A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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LITCHFIELD — The termination of a former Litchfield police sergeant — who was charged last year with DWI while off-duty — has been upheld. In the binding arbitration decision published Sept. 5, it was determined the Litchfield Police Department was justified in firing Bryant Blackwell, a veteran peace officer who had at one time been a finalist for the job of Litchfield police chief. Blackwell was fired from his job as police sergeant in January as a result of the 2016 DWI arrest.
BELGRADE – A strong storm rolled across west central Minnesota early Wednesday morning, uprooting trees, downing power lines and causing structural damage at farm sites and in the Stearns County town of Belgrade. The National Weather Service said meteorologists are on the scene to determine if the damage was caused by straight line winds or a tornado.
NEW LONDON — A dangerous stretch of U.S. Highway 71 north of Willmar, where fatalities have happened at high-traffic intersections in recent years, will be improved with a $6 million project scheduled to begin next spring. Questions about the approximately nine-mile project zone were answered Thursday by Minnesota Department of Transportation officials during an open house. "When it's done, it's a 20-year life pavement," said Alan Setrum, engineering specialist with MnDOT's District 8 office in Willmar. "So it should be a nice roadway when it's done."
WILLMAR — Despite being moved indoors because of the threat of inclement weather, a good crowd attended the 20th annual Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee! festival Saturday in Willmar. Visual artists from around the region had their artwork for sale while free music and hands-on arts and crafts activities were offered to people of all ages. Sponsored by the Willmar Area Arts Council, the event featured artwork of nearly 20 artists, including painters, potters, wood carvers, doll makers, photographers and jewelers.
NEW LONDON — The 35th annual Prairie Pothole Day drew kids, dogs and hunters to the Stoney Ridge Farm near New London last weekend. The one-day event is used as a vehicle to raise money to improve waterfowl habitat and educate people about the importance of wetlands. "It was a great day and the people there had a really good time," said LeRoy Dahlke, president of Prairie Pothole. Activities included dog jumping and retrieving, a 3-D archery trail, a sporting clay course, black-powder shooting and educational displays about the environment and wildlife.
GROVE CITY — A long list of overdue maintenance projects in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District will be funded with a $1.5 million bond. The school board agreed last month to use a relatively new tool that allows school districts to issue bonds for long-term facilities maintenance revenue without going to the voters for approval.
WILLMAR — About a dozen tow trucks from the area lined North Business 71 in Willmar on Tuesday afternoon to remind motorists to slow down and move over when they see emergency vehicles on the side of the road. Jason Butler, owner of City Line Towing of Willmar, said tow truck drivers are "on the side of the road every day" and putting their lives in danger.
PENNOCK — Ever since he was 12 years old, Ron Dilley's life has been tied to the waters of West Norway Lake and the people who have stayed at his family's third-generation resort. He's just finished his 50th year at Dilley's Resort, which he now owns and operates. "I'm proud to say it's been in the family all these years," Dilley said. Like all Minnesota lake resorts, much has changed at Dilley's over the years.
WILLMAR — Given the go-ahead by building inspectors and the insurance company to repair the lightning- and fire-damaged James House, the director now hopes there's enough money to make it happen. Nate Juhl, executive director of the Christian-based addiction rehabilitation program for men, said he got the "green light" on Sunday that the integrity of the building was good enough to remodel. A lightning strike last month started the roof on fire and forced the displacement of eight men living there.
BROOTEN – A Glenwood teen was injured early Sunday morning near Brooten after falling off the bumper of a vehicle that was hauling a goose blind. According to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department, four boys were attempting to transport a portable goose blind on the roof of a 2000 GMC Yukon on County Road 27, about two miles northeast of Brooten.