News

EDC on board to take lead on CARES Act business relief

July 13, 2020

EDC on board to take lead on CARES Act business relief
WILLMAR—The $7.6 million Kandiyohi County, Willmar and most of the other cities and townships in the county received in total from Minnesota through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is both an opportunity and a challenge. An opportunity because it is much-needed funding for local units of government to meet a pandemic no one expected. It is a challenge because the amount of money, the reporting requirements attached to it and short time frame could be too much for some

Kandiyohi County Board throws support behind locally grown shrimp

July 11, 2020

Kandiyohi County Board throws support behind locally grown shrimp
WILLMAR—If Paul Damhof is able to secure the capital he needs to complete a $10 million expansion of his saltwater shrimp farm near Blomkest, he said he believes he would be able to produce 250,000 pounds of Pacific white shrimp a year. Pretty impressive considering the Pacific Ocean is more than 2,000 miles away. “We are raising shrimp in salt water,” Damhof said. “All we are doing is mimicking the ocean water and raising saltwater shrimp right here in Minnesota.” Damhof

Simply Shrimp seeks state funds for expansion

June 27, 2020

Simply Shrimp seeks state funds for expansion
For aquaculture farmer Paul Damhof, putting up the “sold out” placard along his roadside billboard has become almost as much of a daily chore as checking the pH levels of his shrimp tanks. With customers across a 150-mile radius and few industry competitors to contend with, Blomkest shrimp farm Simply Shrimp LLC continues with meeting demand. “On weekends, holidays, it’s nothing to have 20, 30, 40 people driving up on the yard, “Damhof said. “It’s gone as soon as we get (shrimp) up

New poultry training program begins this fall at Ridgewater College and University of Minnesota

June 27, 2020

New poultry training program begins this fall at Ridgewater College and University of Minnesota
WILLMAR—A unique poultry education program created by the University of Minnesota, Ridgewater College in Willmar and industry leaders will be launched this fall. The multi-tiered program includes a series of courses at Ridgewater and the U of M that are designed to provide training to undergraduates and graduate students as well as those already working in the poultry industry. It’s hoped the program will help create a better-educated workforce, ranging from on-the-farm employees to those who

New Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services hospital opens in Willmar

June 24, 2020

New Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services hospital opens in Willmar
WILLMAR—Staff and patients are settling into the new children’s psychiatric hospital that opened earlier this month in Willmar. The Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services hospital is the only state-owned and -operated facility of its type in Minnesota. The hospital is designed for Minnesota children 4 to 18 years of age who have complex mental illness and behavioral disorders that are so severe the children cannot be treated in their home communities. Construction of the $10 million,

Spicer’s Johnny O’Neil’s under new ownership

June 13, 2020

Spicer’s Johnny O’Neil’s under new ownership
As of Tuesday morning, Johnny O’Neil’s in Spicer is now under new ownership. Michelle Kastel-Olson and her husband, John, sold the restaurant and bar to Donovan and Keisha Frauendienst, who own Kegger’s in Clara City, and Finley Bridal Co. in New London, respectively. Kastel-Olson said she was originally planning to sell the business on March 16, but due to COVID-19 shutdown, held off on the sale until this week. After owning and operating O’Neil’s for 20 years, Kastel-Olson said she is

Spicer Castle crumbles, signaling end of an era

June 13, 2020

Spicer Castle crumbles, signaling end of an era
With a crunch, a heave and a groan, the hydraulic arms of heavy machinery sank their jaws into the Spicer Castle Tuesday morning.  And just like that, 125 years of history toppled in a heap. Constructed in 1895 by Spicer founder John Spicer and long since operating as a bed and breakfast owned by the Latham family, the structure had fallen into disrepair after it had been put up for sale in 2018. Although attempts were made by local entities to explore funding options for preserving the Castle,

Kandiyohi County parks are open with new health safety procedures in place

June 4, 2020

Kandiyohi County parks are open with new health safety procedures in place
SPICER—The camping season at the Kandiyohi County parks usually begins May 1 and the county opened up online reservations for its sites at five parks all the way back in mid-January. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shutdown of unessential businesses drastically changed the 2020 camping season. All reservations for the month of May were canceled, as the governor’s executive order initially kept all public campgrounds closed. That changed Monday, as the county parks reopened

JCPenney in Willmar’s Kandi Mall to close amid company bankruptcy

June 4, 2020

JCPenney in Willmar’s Kandi Mall to close amid company bankruptcy
WILLMAR—The JCPenney store in the Kandi Mall in Willmar is one of 154 stores the company is closing, it was announced Thursday. The company filed for bankruptcy last month. J.C. Penney Company Inc. announced Thursday the first step in its “store optimization strategy,” and identified the first phase of 154 store closures, including Willmar’s. Other Midwest closings include Coon Rapids, Eden Prairie and Maple Grove in Minnesota, Brookings, South Dakota, and Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. No

Willmar Wye making visible progress as bridges are constructed

June 1, 2020

Willmar Wye making visible progress as bridges are constructed
WILLMAR—Eleven months after construction began on the Willmar Wye project, progress continues to be made on several aspects of the project, according to the weekly update from the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 8, based in Willmar. The bridges that will one day span the new rail track are starting to rise, with construction on the pier caps ongoing for the U.S. Highway 12 bridge. Also, work was done last week on embankments on Kandiyohi County Road 55 north and south of state Highway