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 seems that the week of the Sonshine Christian music festival in Willmar often brings excessive heat, thunderstorms or both. Holding true to form, 2012 Sonshine week will have some heat and maybe some storms. The Willmar area isn't expected to see an extreme heat wave like that of a week ago. Highs Thursday are expected to be around 90 with mostly sunny skies, according to the National Weather Service. High temperatures for the rest of the week will be in the 80s, with predicted highs of 84 on Friday and 88 on Saturday.
WILLMAR -- The city of Cosmos is seeking state bonding assistance to help replace its public library, which burned down in February 2011. The library was destroyed by fire along with a collection of about 9,000 items, including historic references. Cosmos applied for $600,000 from a pool of $47.5 million in state bonding funds.
WILLMAR -- Fireworks are a traditional part of the Fourth of July for many people, but safety officials urge people to remember that fireworks can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and some are illegal. Some attention to basic safety precautions can prevent problems and increase enjoyment for families that choose to purchase real fireworks. Fireworks that fly or explode are illegal in Minnesota, but things like sparklers are allowed. "We just recommend having a pail of water nearby, so they can make sure they are completely out," said Willmar Deputy Fire Chief Howard Carlson. Carlson also r
WILLMAR -- Architects are hard at work on the design of a $13.8 million construction and remodeling project at Ridgewater College in Willmar. Their efforts are putting the college on track to start work on the project in early spring 2013, college President Doug Allen said in a telephone interview Wednesday. The architects are meeting with small groups of staff members on campus to make sure the plan will fit the college's needs, Allen said.
WILLMAR -- Soraya Hudson of Willmar was miserable when she was in ninth grade. She was called names every day at school and wasn't doing well in her classes. She was getting into trouble. If she had stayed on that path, she said recently, she probably would not have graduated on time this spring. She did graduate, after finding an alternative to a bricks-and-mortar high school and finishing her last three and a half years of high school online. When she looks back, she said, she can see that she got into trouble by trying to act tough to ward off the bullying.
WILLMAR -- Teams of elementary teachers have been meeting this month and will continue working through July to help develop improvement plans for Willmar's two elementary schools. This isn't how they normally would spend their summers, a group of them admitted at a Thursday meeting, but they believe their work this summer will benefit students in the fall. "There's not a doubt in my mind that these teachers are passionate about kids," said Cheryl Nash, the district's director of teaching and learning.
WASHINGTON -- Both of Minnesota's Democratic senators voted for the Farm Bill, which had bipartisan support. Both had helped write the bill as members of the Agriculture Committee. The U.S. House has just taken up its version of the bill and is expected to vote on it later this summer. The bill includes a Sen.
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County ranks 78th among the state's 87 counties in its level of child poverty. Nearly a quarter of the county's children are living in poverty, almost twice as many as 10 years earlier, according to this year's Kids Count study conducted by the Minnesota office of the Children's Defense Fund. The Kids County annual report uses census data and other public information to track the status of children.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District needs to tackle the low rankings of its elementary schools as diligently as it would deal with sudden financial problems, Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said this week. Kjergaard and the Willmar School Board discussed the district's next steps Monday at a board meeting. The district must develop improvement plans for Kennedy and Roosevelt elementary schools this summer and have them in effect on Sept. 1. The state judged them among the Minnesota schools most in need of coaching and improvement.
WILLMAR -- An all-out effort to close the achievement gap in Willmar's schools will have an impact on the budget for the next school year. The Willmar School Board adopted the fiscal year 2013 budget this week, with general fund expenditures of $44.1 million, a 3 percent increase. The new budget will go into effect on July 1. The budget projects general fund revenue of $42.3 million, an increase of 1.3 percent.