We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.



Field set for Willmar School Board elections in November

Five Willmar School Board candidates are running for three four-year terms on the board in the Nov. 8 election.

A file photo of the Willmar Public Schools sign at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, where the administration offices are located.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

WILLMAR — Candidates for Willmar School Board have a variety of backgrounds and reasons for running for office.

The five candidates are competing for three four-year terms on the Willmar School Board.

The election is Nov. 8, but voters can begin casting their ballots by mail or in person beginning Sept. 23.

The field includes two people new to school elections and three incumbents.

The candidates are Mary Amon, Steve Biesterfeld, Randy Frederickson, Jay Lawton and Laura Weatherby.


News about educational achievements among students from west central Minnesota.
This is the first time that all of the colleges and universities of Minnesota State have waived the application fee for an entire month.
Schools across the country have experienced false calls regarding active shooters in recent weeks, prompting law enforcement to investigate the matter. In Minnesota, 15 schools, from Rochester to Cloquet received hoax calls this week.
Data released by the Biden administration indicates as many as 42.3 million borrowers could have a total of $685 billion in student loans forgiven, assuming all eligible borrowers receive the full amount.
A law enforcement incident in the parking lot of Willmar's Kennedy Elementary School, not related to the school, caused school officials to keep staff and students inside the building for a short while
Follow this west central Minnesota news and weather podcast on Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.
From the commentary: A $1-for-$1 matching grant would not only provide substantial financial backing to state colleges and universities. It would also reduce the financial incentive for states to take money out of schools and plow it into hospitals. And the aid could come with strings to ensure quality and accountability. ...
Willmar Middle School needs a new, larger gym, but plans to build one are on hold for now. Willmar Public Schools and Southwest West Central Service Cooperative had planned to build an addition to the school together, but the plans have been waylaid several times since spring 2020.
Follow this west central Minnesota news and weather podcast on Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.
The school share of property tax bills will increase about 3%, bringing nearly $270,000 additional funding for Willmar Public Schools. The School Board also approved a tax abatement for MinnWest Technology Campus.

Mary Amon, Willmar School Board candidate
Mary Amon, Willmar School Board candidate

Mary Amon

Amon, 57, of Willmar, is a physician at CentraCare — Willmar Lakeland Clinic. She was first elected in a special election in 2017 and elected to a full term in 2018. She said she decided to run to see through some of the board’s initiatives.

“We have done a lot of work over the last two years, and I would like to see that come to fruition,” she said. New initiatives include a new way of evaluating employees and a standards-based instruction plan.

Steve Biesterfeld, Willmar School Board candidate
Steve Biesterfeld, Willmar School Board candidate

Steve Biesterfeld

Biesterfeld, 48, of Willmar, is a supervisor at Prairie Lakes Youth Programs. He said he is running because he feels the young people he sees at work have been failed by families and schools.

His concerns include students’ knowledge of history, English and reading, he said. “I wanted to see what the curriculum is really about and see if there’s some input I could have that would help them,” he said.

Randy Frederickson, Willmar School Board candidate
Randy Frederickson, Willmar School Board candidate


Randy Frederickson

Frederickson, who declined to give his age, of Willmar, is retired from a 32-year-career teaching science at Willmar Middle School. He works part-time at the Wild Bird Warehouse in Willmar. He was elected in a special election in 2021 and is running for his first full term.

Frederickson said he feels he learned a lot in the last year and would like to continue to serve. Teaching experience “gives me a perspective” that others might not have, he said.

Jay Lawton, Willmar School Board candidate
Jay Lawton, Willmar School Board candidate

Jay Lawton

Lawton, 64, of Willmar, works in inventory control and logistics at Jennie-O Turkey Store. He said he ran because he has enjoyed serving on the board and hopes to provide consistency with big decisions coming up.

A middle school addition is currently on hold, and “there’s a lot going on with the pandemic money running out,” he said.

Laura Weatherby, Willmar School Board candidate
Laura Weatherby, Willmar School Board candidate

Laura Weatherby

Weatherby, 52, of Willmar, is a psychologist at Life Seasons in Willmar. Weatherby said she filed because two of her three children are Willmar students, and she wanted to get involved in the district.

She said she doesn’t have complaints about how the board currently operates and said, “I want to help keep things working.”


More from Linda Vanderwerf
Christian Arevalo has pleaded guilty to one felony charge of first-degree assault on a peace officer, as an accomplice after the fact. He was not alleged to have been the shooter in the July 5 incident in southwest Willmar but accused of being the getaway driver and of obstructing the investigation.
More than 430 people are hospitalized in Minnesota with COVID-19, an increase of about 80 from a week ago, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The number of deaths has increased in recent weeks, too.
With pandemic restrictions easing, Minnesota's nursing homes are reopening to the public and asking people to once again volunteer in the facilities. Bethesda, with facilities in Willmar, New London and Olivia, has many opportunities for volunteers, who can help improve the quality of life for residents.
While the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be waning, more than 400 people have been hospitalized with the disease every day since May. The number of deaths each week has been three dozen to four dozen in recent months.
Willmar school officials say they don't have any pride flags in elementary schools, but a concerned parent said at Monday's Willmar School Board meeting that he believes he has seen them.
No injuries were reported when a pickup crashed into the rear of a school bus Monday morning on U.S. Highway 12 in Kandiyohi.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have fallen in recent weeks, but 6,400 people contracted the coronavirus, more than 400 were hospitalized and several dozen died in the most recent weekly update from the Minnesota Department of Health. The number of cases would be higher if home test results were included.
COVID-19 numbers held steady in the west central Minnesota region throughout the last week, with 544 new cases and three deaths reported in the 11-county region tracked by the West Central Tribune.
The staff of Willmar Public Schools gathered Thursday morning for the annual kickoff to the school year. Superintendent Jeff Holm talked to them about staying healthy, and also about his plans to retire in two years. Staff also met new Assistant Superintendent Bill Adams.
Willmar teachers are using their afternoons this week to prepare their rooms for the arrival of students next week. For elementary teachers, the week will start with two days of conferences with children and their families, giving them a chance to spend one-on-one time with each student.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
What to read next
Area funerals scheduled through Oct. 6, 2022
Following a months-long application process and an intense day of interviews Tuesday, Kelsey Baker was named the Kandiyohi County Board's choice for the county's next administrator. For the past five years, Baker has served as the administrator for Swift County, and it was that experience that put Baker above the other two finalists.
The Tribune publishes Records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record. All items are written by Tribune staff members based on information contained in public documents from the state court system and from law enforcement agencies. It is the Tribune’s policy that this column contain a complete record. Requests for items to be withheld will not be granted.
Willmar City Council on Sept. 19 approved a THC ordinance and an amendment to the 2022 fee schedule to incorporate the new fee.