A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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WILLMAR — After a lightning strike last summer damaged it, a Willmar halfway house that helped men recover from drug and alcohol addictions was demolished Tuesday. Now plans are being made to build a brand new facility at the same location for the 12-step, Christian-based program known as The James House. "A lot of great things happened in that house and it's coming down," said Nate Juhl, director of The James House.
NEW LONDON — What had been a large, empty pole barn on a farm in rural New London last year is now becoming a climate-controlled maze of computer-operated, high-powered lights and a water misting system housed on a dozen massive stainless steel frames. By early spring, the building will be filled with lush, fresh lettuce and other leafy greens.
WILLMAR — A second-floor turret was removed Monday from a historic house on Seventh Street Northwest in Willmar. Known as the Gabbert house, the building was purchased recently by Project Turnabout and is expected to be demolished this week. Willmar woodcarver Fred Cogelow sought permission to remove the decorative tower in order to create a stand-alone meditative room for women participating in Project Turnabout's sober house program, which is located in the neighboring lot. Cogelow has been working in the structure for several weeks to prepare for the separation.
WILLMAR — An auto repair shop was damaged in a fire Sunday morning. The Willmar Fire Department was called to Affordable Auto Repair, 1210 Lakeland Drive Southeast, at 11:37 a.m. Sunday. Fire Chief Frank Hanson said a small shed behind the business caught on fire and the flames then traveled to the main building. He said it's possible the fire was started with a portable heater. At least one car that was parked by the building was damaged in the fire. Hanson said the main building did not suffer extensive damage.
LITCHFIELD — One person was injured in a two-vehicle crash Friday afternoon in Litchfield. The accident was reported at 4:44 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Davis Avenue South. According to the State Patrol the accident happened when a 2000 Cadillac Deville, driven by Eugene Rudolph, 77, of Sauk Rapids, was going west on Highway 12 and failed to stop for a red light. The Cadillac collided with a 2003 Ford F150, driven by Steven Schweim, 41, of Litchfield, that was going south of Davis Avenue.
LITCHFIELD — A Meeker County jury found a Watkins man guilty this week of four assault charges in connection with the 2017 physical and sexual assault of a woman. At the end of the one-day jury trial, the jury convicted Paul Matthew Ashfeld, 33, of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, criminal sexual conduct in the second degree and criminal sexual conduct in the third degree — all felonies. He was also convicted of a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault.
WILLMAR — Yusef Mohamed Muhumed, 23, of Willmar, was found guilty this week of four felony charges in connection with a November assault of two women at a Willmar residence. Muhumed was convicted of burglary in the first degree — assault of person in a building, threats of violence, domestic assault and violation of a no-contact order. A Kandiyohi County jury returned the guilty verdicts Tuesday after the one-day trial. The jury found him not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of theft. Sentencing is set for March 8.
NEW LONDON — Like parents who are finally empty-nesters and put kids' bedrooms to new uses, board members for Crow River Players Inc. have big plans for The Little Theatre in New London now that the school district is moving to its own performing arts center. For decades the New London-Spicer School District leased the historic Little Theatre for student plays during the school year and the Crow River Players used the stage for summer productions and several one-night music concerts.
SPICER — A 30-year-old Spicer woman was injured in a one-vehicle accident Sunday night after the truck she was driving left the road and rolled in a lightly wooded field west of Spicer. The woman, who was not identified in a press release from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office, was extricated from 2001 Ford Ranger by the Kandiyohi County Rescue Squad and taken to Rice Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. She was wearing a seatbelt, according to the sheriff's department.
KANDIYOHI — Starting Feb.1, Kandiyohi Mayor Gordy Woltjer won't be fielding telephone calls when the power goes out in town and he won't be searching for blown transformers or downed power lines in a storm. Instead, the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative will take the calls and take all responsibility for the repairs, upgrades and billing of city residents for electrical service. "It's going to be a good deal for everybody," said Woltjer, of the upcoming transaction between the city and the co-op.