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 -- Presidential debates mean more now, and they're talking about politics with their parents and their friends. A group of 18-year-old seniors at Willmar Senior High are looking forward to their first chance to vote Tuesday. Several seniors from Willmar talked about the milestone in their lives last week when they visited the high school's counseling office. "I think voting actually makes me feel like an adult finally," said Tayva Vollan, whose birthday was in August. Before this, she said, she didn't feel like much had changed when she turned 18. Other students nodded.
WILLMAR -- The health of the U.S. free enterprise system is a number one priority of Lee Byberg in his second run for the U.S. House. Republican Byberg lost to U.S. Rep.
WILLMAR -- U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said his constituents ask him how he stands the partisan infighting in Washington, but he doesn't hear many complaints about the mostly healthy farm economy in his largely rural congressional district. The 7th Congressional District covers most of the western third of Minnesota. The largest cities in the district are Moorhead and Willmar. Peterson is the current ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, and he was chairman from 2007 to 2011, when Democrats controlled the House of Representatives.
ORTONVILLE -- The historic Columbian Hotel in Ortonville burned and collapsed early this morning. Ortonville Fire Chief Alan Arndt said the fire was reported at 3:10 a.m. Friday, and most of the structure was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. The fire was under control within about 90 minutes, he said, but they were on the scene until late this morning watching for hot spots. There were no injuries. "With a building that old -- so dry and so much wood in it -- it went up in a hurry," Arndt said.
Residents in Minnesota Senate District 16 will choose this fall between a Republican elected to the Senate two years ago and a retired superintendent who is a former DFL legislator. Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls was elected to the Senate in the former District 21 two years ago. Ted L. Suss of rural Lucan served in the Minnesota House in the 1970s and now lives in rural Lucan. Lines for District 16 were drawn in the state's redistricting effort earlier this year.
District 16 candidates are familiar with Minn. Legislature Residents in Minnesota Senate District 16 will choose this fall between a Republican elected to the Senate two years ago and a retired superintendent who is a former DFL legislator. Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls was elected to the Senate in the former District 21 two years ago. Ted L. Suss of rural Lucan served in the Minnesota House in the 1970s and now lives in rural Lucan. Lines for District 16 were drawn in the state's redistricting effort earlier this year.
LITCHFIELD -- An estimated 250 acres of slough, grass and wooded area was destroyed by fire Friday night and Saturday off Meeker County Road 34 in Harvey Township. Five fire departments battled the fire, which was said to have been caused by fireworks. The fire was reported at 9:45 p.m. Friday, according to a release from the Meeker County Sheriff's Office. According to the release, the caller said cattails were on fire near County Road 34about four miles north of Litchfield.
WILLMAR -- A Supreme Court hearing they attended this week resonated with some Willmar Senior High students. "I learned that things can come back to haunt you," said David Bielenberg, a 17-year-old senior. "Even little things," added Jose Gonzalez, 16, a junior. The students in Lyle Hovland's psychology class said they had found the case interesting when the Supreme Court came to their school to hear arguments in an appeal. The court's justices conduct hearings twice a year in high schools. This was their third visit to Willmar since the school visits began in the 1990s.
WILLMAR -- The possibility of starting schools before Labor Day highlighted some of the few differences between legislative candidates Thursday in a forum with area superintendents and school officials. The superintendents met candidates for three legislative seats Thursday afternoon at The Oaks in Willmar. The candidates are running in the new Minnesota Senate District 17 and its two House districts, which were created earlier this year based on the 2010 Census. Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, and Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, are candidates for the Senate District 17 seat.