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 — It's up to you, but people who know about these things wouldn't recommend going ice fishing for at least a week, maybe longer. Jeff Denz, a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in the Kandiyohi County area, said lakes started to freeze up early this fall, but warm weather and wind thawed much of it. "Everything is back to square one," he said in a phone interview Friday. The water has reopened in many spots where people were walking a couple weeks ago, he said.
WILLMAR — Calvary Lutheran Church's Advent Festival, beginning Friday, honors Martin Luther and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The theme, "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come," comes from Luther's Christmas hymn of the same name. Organizers Clarice Novak and Krista Willis call the festival "our gift to the community," a chance for a peaceful gathering to prepare for the approach of Christmas. There is no charge for admission to the festival, which runs from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
WILLMAR — The Pizza Ranch dining room buzzed with activity Wednesday as a small crowd of new workers learned about their new jobs. It didn't take long before the excited members of Community Christian School's fifth-grade class had settled down to work. As part of a class project at the Willmar school, the students had written their resumes and sent them to Pizza Ranch manager Jeff Keller to apply for jobs. He interviewed them a week ago and hired them to work there at lunchtime Wednesday.
WILLMAR — Teachers and administrators of Lakeland Elementary School are gearing up for their move to the Willmar School District's new elementary school. Principal Gretchen Baumgarn and Assistant Principal Melissa Wilson have been planning since they started their jobs July 1 for a move that includes about 600 students plus teachers and staff. At times it seems they "get one thing done and add 10 to the list," Baumgarn said. The school was originally scheduled to open in the fall, but delays have led to a December move and a January opening.
WILLMAR — It's a moving moment when you hear 40 people chanting "We believe her" and you know they're chanting for you. A rally in support of victims of sexual assault brought more than a few tears from Willmar native Emily Schlecht. Schlecht told her story at a Break the Silence rally in front of the Kandiyohi County Courthouse Sunday afternoon in Willmar.
LITCHFIELD — The Meeker County Sheriff's Office and Litchfield Police Department have been investigating 13 burglaries of homes, businesses and sheds since October 1. A search warrant executed Monday led to the recovery of more than 200 suspected stolen items, according to a news release from Sheriff Brian Cruze and Police Chief Patrick Fank. The items were recovered in the 400 block of South Austin Street, Litchfield. A subsequent traffic stop in Cass County led to the recovery of additional stolen items.
MONTEVIDEO — A Montana woman pleaded guilty Thursday to using her mother-in-law's assets to support her own lifestyle while the elderly woman was evicted from a nursing home. Martina Annette Christie, 61, of Billings, Montana, entered an Alford guilty plea in Chippewa County District Court in Montevideo. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a likely conviction.
WILLMAR — Willmar Public Schools spent $5,545 per student on instruction costs in the past year, nearly $400 more than the 2016 state average. The Willmar School Board heard a report on the district's annual audit Monday. The audit covers fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will hear a report on the school district's annual audit when it meets at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the boardroom at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The audit covers the fiscal year which ended June 30. The Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing accounting firm of Willmar conducted the audit.
WILLMAR — Carlos Trevino has returned to school after dropping out in the 10th grade, and he's glad he found Willmar's Area Learning Center. Trevino, 18, said a new schedule and other changes implemented this year have helped him a lot, he said. He credits the Advancement Via Individual Determination academic support program with helping him make progress toward a diploma. "I'm more accountable," he said. "I have to do it myself." Trevino came back to school to earn his diploma with the goal of going on to study law enforcement in college.