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 — President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 102 people Thursday, including a man from Willmar. Nathan Robert Engel, 37, has been in prison in Iowa. His sentence was reduced by more than 10 years. According to a 2008 Drug Enforcement Agency news release, Engel was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison in August 2008 after pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in western Iowa. He was ordered to serve 10 years on supervised release after he was released from prison.
WILLMAR—A bomb threat to Willmar's schools posted on Facebook Monday morning was investigated and found to not be a credible threat to the school district. The Willmar Police Department investigated the post immediately, Superintendent Jeff Holm said in a message sent to parents and staff members Monday afternoon. The Police Department's school resource officers identified the person as a 17-year-old girl who lives in Willmar and were in contact with her, Police Chief Jim Felt said Monday afternoon.
WILLMAR — To her classmates, Anisa Abdulahi deserved to be elected Willmar Senior High's homecoming queen because she's so nice, and everybody likes her. The other members of her royal court recognize she's the first Somali-American homecoming queen, but they pay more attention to the type of person she is. Anisa was crowned Monday evening, along with homecoming king Grant Duininck. They were elected by the entire student body after seniors chose the candidates.
WILLMAR—Willmar's teachers and the school district may have taken a step toward resolving a two-year labor contract that expired nearly 15 months ago. Negotiators for the the Willmar School Board and Education Minnesota-Willmar met Wednesday to compare the formulas they have been using to calculate the overall dollar value of their proposals. Most language issues have been resolved, but there has been no agreement on salaries.
WILLMAR—The Willmar School Board has approved about $13.3 million in contracts for the district's new elementary school. At a special meeting Thursday morning, board members approved 30 different contracts for the third phase of bidding on the project. Work started in the spring at the site along Lakeland Drive Southeast east of the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA. Site preparation and underground utilities are finished. Footings were poured this week. The fourth bidding phase will be for playground equipment and asphalt.
WILLMAR—Bids on the third phase of construction on Willmar's new elementary school were opened Tuesday afternoon. The Willmar School Board will meet at 7:30 a.m. Thursday to award the contracts, contingent on a full audit of the bids by the construction manager hired by the board. Stephen Plantenberg, senior project manager with R.A. Morton Construction Managers of St. Cloud, read the bid amounts for more than 30 different aspects of the project.
WILLMAR—School property taxes in 2017 are expected to increase 13 percent in the Willmar School District. The Willmar School Board adopted a preliminary property tax levy at its Monday meeting. A final levy will be adopted in December after a Truth in Taxation hearing at 6 p.m. Dec. 12. Local property taxes are a combination of school, county and city or township tax levies.
WILLMAR—The first week of school is a busy one for teachers and students alike. New shoes, new clothes, new teachers, names to learn—and then there's the rules, always plenty of rules. Without them, it would be difficult to keep a school running smoothly. That's especially true in Willmar, where its two elementary schools are among the largest in the state. A new elementary school opening in a year will ease the situation.
WILLMAR—A year of planning is leading the Oct. 1 merger of social service agencies in west central and southwestern Minnesota. Heartland Community Action Agency, based in Willmar, and Western Community Action Agency, based in Marshall, will become United Community Action Partnership.
WILLMAR—About 4,000 kids will be streaming into Willmar's public schools today. They will be greeted by 700 adults who are ready and willing to make a difference in their lives. In welcoming Willmar Public Schools staff back Thursday for another school year, Superintendent Jeff Holm asked them to help spread the word about the "amazing things happening in our schools." After more than 100 school visits last year, he saw those amazing things, Holm said. "I see people in all job areas doing great work for kids, and I thank you and applaud you for that."