I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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LITCHFIELD — A Grove City man was sentenced Monday to more than 16 years in prison for multiple sexual assaults on a young girl. Christopher Allen Bengtson, 42, was sentenced in Meeker County District Court on felony charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, for which he received 14 years and 4 months, and first-degree criminal sexual conduct by a person in a position of authority, for which he received 16 years and 6 months. Two other criminal sexual conduct charges were dismissed.
BENSON — A Benson man faces 11 felony charges of possessing child pornography in addition to two felony charges related to his alleged attempts to solicit sex with a minor through electronic communications. Bradley Christopher Alsaker, 33, was arraigned Monday in Swift County District Court on the 13 felony charges. His next court appearance will be Dec. 18 in Benson.
BROOTEN -- A Brooten man suffered burns on his hands and head after an explosion and fire Sunday at his home four miles north of Brooten. Herman Paul Imdieke, 80, told Deputies that he had smelled gas in his house earlier and had been cooking supper when the explosion occurred. He was alone in the house. A neighbor had assisted Imdieke and called 911, according to a report from the Stearns County Sheriff's Office. When the Brooten Fire Department arrived, the house was fully engulfed.
COLD SPRING -- A 63-year-old Paynesville man was trapped in his car Sunday night after a single vehicle rollover crash north of Cold Spring. Joseph Spanier was driving south on Stearns County Road 2 in Wakefield Township just north of Cold Spring when his vehicle went off the road, according to a report from the Stearns County Sheriff's Office. The vehicle struck an approach at Island Lake Road and vaulted into the air, landed and rolled.
LITCHFIELD – A building at R & R Auto Salvage of Litchfield was destroyed by fire Sunday. A deputy checking on an alarm report at the business saw smoke coming from the shop area shortly after 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The business is east of Litchfield on Highway 12. The Litchfield Fire Department was called, and a short while later the building was fully engulfed in flame, according to a report from the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office. The Litchfield, Grove City and Dassel fire departments responded to the fire. The building and its contents were a total loss.
WILLMAR — Two people sustained minor injuries in a single vehicle crash Friday evening at the intersection of Kandiyohi County Road 5 and 15th Avenue Northwest. A vehicle driven by Sirad Ahmed, 20, of Willmar, left the road in the intersection west of Ridgewater College and struck a tree. Ahmed and her 17-year-old passenger were transported to Rice Memorial Hospital and treated for minor injuries, according to a report from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office.
OLIVIA — A 72-year-old Olivia man was transported to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale Saturday after an ATV crash. According to a report from the Renville County Sheriff's Office, James Zenk was driving an ATV across Highway 71 about 2 1/2 miles north of Highway 212 when his ATV overturned onto its side. He was thrown from the ATV and sustained non-life threatening injuries. Zenk was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital.No other vehicles were involved in the crash, and there were no other injuries, according to the sheriff's report.
SPICER — On a bus ride from Paynesville to Spicer, Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle saw trucks hauling wind turbine blades south on Highway 23. Zelle jokingly asked members of the Highway 23 Coalition Friday if they had arranged for those trucks so he could see the need for a four-lane state Highway 23 from Willmar to Interstate 94. The coalition hosted Zelle at a luncheon in Spicer and took him on tours of pending road projects, including the Willmar Wye.
WILLMAR — A Willmar man has pleaded guilty to kidnapping a woman in April. David Reymundo Valadez, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court to a felony charge of kidnapping to commit great bodily harm/terrorize. He had also been charged with misdemeanor domestic assault and misdemeanor fifth-degree assault causing fear of bodily harm or death. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 29. He was ordered to undergo a domestic abuse evaluation prior to sentencing.