Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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APPLETON, Minn.—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.
SPICER — Governor Mark Dayton led his boatmates by catching three of the eight largemouth bass they landed and released on the fishing opener on Green Lake in Spicer on Saturday morning, May 12, but there was not a walleye to be had. Their guide never wetted a line, but came back with the biggest prize, if it can be counted as a keeper when the legislature goes back to work Monday. Willmar Lakes Area Host Kelly Morrell won an informal pledge of support from the governor and his boatmates to fund the Trunk Highway 23 four-lane "gaps" between New London and Paynesville.
GRANITE FALLS, Minn.—You can't fight city hall, but soon, you might be able to infiltrate it. That's kind of what Ashley Hanson is up to, and she has the formal approval of the powers that be in Granite Falls to do it. City Council members recently approved a proposal by Hanson to pursue funding and create an artist-in-residency project that would embed an artist in the city.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A Willmar man faces a third-degree murder charge for allegedly selling the fentanyl that led to the overdose death of John Schlegel of Blomkest at age 24 on Nov. 4. Richard Michael Carl Houske, 29, was arraigned on the charge Thursday, March 15, in Kandiyohi County District Court in Willmar. The charge carries a potential sentence of 25 years in prison. District Judge David Mennis ordered bail set at $750,000 for release without conditions, or $200,000 for release with conditions.
LITCHFIELD — Meeker County authorities are investigating the death of a 40-year-old man after his body was found other than where he was believed to have died. Shawn Jacob Medley, of Waverly, was found at a rural Ellsworth Township location at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, according to Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze. The sheriff reported that officers found the man's body after acting on a report of an unresponsive male at the location, which is withheld at this time due to the ongoing investigation.
APPLETON, Minn. — There are now price tags for the state of Minnesota to either purchase, upgrade and operate the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, or to lease it. A newly released architectural assessment of the facility in far west-central Minnesota for the state Legislature determined the total project cost for the state to purchase and upgrade the prison to meet state needs would total $139 million, representing $86,875 per bed for the 1,600-inmate facility.
MONTEVIDEO, Minn. - The latest frontier in the solar power industry's growth in Minnesota is found in Chippewa County, where workers are completing the third of three solar garden projects undertaken in the past year. Berkshire Hathaway Energy, working with Geronimo Energy, is developing the solar gardens as part of Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Community Program. Legislation approved in 2013 requires Xcel Energy to provide community solar gardens in its service territory. Workers are completing the Taurus Community Solar Garden on the east side of Montevideo.
BENSON, Minn. - A former Benson High School student is charged with a felony count of terroristic threats for allegedly posting statements and video on social media that led law officers to evacuate the west-central Minnesota town's high school gymnasium during a basketball tournament on Friday. Alexander Forsberg, 22, of Moorhead, was arraigned in district court in Benson on the charge Monday. He was released on his own recognizance on conditions that he not consume alcohol or drugs, have no contact with those he allegedly threatened, and not possess any firearms.
MONTEVIDEO, Minn. — When attorney Janice Nelson of Montevideo emceed a conference in September looking at the region's workforce challenges, she announced at the start just how familiar she was with one of them. Her administrative assistant had just quit. She was unable to find child care for her first child. A "quiet crisis'' is what the Center for Rural Policy in Minnesota calls the growing shortage of child care providers in Minnesota.
HANLEY FALLS, Minn. — Two central Minnesota cooperatives are among the first in the state to make group health insurance policies available for farmers. Glacial Plains Cooperative, based in Murdock, and the Hanley Falls Farmers Cooperative Elevator are offering group health insurance for their members through Land O'Lakes cooperative.