Local/state briefs

Area agencies among Otto Bremer Trust awardees

The Otto Bremer Trust has awarded $12,655,528 million in grants and program-related investments as part of its most recent grantmaking cycle.

“This latest grant round was the largest dollar amount we have awarded in the history of the Otto Bremer Trust,” said Daniel C. Reardon, co-CEO and trustee, OBT. “Our investments in these impressive organizations highlight the breadth and depth of the work being done for positive change in communities across the Upper Midwest, and we are grateful for their success.”

The Otto Bremer Trust, based in St. Paul, is a private charitable trust established in 1944 by founder Otto Bremer, a successful banker and community business leader. OBT owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and also manages a diversified investment portfolio. The mission of OBT is to invest in people, places and opportunities in the Upper Midwest. Since its inception, OBT has invested more than $600 million in organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin.

A partial list of grants awarded to organizations in southwestern Minnesota is included below. For a complete list of grants awarded, review the full release at ottobremer.org.

Child Care and Nutrition, Inc., Ivanhoe, $10,000. To pilot a program to increase licensed family child care providers in Greater Minnesota communities.

Prairie Home Hospice, Inc., Marshall, $80,000. To support the capital campaign to purchase, renovate, and equip the McLaughlin Hospice House in Marshall.

Southwest Health and Human Services, Marshall, $20,000. To provide dental varnishing and oral health information to low-income children and their families.

United Way Campaign is halfway to goal

United Way of Southwest Minnesota announces that $300,710.50 in donations and pledges have been recorded to date during its annual fund-raising campaign. This equates to 50.1 percent of the $600,000 campaign goal.

Over the last 15 years, United Way of Southwest Minnesota has re-invested more than $5.9 million locally to benefit the lives of our friends and neighbors. More than 50,000 local people are being served through United Way of Southwest Minnesota initiatives, community partner programs and partnerships in 2017-18.

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. In southwest Minnesota, we focus on health, education, financial stability, hunger and safety & well-being. Your donation to UWSWMN will go to work to improve the lives of people living in the following school districts: Canby, Clarkfield, Dawson/Boyd, Echo, Fulda, Hendricks, Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Lakeview, Lynd, Marshall, Milroy, Minneota, Murray County Central, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Tracy Area, Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Yellow Medicine East (public, private and charter).

Contributions can be made online at www.UnitedWaySWMN.org or mailed to UWSWMN, PO Box 41, Marshall, MN 56258. The annual campaign runs through Jan. 31, 2018.

MPCA office in Willmar to close permanently on Dec. 8

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency plans to permanently close its office in Willmar effective Friday. All staff will keep their jobs. Six staff members assigned to the office will be re-assigned to alternate work locations, or will work from the Marshall MPCA office.

One of seven MPCA regional offices outside the Twin City metro area, the Willmar office opened in 1999 at 201 28th Ave. SW. In 2006, it moved to 1601 E. Hwy. 12. With the fewest staff among regional offices, MPCA officials decided that closure would reduce costs with minimal effect on services.

Along with the MPCA office in Marshall, the Willmar office served 18 counties in southwestern Minnesota. The Marshall office, which opened in 1976, will continue to work with citizens and businesses in protecting the environment.

Other regional offices are located in Duluth, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Mankato and Rochester. More information about the MPCA is on the Web at: www.pca.state.mn.us.

Planetarium Christmas shows at SMSU

The Southwest Minnesota State University Planetarium Christmas and laser light show will take place on five upcoming dates this holiday season.

The show is titled “Star of Wonder” and will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9; 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16; 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22 ; 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24.

The SMSU Planetarium is located in SM 108 on campus. It seats 70. Planetarium Director Dr. Ken Murphy said that if a show sells out, he will add another immediately following.“Star of Wonder” was created by Murphy using digital software tools. He customized the show for the SMSU Planetarium.

“Star of Wonder” revolves around the Star of Bethlehem. Was it a planet, or maybe a supernova? Is there a scientific explanation for the star? In Murphy’s show, the steps of the Magi are retraced in their 600-mile search for the Star of Bethlehem.

Cost of the show is $5, and tickets will be sold at the door. Children sitting on laps are free. There will also be a CD available at the door including all the music from the Planetarium show for $15.