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 impacts of the state government shutdown became apparent across the area on Friday. Most government offices shut down at midnight Thursday, when state leaders failed to reach an agreement on a new budget for the fiscal year that began Friday. Many state offices in Willmar were locked and dark Friday morning. Signs on their doors explained why they were closed and referred people to a state website. Ridgewater College was still operating.
Area school officials were pleased Wednesday when a judge ordered the state to continue funding public schools, even in the event of a state government shutdown. Before the ruling, schools had thought they may need to borrow money to meet their obligations this summer. With the payments assured for now, they are waiting to see how a final budget agreement might affect education funding for the next two years. After ending the legislative session without a workable budget agreement, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders continued negotiating into the evening Thursday.
WILLMAR -- Cole Christensen turns 15 on Sunday. Bailey Kemp is already 15. So are several other students in Larry Hastad's driver's education class. The 20-student class finishes the classroom portion of their training on Friday, and some of them had planned to take their permit tests soon after receiving proof of completion from Hastad. Depending on what happens today at the State Capitol, that may not happen. The young drivers in training could be caught up in the political storm brewing in St. Paul, if Republican legislative leaders and DFL Gov.
WILLMAR -- A new location in downtown Willmar has increased business 50 to 60 percent for Juan Carlos Mejia's La Michoacana grocery and meat market. Mejia has owned La Michoacana in Willmar for three years. In January he purchased the building at Fifth Street and Benson Avenue and moved his business there. He expects to add a restaurant in three to four months. The previous location two blocks south on Fifth Street did not have as much room as the new location. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Since he moved, Mejia said, business has improved.
WILLMAR -- Milk bids for the Willmar, New London-Spicer and Montevideo schools were slightly lower this year, possibly some of the first financial impacts of a year-long study into school district cooperation in the region. The superintendents and education representatives in a large area of central and west central Minnesota have discussed ways to work together to save money while maintaining their identities. The group has surveyed residents in the area and used grants to hire a facilitator to direct their discussions. Partly as a result of these discussions, the three districts have agre
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District may start catering school lunches for Community Christian School in Willmar this fall. Annette Derouin, director of food and nutrition services for the Willmar schools, told the School Board about her proposal this week. Derouin said she was asked to submit a proposal to the school. If the proposal is accepted, the School Board could approve a contract at its July 11 meeting. Under the proposal, the district's food service would provide meals and a staff member to serve meals and to prepare and clean up the CCS kitchen, she said. The rate proposed wo
WILLMAR -- The lack of a state budget is affecting the Willmar School District's ability to plan for its operating levy referendum this fall. The Willmar School Board discussed its options for a Nov. 8 referendum at Monday's meeting. The levy will seek to at least replace an expiring local levy of $498.49 per pupil. The board will probably hold a workshop session in the next month to discuss plans for the levy.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has adopted a budget for the 2011-12 school year, but it's likely to be revised a couple times. Even without a state budget in place, Minnesota's public schools are required to adopt their budgets before the next fiscal year begins on July 1. "Our budget is based on quite a few assumptions," said Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington at Monday's board meeting. The original budget document for the school district always contains some assumptions because not all information is available about pending grants and other matters. This year, the situatio
WILLMAR -- A healthy family bicycle ride seemed to be a fitting way to raise money for kids affected by domestic violence. It brought Willmar City Council members Denis Anderson and Doug Reese together with Safe Avenues of Willmar to plan Pedal for Project Impact. Project Impact provides support and safety planning for children who have lived with violence in their homes. "Denis and Doug came to me and said they'd like to help with a fundraiser," said Connie Schmoll, director of Safe Avenues, a non-profit which advocates for victims of domestic violence and their families. Anderson is an a
WILLMAR -- Willmar Middle School Principal Mark Miley has received a two-year harassment restraining order against a parent. Miley sought the restraining order against David King of Willmar after a confrontation in a public parking lot last weekend.