR -- Eleven units are rented and four more units will be rented by the end of the month at the new Westwind Townhomes low-income housing development in southwest Willmar. The $5,377,000 development consists of 14 structures. Each structure has two rental units for a total of 28 units.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council on Wednesday voted 4-3 to hire Springsted Inc. of St. Paul to assist the council in the search for a candidate to replace long-time City Administrator Michael Schmit. Schmit will retire on July 31 after serving 36 years with the city including 20 as administrator. Voting in favor were Doug Reese, Denis Anderson, Tim Johnson and Steve Ah-mann. Voting ag-ainst were Ron Chr-istianson, Rick Fa-gerlie and Jim Dok-ken.
WILLMAR -- The idea of privatizing public services and programs is not a new phenomenon for the city of Willmar, says City Administrator Michael Schmit. As recently as the early 1990s, the city considered contractual agreements for managing or owning the wastewater treatment plant.
WILLMAR -- City Administrator Michael Schmit is proposing the Willmar City Council hold a work session to discuss the topic of privatizing public services and to specifically focus on public works and park mai-ntenance. Some council members and Mayor-elect Frank Yanish are suggesting the city explore the possibility of privatizing services as a way to increase efficiency and cut costs during a time of reduced tax revenue. "We have to think differently and operate differently in this day and time,'' said Denis Anderson, chairman of the council's Finance Committee.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council approved agreements Monday night that will lead to development of the Mid Central Research and Outreach Center at the MinnWest Technology Campus. The research center is a joint project of MinnWest, the city, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The agreements will allow campus owner MinnWest Technology Management Company LLC to use a $1.25 million state grant to renovate a building where the technology research and miscellaneous technology services center will be located. One agreement is a long-term lease
WILLMAR -- The Finance Committee is recommending the City Council approve a smaller increase in the city property tax levy than the increase that was proposed by Mayor Les Heitke in his 2011 budget. The committee is recommending the city property tax levy be increased by 3.5 percent instead of the proposed 6.9 percent increase. The council will consider the recommendation during the 7 p.m. meeting on Monday in the chambers at the Municipal Utilities Building, 700 Litchfield Ave. S.W. Heitke had proposed increasing the levy by $256,059 from $3,668,705 in 2010 to $3,924,764 in 2011.
WILLMAR -- A private contractor's cost to sweep Willmar's streets is greater than the city's cost to sweep the streets, according to a summary prepared by the Public Works Department and presented to the City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee. But committee member Ron Christianson says the cost comparison was unfair because the city's cost did not include trucking costs for hauling material swept by the city's sweeper, and he said the costs were skewed against the private contractor, Cleaning and Restoration Services Inc.
WILLMAR -- The Community Development Committee will recommend the Willmar City Council challenge a state agency's determination that the old airport terminal is eligible for historic preservation. The council will consider the committee's recommendation on Dec.