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 -- U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson hopes to simplify farm programs in the next federal farm bill. Revision of the current farm bill will begin next May, but Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he wanted to get started early. Peterson was in Willmar Friday for a series of meetings with local business leaders. Peterson, D-Minn., spent the past couple weeks traveling the country holding hearings on issues related to the next bill.
WILLMAR -- A small class graduated from Willmar's Area Learning Center this year, just seven students in all, and just four of them participated in the graduation. While it was the smallest ALC graduation in several years, it didn't matter to the graduates or their families. Jessica Gonzalez was a mom who was bursting with pride. As the graduates accepted their diplomas, ALC program coordinator Kim Ness talked about what they plan to do in the future.
More than a dozen students from Willmar's Area Learning Center volunteered to spend their school day Wednesday planting and clearing brush for a local nonprofit arts organization. At the end of the day, they were hot, tired and dirty, but they were still smiling. Some told ALC art teacher Monica Villars that they had never worked that hard. The community service project took place at DEMO Inc. Villars is a cofounder and board member of DEMO. The students' work resulted in a vegetable garden and improvements at DEMO's home in the historic former Svea School on U.S.
WILLMAR -- A picture flashed on the screen and Bai Jinguo asked, "What is this." "Egg rolls," the students answered. Bai glanced around the room. "In Chinese," he said, with a hint of exasperation in his voice. The students laughed and answered again. A few minutes later, they took a quiz, which Bai called an "opportunity," on the food and beverage names on a Chinese menu. The Willmar Senior High students have just a few days left to spend with Bai before school is out and he returns to his job teaching English in Harbin, China.
WILLMAR -- Willmar principals say the first year of a school district restructuring went well. But the realignment of grades K-8, affecting more than 2,500 students, was not without its frustrations, they told the Willmar School Board during a workshop meeting Monday. During an effort to cut nearly $2.8 million from its budget a year ago, the Willmar School District went from four elementary schools to two.
WILLMAR -- When he opened Fiesta Time Rentals, Roberto Valdez Jr. planned to double his sales in his first two years in business. A little more than two years after its launch, Fiesta Time sales have tripled. Valdez's story is an example of a small business that started small and has grown into a thriving enterprise. Fiesta Time started with a simple idea.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board will probably decide in July whether to ask voters to renew an operating levy that is about to expire. The School Board discussed asking voters to revoke a levy that will expire next year and replace it with a new 10-year levy at a workshop meeting Monday. It's likely that the board could ask voters to replace the expiring levy with a larger one to help cushion the district from potential cuts in state aid. The district currently has operating levies totaling $700 per pupil unit.
WILLMAR -- A New London man made his first appearance Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court on felony charges of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and terroristic threats. Jesse Gerald Keehn, 20, of New London, was arrested Friday evening after an incident at his home southwest of New London. Keehn also faces a misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree assault. Judge Michael J. Thompson released him on his personal recognizance with orders to have no contact with the alleged victim and to turn over his firearms until the case is resolved.
WILLMAR -- A Willmar man facing domestic assault charges made his first appearance in Kandiyohi County District Court Monday. Christopher Gerald Wallace, 38, of Willmar was arrested after Willmar Police officers were called to an apartment in southwest Willmar Friday evening. Wallace faces two felony charges of 2nd-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and terroristic threats. He also faces a misdemeanor domestic assault charge. According to court records, a woman said Wallace had been arguing with a woman Thursday evening and most of the day on Friday.
WILLMAR -- A group of area superintendents looking for ways to work together will have the help of a $5,000 grant from the Southwest Initiative Foundation. The superintendents from districts stretching from Hutchinson to Granite Falls to Ortonville started meeting this spring to brainstorm ideas for working together in the future. Their hope is to develop ideas that could save money and improve education for kids. Willmar Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard, one of the instigators of the effort, said Friday he hopes the grant can help them focus their efforts.