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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LAKE LILLIAN — The body of a 56-year-old man was found in Big Kandiyohi Lake Friday evening. The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office received a report that fishermen had found a person floating in the lake shortly after 6 p.m. Friday, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office. The man was pulled into the boat and taken to Big Kandi Lake County Park East, where CPR was started. The man was transported to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, where he was pronounced dead. The man's identity has not been released.
WILLMAR — Joseph Alan Schleeter, 32, of New London, made his first court appearance Thursday on eight felony charges of violating a domestic abuse no-contact order. Bail was set at $50,000, and his next court date on the charges is July 31. Earlier this month, Schleeter was convicted of two felony domestic assault charges by a jury in Kandiyohi County District Court in connection with a January 2016 domestic assault on a woman at her rural New London home.
WILLMAR — Daniel Sean Wicklund, 33, of Kandiyohi, appeared Thursday in Kandiyohi County District Court on felony charges of first-degree and second-degree drug sale and third-degree drug possession. Bail for Wicklund was set at $100,000, and he is in custody at the Kandiyohi County Jail. His next court date will be June 20. Wicklund is accused of selling methamphetamine to a drug informant several times in April and May this year. Between April 27 and May 19, he allegedly sold a total of 21.8 grams of meth to the informant, according to court records.
WILLMAR — Stop by The Barn Theatre in downtown Willmar this summer, and you'll see a new attraction — a brightly painted upright piano, waiting to be played. Through the program Pianos on Parade, the Willmar Senior High School Art Club has painted a donated piano with scenes from the area in its four seasons. The piano will be outside The Barn for the summer, rain or shine, a marriage of art and music for the community to enjoy.
WILLMAR — Wyatt Allen was ready. He greeted a visitor to his trade show booth with a firm handshake and his "elevator speech" about Origin Content Development, his business providing original content for their social media marketing plans.
WILLMAR — As of Monday afternoon, no one had filed yet for an Aug. 22 special election for Willmar School Board. Filing is open until May 30 for the election to fill a vacant seat on the board. The person elected will succeed the late Jared Anez. Anez, the board's chairman, died unexpectedly in March. Candidates may file at the reception area at the school district's main office in the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. Filing is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 30.
WILLMAR — Ashton LaBelle of New London is off to join the Navy in July and plans to be a police officer someday. Small wonder that his senior project for DREAM Technical Academy was about motivation. Mackenzie Ouren of Willmar tackled a project that has stymied civilizations in one form or another for years — equality. To graduate from the Willmar charter school, students must complete a senior project taking at least 300 hours of work, the equivalent of three credits.
WILLMAR — The new interim president of Ridgewater College spent much of Thursday meeting faculty, staff and the community at the college's campuses in Willmar and Hutchinson. Joseph Opatz, a retired Minnesota State administrator, was chosen Wednesday by the college system's Board of Trustees. He was chosen from among three finalists. The college system will be searching for a new Ridgewater president in the fall and expects to have that person on the job for the 2018-19 school year.
WILLMAR — Joseph Opatz, a retired college administrator and former state legislator, will be Ridgewater College's interim president for the next school year. Opatz, 64, was appointed to the post Wednesday morning at the Minnesota State Board of Trustees meeting. He will join the college officially July 1. Current President Doug Allen will be leaving the college when his contract expires June 30. The college system did not renew his contract. Allen has been Ridgewater president since 2003.
WILLMAR — Joe Opatz, a retired Minnesota State college administrator, has been named interim president of Ridgewater College. Opatz was appointed at the May Minnesota State Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday morning. He will succeed President Doug Allen, whose contract will expire at the end of June. The college has planned meet-and-greet gatherings with the interim president for 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Student Center dining room at the Willmar campus and from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the commons area on the Hutchinson Campus.