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 — The veterinary technology program at Ridgewater College opened its doors January to 10 former Minnesota School of Business students. So far, having the students join the program at mid-year has gone well, said program director Dr. Al Balay. Balay spent his Christmas break from school going over transcripts and meeting with students who responded to Ridgewater's invitation to check out the school.
WILLMAR — Richard James Graf, 43, of Litchfield, made his first court appearance Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court on felony charges of theft and theft of a motor vehicle. He was released on his own recognizance. His next court date is April 10. According to court records, Graf agreed to restore a 1968 Torino GT convertible for a person identified in the court file as Victim A. The vehicle was delivered to Graf's business, Custom Graf X Auto Customizing in Willmar, in February 2015. They agreed that the work would be finished by Nov. 1, 2016.
WILLMAR — A Willmar man who allegedly kidnapped an 8-month-old baby in February pleaded not guilty to the charges against him Monday. Angel Esparza-Mendez, 23, also known as Angel Esparza and Pedro Xavier Rivera-Lopez, was charged in late February with kidnapping with the intent to terrorize, a felony. He was also charged with felony fifth-degree drug possession. He has been held in the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar on $250,000 bail since his arrest. His next court hearing in Kandiyohi County District Court is set for June 21.
WILLMAR — Kandiyohi County Community Service workers are using cast-off materials and ingenuity to build wooden recycling boxes as a way to encourage recycling. The boxes, probably more of a recycling center, have so far been placed in county offices and a few other places. As the workers fill the orders they have, the Community Service Program hopes to be able to offer them to businesses and others to promote the county's recycling program. The hope is that a nice-looking recycling station may help remind people to recycle more, said program coordinator Brian Nelson.
WILLMAR — Parents who might be new to using the internet or to U.S. culture got some advice Saturday at the Willmar Middle School Family Day. The Saturday morning gathering at the Middle School offered advice for online safety and for positive parenting. Kathy Hotakainen, community outreach specialist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, offered some cautionary tales and some practical tips for parents who want to keep their children safe online.
WILLMAR — Jared Anez, chairman of the Willmar School Board, died unexpectedly Tuesday morning in Willmar. Anez, 45, reportedly was found unresponsive after working out and showering at a Willmar health club. Efforts to revive him were not successful. Anez was elected to the School Board in the 2014 election and had been elected chairman in January. He and his wife, Kami, had owned Anez Consulting Inc. since 1997. The business provides farm level services in agronomy, engineering and conservation planning. They have five sons and one daughter.
WILLMAR — Jared Anez, chairman of the Willmar School Board, died unexpectedly Tuesday. Anez, 45, reportedly was found unresponsive after working out and showering at a Willmar health club Tuesday morning. Efforts to revive him were not successful. Anez was elected to the School Board in the 2014 election and was elected chairman in January. He and his wife, Kami, had owned Anez Consulting Inc. since 1997. The business provides farm level services in agronomy, engineering and conservation planning. They have five sons and one daughter.
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.