Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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OLIVIA -- The Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative met all of its water quality requirements while processing a record sugar beet crop in 2013. Louis Knieper, manager of environmental affairs, told the Renville County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the sugar cooperative is making considerable strides in meetings its surface water protection requirements.
MORTON -- Franky Jackson had no idea he would make history of his own when he accepted the position as director of the Renville County Historical Society and Museum in Morton. As a Dakota and member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe in South Dakota, Jackson, 40, was told that he became the first minority person to lead a county historical society in Minnesota when he started his new job Jan. 1. He's proud of his heritage, and confident that the 14 board members were looking at his abilities and passion for history.
GRANITE FALLS - Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord are not the first playwrights to take advantage of the beauty of Minnesota's outdoors and make it their stage for a play. They are among the first to put their audience in the seats of canoes and allow them to paddle the Minnesota River south of Granite Falls to enjoy the play written, directed and produced by the two. The water-borne audience will watch the play unfold at points along the river banks and an island. The paddlers will engage with the actors, and meet historical characters exploring the same waters.
OLIVIA -- Brian Noel Hester, 46, of Redwood Falls, will serve 35 months in prison for leading law officers on a high-speed chase in Renville County. Renville County District Judge Randall Slieter sentenced Hester on Monday under terms of a plea agreement. Hester pleaded guilty April 3 to a felony charge of fleeing a police officer and a gross misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired.
WILLMAR -- Toxins have a bad way of showing up in places we don't expect, like toys for children. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was able to convince Congress to place restrictions on lead in children's toys after 4-year-old Jarnell Brown of Minnesota swallowed a heart-shaped pendant and died Feb. 22, 2006, of lead poisoning. Heartland Community Action Agency is hoping to persuade parents to take a look at what items may hold toxins in their homes, and make the healthy choice of removing them from their children's lives.
GRANITE FALLS - Yellow Medicine County will remodel a former bank building into offices for county services at a cost nearly identical to estimates provided a few months ago. The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 on Tuesday to award bids totaling $564,204.14 to remodel the former bank building in downtown Granite Falls. That's within $2,000 of the construction estimate provided by Contegrity Group Inc. when the project was offered for bids in March.
GRANITE FALLS -- The new Yellow Medicine County administrator will not have to take a pay cut for accepting the job. The Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to raise the starting salary offered to new County Administrator Peggy Heglund to $92,203.79, which represents the 10th step on the county's 12-step salary schedule for the position.
MONTEVIDEO -- More than a decade of work by the city of Montevideo to reduce the risk of harm from flooding has brought national attention to the city. The Association of State Floodplain Managers has awarded the city of Montevideo the National 2013 James Lee Witt Local Award for Excellence in Floodplain Management, the city learned this week. Greg Schwaegerl, public works director for the city, is expected to accept the award June 13 in Hartford, Conn.
SPICER -- Just in time for the Minnesota fishing opener on Saturday, the ice has gone out on Green Lake. The ice officially left the lake on Thursday, May 9, setting a new record by two days. The previous late ice-out record was May 7, 1951, when anglers were also concerned about access to the lake for the opening weekend.
WILLMAR -- With most of the lakes in northern Minnesota still ice-covered, bait dealers in the west central area are preparing for what they hope will be a very busy fishing opener weekend here. "I'm hoping so,'' said Greg Skindelien, of Skindelien Bait in New London. He is among those in the area who have received calls from anglers inquiring whether the lakes in the area are open.