I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR — Community colleges have played a strong role in the life of Jonathan Mandrell, the third candidate for Ridgewater College president to visit Willmar this week. When his parents were students, he was in a community college child care center, he met his wife at a community college and he is now vice president of academics and student services at the same school, Sauk Valley Community College.
WILLMAR — One of Laura Driscoll's claims to fame at Casper College in Wyoming was raising $11 million for a business incubator. It was one of the first facts shared about the candidate for Ridgewater College president at a public forum Tuesday afternoon at the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. About 25 people attended the forum.
WILLMAR — Craig Johnson, current director of the South Dakota Public Universities and Research Center, was the first candidate for Ridgewater College president to visit Willmar this week. Nearly 30 people attended the public forum Monday afternoon in the boardroom at the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. Johnson will tour the college's Willmar campus this morning and the Hutchinson campus this afternoon. At the end of the day Tuesday, he will attend a public forum in Hutchinson.
WILLMAR — No student should feel afraid to come to school, or feel unwelcome or alone, the organizers of the National School Walkout in Willmar said. Students in schools across the nation walked out of class at 10 a.m. Wednesday to call attention to the need for school safety. The movement for safe schools began last month with the urging of the angry, traumatized student survivors of a Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
WILLMAR – A crowd of nearly 200 Willmar Senior High School students walked out of class to remember the 17 people shot and killed in a school shooting a month ago in Parkland, Florida. Student organizers read the names of the students and teachers killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Feb. 14 and asked the crowd to join them in 17 seconds of silence to honor the victims.
WILLMAR — Work will continue this summer on remodeling and maintenance projects funded by the Willmar Public Schools bonding that voters approved in a 2015 referendum. The $52.35 million in bonding provided funding for three major construction projects which have been completed and for a broad array of remodeling and deferred maintenance projects. Monday, the Willmar School Board approved two contracts for improvements to Kennedy Elementary School, the oldest of the district's three K-5 schools.
WILLMAR — State and federal officials have been working together to ensure the security of the upcoming midterm elections across the country, according to Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. Simon spoke to Ken Heitzman's sophomore U.S. history class Friday morning at Willmar Senior High School. He answered questions and talked about registering to vote and about election security. Simon encouraged the students to register and vote when they are old enough, even if they aren't interested in politics.
WILLMAR — School shootings and other mass shootings have been a fact of life for this generation of high school students. And they've had enough. Willmar Senior High students plan to join the National School Walkout on Wednesday, the one-month anniversary of a school shooting in Florida that killed 17 students and teachers and wounded others. In this area of the state, students in BOLD, Litchfield, Alexandria and Morris high schools, and Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, will also join the walkout, according to the walkout's website.
WILLMAR — Joel Opatz, interim president of Ridgewater College, has notified the college staff that he will resign effective April 3. In a letter addressed to his colleagues this week, Opatz said that he will be leaving for health reasons. He was appointed a year ago to a contract that was to have lasted through June. Betty Strehlow, the college's vice president of academic affairs and student services, will serve as interim president until a new president is chosen by the Minnesota State board of trustees.
WILLMAR – Epitopix of Willmar has been sold to Vaxxinova, a Netherlands-based company specializing in animal health. Epitopix is a vaccine research and development company based on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar. It is owned by the Willmar Poultry group of companies. The sale was completed Wednesday, according to a news release from Vaxxinova.