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ST. CLOUD - Three years ago, the St. Cloud Regional Airport lost its daily scheduled air service that went from St. Cloud to Minneapolis. Now, the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation is working to bring twice-daily scheduled air service from the St. Cloud Regional Airport to Chicago O'Hare International Airport. "We've had meetings with a series of possible aircraft suppliers," Al Kremers, air service chair of the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, said. "We're currently exchanging data with two different major airlines."
When the new Willmar Municipal Airport opened in 2006, then-airport manager Melissa Galvan had three main goals -- to get the airport built and someday have a commercial flight carrier and be able to expand the runway. Seven years later, planner/airport manager Megan DeSchepper said she's still hopeful Galvan's original goals can someday be fulfilled. "If we have enough jet usage of the runway, it would be great to be able to expand the runway," DeSchepper said. "And who knows -- maybe someday we'll be able to have commercial flights here."
WILLMAR - A combination of a strong lineup and more promotion paid off for this year's Sonshine Music Festival. While official numbers won't be in for a few weeks, this year's festival attendance was up from the 2012 festival's numbers, when it saw a significant decrease in attendance.
WILLMAR - Linda and Brian Friedlein, of Willmar, have been coordinating Sonshine Music Festival's volunteers for 24 years. Their job consists of coordinating the 200 to 400 volunteers who stand at the gates, take tickets, assist the vendors in the Willmar Civic Center and direct traffic. Each volunteer works four three-hour shifts over the course of the four days of the festival.
WILLMAR - Thousands come to Sonshine Music Festival for the music and fellowship, and after three days of performances, attendees haven't been let down by the biggest names in Christian music. Christian crunk rock band Family Force 5, who hail from Atlanta, Ga., headlined Wednesday night, kicking off the festival on the right foot, Sara Johnson, of Norwood Young America, said. "Their show was just so fun," Johnson said. "They put on a fun after party that night too."
WILLMAR - Rebecca Taylor, 6, of Eagan, patiently waited Thursday afternoon while Jessie Kneprath helped her finish her craft in the Kids Korner tent at the Sonshine Music Festival. Kneprath has run the kids arts and crafts tent at Sonshine in Willmar for the past 15 years, helping Sonshine become a place where families of all ages can be entertained. "I had little kids of my own and I saw a need for something like this here," Kneprath said. "I thought it'd be fun, and it gives parents a place to go to take a rest and let their kids be creative."
WILLMAR - While the first aid tent's main purpose at Sonshine Music Festival is to take care of any sick or injured attendees, the tent's 179 volunteers also use this week as a chance to catch up with colleagues. Willmar Ambulance Service and Rice Memorial Hospital of Willmar are the main providers at the tent, but medical professionals from Mankato, the Twin Cities and Fargo, N.D., all bring in various equipment needed to ensure Sonshiners have the care they need.
WILLMAR - Before the music started Wednesday evening, dedicated fans were setting up their campsites in Sonshine Music Festival's Tent City. Campers could officially start setting up their tents and parking their RVs at 10 a.m. Wednesday, but many had arrived Tuesday to get the best spot and get settled in long before the music started playing.
LITCHFIELD - Friends, family members and supporters of the Minnesota National Guard 849th Mobility Augmentation Company lined the streets of Litchfield on Tuesday morning to send the soldiers off to Texas. The soldiers of the 849th MAC, based in Litchfield, left Tuesday for pre-deployment training in Ft. Bliss, Texas. This fall, the 95 soldiers will be deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
WILLMAR - As music at the 32nd annual Sonshine Music Festival gets ready to start at 5 p.m. tonight, the National Weather Service in Chanhassen is forecasting hot and humid weather into the weekend. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures will be around 92 degrees today, with heat indexes as high as 98. Temperatures Thursday are expected to be around 90 degrees, along with a chance of thunderstorms. It should cool down for the weekend, with highs of 82 degrees Friday and 78 degrees Saturday.