Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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OLIVIA — In ancient times, a large valley once cut through what is today Renville County, very much along the path of present-day U.S. Highway 212. Today, this subterranean feature, hundreds of feet deep, holds many of the aquifers so important to the county's municipalities, farms and industries. And it is all mapped, thanks to years of work and more than 8,000 worker hours devoted to developing the now completed Renville County Geological Survey.
MONTEVIDEO — When attorney Janice Nelson of Montevideo emceed a conference in September looking at the region's workforce challenges, she announced at the start just how familiar she was with one of them. Her administrative assistant had just quit. She was unable to find child care for her first child. A "quiet crisis'' is what the Center for Rural Policy in Minnesota calls the growing shortage of child care providers in the state.
BENSON — Aware of the child care needs in the community, the Benson Public Schools took a big step this year. The district expanded its Discovery Kids child care center programming to include infants and toddlers. The center in the former junior high building is now open to children ages six weeks through 6 years.
WILLMAR — A Willmar man is the owner of a performing bull that qualified to compete in the Professional Bull Riders finals this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. "Kind of like your kid is going to be pitching in the World Series,'' said Grayson Swalin, owner of Arctic Assassin,' when reached in Las Vegas. But alas, just like sending a kid to the World Series, things can go wrong. And they did. Arctic Assassin tried to jump out of the chute on the opening night of competition Wednesday and was disqualified. His rider was unable to get out into the arena on him.
BENSON — Voters in two area communities will go to the polls Nov. 7 to elect mayors and council members, while voters in a number of area school districts will decide special school board elections and whether to renew operating levies. The following is based on filings for office on the Secretary of State's website and information gathered from city and school officials. City of Benson
WILLMAR — A New London man convicted of first-degree drug possession after more than two pounds of methamphetamine were seized from his home will was sentenced to more than six years in prison. Jeremy Shane Rudolph, 40, was sentenced Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court to 78 months, the maximum for the offense based on his criminal record. The court allowed credit for 170 days already served. The court also ordered that he pay fines and fees of $1,090, and that the funds be taken from his prison earnings.
HANLEY FALLS — Two area cooperatives are among the first in the state to make group health insurance policies available for farmers. Glacial Plains Cooperative, based in Murdock, and the Hanley Falls Farmers Cooperative Elevator are offering group health insurance for their members through Land O'Lakes cooperative.
GRANITE FALLS — This is Minnesota, and soon: By 2020 retirees will outnumber school-age children. By 2030, when the first of the baby boomers turn 85, a full three-fourths of the state's population will be considered elderly, age 50-plus. These are the projections of the Minnesota Department of Human Service's 2010 Blueprint for Preparing Minnesota for the Age Wave, and the focus of its Minnesota 2030 Project to prepare for the year when the first of the baby boomers turn 85.
SPICER - Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center can now boast of having its own island destination. A five-acre site, long known as Geer Island, was added this fall to the 500 acres comprising this already special destination in rural Spicer in Kandiyohi County. The "island" is really a peninsula, but being surrounded almost entirely by water and cattails marsh, it has all the feel of an island. The island includes a mix of mature ironwood, burr oak and basswood trees with a grassy and open, park-like understory.
BIRD ISLAND — When solar panel installers told Glen Jacobsen that his utility bill looked different than others they have seen, he began investigating. Now Jacobsen, and many others who produce some of their own electricity with solar panels or wind turbines, are entitled to refunds on some of the state sales tax they have paid.