West Central Blogger

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do you know where your public officials/candidates stand on early childhood issues?

Shaking hands and kissing babies: that’s the old adage about campaigning. But politicians need to do more than kiss babies to make an impact on the lives of our young children.

It’s important for all of us to know where incumbent officials and candidates stand on issues of early child care and education. For starters, you can go online and view national, state and local voting records at http://www.votesmart.org/. Even if you don’t have young children in your life, remember that these tender souls comprise the future of this country—they will be our workforce, our entrepreneurs, our doctors, our members of congress, our ambassadors to the world. Don’t they deserve to have the best start in life so they can become healthy, productive citizens?

Here in Minnesota, we’re usually ranked fairly high in our level of care and education for children, compared to other states. And yet, about 12 percent of our children live in poverty. More than a quarter of our children’s health care is covered by government assistance or isn’t covered at all. About 57 percent of three- and four-year-olds aren’t enrolled in any pre-school education program, and 27 percent of our fourth graders are scoring below basic reading levels. (Statistics from www.everychildmatters.org/).

It just goes to show, every state needs to be diligent when it comes to caring for our littlest ones. We cannot and must not neglect their rights locally or nationally. But they cannot speak for themselves. We need to step up for them.

Sept. 16 is Step Up for Kids Day. It’s a non-partisan, nationwide event to draw attention to issues affecting America’s children. Events are happening in every state and in Washington D.C. In Minnesota, an event will be held in Duluth. But consider promoting Step Up for Kids Day in your own community, as well. Learn more at www.everychildmatters.org/, or call state coordinator Jen Rison at 612 219-0215.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Here comes the sun ... flowers

August is a beautiful time to drive through west central Minnesota. The countryside is breath-taking. You'll see industrious farmers out combining wheat right now. You'll go by the tall corn and green rows of soybeans and sugar beets. And, every so often, you'll come across acres of gorgeous sunflowers, like this crop northwest of Fergus Falls.

Free workshops for at-risk homeowners

West Central MN Communities Action, Inc., is holding open houses throughout west central Minnesota for homeowners struggling to make house payments. The Open houses offer confidential meetings with non-profit foreclosure prevention specialists who will answer questions and provide an assistance that may be available. All of the events will be held from 5-7 p.m., and no registration is required.

August 25: Glenwood, Senior Nutrition Center, 107 S Franklin St.

August 28: Alexandria, Maritime Museum, Unicel Room, 205 3rd Ave W.

Sept. 4: Wheaton, Senior Center, 1025 Broadway Ave.

Sept. 11: Morris, Morris Council Chamber, 603 Oregon Ave.

Sept. 16: Alexandria, Maritime Museum, Unicel Room, 205 3rd Ave W.

Sept. 30: Elbow Lake, Elbow Lake COmmunity Building, Sanford Room, 341 Central Ave S.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Scenes from Wheaton

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

A few WCI staff members traveled to Wheaton, Minnesota on Aug. 12 to conduct interviews for Traverse County's new early childhood mental health initiative. While there, they took some photos of downtown Wheaton and a wonderful new mural painted with Valspar paint received through the Picture It Painted Program.

Several local citizens volunteered to be interviewed about their perceptions on early childhood mental health and the services and information available or needed for area children and families. The interviews will be used to form a plan of action for the county.

The Traverse County Early Childhood Mental Health Component is made possible by an award from the PrimeWest Community Health Reinvestment Grant Program.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Group Workcampers paint a brighter picture for Traverse County residents

Nearly 400 young people and volunteer leaders from around the country spent a week out of their summer to help paint and repair homes in Traverse County. (See slide show upper right!) Participants of the Land of Lakes Group Workcamp provided helping hands at many area households on low or fixed incomes that may not qualify to receive services from any other source. Many of the owners are not physically or financially able to make needed repairs to their homes.

Along with painting, the crews of 5-6 workers constructed porches and wheelchair ramps. They typically worked 7- to 8-hour days on 51 projects throughout Traverse County, Herman and Donnelly.
The workcamp was coordinated by the West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Adventures in renewable energy--Ethanol

Renewable Works! is putting out a series of brochures on Minnesota careers in renewable energy industries. In addition, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system has information on education and career ladders for jobs in the renewable energy sector to make career planning a whole lot easier.

Take a look these Ethanol career pathways.