Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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RENVILLE — Avian influenza struck the Rembrandt Enterprises barns in Renville in May 2015, forcing the company to depopulate 2 million birds from the egg-laying operation. It began restocking its barns on the eastern edge of Renville in February 2016. As it approaches the one-year anniversary of the restocking effort, the economic shadow left by the avian influenza outbreak of 2015 is still felt. Production has not returned to full capacity. The barns are holding birds, but not the 2 million they once held.
GRANITE FALLS — Two area legislators said the new session is off to a "fast and furious start,'' and so were the issues on Friday as they hosted the first of a round of town hall meetings in Granite Falls. Transportation funding, buffer legislation, bonding for Pioneer Television and the fate of the Appleton prison were among the issues tackled by State Senator Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, and Representative Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent.
LAC QUI PARLE VALLEY — Coming late to class, disrupting a class, or picking on a fellow student are the kinds of behaviors that will earn students in the Benson Schools a visit with Dean of Students Mike Knutson, and a good chance of serving an in-school suspension or other punishment. Now there's an alternative, and it doesn't involve punishment. The Benson Schools have introduced a restorative justice class — an elective class any student may take — and a program in which a student offender meets with a circle of peers.
MONTEVIDEO — Kevin Wald is asking the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners and Montevideo City Council to conduct an open review into a confidential settlement worth $2.4 million with a former hospital surgeon. "This is an open-disclosure, trust issue of the citizens' $2 million settlement money paid out," Wald told the Chippewa County Board on Tuesday afternoon. He brought a set of demands to the commissioners, and later Tuesday evening to City Council members, asking for public disclosure.
MONTEVIDEO — Chris Johnson began working on this country's opioid epidemic long before it became front page news, all because of what he saw as a medical doctor in Minnesota. "Despair," he said of its toll on the addicted and their families. He addressed a room full of health care providers Wednesday evening at the Chippewa County - Montevideo Hospital.
CLARA CITY — Supporters of a bond issue in the MACCRAY School District say the district can improve the educational opportunities it provides students and, in the long run, its economic viability by building a new elementary school and auditorium as part of a single, unified campus. More than two dozen district residents, most of them parents of school-aged children, have joined to promote a "yes" vote on a $38.8 million bond in the Feb. 7 referendum.
CLARA CITY — An informal group uring a "no" vote on the bond issue in front of MACCRAY voters next month says students in the MACCRAY Elementary Schools are getting great educations in a small community setting where they feel safe, their parents are engaged, and their teachers give them the individual attention they need.
CLINTON — The outside thermometer was stuck well below zero the morning of Jan. 6, and yet a crowd of 60 people filled the Inadvertent Cafe in downtown Clinton by sunrise for the chance to discuss the issues of the day with State Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, and Rep. Jeff Baker, R-Browns Valley. Everything from buffers to local government aid were the topics, but one underlying theme to it all was concern about economic opportunity in rural Minnesota.
WATSON - Chuck Ellingson's phone has been ringing ever since news and social media accounts this week began advising anglers to use caution on Lac qui Parle Lake. Caution is always the best policy on the ice, but Ellingson said ice conditions are good and he wants anglers to know that they do not need to worry about water on the ice. Ellingson, owner of the Watson Hunting Camp and Lodge, has a number of rental ice fishing houses scattered about the lake. He reports no water problems at any of them, including his larger, 21-foot models.
WATSON — People with ice fishing houses on Lac qui Parle Lake are being advised to check on them. Water has seeped on top of the ice around some houses on the lake. It's not known how extensive the problem might be, but a word of caution would be to the wise, according to Walt Gessler, wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Lac qui Parle. He noted that there have been reports of both slush and water around some houses.