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WILLMAR — A new community health challenge is using global adventure to keep people active during the bleak days of winter. The around-the-world trip to exotic destinations is, alas, only virtual. But the collective miles of physical activity are real — and so is the $4,000 travel voucher that will be randomly awarded at the end of the "Trek to the Tropics" challenge. "We're excited about it," said Brittney Odens, marketing manager at Rice Memorial Hospital and one of the organizers of the free hospital-sponsored event.
WILLMAR — Influenza has become widespread across the region, prompting health providers to urge the public to take preventive measures. "We are seeing a ton of it," said Ali Lesteberg, infection control and immunization lead registered nurse at Affiliated Community Medical Centers. The number of cases statewide began to climb in late December and may rise further before peaking. Flu is now considered widespread across Minnesota, the highest level of severity.
A cat in Pope County became the first domestic animal to test positive for rabies this year in Minnesota. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said the 6-year male cat lived outdoors. His owners observed Jan. 2 that the animal was showing signs of loss of coordination and difficulty breathing. He was brought indoors and died the following day. Rabies testing was conducted by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed the presence of rabies, according to the Board of Animal Health.
WILLMAR — A former Eagle Creek Golf Club employee pleaded guilty Friday to stealing $89,000 from the club while he worked there as an assistant pro. Phillip Andrew Sam, 32, of Coon Rapids, is charged with one count of felony theft by swindle. The money disappeared over a period of about six months, from March to September 2015. Sam, who resigned from the club that fall, had authorization to make purchases for the golf club during that time frame.
Porter is a 1-year-old male Lab/Pointer mix who would make an excellent walking/running partner. He is looking for an active family who can give him guidance to become the best he can be. Porter is motivated by treats and knows how to sit. This playful guy needs a positive outlet for this energy which does not include eating toys. Stop in and meet Porter and the many other adoptable pets at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter, 250 28th St. S.W., Willmar. Shelter hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
WILLMAR — Rice Memorial Hospital has received a Revenue Cycle Performance Award from Health Business Insights. It is the third time the hospital has received the award, making it one of only three members of Health Business Insights nationally to have earned the honor that many times. Rice was chosen for the award based on a combination of current performance, improvement shown, and practices employed.
WILLMAR — Ten members have been named to the board of directors of Carris Health, the new nonprofit health care organization that brings Affiliated Community Medical Centers and Rice Memorial Hospital into CentraCare Health System as a wholly owned subsidiary. Four of the new board members were nominated by ACMC. They are Dr. Michael May, Dr. Jonathan Mellema, Dr. Kevin Unger and Dr. Richard Wehseler. The four board members chosen by Rice Hospital are Douglas Allen, David Anfinson, Dr. Lee Cafferty and Jon Saunders.
WILLMAR — Rep. Dave Baker on Tuesday invited the Kandiyohi County Commissioners to support proposed state legislation that would create a pool of funds to help address the opioid epidemic at the local level. "We just have to stop the deaths. We have to stop our communities from paying the price," Baker said.
WILLMAR — Rollie Nissen has been selected to chair the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners for 2018. The County Board chose him as chairman during the annual reorganization meeting Tuesday. Nissen, who represents the Third Commissioner District, has been a commissioner for three years. He served this past year as chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. Harlan Madsen was named vice chairman. Madsen is the board's senior member and has represented the Fifth District since 1995.
WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners will hold its first meeting of the new year Tuesday. The board meets at 9 a.m. at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building. The agenda includes the election of a chair and vice chair to lead the board in 2018, committee appointments and consideration of newspaper bids for publication of official county notices. The commissioners also are scheduled to meet at 11:15 a.m. with Rep. Dave Baker to talk about opioids.