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Henning approves busing three-year-old students

Henning’s youngest students will now be able to ride the bus.
During its regularly scheduled meeting last week, the school board approved allowing three-year-old students to ride the school bus on a trial basis after Christmas break. The topic has been brought up on a number of occasions over the past couple of months as Henning tries to find ways to stay competitive for students with neighboring school districts who already transport three-year-olds for school.
Henning School Superintendent Jeremy Olson said he reached out to neighboring school districts to see how they transport preschool students to school. Though he said he was disappointed with the lack of responses he received, Olson said that Battle Lake, Parkers Prairie, Underwood and Wadena-Deer Creek all transport three-year-old preschoolers, while Bertha-Hewitt and New York Mills do not.
“When you look at the results here it is kind of a mixed bag as far as who does what,” said Olson.
Henning Principal Thomas Williams said he has visited with families who have inquired about busing options for three-year-olds for this year and in future years as well.
Olson said there was no urgency to start busing three-year-old preschoolers this year and the board would be justified in its decision either way. However, he said neighboring districts are already busing the younger students and wanted to bring it before the board as an option.
Instead of offering the three-year-old bus option right away, Williams said the district could wait until after Christmas break to give students even more time to mature and get used to the school day. Since three-year-olds only attend school for half a day, they would only be bused to or from school and not both.  read entire story. . . .

Henning man helps fill need for rural paramedics

Earlier in life, Chris Hammer of Henning had worked as an emergency services technician on an ambulance. He enjoyed it, but then left to work for his dad’s commercial building construction business in Henning.
Nowadays, the 41-year-old husband and father is not only back on an ambulance, but he’s the top dog there, having become one of rural Minnesota’s newest paramedics.
“I just always enjoyed that and had a passion for it,” said Hammer. “I just like being out in the community helping people when they have an emergency and being on the scene and helping them in what might be their darkest hour.”
After more than 2000 hours of studying cardiology, pulmonology, pharmacology and more, he graduated top of his class with a two-year degree from North Dakota State College of Sciences. The degree has given him the ability to read and interpret EKGs, to determine whether a patient has suffered a heart attack and, if so, where in the heart the attack happened. He can administer many different drugs, including those for pain and for heart trouble.
His supervisor, Allen Smith EMS Manager at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena, said Hammer fills a much-needed opening on their staff.
There’s a well-known “Paramedic Paradox,” he said, in that the farther away a patient lives from a hospital, the more likely he is to need the higher-level skills of a paramedic, yet the less likely it is that a paramedic will be available.  read entire story. . . .

Ottertail explores skating rink option

City officials are exploring the possibility of creating an ice skating rink for the community this winter. While Thumper Pond resort will make a skating rink available for OtterDazzle on December 5, weather permitting, the council discussed during its regularly scheduled meeting last week whether the city should build one in case that rink is not accessible to the public for the rest of the winter.  
“I think it’d be a good thing for the kids around here,” said Councilor Ron Grobeck, who got the council’s blessing to continue to work on it with the city’s planning committee. Possible locations include the former Smokin’ Iron track or the old rink by the tennis courts. However, no plans are in place to construct or operate an ice skating rink at this time.
Also, the city will decorate a Christmas tree this year. The council authorized up to $100 to buy lights for the tree between the Shawna Marie clothing store and the post office, and Mayor Myron Lueders will light it.  read entire story. . . .

County lends help for senior housing projects

The County Board of Commissioners, in order to help facilitate senior housing projects in cooperation with government and private industry, has agreed to be the conduit for financing of new revenue bonds.
Conduit bonds are issued by governmental units such as Otter Tail County on behalf of private entities. They are normally projects by non-profit entities, an example being public housing.
On Nov. 10 a conduit bond public hearing was held jointly by Otter Tail County and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA).
Later, the county board approved an agreement that will not exceed $7 million of $17.5 million needed for rehabilitation of senior housing for River Bend Apartments in Fergus Falls and Kaleva Apartments in New York Mills.
Addressing the county board about conduit bond details were Nick Leonard, Otter Tail County’s new director of economic development and tourism, and Financial Advisor Nick Anhut of Ehlers and Associates.
County commissioners, when approving these types of financial arrangements, want to ensure that county taxpayers are protected if something goes awry.
“Conduit financing is typically backed by either the conduit borrower’s credit, or funds pledged toward the project by outside investors,” said Leonard. “If a project fails and the security goes into default, it falls to the conduit borrower’s financial obligation, not the conduit issuer (ie. county and HRA).”  read entire story. . . .