West Central Blogger

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Pocket park" just the beginning of something big in Glenwood

Sometimes when you think big, it's good to start small.

That's what the Glenwood & Beyond (G & B) organization did. Last week the volunteer community group unveiled a new "pocket park" in downtown Glenwood. The little park is tucked between two buildings and includes picnic tables, benches and attractive landscaping.

The pocket park was an idea planted by the Minnesota Design Team during its visit to Glenwood last year. The team had several recommendations for beautifying the city's downtown. The park resonated with G & B. Through volunteer time and donations, the group completed the project within six weeks. The Pocket Park Committee is now considering several more beautification projects.

Meanwhile, G & B's Lakewalk, Downtown Streetscape and City Park/Landscaping Committees are working on plans, too.

Looks like big ideas are blossoming in Glenwood.

What's going on in your town?

Photos taken and provided by Amy Chaffins, Pope County Tribune

Monday, August 27, 2007

The joys of summer revisited

It's hard to believe summer is winding down.
But we sure had fun, didn't we?

Birak Shriners Circus, Fergus Falls

Helping Dad feed and water the hogs,
Douglas County Fair

Fishing at Phelps Mill

Mashed potato wrestling at Barnesville's Potato Days

Friday, August 24, 2007

Administrative training opportunities for nonprofits

September is right around the corner, and so are two opportunities for nonprofits to strengthen their administrative and finance skills.

"The Essentials of Nonprofit Administration: Enhancing Skills – Improving Programs" is a series of monthly workshops from Sept. 5, 2007 to May 7, 2007. This training is designed to address today’s critical issues that nonprofit organizations face daily. Participants of the program will experience an interactive, experiential learning of the program focus areas. In addition there will be opportunities for networking with the other nonprofit professionals and learned practical application techniques. The workshops will be held in either Alexandria or Fergus Falls.

Register online or, for more information, call the Heart of Lakes United Way office at (320) 763-4840.


If you're interested in improving your organization's financial health, then you'll want to attend the nonprofit training workshops Sept. 19, 2007, at the Courtyard Marriott in Moorhead.

Kate Barr, executive director of the Minnesota Nonprofits Assistance Fund, will present "Calculating True Program Costs" and "Measuring NonProfit Financial Health." Cost to attend the full day is $35. Register online today!

Monday, August 20, 2007

My Health Minnesota--Go Local

Need help finding a support group in your community? Looking for adult day care services near you? Wondering who you can talk to locally about a specific health issue? Try out My Health Minnesota--Go Local, an online resource that helps you find the people and programs that can help you with your health questions and needs.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Road trip to...?

Can you name the towns where these three signs reside?
These towns are quite different from each other, and yet there's one thing that brings them together. Can you guess what it is? Post a comment if you know!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

School readiness begins at birth

School readiness begins at birth and so does learning. It begins with surrounding children with stable, loving, warm and nurturing relationships. It begins with exposing children to language, sounds, colors, books, good nutrition and physical activity. It begins with equipping young children to think, play, learn, and explore the world around them. It begins with ensuring children have high-quality care and education, whether at home or in child care.

Parents, families, caregivers, child care providers, early childhood educators, kindergarten teachers and elementary school principals all need to work together and communicate with each other. When they do, children will do better in school and in life.

Read more and learn about a special school readiness workshop.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Quiz yourself

  • How much do you know about making donations and the records that you should be keeping?
  • Is your will as well detailed as it should be?
  • Do you even know what's important to include in your will?
WCI's "Quiz Yourself" page offers seven short quizzes that give you a glimpse of what you do or don't know about wills, estate planning and donations.

If your scores aren't as high as you thought they'd be, maybe it's time to visit your financial advisor, or you can contact WCI's vice president of development, Kim Embretson, 800-735-2239. He'd be happy to talk to you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Catch the Wave: A Transform 2010 Summit

There's a tsumani-size wave heading our way. Metaphorically speaking, of course. But when it hits, most of us are going to feel its impact in one way or another. The wave? It's the gathering number of baby boomers on the cusp of retirement. In 2011, the large baby boom generation begins to turn 65 and, for the next 50 years, the aging of our society will dominate the demographic landscape.

In preparation for this changing tide in America, The Minnesota Dept. of Human Services is hosting a series of summits around the state. Assistant Commissioner of Continuing Care Loren Colman will present "A Blueprint for 2010," a plan to prepare Minnesota for the dramatic demographic shifts that will begin in 2011.

In west central Minnesota, the Transform 2010 Summit will take place Wednesday, September 12 from 2:30-5 p.m., Bigwood Event Center, 925 Western Avenue, Fergus Falls, MN.

The summit is free, but seating is limited, so please register online. For more information, visit the Transform 2010 Web site, or e-mail staff.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Dale Umlauf joins WCI

WCI is pleased to introduce its newest staff member: Dale Umlauf, vice president-business development.

Dale comes to WCI with a strong background in business development and banking. Most recently he served as the Crookston Development Authority executive director in Crookston, Minn. Previously he was the Small Business Development Center director in Bemidji for three years. He has 20 years of banking experience.

Umlauf received the Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with concentrations in finance and economics from Bemidji State University in 1981.

He has a daughter who lives and works in Minneapolis, and a son who will be attending NDSU in Fargo this fall. Umlauf will be making his home in Fergus Falls.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Road trip: Parkers Prairie

If you're ever in Parkers Prairie, a town of about 1,000 in the far southeast corner of Otter Tail County, you'll want to do two things.

One is to stop by the Prairie Perks coffeehouse and check to see if they're serving their chicken-wild rice soup. It's that good.

The other is to go across the street to the city hall and chat with Dave Campbell, the city administrator. If you're lucky, he'll take you on a tour of the town. There's plenty new to see.

Our tour began with a look inside the nearly completed Prairie Event Center--scheduled to open Sept. 1. This multi-purpose building will serve as the town's community center. Its main space is big enough for 600 people. The center also has a stage, a commercial kitchen and a good-sized meeting room. Many activities are already booked, including weekly meetings of service organizations and senior dining. The local food shelf also will be housed in the building.
On the south edge of town, earth movers ready the ground for a new housing development.

Nearby, Urbank Machine is in high gear. The business started out in a double garage in the neighboring town of Urbank. Three employees worked on three machines. Today, the manufacturer employs 25 workers and has more than 40 machines for lathe work, laser etching and more.

Over at AbbeyMoor Medical on the east side of town, it's been an exciting 12 months. Its product, the SpannerTM Prostatic Stent, a device used to manage urological disorders in men, received FDA approval back in December. They just received a positive coverage decision from one of the Medicare carriers. With a successful clinical trial and a lot of good coverage in medical journals, AbbeyMoor is poised to take off.
For both Urbank Machine and AbbeyMoor, West Central Initiative has been a financial partner in their growth.

Downtown, the building that used to house the city hall and the municipal liquor store is getting a facelift. The Prairie Perks just opened there a couple months ago. Whether you order the soup or a cappuccino, it's a good spot to check your email on your laptop by accessing the Perks' wireless internet connection.

Folks are pretty excited about the pizza parlor opening in the same building. They can already order the pizza at Sammy's c-store, which is made with the owners' own special recipe--but they're looking forward to a sit-down option to take-out.

Just down the street at The Parkers Prairie Independent the presses are running like they have been for 105 years. The Myers family hasn't owned the paper for all of those years--only 98 of them. Tom Myers is third generation. His daughter makes it generation number four.

If this blog entry piques your interest about Parkers Prairie, this weekend is a good time to visit. The town will be celebrating its annual fall festival, Aug. 3-5.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ready 4 K summarizes 2007 early childhood legislation

Ready 4 K has put together an excellent 2007 legislative session summary regarding early chilhood care and education in the State of Minnesota. The summary includes state budgets for two years.

"While 2007 was not the breakthrough year for young children that we had all hoped for, progress is being made," the report states.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

It's a boy!

The WCI staff is pleased to announce that Thomas James, the son of Program Assistant Marsha Erickson and her husband Jeremy, was born Monday, July 30. Mom and baby are doing great.

Learn more about the Erickson family's newest addition!