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 — The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Corridors of Commerce program has set aside $1.5 million to do the environmental study of the remaining two-lane sections of Highway 23 between Willmar and St. Cloud. The appropriation is a first step toward having a project ready for construction when funding becomes available, but it will take four years or longer to get to construction. MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle and other state officials announced the appropriation Monday afternoon at the Willmar Municipal Airport.
MONTEVIDEO — Andrew Dikken, 29, of Renville pleaded guilty to premeditated first-degree murder in the death of Kara Monson and to first-degree murder while committing a burglary for the death of Chris Panitzke. Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, died Sept. 2, 2013, when she was shot in her Granite Falls home. Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls, was shot in the home that night and died about a week later. He identified Dikken as the shooter the night of the shootings.
WILLMAR — Matt Entenza wants to make the office of state auditor more visible and more involved in helping the state plan for the future. Entenza was in Willmar campaigning Thursday morning. The DFL candidate is running against incumbent Auditor Rebecca Otto in the Aug. 12 primary. The winner of the primary will face Republican Randy Gilbert in the November general election. Entenza said he feels his background as a prosecutor of white collar crime and financial fraud is good preparation for the auditor’s office. “An auditor needs to do more than balance the books,” Entenza said.
WILLMAR — Willmar’s Kennedy Elementary School has received a federal School Improvement Grant for the third time in three years. The $463,000 grant for the coming school year will help pay for instructional coaches, cultural liaisons, reading and math teachers and other instructional specialists. Kennedy became eligible for the grant in 2012 after the state’s analysis of standardized test scores indicated that the school had low overall achievement and a wide achievement gap.
WILLMAR — Peterson Brothers Funeral Home of Willmar is marking 125 years in business this week. An open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday will celebrate the five generations of the Peterson family that have owned and operated the business at 700 Becker Ave.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School District plans to turn to the local business community for help in easing a shortage in substitute teachers. Businesses could help by finding ways to make their employees available to be substitute teachers occasionally. Any person with a four-year degree may apply for a license as a short-term substitute teacher. The district plans to host informational meetings later this summer to provide guidance on applying for a license and getting started as a sub. The license fee is $87.50.
WILLMAR — Kandiyohi County deputies issued about 40 verbal warnings Friday and Saturday for people who were disobeying the no wake advisory on area lakes. But, considering the number of people who use the county’s numerous lakes, that number probably isn’t too bad, Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog said Sunday evening. Hartog said he didn’t have information from the full weekend, yet, but “with the amount of warnings given and the amount of boats that were out there, I think we had pretty good compliance,” he said. Hartog had issued the no wake advisory on Wednesday after heavy rains caus
WILLMAR — On top of flooding concerns in the area, a rash of tornado warnings sprung up in the late afternoon Thursday. Multiple funnel clouds were reported at Maynard, Benson, Clara City, Farwell and Gluek.
HUTCHINSON — Long-time Southwest Initiative Foundation President/CEO Sherry Ristau has announced that she will be resigning from her position later this summer. Ristau is leaving to be the president/CEO of the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, serving communities along the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities area of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois.
WILLMAR — A massive effort by the staff at Willmar Middle School drastically reduced late or missing homework assignments in the past school year. Assistant Principal Beckie Simenson and staff members from the school provided an update on the ICU program for the Willmar School Board recently. The ICU is a database that tracks homework assignments for all students and provides assistance for students who are having trouble finishing their work. The staff started studying the ICU idea a couple years ago, Simenson said, and it went into full effect last fall.