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 — Everything feels different at Roosevelt and Kennedy elementary schools in Willmar. When the new Lakeland Elementary School opened Jan. 2, it was a bittersweet time for the Kennedy and Roosevelt students and staff who would be staying behind. Some of the kids were going to miss playground friends, and the grownups would miss their colleagues, but they knew they would be gaining some breathing room. Lakeland was built to relieve overcrowding in the district's elementary schools.
OLIVIA — A 32-year-old Fairfax man made his first court appearance Friday on charges related to a pursuit that resulted in his allegedly ramming two squad cars. Mark Ronald Wendlandt faces felony charges of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. He also faces a gross misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired and a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving.
WILLMAR — Two meetings are on tap Monday for the Willmar School Board. The board will hold its reorganization meeting at 4:30 p.m.in the first-floor boardroom in the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. Immediately following, the board will convene its first regular meeting of the year. Officers will be elected for 2018 at the reorganization meeting. The board will also set its salaries, designate banks to act as depositories and set meeting dates for the year.
WILLMAR — It didn't seem to take long for students to settle in on their first school day at Lakeland Elementary School. When school and community officials showed up for a 10:30 a.m. ribbon cutting Tuesday, the halls were quiet, and the classrooms were full. Food and Nutrition Director Annette Derouin, on her way to the cafeteria, said the first breakfast had gone well in the new building.
WILLMAR — Willmar's newest school opens for classes today Students and teachers got to know Lakeland Elementary School in December when they moved school supplies, books and curriculum materials in before the holiday break. Classes will begin at 8:30 a.m. this morning and end at 3:20 p.m. The opening of the school could affect traffic in southeastern Willmar. Crossing guards will be stationed in the front of the school across Lakeland Drive from the YMCA and at the corner of Lakeland and Olena Avenue.
WILLMAR — The completed Lakeland Elementary School hosted its first open house Thursday, when students and staff were able to bring their families in to have a look around. Teachers finished moving into their new classrooms Thursday, and children had toured the building with their teachers earlier in the week. They will have the same teachers in Lakeland as they had at either Roosevelt or Kennedy schools.
GRANITE FALLS — A Granite Falls man has been sentenced to a stayed prison sentence and ordered to pay more than $16,000 in restitution after he burglarized the Granite Falls Lutheran Church in October and November. Juan Abel Chaparro Larsen, 32, was sentenced in Yellow Medicine County District Court to 28 months in prison, which was stayed for five years. He was ordered to serve five years of supervised probation. He was given credit for 12 days already served in the Yellow Medicine County Jail.
WILLMAR — State Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, has ended his campaign for Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District. Instead, Miller will seek re-election to his current seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 17A in 2018. "It's been an honor to run and discuss meaningful issues with voters all over the district these last nine month," Miller said in a news release.
WILLMAR — Members of Willmar's different ethnic communities came together Saturday morning to talk about communication over sambusa, fruit and coffee. More than 60 people, mostly from the Anglo and Somali communities, crowded into the Community Integration Center in downtown Willmar for the center's first Coffee with the Community gathering. Abdirahman Ahmed, one of the center's founders, said he was amazed at the number of people who attended. "This is a success," he said.