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LITCHFIELD — A Litchfield man was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison after being convicted of three counts of criminal sexual conduct involving a 13-year-old girl. LC Monroe Johnson, 33, was found guilty by a jury in August of two charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Johnson was sentenced on the most severe charge — a count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Judge Michael Thompson did not adjudicate on the other two charges, which stem from the same incident.
WILLMAR — Two more charges have been filed against a Willmar man accused of throwing a pig's foot onto a farmers market stall operated by Somali vendors. Joseph Francis Fernkes, 61, was originally cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with the Aug. 12 incident. According to a formal criminal complaint filed late last week, he is now also charged with one count each of third-degree and fourth-degree criminal damage to property.
WILLMAR — Amid the turmoil surrounding the future of the Affordable Care Act and the individual insurance market, MNsure has a clear message: We're here and ready for open enrollment to start Nov. 1. "Coverage is available. Help is available all across the state," said Allison O'Toole, MNsure chief executive. With less than two weeks to go before enrollment season begins, the MNsure exchange is working to prepare the public and help make the process go smoothly.
WILLMAR — In a move to foster more joint conversation, the Minnesota Department of Transportation shared its capital highway improvement plan for District 8 Tuesday with the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners. It was a chance for the County Board to see what's in store for MnDOT projects for the next 10 years. Staff has been traveling around the district this fall to reach out to cities, counties, townships and other local units of government to bring them information and spark discussion about long-range planning and collaboration.
WILLMAR — Beverly Werder, owner of Compassionate Care and Compassionate Cottages, has been selected by Leading Age of Minnesota as one of 50 leaders who are transforming the future of older adult services and enhancing the experience of aging. Recipients of the honor were selected on the basis of innovation, their role in forward-looking change in their organization, and pursuit of excellence in new models of care and services.
WILLMAR — A recently awarded state grant will help accomplish a longtime Kandiyohi County goal: enhancing the water quality of Lake Wakanda. The County Board of Commissioners recently signed an agreement for a $921,000 one-time grant from the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund to implement the project, which will improve Lake Wakanda as well as enhance the entire watershed.
OLIVIA — A suspect involved in a 27-mile-long high-speed chase Saturday in Renville County is facing multiple charges stemming from the incident, during which a drone was brought in to help track him through a cornfield. Jeremy Roman Nordberg, 25, of St. Cloud, appeared Tuesday in Renville County District Court on felony charges of possession of stolen property and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. He also is charged with three misdemeanors: fleeing a peace officer by means other than a motor vehicle, driving after revocation and theft.
WILLMAR — The actions may have been offensive, but a Willmar man argues he should not face prosecution for leaving a pig's foot at a Somali booth at a farmers market this past summer. The attorney for Joseph Fernkes is challenging the constitutionality of the disorderly conduct charge filed against him, saying Fernkes was exercising his right to free speech. At a brief hearing Tuesday before Judge Michael Thompson in Kandiyohi County District Court, the state was given until Oct. 31 to file a response to a motion for dismissal of the case.
BENSON — A former professional football player pleaded guilty in Swift County District Court last week to felony insurance fraud involving a championship ring he had allegedly reported as stolen. Brent Dwayne Griffith, 51, of Sartell, formerly of Benson, was sentenced to serve two days in the Swift County Jail, followed by five years of unsupervised probation. He also was ordered by Judge Rodney Hanson to pay $4,805 in restitution to the Swift County court administration, plus fines and fees totaling $590.
WILLMAR — The public will have a chance to comment at a pair of public hearings next month on a proposed countywide local option sales tax. The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to set the hearings for 6 p.m. Nov. 9 and 6 p.m. Nov. 13. Both will take place in the community room at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building.