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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Those new Christmas skis and snowmobile gear are probably still sitting by the tree, waiting to be tried out. There's no snow in west central Minnesota or most anywhere else in the state. For people whose businesses depend on having snow in the winter, it's been a quiet season so far. It could be a little while yet. Forecasts for the Tribune area don't hold the promise of measurable snow for the next week. For the next few days, expect mostly sunny weather with highs mostly in the 30s and lows in the 20s.
WILLMAR -- Willmar Senior High student Chris Voss watches a big white pickup truck slowly move through the car wash at Walt's of Willmar, and he picks up a fresh towel. As the pickup rolls slowly off the line, Voss, 21, and a co-worker put on their smiles and get to work, wiping the last drops of moisture off the truck, taking an extra swipe at the shiny chrome bumper. A little while later, a car comes through and gets the same treatment.
WILLMAR -- NeXt Willmar offers younger employees in the area an opportunity to broaden their leadership skills and build networks. The organization is about to mark its first birthday with a celebration and get-acquainted social on Jan. 12. Its organizers see it as a low-pressure way for prospective members to see what NeXt is all about and for members to build their networks. The event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Willmar Conference Center.
One had lizards all over it, and another had puppies. One was decorated with baby animals on a yellow background.
WILLMAR -- With the 2011-12 campaign drive half over, United Way of West Central Minnesota has raised a little more than half its fundraising goal. In a news release this week, United Way said it had received $495,622 so far in pledges and donations. The campaign goal is to raise $923,000 from businesses, individuals and service clubs in the area. The campaign's results so far are similar to last year, Executive Director Renee Nolting said Tuesday afternoon. "We feel good about where we're at, but we've still got work to do," she said.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has adopted a $7.1 million local property tax levy to be paid in 2012 and fund the district's 2012-13 school year. The levy represents a 3.5 percent increase over school property taxes paid this year. The board adopted the levy after the annual Truth in Taxation hearing Monday evening.
Here it is, nearly the middle of December, and no snow on the ground in west central Minnesota. That's just fine with some people, but for every person who's happy to wait for it, there's someone else, possibly a short person with a sweet, gap-toothed smile, who asks, "What will Santa do without snow?" Not to worry.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will conduct its annual Truth in Taxation hearing at 6 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The board will also conduct a workshop session beginning at 4 p.m. Monday. The board will meet with teachers and administrators to discuss the elementary math curriculum and how it aligns with state standards. The Truth in Taxation hearing is held to comply with Minnesota law.
WILLMAR -- Ridgewater College's thriving veterinary technician and agriculture programs are among the most popular programs at its Willmar campus. They also have some of the tightest quarters. The classrooms and hallways in that area of the campus are small and crowded. One of the main staircases leading to the area is barely wide enough for two people to meet. Sometimes the ventilation is inadequate. The restrooms are always inadequate.
WILLMAR -- State Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, chairwoman of the Minnesota Senate Higher Education Committee, toured the agriculture and veterinary technician classrooms at Ridgewater College Tuesday morning. Fischbach was in Willmar seeking more information about the $14 million improvement project proposed for the campus there. The project is the second phase of a plan to provide more room for the thriving agriculture and vet tech programs and to remodel some areas to improve efficiency.