Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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SPICER — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed infestations of zebra mussels in Norway and Diamond Lakes. Along with the two lakes, the DNR is also adding Games Lake and Lake Andrew and two adjacent wetland complexes to the list of infested waters since they are connected to Norway Lake, the department announced Monday. It brings to nine the number of lakes infested by zebra mussels in Kandiyohi County. The invasive mussels were previously confirmed in Green Lake, Lake Calhoun, George Lake, Nest Lake and Lake Florida.
WILLMAR — Good-paying jobs in the technical trades go waiting for a lack of trained technicians to fill them. Ridgewater College auto mechanics instructor Jon Friton has a good idea why. High schools have pulled back on technical education, and students just are not exposed to the opportunities the technical trades can offer. They aren't learning at home, either. Friton said parents and grandparents just don't work on their own vehicles so much, and people are more apt to throw away a lawn mower than fix it.
APPLETON — One of western Minnesota's largest ecosystem restoration projects is making "slow but steady progress,'' in the words of Walt Gessler, manager of the Lac qui Parle refuge with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the DNR are working to restore the ecological integrity of Marsh Lake, west of Appleton. The $12.93 million project aims to clear the turbid, and largely rough-fish dominated waters of the 5,000 acre lake in the Upper Minnesota River Valley.
SACRED HEART - Two drivers escaped serious injury in a semi-turck and farm tractor collision in Renville County that sent both vehicles into a wetland about three miles southeast of Sacred Heart on Friday afternoon. The Renville County Sheriff’s Department reported that Wayne Berglund, 81, of Montevideo, was driving a 2007 Volvo semi-tractor pulling a belly dump trailer loaded with sand northbound on County Road 12.
GRANITE FALLS — Law enforcement officers did not need a search warrant to search a vehicle for contraband when they opened its door to lock it, after arresting its driver, and saw drug paraphernalia in plain sight. In a decision released Tuesday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the May 24, 2017, conviction of Jordan Lee Downwind, 26, of Montevideo, for unlawful possession of a firearm. He is serving a 60-month prison sentence.
WILLMAR — Incumbent Willmar City Council member Audrey Nelsen seeks to continue to represent Ward 4. Nelsen filed Friday to seek a second full term on the City Council. She is one of four incumbent council members up for re-election. No other incumbents had filed as of Friday afternoon. Two Willmar women have filed to run for the Ward 2 seat. Filing closes Tuesday. Nelsen was first elected in 2013 to serve the unexpired term of Doug Reese. She then ran successfully for her seat in the fall of 2014.
REDWOOD FALLS — An Olivia man faces a second-degree manslaughter charge after a 100-year-old woman died as a result of injuries she suffered after falling while in his care at the Sunwood Good Samaritan Center in Redwood Falls. Francisco Javier Ramirez, 29, appeared Thursday in Redwood County District Court on felony charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminal neglect, and gross misdemeanor charges of mistreatment of a resident and criminal neglect. The court ordered bail at $90,000 without conditions and $60,000 with conditions.
MONTEVIDEO — Eden Prairie born and raised, Jack McCann has an idea for farmers. He calls it TC Farm, and it works to assure that farmers get a fair wage for their labors by connecting them with customers willing to pay what that requires. TC Farm pays its producers more per pound for their beef, pork and chicken than what conventional markets would offer them. But, said McCann, "where the money goes matters." By paying the farmers a fair return for their labor, they can afford to take the time and do it right, he explained.
WILLMAR — Anglers are often accused of stretching the truth, but these guys proved to be straight shooters: When Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bonding bill Wednesday, he held true to a promise made in a fishing boat to approve an earmark for the state Highway 23 project. The bonding bill includes $105 million to complete the seven- and nine-mile "gaps" in the four-lane between New London and Paynesville and between Paynesville and Richmond, making the entire Highway 23 route from Willmar to Interstate 94 a four-lane roadway.
MONTEVIDEO — There's no counting the bus trips that veterans and other supporters of a veterans nursing home in Montevideo made to St. Paul over the past 11 years, but it's one of the shorter trips that may have made the difference. Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, believes that one of the key turning points that helped win the day for the veterans home proposal was testimony that the veterans gave during a February 2016 hearing in Willmar.