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Back to the basics

As he rounds off his final semester of college, Nick Jasmer went back to kindergarten.
Jasmer has been student teaching in Bridget Weller’s kindergarten class at the New York Mills Elementary School since Jan. 12. He will teach and observe at the elementary school until April 24.
“Ultimately kindergarten is where my heart lies and where I want to teach,” said Jasmer, in an interview last week. “I think it’s a fun grade. The learning at kindergarten is a lot more active and engaged. The little ‘aha’ moments happen a lot at this age.”
The student teaching program at Bemidji State University allows Jasmer to slowly transition into teaching. Jasmer observes for a few weeks, then teaches a subject for week, then two subjects, then three, until finally he is teaching the entire day. Then the program reverses and Jasmer transitions back out of the classroom. In this process, Jasmer is just starting his two-weeks of teaching full-time.
When Jasmer is back in observation mode, he hopes to sit in fifth and sixth grade classrooms to gain some experience with the older students. This May he will graduate with his Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with a kindergarten through sixth grade licensure.  read entire story. . . .

Testing begins at school

Students in third through 11th grade at the New York Mills School District will begin testing season soon and the school is considering holding a pep fest to build a positive atmosphere.
The pep fest is still in the idea stage at the administrative level. Principals Judith Brockway and Michelle Young discussed the idea at the school board meeting last week. The point behind a pep fest would be to encourage every student to do their best, despite the increasing number of mandated tests.  
New mandates this year require the entire junior class to take the ACT test. The ACT testing date has been set for April 28 with a makeup day on May 12. Juniors will be taking ACT tests on top of the state standardized testing, though future classes may only need to take one or the other.
Young said the testing schedule is being finalized, with the window for testing set between April 13-May 15. Teachers and staff that will be helping with testing will be attending mandatory training sessions this month.  read entire story. . . .

Elders’ Home may partner with county

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners approved the concept for a nursing home cost-sharing pilot project. The next step involves getting many details in place, which will take several weeks.
The concept is equitable cost-sharing for publicly owned nursing facilities, referred to as ECPN. If the pilot program is enacted, Otter Tail County would agree to fund the non-federal Medicaid (MA) share of the newly increased Medicaid rate approved for area nursing homes.
The source of financing for this non-federal cost share would be the revenue received in the lease agreement between participating area nursing homes and Otter Tail County.
The new program could benefit nursing homes in communities such as New York Mills, Henning, Battle Lake and Fergus Falls. Nursing homes in Pelican Rapids, Perham and Parkers Prairie have already developed ECPN designation in collaboration with city governments or hospital districts.
NY Mills Elders’ Home Administrator Cal Anderson said this “decision was a positive step forward, but there are many additional hoops to jump through before we know that we have a workable agreement. John Dinsmore, Otter Tail County Director of Human Services, has advised the nursing homes that an aggressive plan of action will be needed to complete all requirements.”
Anderson has voiced his concerns about the future of the Elders’ Home a number of occasions this past few months. Anderson even had concerns that the Elders’ Home could be forced to shut its doors if something wasn’t done in the next two years.
The motion to approve the concept passed on a 3-1 vote. In favor of the proposal were Commissioners Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids, Doug Huebsch of Perham and John Lindquist of Dalton. Voting no was Commissioner Roger Froemming of Parkers Prairie.  read entire story. . . .

Catalytic converters, copper stolen from NYM warehouse

The sheriff’s office reported that sometime in the previous seven day a suspect or suspects broke into an unoccupied warehouse east of New York Mills, near Highway 10 and 550th Avenue.
Taken were approximately 220 catalytic converters and close to 1,000 pounds of copper wire. There were no immediate suspects.
A catalytic converter is a vehicle emissions control device that converts toxic pollutants in exhaust gas to less toxic pollutants.

Vehicle hits tree in Hillview
A driver lost control when a vehicle slid off the south side of a gravel road and struck a tree. The incident took place at a four-way stop at the town of Hillview in extreme northeastern Otter Tail County in Paddock Township.
The exact location was the intersection of Highway 19 and 495th Street. The incident took place at 8:40 a.m. on Feb. 26. No injuries were reported.  read entire story. . . .

Arvig apologizes  to Deer Creek council for bumpy digital roll-out

An Arvig official apologized to the Deer Creek City Council for a bumpy roll-out of its implementation from analog to digital TV in January.
The switch caused many TV screens to go black. Joel Smith, manager of video operations for Arvig, told council members on February 23 that customers were receiving $25 rebates on their most recent Arvig bills.
About 3,000 customers in Deer Creek, New York Mills, Perham and Everts Township north of Battle Lake were affected, said marketing and media manager Lisa Greene. The problem seemed to be low-cost televisions purchased in recent years that did not include digital tuners, she said. Customers did not realize that some newly-purchased televisions still need converter boxes, she said.
Federal law required TV providers to switch to digital in 2009. However, Greene said Arvig has been making the transition one geographic area at a time. An earlier roll-out in Walker and Park Rapids went smoothly, she said.
Greene said Arvig had alerted customers of the January change to digital through postcards or letters, and had also turned off signals on four separate occasions to let them know that the transition was imminent. After switching to digital, Arvig began fielding complaints and Greene said technicians discovered a variety of technical problems, including televisions that lacked digital tuners.  read entire story. . . .