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 — When Jim Ackerman retires and closes the doors of Schiro's Shoe Repair on Thursday, it will signal the end of a business that first opened in 1922. Ackerman will have an open house with coffee and cookies from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at his shop in the Centre Point Mall in downtown Willmar. He hopes to be able to thank his customers for their loyalty over the years. "It's been a wonderful business," he said. "I want to make sure my customers recognize I'm really grateful."
WILLMAR — The 2017-18 school year will kick off for students Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day this fall. The year will end with a June 3, 2018, graduation day. The Willmar School Board adopted the calendar for the next school year at its meeting Monday.
WILLMAR — A large scaffolding structure at the construction site for Lakeland Elementary School tipped in high winds Tuesday. There were no injuries reported and no structural damage found on the new school. According to Preston Euerle, president of R.A. Morton Construction Managers which is overseeing construction, said it appeared the scaffolding had become dislodged at the ground level and tipped shortly before 3 p.m. Restoring the scaffold will take a few days after the wind dies down, he said.
WILLMAR — Willmar Public Schools teachers and the School Board have reached a tentative contract settlement after nearly two years of negotiations. The final negotiating session took place on the auditorium stage at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, with more than 80 members of the union and the public in attendance. The crowd applauded and cheered when the agreement was reached.
WILLMAR — Ray and Kim Stenglein are on a mission and are searching for the right path forward. Ray Stenglein and Kim Becker-Stenglein want to find a way to spare other families the helplessness and frustration they felt in seeking mental health care for their daughter Annika. It would be a way to honor the memory of Annika, who took her life Dec. 12 at the age of 16. After what had seemed like a normal Sunday evening, she went to her room, and her parents went to bed. Ray heard her music still playing in the early morning hours and found her.
WILLMAR — Hanna Herzog was knitting away using a skein of soft, pastel green yarn. She already had a nice rectangle of knitting hanging from her needles Wednesday afternoon. Not bad for her third after-school knitting class at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar. Nearly a dozen fifth-graders were knitting with yarn of many hues — several shades of blue and green, blaze orange, baby pink, red and glittery purple.
WILLMAR — Gretchen Baumgarn, dean of students at Willmar Middle School, has been named principal of the new Lakeland Elementary School. The school is under construction in southeastern Willmar and is expected to open in the fall. "I'm very excited," Baumgarn said Tuesday afternoon. "I was very honored to be selected."
WILLMAR — Being named a National Merit Finalist is a pretty big deal, but Francis Winter would rather we not talk about it that much. The Willmar Senior High School senior isn't that comfortable with the attention, but it's not likely his parents will let him get out of it. The pride is clear on their faces when Jeff and Theresa Winter talk about the latest accomplishment of their eldest child. They visited the high school counseling office this week to talk about the honor.
WILLMAR — Bailey Marie Swanson, 26, of Willmar appeared Thursday in Kandiyohi County District Court on a felony charge of aiding an offender to avoid arrest. Swanson has been released on her personal recognizance, and has another court date Feb. 27. Swanson was charged in January with allegedly helping to hide Erik Ozornia from Willmar police when he was a suspect in an alleged kidnapping and assault Nov. 24, 2016. The victim in that incident alleged that he had been driving Swanson's car.
NEW LONDON — A 20-year-old man from Anchorage, Alaska, was injured Tuesday morning when the Chevrolet van he was driving lost control on Highway 23 and rolled. Renny Lee Nelson was driving east on Highway 23 when he lost control on the frost-covered road at about 8:36 a.m., according to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol. The vehicle crossed the median and the westbound lanes and rolled. The crash was at the intersection of Highway 23 and 187th Avenue, east of New London.