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 uncertainty of school funding during the state government shutdown is leading the Willmar School Board to consider borrowing $3.5 million this fall to maintain a positive cash flow during the school year. Board members discussed the need to borrow at their meeting Monday afternoon. They adopted a resolution authorizing the district to participate in aid anticipation borrowing. The situation for schools has changed several times in recent weeks, said Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will discuss borrowing $3.5 million to maintain a positive cash flow while state government is shut down. The board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The possibility of a substantial school funding shift has been included in several budget proposals since late June. Legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton have been meeting to try to reach a settlement on a new two-year budget for the state.
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Board has rejected all bids for work to update the 11 elevators in county buildings. Improvements will still be made to bring the elevators up to state code, but the work will be contracted out in smaller portions. County Administrator Larry Kleindl said he had hoped to see favorable bid amounts by bundling all the projects into one bid. "That doesn't appear to have happened." At Tuesday's board meeting, Kleindl recommended rejecting all the bids received last month.
WILLMAR -- Troubled teens and people with mental illness could benefit from two health initiatives being studied by Kandiyohi County. The Kandiyohi County Board heard reports on the two new programs at the Tuesday County Family Services meeting. Supervisor Carmen Clementson spoke to the board about TeenScreen, a program to identify youth at risk of developing mental health disorders, and the 10x10 Wellness Campaign, an effort to improve the overall health of adults with serious mental illness. TeenScreen is a project of the National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University.
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County plans to increase the disposal fee at the county landfill for the first time in 15 years. The disposal fee will increase from $36 per ton to $39 per ton, an increase of about 8 percent. The County Board voted Tuesday to increase the fee, which was set in 1996. The increase will be included in the renewal of the county's solid waste agreement with West Central Sanitation. The agreement was also approved Tuesday. The county has agreements with Stevens County and Miller Sanitation, too.
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