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 -- Don Thorpe of rural Willmar has filed to run for the Willmar School Board. Thorpe was the first person to file to run for the board, which will have three seats up for election this fall. Election Day is Nov. 2. Incumbents Dion Warne, Brad Schmidt and Mike Carlson previously announced that they would not run for re-election. Filing for offices in school districts and small cities without primaries opened statewide on Tuesday and will close on Aug. 17. Filing for statewide offices and local offices that do have primaries was in May.
Jennifer Bestland looked over a list of items a fourth-grader and kindergartner need to head back to school. Son Shaun, 5, sat in a bright red Target cart Wednesday afternoon and pointed at everything he wanted, which was, well, everything. Shaun is excited to be starting kindergarten next month at Bert Raney Elementary School in Granite Falls. The bright packages and displays in the Willmar Target's school supply section had his eyes darting.
WILLMAR -- Even on a quiet summer morning, the Adult Basic Education program in Willmar is a busy place. A handful of people are studying quietly at computers or desks in one room at the Jefferson Learning Center, while next door seven people are in a beginning English class. Across the hall, students are trickling in for the more advanced English class that is about to start. The ages vary widely -- some are in their 20s, while others are in their 50s or beyond. The common thread for these folks is that they are taking the initiative to make some change in their lives.
WILLMAR -- Antonio Vazques of Willmar has an important reason for learning English in the classrooms of Willmar's Adult Basic Education program. Vazques, 36, owns Estrella Bakery in downtown Willmar. He said he believes his already successful business could do even better if he spoke better English. "It's very important to my customers," he said.
WILLMAR -- Longtime Willmar teacher Noemia Gesch died Wednesday morning in a Rio de Janeiro hospital, according to her Caring Bridge website. Gesch, 64, retired this spring from the Willmar Public Schools where she had taught English Language Learner classes for more than 25 years at Willmar Middle School. According to her Caring Bridge site, Gesch became ill during a visit to her native Brazil. She was admitted to Hospital Balbino on July 6 with pneumonia. She suffered serious complications with her lungs and kidneys and died Wednesday after a heart attack.
WILLMAR -- Longtime Willmar teacher Noemia Gesch died Wednesday morning in a Rio de Janeiro hospital, according to her Caring Bridge website. Gesch retired this spring from the Willmar Public Schools where she had taught English Language Learner classes for more than 25 years at Willmar Middle School. According to her Caring Bridge site, Gesch was admitted to a Rio de Janeiro hospital with pneumonia on July 6 during a vacation to Brazil. She suffered serious complications and died Wednesday after a heart attack. Read more on this story Thursday in the West Central Tribune.
PAYNESVILLE -- Justin Pickar drove up a county road just north of Paynesville and gestured across the countryside. "I've been in most of the kitchens around here," he said. Pickar, a development associate with Geronimo Wind of Edina, has been working for more than a year with farmers in the area to develop a 95-megawatt wind farm. About 80 percent of the farmers in the target area have signed leases to have turbines located on their land.
Geronimo Wind is proposing a wind farm near Paynesville to produce 95 megawatts of power. It will be the first large-scale wind farm in Stearns County. The company has signed wind easements that cover 18 square miles and 11,500 to 12,000 acres north of Paynesville and east of Lake Henry. The leases are primarily in Paynesville and Lake Henry townships, with some in Spring Hill and Zion townships. The proposed wind farm will have from 41 to 63 turbines.
WILLMAR -- Unleash 30 kids with bright red frosting and graham crackers, and you get edible fire trucks. And a bit of a mess. And maybe a little more. It was Tuesday, which is craft day for the United Way Growmobile summer program. Regina Schmitz, who operates the Growmobile, said the program reaches from 180 to 200 kids a week at five locations around Willmar. Last summer about 160 kids a week participated. The Salvation Army provides free meals for kids 18 or younger five days a week. The Growmobile is there to provide education and activities after lunch for those who want to stay.