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 — Jeramy John Wharton of Belgrade, formerly of Willmar, was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday for raping and impregnating a 14-year-old girl. Wharton, 38, pleaded guilty in March in Kandiyohi County District Court to first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He will be eligible for conditional release after serving 10 years of his sentence. Wharton was given credit for three days already served in jail and ordered to pay $3,090 in court and victim assistance fees from his prison earnings. He will be required to register as a predatory offender.
OLIVIA — A Willmar man was airlifted after a three-vehicle crash on Highway 71 north of Olivia Monday morning. Dustin Ross Lavoie, 24, of Willmar was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale with non-life threatening injuries, according to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol. He was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the report.
WILLMAR — The Willmar Public Schools Foundation will help pay for T-shirts for some at-risk students and will send Kennedy Elementary students to safety patrol training. The foundation board met last week to consider requests and to organize for the coming year. Three new members — Sara Bos, Bob Hogan and Liz VanDerBill — joined the board.
WILLMAR — Willmar Public Schools officials are working hard to develop a plan for the district's elementary schools next year. The new Lakeland Elementary School was originally scheduled to open in August, but construction delays have pushed the opening date to January 2018. That means the district's elementary students from pre-kindergarten to grade 5 will begin the school year in the district's two existing schools before splitting into three schools mid-year.
WILLMAR — Willmar's elementary students are learning to write stories, and a Minnesota-based children's author during her visit last week offered some tips to make it easier. Lisa Bullard listed the basics of telling a story and talked about books May 1 with Kennedy Elementary School students in grades 3-5. She also spoke to other groups at Kennedy and Roosevelt schools during the week.
WILLMAR — Ridgewater College will host a free career exploration event for adults May 16 on the Willmar campus. The first-ever event, "Career Reset: Training to Change Your Life," is intended to help adults do an interest assessment, explore in-demand career pathways and meet with staff members to explore possible next steps. They will hear from panelists about resources in the community. To accommodate varied schedules, the event will be held from noon to 3:30 p.m. and from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
WILLMAR — By the end of the school year, meals and snacks served in the Willmar Public Schools are expected to total more than 1.2 million since September. That's a pretty normal year for the district's Food & Nutrition Services. The meals include breakfasts, lunches, after-school snacks and meals catered to other school sites. The Willmar School Board heard a report from director Annette Derouin during a workshop meeting April 24.
WILLMAR — Some children in Willmar are worried, expressing to adults their concern that their little friends may be deported. Two men left their families behind and drove out of Willmar in the middle of the night this past weekend, headed for the Twin Cities where they think it may be easier to hide. Hearing those stories Saturday of fear in immigrant communities touched four state senators who visited Willmar.
KANDIYOHI — Two women are in custody at the Kandiyohi County Jail on suspicion of arson charges. According to a news release from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a 911 call from a home in the 10000 block of 30th Avenue Northeast at about 8:30 p.m. Friday. While they were en route to the home, another call to county dispatch said a 23-year-old woman had suffered a possible broken ankle.
WILLMAR — Four state senators from the Twin Cities area will be in Willmar Saturday to tour the city and hold a public town hall meeting. Sen. Jason Isaacson, DFL-Shoreview, Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, Sen. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, and Sen. Melissa Wiklund, DFL-Bloomington, have planned a town hall meeting from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Kandi Entertainment Center, 500 19th Ave. S.E., Willmar.