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History, mystery of Willmar War Memorial Auditorium examined

Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune in Willmar makes note that the city missed its opportunity to honor the 75th anniversary last year of Willmar’s War Memorial Auditorium. Instead, he proposes to honor the 75th anniversary of the mural inside of the auditorium. The mural, overseen by Richard Haines, tells a story of settling the Midwest, the legacy of the U.S.-Indian Wars, and those that followed: The Civil, Spanish-American and World War I. It also celebrates the right of assembly and freedom of the press and the end of slavery. Cherveny writes, "There are also images that are not so easily understood. Airplanes that look like modern-day stealth bombers — and unlike any aircraft of the 1930s — are evident in one frame. An obviously war-ravaged landscape holding a rural town hall flying an American flag begs another question: Was the artist predicting an attack on U.S. soil?" Haines, who died in 1984, was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration to create the mural. Artists would come weekly from the Twin Cities to help Haines, which is why different artistic styles are evident. 

Teaching is a solitary business. It’s you and a bunch of students in a room. Who helps you become a better teacher? The state Department of Education has come up with some teacher evaluation guidelines, and the Duluth school district is looking at how to use them, writes Jana Hollingsworth of the Duluth News Tribune. The state’s model calls for 35 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to be based on student standardized test performance, which is challenging since 70 percent of the state’s teachers don’t have a subject that comes with standardized tests, said Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota, the state teachers’ union. “How do you evaluate a social worker, school counselor or librarian?” he asked. Another question: How do you get into each teacher’s room to review them? With 73 teacher reviews to be split between her and an assistant principal, Duluth East Principal Laurie Knapp said “it has to be meaningful if it’s going to be valuable.” One answer is peer observation. Lawmakers are asking for funding for school districts, but if there is none, they must pay for the mandate themselves.

Filming for a reality TV show pilot about ice fishing on Mille Lacs Lake will begin Friday, reports Ann Wessel of the St. Cloud Daily Times. Joe Murphy of Jupiter Entertainment in Tennessee said a crew would be in Isle for eight or nine days to compile enough footage for a 45-minute pilot. He did not say which network might be considering the show or when he would have a finished product. Crews planned to focus on people arriving for a tournament at Fishermen’s Wharf Resort. He said would-be reality TV personalities should be “confident characters.” Murphy’s previous work includes the Discovery Channel show “Sons of Guns.”

President Barack Obama has penned a personal note to be placed in a time capsule to be unearthed 50 years from now in Ely, reports Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune. The capsule, to be encased for the next 50 years in a brick wall of the Fine Arts Building at Vermilion Community College, will contain Obama’s note in which he wrote: “Fifty years from now, I hope we have managed the balance between our energy needs and our need to preserve the planet so that the wilderness surrounding Ely remains as spectacular as you describe.” Passi writes that Gerry Snyder of Ely wrote to the president last March, asking for a personal contribution to the time capsule. He was surprised to finally receive a handwritten two-page note from the president on White House stationery in September. 

University of Minnesota, Morris’ “Green Dorm” is under construction and expected to be ready for students in fall 2013. The Green Prairie Living and Learning Community is the first new dorm built on the campus in about 40 years. The $6.9 million project will house 72 students in suite-style dorms, writes Kim Ukura of the Morris Sun Tribune. The building will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified, and will include regional and recycled materials, insulated concrete and energy-efficient systems. The location was chosen to maximize green design and will include an orchard and edible landscaping, as well as gardens that will be used by students who live in the building.  

A Blooming Prairie family dedicated to agriculture while preserving the land at the same time is Dodge County’s 2012 Outstanding Conservationists, reports Matt Peterson of the Austin Daily Herald. Roger and Rhonda Toquam, with their sons, Brennen, Josh and Isaiah, were selected by the Dodge Soil and Water Conservation District for the award. The Toquams, along with Roger’s father, Orlo, operate a 2,600-acre cash grain and canning crop farm, and they custom finish 4,000 pigs, as well. They have been ridge-tilling since 1980 and over the years have installed side inlet structures along their drainage ditches, filter strips in the Conservation Reserve Program, farmstead and field windbreaks, wildlife plantings and follow a nutrient and pest management plan. Their farm balances production needs with land stewardship, which will preserve soil, water quality and wildlife.

One man cut another man, then took a shower while the injured man called police, reports Jerome Christenson of the Winona Daily News On Thursday morning, Winona police received a call from a 20-year-old man who told them he had just been stabbed and that his assailant was taking a shower, according to deputy police chief Tom Williams. When officers arrived, they were met by a man with a “fairly large cut on his forearm,” Williams said. He said a box cutter had been used to inflict the wound. Shortly thereafter, Edward Maurice Price IV, 46, stepped out of the bathroom. The first man identified Price as his assailant. Price denied having a box cutter. When police said they didn’t believe him, Price relented, admitted to using a box cutter to cut the other man, and directed police to where he had hidden it behind a dryer. Officers retrieved a yellow-and-black box cutter from behind the drier, but Price told them it was the wrong box cutter — the one he used was silver. The officers looked again and retrieved a second box cutter. Price was then placed under arrest; he's been charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. 

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