Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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WILLMAR — It takes smarts to catch fish. And that is exactly what members of area fishing clubs are bringing to the table in the effort to keep aquatic invasive species out of local waters. Twenty-eight anglers from seven different fishing clubs and organizations joined April 24 in Willmar for training. They learned how to inspect boats for invasive species, how to identify them and the laws involved. They are now volunteer educators, ready to show other anglers how they can inspect their own watercraft.
WILLMAR — Five days after his son was born, Souen "Posy" Chheng was placed on a flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with seven other deportees from the United States. Chheng is now over 8,000 miles away from the son he has not met, Jakobie, and the child's mother and his wife of less than a year, Allison Chheng. "It's been hard,'' said Steve Peppin of Willmar, his friend and employer in Willmar. Peppin said the deportation of his friend on Tuesday feels like a death. He is not optimistic that Posy Chheng will ever be allowed to return to the United States.
OLIVIA — A man charged with breaking into a woman's residence and raping her offered an Alford plea to a felony charge of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. Eric Edward Dostal, 23, of Glencoe, entered the plea — which is recorded as a guilty plea — Monday in Renville County District Court. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there is sufficient evidence to prove the elements of the offense.
WILLMAR — A man who was charged with striking another man on the head with a ball hitch and causing severe brain bleeding during a birthday party for 11-year-olds will serve time in prison. District Court Judge Michael Thompson on Monday sentenced Juan Jose Guerrero Jr., 21, of St. Cloud, to serve 36 months in prison for second-degree assault. Thompson allowed credit for 240 days served in jail. He ordered Guerrero to pay restitution, along with co-defendants, to the victim.
ST. PAUL — Kandiyohi and Yellow Medicine counties are among those where cases of canine distemper have been confirmed, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Monday. The DNR warns reports are on the rise of this disease, which is spread by raccoons and can infect domestic dogs. Taking precautions can minimize chances of the disease spreading to pets. Canine distemper can be spread through the air or by direct contact with urine, feces, blood or saliva.
WILLMAR — With plans in the works by the city of Willmar to invest nearly $900,000 to make Robbins Island Park a regional destination, officials say now is the time to focus on what makes it so special. Keep the momentum going to continue to improve water quality in Foot, Willmar Swan and Skataas lakes, as these shallow lakes and the recreational opportunities they provide are so important.
BENSON — One of Benson's largest employers, and one of Swift County's largest tax-paying entities, is expected to be closed. Xcel Energy is negotiating to acquire the Benson Power facility with intentions of closing the 55-megawatt, biomass-powered plant, possibly as early as the summer of 2018, according to the Swift County Monitor News in Benson. It reported that the plant's 45 employees were told of the possible transaction and plant closing this week.
WILLMAR — Allison Chheng gave birth Thursday morning to her first child, Jakobie, as her husband, the boy's father, awaits his fate in a detention facility in Arizona. A flight leaves Tuesday for Cambodia and all Allison Chheng can do is hope that her husband, Souen "Posy" Chheng, 36, is not on it. He faces deportation to a country he has never stepped foot in. He has no family waiting there. "The bad thing is if he does get deported, there's no coming back,'' said Steve Peppin of Willmar.
ST. PAUL — Work on the Marsh Lake Ecosystem Restoration project got underway Monday involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, and its contractor, RTS Shearing of Jamestown, North Dakota. The $5.9 million project involves restoring the environment by improving the waterfowl and aquatic habitat. Phase 1 includes constructing a drawdown structure and a fish passage at the Marsh Lake Dam. Phase 2 of the project includes rerouting the Pomme de Terre River to its historic channel for an additional cost of approximately $3.5 million.
KERKHOVEN — City Council members in Kerkhoven could appoint someone to complete the term of Mayor James Rothers at their May 8 council meeting. Council members accepted the resignation of Rothers at their meeting Monday. They also agreed to appoint someone to complete the term rather than hold a special election to fill it, according to information from the city.