Come play frisbee for a good cause!

The second annual NIE Disc Golf Tournament will take place June 15 at Robbins Island in Willmar.

The 18-hole tournament will be singles competition, with a maximum of 75 players. Anyone can play in the tournament, regardless of skill level.

All participants will receive a T-shirt, pizza and water. There will also be door prizes, and the top three advanced finishers will receive cash prizes.

The major sponsor of the tournament is the West Central Tribune. Registration is $20 for advanced players and $10 for beginners. Proceeds from the event will go toward Newspapers in Education, which provides the Tribune to schools in west central Minnesota.

For more information or to register for the tournament, contact the Tribune at 320-235-1154 or email wctcirc@wctrib.com.

Live it! magazine is here

After weeks of waiting and speculation, Live it! magazine launched last week with its debut issue.

The first issue contains stories on a local artist, a Stingers host family and an entrepreneur who owns a boutique in downtown Willmar.

If you haven’t seen the magazine yet, watch this video and look for Live it! in stores, coffee shops and lobby/waiting areas in the Willmar area.

West Central Tribune focuses on community content via Areavoices.com

The West Central Tribune is now focusing on community content development through its Areavoices.com blogging platform.

“We are focusing on development, promotion and coordination of community content via blogs on Areavoices.com,” said Tribune Editor Kelly Boldan.

The newspaper will be seeking to utilize some of the community blog content in all of the West Central Tribune media platforms: print, web and mobile.

“Anyone wishing to blog on any topic is welcomed at Areavoices.com,” Boldan said. Visit Areavoices.com to set up a blog.

Ashley White has joined the West Central Tribune’s newsroom staff as community content coordinator. She will focus on the development, promotion and coordination of community content via blogs on Areavoices.com and utilization of community blog content in the West Central Tribune platforms: print, web and mobile.

To read more about White, visit our Inside Scoop blog entry.

Ashley can be reached at 320-214-4308, awhite@wctrib.com or on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.

Forum Communications to start Upper Midwest news service

Forum Communications Company is expanding its presence in the region with the launch of a multi-state news service, company President Lloyd Case announced today.

Existing FCC newspapers, websites, magazines and broadcast outlets in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin will provide content for the news service – an effort that will begin immediately. Over the next two years, the company will make continued investments into the news service with the intention of building the most comprehensive, affordable product to which other media outlets throughout the Upper Midwest can subscribe.
The West Central Tribune of Willmar is owned by Forum Communications.

Mike Jacobs, editor and publisher of the Grand Forks Herald, has been selected to lead these efforts.

“Jacobs is a good, strong newsman and a good, strong manager,” Case said. “Nobody knows more about the region than he does.”

Jacobs, a Stanley, N.D., native and the Herald’s editor since 1984, will continue as publisher, but the search for a new editor in Grand Forks will soon be under way.

Mike Jacobs

One of Jacobs’ first tasks as head of the news service will be to establish a footprint for the company in northwestern North Dakota – specifically the Oil Patch. The search for a reporter to cover the state’s largest ongoing issue will begin immediately. The northwestern North Dakota bureau, as well as existing FCC bureaus in Bismarck, N.D., and St. Paul, Minn., will report to Jacobs.

In the next couple of years, additional bureaus and staff will be added in an effort to further boost the company’s reporting reach, Case said.

William C. Marcil, chairman of Forum Communications, said the Marcil family company continues to dedicate itself and its properties to providing the best-quality news and information to its audiences in the Upper Midwest.

The FCC properties will continue to publish the kinds of regional, national and international stories and photos offered by wire outlets such as the AP. However a company-wide task force will evaluate in the coming year which outside news providers are the best fit for the entire FCC network, which includes daily newspapers in Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown and Dickinson, N.D., as well as Mitchell, S.D., and Duluth, Bemidji, Willmar and Worthington in Minnesota.

Additionally, Forum Communications owns nearly two dozen weekly papers in the region, including concentrations in the Twin Cities suburbs, the Mississippi River Valley, northeastern Minnesota and the lakes country of west-central Minnesota. The company owns broadcast outlets in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Minot, and publishes Prairie Business, a monthly magazine, and Agweek, from its Grand Forks offices.

-Forum Communications report

Warm the Children at 89 percent of 2011 goal

Warm the Children

The Warm the Children program is at 89 percent of its  2011 goal of $40,000.

To date, a total of $35,522 has been taken in from just over 500 contributors from the area. Shopping has been completed for an estimated 475 children from across the region.

Now it its 18th year, the annual Warm the Children campaign is run by employees of the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minn., with assistance from Main Street Willmar, area social services agencies, school social workers and numerous volunteers.

The volunteers help by taking families shopping. Priority for the shopping is to provide warm coat, boots, snowpants, hat and gloves for the children, especially those elementary-age children who need warm clothing for recess and waiting for the bus. But, the program allows for the purchase of ANY type of clothing needs – everything from socks and underwear to warm winter pajamas, shoes and school clothing. Each child is allotted an estimated $80 for the purchase of clothing. The families meet a volunteer shopper at the designated store to complete the shopping. All purchases are then charged to the Warm the Children program and paid through the community donations collected throughout the season.

Families from throughout the Tribune’s coverage area – 7 counties – are served through the program. Referrals are received through regional social service agencies, schools, public health and other agencies in the communities served through the program.

Donations are solicited through house ads and newspaper articles – thus making Warm the Children a fitting program for newspaper organizations across the nation.

And, what makes the program somewhat unique is the West Central Tribune covers all administrative fees associated with the program. That means 100 percent of all donations received go back into the community to help the children.

Stores also provide discounts for the Warm the Children shopping, and Main Street Willmar has lent a hand by allowing the Warm the Children program to utilize a local partner for 501(c) 3 tax exempt status.

The program has grown immensely over the years, and helped provide new warm winter clothing for more than 6,420 children from more than 2,360 families.

Donations may be sent to: Warm the Children, West Central Tribune, PO Box 839, Willmar MN 56201.

Anyone interested in being a volunteer shopper in the future may contact Sharon or Donna at the Tribune at 320-235-1150.

-Sharon Bomstad, Features Editor

‘Warm the Children’ this holiday season

Warm the Children

The Warm the Children program is now in its 18th year at the West Central Tribune and has a 2011 goal of $40,000.

Employees at the West Central Tribune joined a nationwide newspaper program, which began in the 1980s, back in 1994. They’d first heard of the program in 1993, but decided to look at it as a “back-to-school” program the next summer, primarily because, “everyone is looking for charitable donations over the holidays.”

However, after visiting with Mack Stewart, head of the nationwide program, it was decided the holidays really are the best time for a program looking to operate on donations.

So, a small group of employees decided to launch the program in the fall of 1994. That first year, they were hopeful of raising $8,000 – enough to help provide warm winter clothing for 100 children throughout the region.

They contacted charitable gambling organizations, civic groups, banks and any other group they could think of to get the word out and – hopefully, get a few sizable donations.

Although it was “touch and go” for a while, the donations that first year topped $10,000 and they were able to take 126 children from 51 families shopping for new warm winter clothing.

Priority for the shopping is to provide warm coat, boots, snowpants, hat and gloves for the children, especially those elementary-age children who need warm clothing for recess and waiting for the bus. But, the program allows for the purchase of ANY type of clothing needs – everything from socks and underwear to warm winter pajamas, shoes and school clothing. Each child is allotted an estimated $80 for the purchase of clothing. The families meet a volunteer shopper at the designated store to complete the shopping. All purchases are then charged to the Warm the Children program and paid through the community donations collected throughout the season.

Families from throughout the Tribune’s coverage area – 7 counties – are served through the program. Referrals are received through social service agencies, schools, public health and other agencies in the communities served through the program.

Donations are solicited through house ads and newspaper articles – thus making Warm the Children a fitting program for newspaper organizations across the nation.

And, what makes the program somewhat unique is the West Central Tribune covers all administrative fees associated with the program. That means 100 percent of all donations received go back into the community to help the children.

Stores also provide discounts for the Warm the Children shopping, and Main Street Willmar has lent a hand by allowing the Warm the Children program to utilize a local partner for 501(c) 3 tax exempt status.

The program has grown immensely over the years, and helped provide new warm winter clothing for more than 6,420 children from more than 2,360 families.

Donations may be sent to: Warm the Children, West Central Tribune, PO Box 839, Willmar MN 56201.

Anyone interested in being a volunteer shopper may contact Sharon or Donna at the Tribune at 320-235-1150.

-Sharon Bomstad, Features Editor

Two years later: Remembering Haiti and giving back

We can probably all remember the terrifying images from the 2010 earthquake that rocked Haiti: buildings collapsing, homes being destroyed, children and adults fighting for their lives amidst the ruin and chaos.

Connie Spartz, left, and Becky Armstrong

It’s been nearly two years since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, but today, there’s still much to be done to repair the country. Becky Armstrong, a customer retention specialist at the West Central Tribune, recently took a mission trip to Haiti with Connie Spartz, also of Willmar, and a group from Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church in Minneapolis. During their week in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, Becky and her group witnessed extreme hardship, poverty and famine. While Becky thought she had an idea of what Haiti would be like, she now realizes that until you’ve been there and seen it for yourself, you don’t really understand it at all.

Becky describes the trip as “culture shock” and “emotional overload.” No matter where the group went, they couldn’t escape the devastating after-effects of the earthquake or its impact on the Haitian people. Many people in Port-au-Prince still live in the tent cities they set up following the earthquake, Becky says, because at least there, they’re guaranteed clean water and toilets. It’s hard for many Haitians to find work, and yet there aren’t enough workers to even begin clearing out some of the rubble and debris left behind by the earthquake.

Before leaving for Haiti, Becky and her group raised money at home to purchase library books for schoolchildren. Between them all, they raised nearly $1,300 to spend on new books for one of the local schools in Port-au-Prince.

A group of students in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Rather than choosing the books themselves, they invited the school’s principal to meet them at a bookstore and pick out the books that he wanted for his students. When the principal arrived at the bookstore, he was like “a kid at Christmas,” Becky says, and couldn’t wait to bring the books back to the school.

During the rest of the week, Becky and the group visited other schools, orphanages, a church, a hospital and a nursing home to bring people essential supplies, such as food, medicine and clothing.

For Becky, the trip was an eye-opener. Though she wishes she could have done more, she knows that she made an impact on the people she met there. At the same time, she says that, like on all of her other mission trips, she got more out of the experience than she gave.

Look for the full story on Becky’s trip to Haiti in Saturday’s West Central Tribune. And if you’d like to donate to the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti, visit American.RedCross.org or UNICEFusa.org.

-Ashley White, Community Content Coordinator