I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf
- Member for
- 4 years 5 months
WILLMAR — A Willmar man has been charged with three felonies for allegedly hitting and choking a female family member. Timothy Aaron Mitchell, 39, made his first appearance Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court on felony charges of third-degree assault, domestic assault by strangulation and threats of violence. He also faces misdemeanor charges of domestic assault and fifth-degree assault. Mitchell is scheduled to be back in court May 1. He was in custody in the Kandiyohi County Jail Tuesday on $40,000 bail.
WILLMAR — A Marshall man has pleaded guilty to a criminal sexual conduct charge for having intercourse with a 15-year-old girl in Willmar. Mathew Brian Soft, 24, of Marshall, entered the guilty plea Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court. As a condition of his guilty plea, and if the judge accepts it, the prosecutor agreed to recommend a stay of adjudication. His sentencing was set for June 8.
WILLMAR — Construction delays will postpone the opening of the new Lakeland Elementary School, Willmar Superintendent Jeff Holm said Monday. Holm told the Willmar School Board about the delay at the board's meeting Monday. The board also approved a two-year contract Monday with Education Minnesota-Willmar, which will expire June 30.
WILLMAR — In the 216 Willmar Senior High School job fair, Cash Wise Foods found five new employees. Store manager Chad Primus said he's glad the job fair has become an annual event, and he plans to have Cash Wise represented each year into the future. The second WHS Student Job Fair & Expo fair will run from 11:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Tuesday in the high school gym. The job fair is sponsored by the school district, Ridgewater College, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Central Minnesota Jobs & Training.
WILLMAR — Willmar's teachers have voted to approve a tentative contract settlement with Willmar Public Schools. Members of Education Minnesota-Willmar voted 273 in favor to 41 opposed to approve a tentative agreement on Wednesday, union president Tammy Knapper said in a telephone interview Thursday. The agreement was reached in a March 6 negotiating session. Nearly all of the district's teachers, 95 percent, participated in the election. "I think overall, the teachers are satisfied with the contract they were able to negotiate," Knapper said.
WILLMAR — The Willmar Knowledge Bowl team will compete in the state meet this weekend in Brainerd, the first time in four years the team has qualified. And the team members would like you to know they're "pretty cool" and not your stereotypical nerds. The team that qualified includes Brady Newcomer, Manny Obregon, captain Taylor Rudnick, Carson Selander and Francis Winter. All are seniors at Willmar Senior High School. Teacher Todd Lynum is their coach. As a team, they answer questions about science, math, current events, history, music and literature.
WILLMAR — Work on Willmar's destination playground is entering its home stretch. The Willmar City Council approved a playground surfacing contract at its Monday meeting and heard an update on the progress of the playground to be located at Robbins Island. Surface America Inc. of Williamsville, New York, will install a two-layer rubber-urethane playground surface over a concrete base for $181,010. The bid was $30,000 to $40,000 less than an engineer's estimate.
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.