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 nutrition service at Willmar Public Schools served more than 1 million breakfasts, lunches and snacks in the 2008-09 school year, and nearly 90 percent of the district's 4,100 students participated in meal programs. Annette Derouin, director of food and nutrition services for the district, provided the statistics to the Willmar School Board in an annual report Monday on the district's wellness policy. The meeting was a workshop meeting. In grades K-8, participation in breakfast programs was 87 percent to 90 percent, Derouin said.
GROVE CITY -- After years of operating a one-man automotive shop, Marle Gaarder Jr. encountered a steep learning when he built and opened a new convenience store. Instead of repairing engines and changing oil, Gaarder is now perfecting the art of making caramel rolls and sub sandwiches. The new Schmidty's convenience store in Grove City opened in late January. Schmidty's owner Tom Schmidt has been after him for about 10 years to make this move, Gaarder said, and he had avoided it for a time.
WILLMAR -- Ridgewater College officials expected to receive the final $14.5 million for their capital improvement project in the state bonding bill this spring. So they were surprised and disappointed when Gov. Tim Pawlenty used his line item veto to remove the second phase of the Willmar campus project from a bonding bill over the weekend. He also removed many other building projects for public colleges around the state. Work on the first phase of the project started about a year ago, using $3.5 million approved in the 2008 bonding bill.
MADISON -- An e-mail threatening students and staff led to a partial lockdown Monday of Lac qui Parle Valley High School. Principal Jon Fulton said a secretary discovered the e-mail Monday morning and alerted him. He notified law enforcement officials, who began investigating the e-mail. "You have to take all these things seriously," he said, so the school was locked down, limiting public access to the rural Madison building and the people inside. Law enforcement officers were at the school for the rest of the day.
WILLMAR -- After approving nearly $2 million in budget cuts Monday, the Willmar School Board began the formal process of laying off or reducing the hours of staff members before the next school year. The board voted to cut $1.75 million from the 2010-11 budget. The cuts include a variety of increased fees, layoffs and cuts in expenses in the district's $40 million general fund budget. A year ago, the district cut $2.8 million from its spending.
WILLMAR -- The federal lawsuit against the Willmar School District, several administrators and a special education teacher regarding the treatment of a student will not be heard again by the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, a lawyer for the student is considering asking for a hearing before the U.S.
WILLMAR -- High school music students helped pack the room at the Willmar School Board meeting Monday, hoping to save a favorite teacher from budget cuts. But after board members voted to make $1.75 million in budget cuts, music teacher Bryan Mara was one of those on the lay-off list. The budget cuts are needed to adjust the district's $40 million general fund budget to make up for rising costs, declining enrollment and flat funding from the state. Along with the loss of that full-time music position, in the 2010-11 school year the district will lose one full-time English Language Learner p
WILLMAR -- Biofuels and budgets were the topics when state and federal lawmakers met with farmers Saturday morning. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and state Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, spoke to Kandiyohi Corn and Soybean Growers at Sunray Square in Willmar. Tom Meium, a local staff person for U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., also spoke during the event. Klobuchar and Juhnke both talked about the importance of biofuels to the nation and to the farm economy. Klobuchar said ethanol is often a target in Washington, but farm states have allies in the Obama administration.
WILLMAR -- The handful of families in Willmar with ties to Chile have been able to contact their loved ones, and everyone seems to have come through the earthquake there in good shape. Chile was hit by an enormous 8.8-magnitude earthquake shortly after 3:30 a.m. Saturday. The confirmed death toll had reached 802 by Wednesday afternoon.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the group that Mayor Rybak was representing Monday.