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 — In two months, about 600 students will be rushing through the doors of Lakeland Elementary School. The new school is scheduled to open in January. Students who will attend the school are now going to school at Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools. Lots of finishing touches remain, but the main infrastructure of the new building is complete and enclosed. During a tour this week, Superintendent Jeff Holm and Preston Euerle of RA Morton Construction Managers described the work that's been finished and what remains.
WILLMAR — The lawyer for a man who tossed a raw pig's foot onto a table at the Willmar Farmers Market has filed another motion for dismissal, this one seeking dismissal of the most serious charge, which alleges bias. Joseph Francis Fernkes, 61, of Willmar, faces three charges stemming from an incident in August. He is accused of throwing the raw pig's foot onto the table where Muslims from the local Somali community were selling vegetables. The vegetables could not be sold after the raw meat had been on the table.
MONTEVIDEO — A man convicted of stealing from his mother's estate while she was evicted from her nursing home was ordered to pay restitution in the case. Michael Scott Christie, 63, of Lame Deer, Montana, was sentenced Tuesday to jail time and more than $40,000 in restitution. He had earlier pleaded guilty to two felony charges of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, his mother who had lived in Clarkfield.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board has started a discussion of changing school start times to start the day later for secondary students, though it could take some time before a final decision is made. The issue was discussed at this week's School Board workshop. Board members asked administrators to research the idea and identify changes that could be needed. High School Principal Paul Schmitz and Middle School Principal Mark Miley presented some preliminary information.
WILLMAR — A Willmar man was placed on probation on two charges stemming from his speeding toward a squad car and refusing to leave his vehicle after an officer pointed a rifle at him. Bret Michael Arndt, 26, entered a Norgaard plea Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing the legal process/interfering with a peace officer and a gross misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired. A Norgaard plea is entered when a defendant wishes to plead guilty but is unable to recall facts due to intoxication or amnesia.
WILLMAR — A group of immigrants from east Africa has formed a nonprofit organization to help members of the Willmar community learn more about each other. The Community Integration Center, located at 201 Fifth St. S.W. in downtown Willmar, is open to everyone, seven days a week. The center will act as a welcome center for people who have just moved to Willmar. Its founders hope they can help break down some cultural barriers, too. The services offered there will be free.
WILLMAR — They're called Dreamers because "we have dreams," said Maria Moreno. "When we came to this country, it wasn't our fault we came here," she said, "but we dream of having a good future, a better life; this is our home now." For Moreno, 21, of Willmar, brought to the United States from Honduras at the age of 10, President Barack Obama's executive action creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program changed her life. The term Dreamer comes from a previous proposal law called the DREAM Act.
WILLMAR — A Cosmos man has been granted a stay of imposition on a felony theft charge stemming from the theft of a pop machine from a Lake Lillian store in April. Dale Gary Greiner, 52, was sentenced Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court to five years of supervised probation and ordered to pay a total of $1,090 in fines and court fees. If he completes his five years of probation, the felony conviction could be reduced to a misdemeanor on his record.
WILLMAR — Students at Willmar Senior High School will benefit this year from an intensive workshop attended by one of their teachers over the summer. Family and consumer sciences teacher Christina Kurhajetz was one of 30 teachers from across the nation to attend a week-long workshop on food safety sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA paid for the workshop and the participants' travel and expenses.