A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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BENSON — Lack of proper communication by a staff member at a Benson residential facility that provides therapeutic programs for girls — including those who have been sexually exploited — may have led to the criminal sexual assault of a 15-year-old program participant who ran away and was found in Iowa three days later. In an amended investigation memorandum issued last week, the Department of Human Services said an unidentified staff member at Heartland Girls Ranch was responsible for "serious" maltreatment of the victim.
NEW LONDON — When kids come to school hungry on Monday morning, it's hard for them to learn. That's why churches, community organizations, businesses and volunteers are taking action to make sure kids in their west central Minnesota school districts have a little extra to eat on weekends. Every Friday, hundreds of kids in area school districts receive bags of snacks and simple microwave meals to take home in their backpacks for the weekend. The bags typically include cup-a-soup or instant pasta meals, cereal bars, fruit snacks and juice.
WILLMAR – Icy roads this morning in west central Minnesota have caused several accidents and resulted in the late start of at least two area school districts. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is reporting that many highways extending from Willmar, New London, Litchfield, Benson, Glenwood and Morris are covered with black ice or a mixture of slush and ice and are slippery.
WILLMAR — A legislative proposal that would make MinnesotaCare available to all Minnesotans who buy their own individual health care insurance was discussed Friday in Willmar. While not a cure-all for the rising rates and shortage of health insurance plans in rural counties, supporters say it would at least provide a proven and trusted option for consumers — especially for rural Minnesotans.
WILLMAR — Lt. Gov. Tina Smith won't be at a previously scheduled meeting today in Willmar to discuss MinnesotaCare, but will instead be meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton. The change in Smith's schedule adds fuel to speculation that Smith may be named to replace Sen. Al Franken, who announced yesterday on the Senate floor that he will resign following allegations by several women of inappropriate behavior.
RENVILLE – Two people were injured in a two-vehicle crash Monday night in Renville County. Weather may have been a factor in the accident, which happened around 7:05 p.m. at the intersection of County Roads 21 and 11, about three miles north of Renville.
WILLMAR — A Willmar musician was sentenced Monday to 45 days in the Kandiyohi County Jail after pleading guilty to a felony charge of criminal sexual conduct for inappropriately touching a nursing home resident with dementia. Terrance Raymond Shaw, 72, was also placed on supervised probation for five years, must register as a predatory offender, have no contact with the victim and is excluded from any nursing home, group home, foster home or any location where vulnerable adults live — with the exception of a group home where a close relative lives.
BENSON — A Murdock man was killed and a woman was injured in a two-vehicle crash Monday afternoon in Benson. The accident was reported at 12:43 p.m. on U.S. Highway 12 and 19th Street South. According to the State Patrol, a 2017 Ford Escape was going south on 19th Street and was attempting to cross Highway 12 when it was struck by a 1997 Dodge Ram that was going west on Highway 12. The names of those involved have not yet been released, but the State Patrol said an 87-year-old passenger in the Escape was killed.
The 22nd annual Pioneer Christmas celebration was held Saturday at the Forest City Stockade. Warm weather drew a large crowd to the event, which featured horse-drawn wagon rides, tours of the historic buildings, demonstrations of blacksmithing and candle-making, Christmas music, homemade food served outdoors, and visits with Santa Clause.
SPICER — It took Jared Johnson just a few minutes to program the cash registers at Bonnema Hardware in Spicer to reflect the one-half percent local option sales tax that's now collected in the Spicer city limits. After that small adjustment, he said, there have been no problems and no complaints about the added tax, which went into effect Oct. 1.