Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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OLIVIA—A national measure of vital health factors ranked Renville County 85th of Minnesota's 87 counties. "And while the obesity rate in most of the counties is declining, in Renville County it is increasing,'' said Pat Halbe, vice president of financial services for United FCS in Olivia.
APPLETON—An invitation will be on its way to Gov. Mark Dayton to tour the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton. Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, is asking the governor to tour the shuttered prison after hearing recent news reports that the governor is opposed to purchasing the facility. Miller said he is particularly concerned about a statement attributed to the governor in news reports in March. Dayton expressed concerns at the time that the privately owned prison needed rehabilitation. "That is a hugely expensive proposition,'' he is quoted as saying.
MILAN—For reasons only the late Vern Kleven knows, 40 years ago he decided that Milan needed its own version of the Liberty Bell to celebrate the country's bicentennial. "He got it in his mind he was going to build it and he did. So we just let him do it,'' said Larry Germann, who served on the Milan City Council at the time. Lt. Gov. Rudy Perpich came to Milan to dedicate the bell, and the community's bicentennial celebration turned into a big deal, with a parade featuring 125 floats.
MAYNARD—At the turn of the last century, Willmar's economic rival to the west was the bustling town of Maynard. With five grain elevators, farmers from far and wide chose this location on the Great Northern Railway to ship their grain. "I know according to the records, farmers came from as far as Benson. (Some) carried the grain on their backs,'' said Rick Groothuis, longtime mayor of Maynard.
OLIVIA—The Renville County Board of Commissioners offered the county administrator position to Lisa Herges, currently serving as county coordinator with Todd County. The board of commissioners at its meeting Tuesday selected Herges to succeed Sara Folsted as county administrator, according to information from the county. Herges has been offered the position and is currently in contract discussions with Board Chairman Bob Fox.
BENSON—After several years of acrimonious litigation, a judge has ordered that the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company of Benson comply with a contract making the Glacial Plains Cooperative its exclusive grain handler.
WILLMAR—The state Highway 23 detour from Clara City to Raymond will end Friday and the road will be open to traffic, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. There is some minor work in the ditches left, which will not impact traffic. The detour was needed to allow for the construction of passing lanes on the north side of Clara City and the south side of Raymond. The passing lanes are funded as a Corridors of Commerce bonding measure approved by the Legislature in 2014 and designed to improve traffic flow on the corridor.
WILLMAR — Work on the Nest Lake Bridge was to be completed by the end of the day Monday and traffic restrictions removed. The grinding on the bridge—milling of the top surface to reduce sound—and repaving was part of a project on state Highway 9 between New London and Sunburg. State Highway 23 over the bridge will no longer be restricted from 4-lane to 2-lane, and the four-way stops at the intersection of North Shore Drive and Highway 23 and Old Mill Road/153rd Avenue and Highway 23 were to be removed by the end of the day.
GRANITE FALLS—They only have to tip a glass in New London to know it can work. Since they opened the doors of Goat Ridge Brewing along the Crow River in New London in early 2015, Josh Reed and Kelly Asche have shown that brewing good, local beer and a community-focused environment make for a successful business model. Now it's time to do the same along the Minnesota River in Granite Falls, where the Bluenose Gopher cooperative has launched a $200,000 capital campaign to open a member-owned, craft brewery much like the one in New London.
MINNEAPOLIS—A Bird Island woman who has served as a caregiver to her two grandchildren and described as honest and giving to others will serve 42 months in federal prison for stealing $1.7 million from her former employer.