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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PAYNESVILLE — A woman and a child were taken to the CentraCare Paynesville Hospital Saturday morning after a crash at the intersection of Highway 55 and Mill Street. According to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol, a Buick Century traveling east on Highway 55 and a Chevrolet Equinox traveling south on Mill Street collided when the Buick's driver failed to stop for a stop sign.
WILLMAR — When Maddie Thaden saw a seventh-grader toss his iPad in the air and catch it, she walked over and told him to knock it off. It's something a teacher would do. Someday, Maddie intends to be a teacher. For now, she and her four classmates are some of the first teacher cadets at Willmar Senior High School.
WILLMAR — Seventh District U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson and Minnesota's two senators weighed in Wednesday on Gov. Mark Dayton's pick to succeed Sen. Al Franken in the U.S. Senate. Dayton has appointed Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to join the Senate when Franken submits his resignation in the coming days. He is stepping down after allegations of inappropriate behavior. In addition to praising Smith's experience, Peterson commented on her skill as a sportswoman.
WILLMAR — The Community Integration Center in downtown Willmar will host a Coffee with the Community gathering at 10 a.m. Saturday at the center at 201 Fifth St. S.W. The gathering is open to the public and is intended to be a way for people from the city's different cultures to get to know each other a little better. The center opened earlier this fall to provide a place to welcome newcomers to the town and to try to break down cultural barriers in Willmar.
WILLMAR — The property tax levy for Willmar Public Schools will be dropping 7.6 percent for 2018. The School Board adopted the tax levy Monday after holding its annual Truth-in-Taxation public hearing. The levy was unchanged from the preliminary levy adopted in September. Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington described details of the levy during the public hearing Monday evening. No one from the public attended. After the hearing, the board unanimously approved the levy for next year.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will have a regular meeting Monday before holding its annual Truth-in-Taxation public hearing in the boardroom on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. The regular board meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m., and the public hearing will begin at 6 p.m.
WILLMAR — The school year started three months ago, but Willmar Public Schools is still looking for employees. The district isn't alone. Having trouble hiring enough teachers, paraprofessionals, even lunch workers is a common issue for Minnesota's school districts. In November, Human Resources Director Liz Fischer said the district was still looking for a couple teachers plus many support staff members. That included food service workers, playground supervisors, paraprofessionals, interventionists and secretaries.
WILLMAR — Willmar Middle School students' math scores are above the state average, exceeding the goals set in the district's World's Best Workforce plan. While Willmar is making progress in nearly all areas, the math scores were the highlight when the district conducted its annual public hearing on its World's Best Workforce progress recently.
WILLMAR — It's up to you, but people who know about these things wouldn't recommend going ice fishing for at least a week, maybe longer. Jeff Denz, a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in the Kandiyohi County area, said lakes started to freeze up early this fall, but warm weather and wind thawed much of it. "Everything is back to square one," he said in a phone interview Friday. The water has reopened in many spots where people were walking a couple weeks ago, he said.
WILLMAR — Calvary Lutheran Church's Advent Festival, beginning Friday, honors Martin Luther and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The theme, "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come," comes from Luther's Christmas hymn of the same name. Organizers Clarice Novak and Krista Willis call the festival "our gift to the community," a chance for a peaceful gathering to prepare for the approach of Christmas. There is no charge for admission to the festival, which runs from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.