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 — Willmar Public Schools opened the 2017-18 school year with 4,235 students enrolled, an increase of 38 students over last year's opening day. Pam Harrington, the district's business and finance director, provided an enrollment report to the Willmar School Board at its Monday meeting. "We have pretty good numbers to start the year out," Harrington said. Board member Linda Mathiasen said the total is the highest starting enrollment in four years.
WILLMAR — Amy Haney, a junior at DREAM Technical Academy in Willmar, has been named to the Minnesota Youth Council. Haney, 16, of Kandiyohi, will serve a two-year term on the council. The council includes four students from each of the state's eight congressional districts and four at-large seats.
WILLMAR — Ridgewater College students returned to classes last month with a new leader in the president's office. Joe Opatz is the interim president of the college, succeeding Doug Allen whose contract with the Minnesota State college system expired June 30. Opatz is a retired Minnesota State administrator who has served as an administrator at several campuses in the system. He said the college is on sound footing now, and it's his job as an interim president to keep it that way in the coming year.
WILLMAR — More than 4,000 students will be heading back to Willmar Public Schools next week. The 2017-18 school year stands to be an exciting one, especially for about 600 elementary students and their families and teachers as they prepare to move to a new school in January. Lakeland Elementary School is nearly finished and should be furnished and ready to welcome students early in 2018. Until then, Lakeland students will be attending classes in Roosevelt and Kennedy elementary schools. The district's elementary schools teach students through grade 5.
PAYNESVILLE — A Paynesville teenager was injured Sunday evening in a single-vehicle crash. A pickup driven by Stephen David Peichel, 16, was moving west on Minnesota Highway 23 near Paynesville when it went off the right side of the road and into some trees, according to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol. The crash occurred at about 8:45 p.m. Sunday near the intersection with Stearns County Road 123. Peichel was transported to Paynesville Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to the State Patrol report. He was wearing a seat belt.
PAYNESVILLE – A Paynesville teenager was injured Sunday evening in a single-vehicle crash. A pickup driven by Stephen David Peichel, 16, was moving west on Minnesota Highway 23 near Paynesville when it went off the right side of the road and into some trees, according to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol. The crash occurred at about 8:45 p.m. Sunday near the intersection with Stearns County Road 123.
KANDIYOHI — Two people were injured in a single-vehicle crash at 6 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Highway 12 and Kandiyohi County Road 8 in Kandiyohi. According to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol, a 2004 GMC Yukon was eastbound on Highway 12 near County Road 8 when it left the road, struck a tree and rolled, coming to rest on its passenger side.
Lingering smoke from Canadian wildfires has led the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue an air quality alert for southwestern, western and central Minnesota through 6 a.m. Saturday. The area includes the cities of Willmar, Alexandria, Brainerd, Marshall, Ortonville, St. Cloud and Worthington. Also affected are Native American tribal nations in the area.
WILLMAR — A Kentucky man made his first court appearance Thursday on two felony charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. George Austin, 82, of Columbia, Kentucky, formerly of Minnesota, is accused of molesting a girl at a Kandiyohi County Park 5 on Green Lake in the summer of 1997 or 1998, when she was between 8 and 10 years old. Bail for Austin was set in Kandiyohi County District Court at $100,000 cash or bond for unconditional release and $20,000 cash or bond for release with conditions. His next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11.
WILLMAR — Parents have begun to make arrangements to pay their school meal account debts to the Willmar Public Schools. At a special meeting Monday morning, the Willmar School Board adopted a new policy laying out a procedure for collecting overdue accounts.