News

Benson working with renewable energy firm

October 12, 2018

Benson working with renewable energy firm
BENSON—City officials in Benson will be learning soon how much of the former Benson Power biomass facility will be dismantled and removed, but they are hoping that a large portion remains. The city is supporting a bid by a company in San Francisco, California, to purchase the fuel hall building, along with the administrative building and smaller, ancillary buildings on the campus in Benson. Brightmark Energy is working with the city of Benson in hopes of converting the site to a refinery to make

Plans for children’s mental health hospital approved; Willmar Planning Commission gives OK for facility plans

October 8, 2018

Plans for children’s mental health hospital approved; Willmar Planning Commission gives OK for facility plans
WILLMAR—Plans for a new 16-bed child and adolescent mental health hospital were approved Wednesday evening by the Willmar Planning Commission. The hospital will become the new home of Child and Adolescent Behavioral Services, currently housed on the MinnWest Technology Campus. The new facility will allow for more youth to take part in the programs offered, as well as give both clients and staff a state-of-the-art facility. “It is a highly regulated facility that will require a lot of specialty

Developer proposes $28M housing project in NW Willmar

October 1, 2018

Developer proposes $28M housing project in NW Willmar
WILLMAR— The Willmar City Council heard Monday from a developer hoping to build a $28 million housing project on the northwest side of the city. “It is a pleasure to have a project come before the council,” Mayor Marv Calvin said during the council work session. “Businesses tell me on a regular basis they can’t expand because there isn’t enough housing.” Samuel Herzog, of JH LLC, is requesting tax increment financing assistance for a multi-family housing development

Willmar Wye road contractor selected

September 27, 2018

Willmar Wye road contractor selected
WILLMAR — Out of three contractor finalists for the road portion of the Willmar Rail Connector and Industrial Access Project, also known as the Willmar Wye, The Hoffman Team was selected as the best value proposal, according to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, District 8. The decision was made following the bid opening on Wednesday. The Hoffman Team is made up of Hoffman Construction Company, Lunda Construction Company and Bolton & Menk Inc. The group will both

A tangled web of trade and tariffs: Speakers in Willmar discuss Minnesota impact, especially on agriculture

September 21, 2018

A tangled web of trade and tariffs: Speakers in Willmar discuss Minnesota impact, especially on agriculture
WILLMAR — Minnesota is a major player in both domestic and international trade. For businesses, producers, manufacturers and consumers, the recent trade disputes with many of the United States’ trading partners have caused questions and concerns to arise. “There have been a lot of questions about what all this means,” said Ken Warner, president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. In hopes of answering some of those queries and providing education on a very complex

Spurs Grill & Bar opens in downtown Willmar: Dream come true for owner

September 19, 2018

Spurs Grill & Bar opens in downtown Willmar: Dream come true for owner
The opening of Spurs Grill & Bar in downtown Willmar took about three years longer than expected, but the wait has been worth it for owner and operator Esperanza Aydee Lopez. “It’s a dream come true,” said Lopez. “I’m very excited to bring unique dishes to Willmar.” Lopez, 41, has worked in food service most of her life but this is her first venture as a restaurant owner. Located at 313 Fourth St. S.W. in a 1937-era Art Deco building known as Historic 313

Hand-on learning: New Willmar Senior High course is private-public partnership

September 11, 2018

Hand-on learning: New Willmar Senior High course is private-public partnership
WILLMAR—A groundbreaking public/private partnership between local companies and Willmar Public Schools has begun with its first dozen students at Willmar Senior High. The new Manufacturing and Production course this fall will take students who have an interest in areas like welding, drafting, mechanics and construction and give them a hands-on learning experience with five local businesses. If this first class goes well, the program could eventually expand to other area schools. There’s a

15th Street Flats expected to break ground next month

August 24, 2018

15th Street Flats expected to break ground next month
WILLMAR—The way is clear for Commonwealth Development to break ground 15th Street Flats, the new multi-unit housing project which will offer 47 apartments for a wide range of Willmar renters. The Willmar City Council this week approved the tax increment financing development agreement between the city and developer, the last step before construction. “They hope to break ground next month,” said Bruce Peterson, Willmar Planning and Development Services director, speaking at Monday’s

Lack of child care a barrier to economic development

August 21, 2018

Lack of child care a barrier to economic development
WILLMAR—Not having enough safe, affordable and accessible child care facilities is being tagged as a growing barrier to economic development in west central Minnesota, including Kandiyohi County where it’s estimated another 776 child care slots are currently needed. Businesses that struggle to find workers because potential employees are unable to find child care—and child care providers who struggle to stay in business because of regulations and employee pay—are major components of a growing

Greater Minnesota cities struggle to sustain their oldest homes—but loans and education are helping

August 20, 2018

Greater Minnesota cities struggle to sustain their oldest homes—but loans and education are helping
On a hot August morning, in one of Willmar’s oldest neighborhoods, stucco bungalows, ramblers and an American Foursquare here and there stand under the shade of massive trees, set close together, bordered by sidewalks. It’s a charming scene, at first glance, yet many of these homes clearly need repair. “It’s the oldest housing stock in town,” said Jill Bengtson, the executive director of the Kandiyohi County Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Many of the homes are owned by low-income