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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Lingering smoke from Canadian wildfires has led the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue an air quality alert for southwestern, western and central Minnesota through 6 a.m. Saturday. The area includes the cities of Willmar, Alexandria, Brainerd, Marshall, Ortonville, St. Cloud and Worthington. Also affected are Native American tribal nations in the area.
WILLMAR — A Kentucky man made his first court appearance Thursday on two felony charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. George Austin, 82, of Columbia, Kentucky, formerly of Minnesota, is accused of molesting a girl at a Kandiyohi County Park 5 on Green Lake in the summer of 1997 or 1998, when she was between 8 and 10 years old. Bail for Austin was set in Kandiyohi County District Court at $100,000 cash or bond for unconditional release and $20,000 cash or bond for release with conditions. His next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11.
WILLMAR — Parents have begun to make arrangements to pay their school meal account debts to the Willmar Public Schools. At a special meeting Monday morning, the Willmar School Board adopted a new policy laying out a procedure for collecting overdue accounts.
WILLMAR — A Willmar man has received a 14-year prison sentence for a violent assault and rape of a woman in August 2016. Bernie Mena Delbosque, 34, was sentenced Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court. Delbosque received credit for 375 days he served in the Kandiyohi County Jail while several cases worked through the court system. State law also gives inmates one day off their sentence for two days served, so he will likely serve about two-thirds of his sentence.
WILLMAR — Mary Amon was elected to the Willmar School Board Tuesday in a special election. Amon, 52, a Willmar physician, was on the ballot with Monica Villars, 60, an artist and retired Willmar teacher. Amon received 591 votes, to Villars' 202 votes. A third candidate, Katherine McGill, had withdrawn from the race earlier this month, but her name was still on the ballot. She received 5 votes. About 6 percent of the district's total voters participated in the election. A total of 798 voters cast ballots; the district has about 13,250 voters.
WILLMAR — Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in a special election for the Willmar School Board. Voting will take place today at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W., near downtown Willmar. Eligible voters who are not registered to vote may register at the polls. Two candidates are seeking to fill out the vacant seat on the board — Mary Amon, a Willmar physician, and Monica Villars, an artist who recently retired from teaching in the Willmar School District.
WILLMAR — Chloe Long filled out the rental agreement for some of her books, and she was ready to start the Ridgewater College veterinary technology program today. Long, with her parents Jolene and Jeff Long of Champlin, took care of her books Friday afternoon in the Ridgewater bookstore. Today is the official start of the school year for most of Minnesota's public colleges and universities, including Ridgewater's Willmar and Hutchinson campuses.
WILLMAR — Candidates for a seat on the Willmar School Board answered questions about school lunches, cuts in arts and music and about police in schools at a candidate forum Tuesday evening. Mary Amon, a Willmar physician, and Monica Villars, an artist who recently retired from the Willmar School District, answered questions presented by the League of Women Voters of the Willmar Area. The two are seeking a seat on the Willmar School Board in a special election Tuesday. The seat was left vacant by the unexpected death of board Chairman Jared Anez in March.
WILLMAR — Ridgewater College faculty members will host public eclipse viewing events on the Willmar and Hutchinson campuses. Faculty members will have telescopes, binoculars with filters and viewing glasses available for community use from 12:30 to 1: 30 p.m. on each campus. They will be available to answer questions, too. The gatherings will be in the courtyard in front of the science building on the Willmar campus and at the main entrance on the Hutchinson campus.
WILLMAR — Voters in the Willmar School District will choose a new School Board member in an Aug. 22 special election. Three candidates are on the ballot, but only two are still seeking the office — Mary Amon, a Willmar physician, and Monica Villars, an artist and retired teacher. The third candidate, Katherine McGill, withdrew from the race a week ago for personal reasons. Absentee voting has started already. Ballots may be cast at the school district offices at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W., during regular business hours.