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 — Area school superintendents are pleased to hear Gov. Mark Dayton and legislators talking about providing funding for all-day, every day kindergarten. The state currently provides funding for half-time kindergarten, but most districts in west central Minnesota provide a full-time program for their young students anyway, using district funds to do it. Legislation promoting funding for full-time kindergarten was introduced in the first hours of the legislation session, and the governor included it in his budget proposal released Tuesday.
WILLMAR — The former Northern Grounds coffee shop in downtown Willmar is about to come back to life as The Goodness coffee shop, a non-profit business with a religious goal. The coffee shop will be owned and operated primarily by the Davis family. The father and son team of Chris and Nick Davis have owned and operated Famous Davis software and web design for several years. The tentative opening date is March 4.
WILLMAR — Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools in Willmar have received the Gold Award in the HealthierUS School Challenge. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced 158 award winners in 19 states for the 2012 awards. The winning schools will carry the award for four years, from January 2013 through January 2017. The awards recognize the work school and nutrition department officials have put in to meeting federal guidelines and scheduling the school day to include physical activity.
WILLMAR — KandiComp of Willmar doesn’t plan to get rich working with PCs for People, a nonprofit that provides free refurbished computers to low-income families. While the company is a for-profit business, its partnership with the nonprofit PCs for People is an important aspect of their effort, said Roy Stiff, KandiComp owner and a former United Methodist pastor. When he and his wife Beth started KandiComp nine years ago, he knew he didn’t want to be just a business man.
WILLMAR - Authorities have closed Highway 12 Southeast in Willmar while Willmar and Spicer firefighters battle a major house fire in the 300 block of Litchfield Avenue Southeast in Willmar. The official detour is from Sixth Street Southeast to Second Street Southwest along Benson Avenue, according Willmar Police Capt. Jim Felt. Highway 12 was closed shortly before noon, and authorities were diverting traffic onto other streets.
WILLMAR — Sandi Unger received two pieces of advice when she joined the Willmar School Board 15 years ago. Several of the sitting members told her to “keep your mouth shut; when we want your opinion, we’ll ask for it.” They also said, “Decisions are easy when you think about what’s best for kids.” As she reflected this week on her board tenure, Unger said with a smile that “I did better at one than the other.”
Some parts of the West Central Tribune’s coverage area are expected to receive freezing rain Thursday evening and Friday morning, then to experience a drastic drop in temperatures and wind chills. A freezing rain advisory will be in effect from 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday in Pope and Stearns counties and in counties further north, according to the National Weather Service.
WILLMAR — The chance to dance to a live jazz orchestra doesn’t come along all that often. Willmar Music Matters is offering it Saturday night in a fundraiser for the Willmar Public Schools’ music programs. “Jazz in January: A Night of Music” is a dinner, dance and silent auction at the Willmar Conference Center, featuring the 18-piece Mill Pond Jazz Orchestra. High school musicians will perform during dinner and before the orchestra hits the stage.
WILLMAR — Kandiyohi County will be applying for a grant to help combat the spread of aquatic invasive species in and around the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District. The County Board voted Tuesday to move ahead with applying for a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources grant for an $18,500 watercraft inspection and public education program. If the grant is received, the county will sign an agreement with the watershed district to hire employees to work 980 hours over 15 weeks to inspect watercraft leaving lakes in the area.
For people like Rolf Standfuss, this is one of the biggest days in the past few years. It might even be called a Purple Letter Day. (Red just wouldn’t be appropriate.) “I bleed purple,” he said Friday. “I’ve been bleeding purple for a long time.” Standfuss, the senior accountant at United FCS for more than 22 years, was at the first game the Minnesota Vikings ever played in 1961 and has been a fan ever since.