Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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GRANITE FALLS — A 10th defendant has joined nine others facing felony charges for allegedly attempting to cash counterfeit payroll checks at Prairie's Edge Casino Resort. Bailey Marie Swanson, 27, of Willmar, was arraigned Monday in Yellow Medicine County District Court on felony charges of check forgery, offering a forged check, and possession of a counterfeit check. The complaint alleges that on May 22, 2017, at Prairie's Edge Casino, she cashed what proved to be a fictitious payroll check in the amount of $984.26 from Target in Willmar.
GRANITE FALLS — A man charged with physically and sexually assaulting a woman he knew was sentenced last week in Yellow Medicine County District Court to consecutive sentences totaling over 44 years in prison. Marlow Vincent LaBatte Jr., 34, of Granite Falls, was sentenced March 14 for two first-degree criminal sexual conduct convictions.
GRANITE FALLS — You can't fight city hall, but soon, you might be able to infiltrate it. That's kind of what Ashley Hanson is up to, and she has the formal approval of the powers that be in Granite Falls to do it. City Council members recently approved a proposal by Hanson to pursue funding and create an artist-in-residency project that would embed an artist in the city.
WILLMAR — Kandiyohi County has filed a felony charge of tampering with a witness in the first degree against the sister of Chad Monson. He is in custody on firearms and explosives charges. Amy Lynn Monson, 42, of Burnsville, appeared Friday in District Court after having been taken into custody on a warrant issued by Kandiyohi County.
OLIVIA — The first transcontinental highway through the northern tier of states owes its start to a group of businessmen in Ipswich, South Dakota, who got together in 1912 because they wanted a better road to Aberdeen, all of 26 miles away. By getting other communities to join their effort, in a matter of years they made possible the 3,600-mile Yellowstone Trail, which connected Plymouth Rock on the Atlantic Ocean to Puget Sound on the Pacific.
WILLMAR — A Willmar man faces a third-degree murder charge for allegedly selling the fentanyl that led to the overdose death of John Schlegel of Blomkest at age 24 on Nov. 4. Richard Michael Carl Houske, 29, was arraigned on the charge Thursday in Kandiyohi County District Court in Willmar. The charge carries a potential sentence of 25 years in prison. District Judge David Mennis ordered bail set at $750,000 for release without conditions, or $200,000 for release with conditions.
WILLMAR — State Rep. Dave Baker of Willmar applauded the work of local law enforcement in bringing charges against a suspect in the Nov. 4 overdose death of John Schlegel, 24, of Blomkest. Richard Michael Carl Houske, 29, was arraigned Thursday on third-degree murder for allegedly selling the fentanyl that led to Schlegel's death. "The family is grateful to start putting closure to this horrible tragedy in their lives,'' said Baker, speaking on behalf of the surviving family of John Schlegel, as well as others who have lost loved ones to opioid overdoses.
CLARA CITY — MACCRAY School Board members are asking interim Superintendent Sherri Broderius to remain with the district as its superintendent. Board members voted unanimously at their meeting Monday to direct the school board's negotiation committee to meet with Broderius to work out an agreement. Board members at a special meeting one week earlier had decided not to offer contracts to two finalists from a pool of 11 candidates.
OLIVIA — Home health visits are a losing proposition for the Renville County Public Health Department, which calculates that it costs an average of $150 per visit to provide the service, while it only collects $82 in reimbursements. Unbeknownst to the department, it should have been paying Minnesota's 2 percent provider tax on the revenues it receives for providing the service.
ST. PAUL — State Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, is carrying the outdoor heritage bill in the Senate this session in just the freshman senator's first year as a member of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. This year's bill divvies up $113,923,000 in allocations for natural resources projects, everything from land acquisitions for wildlife management areas in rural areas to habitat enhancement in the metropolitan area.