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's going to take a combination of budget cuts and higher taxes to get Minnesota out of the budget deficit it will face next year, according to State Rep. Tom Rukavina. Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, met with about 30 Ridgewater College students and staff Tuesday morning as part of a three-day tour of college campuses in western Minnesota. He is chairman of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Committee.
WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County has a higher rate of child poverty than the state or the nation. So do several other counties in west central Minnesota. Representatives of the Children's Defense Fund in Willmar Monday said they expect those rates to rise higher as more recent information is received to reflect the impact of the recession. Information from the CDF Web site indicates that many area counties exceed the national child poverty rate of 12 percent.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District is planning another round of budget cuts before the 2010-11 school year. Early estimates are that the district may need to cut $1.4 million from its budget, but that could be just the beginning. Depending on how the state handles school funding issues in the next year, Willmar and most other districts in the state could see anticipated revenue fall far short of their needs. The School Board heard a report on the district's financial position and on enrollment levels at a recent workshop. Enrollment offered some good news.
WILLMAR -- Brady Reigstad and Isis Acevedo worked side by side to color and cut out the pieces to make a jack o' lantern hand puppet out of a small paper bag. Brady, 10, and Isis, 5, had just met. So had Natasha Ibarra, 11, and Grace Johnson, 6, who were making their own puppet on the other side of the table. Nearby Grace Graves, 10, and Erin Roemeling, 5, made a paper doll puppet. The fifth-graders in Eric Means' class met Susan Olson's kindergarten class Friday afternoon at Roosevelt Elementary School.
DANUBE -- When Cal and Suzie Lueck bought in to the Dad's Belgian Waffles business eight years ago, they did nearly all of the work themselves. Now, they have three teams, occasionally four, serving waffles and sausages to crowds all over Minnesota and Wisconsin. They even have groupies. One woman in the Twin Cities meets her friends at the nearest waffle feed to celebrate her birthday. Another admirer chose his weekend camping destination so he could go to a waffle feed, too. "We'll be at a Twins game and somebody will say, 'Where do I know you from,' and Cal will say, 'Waffles?' They'll
RENVILLE -- A year ago, the voters in the Renville County West School District turned down a request to build a new K-12 school building. School Board members took that as a message that the district's residents wanted them to make do with what they had. So, earlier this year, the board voted to close the elementary school in Sacred Heart and move all the district's educational programs into the school building in Renville. Though some of the "new" parts of the building are more than 40 years old, the Renville building was the larger and younger of the two buildings the district still opera
WILLMAR -- The decisions are still months away, but public officials in the area got a chance Wednesday to pitch their state bonding proposals to a group of legislators. The projects discussed Wednesday included a major remodeling and improvement project at Ridgewater College in Willmar and a veterans' nursing home proposed for Willmar. The Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee came through the area Wednesday to tour potential projects.
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar has introduced new visitor restrictions to protect patients from exposure to influenza. Beginning Tuesday afternoon, visiting was limited to close family only. Visitors will be asked to wear masks and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before entering a patient's room. They must wash or sanitize their hands before leaving a room, too. The restrictions are even tighter for the third floor, where Maternity and Pediatrics departments are located. There, visitors will be asked to stop at the nurses' desk before visiting a patient's room.
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital has increased the precautions to be taken by people visiting loved ones in the hospital, to prevent exposure to the flu. Visitors must wash or sanitize their hands and put on masks before entering patient rooms. Those wanting to visit someone in the Pediatric or Maternity departments must stop at a nurses' desk before visiting. The restrictions went into effect Tuesday afternoon. Read more about this development in the Wednesday edition of the West Central Tribune.
Many area superintendents hope that their school enrollment figures are stabilizing after a decade or more of sharp decline. However, the enrollment outlook for districts in west central Minnesota appears to be a mixed bag. Many school districts have incoming kindergarten classes that are smaller than the senior classes about to graduate, and they expect to see that trend continue for a while. Only a few districts have larger incoming classes and more students in their elementary grades. Districts are split when it comes to spring to fall enrollment fluctuations.