Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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LITCHFIELD — Noelle Anise Pridgen, 29, will serve a 50-month prison sentence for a fiery vehicle crash that killed a Litchfield woman. District Judge Stephanie Beckman sentenced Pridgen on Monday in Meeker County District Court to 50 months in prison on a felony conviction for criminal vehicular homicide. The judge also sentenced her to a concurrent sentence of 28 months in prison on a second count of criminal vehicular homicide, and to 365 days in jail on third- and fourth-degree counts of the charge, also to be served concurrently.
UPPER SIOUX COMMUNITY — The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a driving while impaired conviction in Yellow Medicine County which resulted from a traffic stop during which a squad car's video recording device stopped operating. In a decision issued Monday, the court ruled that the district court in Yellow Medicine County had not erred when it denied a motion by the defense to suppress evidence from the arrest. However, the ruling came with a warning by Chief Judge Edward Cleary in support of concerns expressed by District Court Judge Thomas Van Hon in this case.
CLARKFIELD — Neil Linscheid knows firsthand what community development requires in rural Minnesota. He has served on the city council for Clarkfield, a town of 863. As an educator with the University of Minnesota Extension, he makes it his mission to help leaders in rural communities pursue their goals of community development. "I have definitely been in the room when you're trying to figure this stuff out,'' Linscheid said. Someday, he could play a role in rooms all across the state whenever community development is the objective.
BENSON — Benson School Board members will learn in April what it is expected to cost to take on needed but costly upgrades to the heating and ventilation systems in the district's facilities. It's another step in a process to prioritize the school district's facilities needs before possibly going back to voters for support of a bond measure.
BENSON — A group of citizens in Benson is hoping to persuade the Benson School Board that the school's indoor swimming pool is too valuable an asset to lose. Board members voted nearly one year ago to close the indoor pool at the end of the 2015-2016 school year rather than invest in new lighting for it. A school board-appointed task force recently examined what to do with the pool as part of its overall look at the school's facilities needs. The task force made no recommendation one way or the other on what to do, according to Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer.
SAINT PAUL - A coalition of religious and civil rights organizations will continue to oppose legislation that calls for the State of Minnesota to lease or purchase the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton. "Locking up people for profit has nothing to do with justice and has everything to do with making millions from human misery,'' said Rick Neyssen, a corrections sergeant at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud and president of Local 599 with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees during a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday.
CLARA CITY — Members of the Clara City Economic Development Authority are considering whether to invite their counterparts in Raymond and Maynard to meet and discuss the issues that are dividing the MACCRAY School District.
OLIVIA — The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected a bid by a Renville County defendant for a reduction of his 415-month prison sentence for second-degree murder. The court rejected the argument by Dwayne Case, 31, that the sentence "exaggerates his criminality" in a ruling issued Monday. The court also said it found "no compelling circumstances'' to reverse the sentence.
WILLMAR — Amy Rager spotted the first drops of sap seeping from a wound on the sugar maple tree on her Chippewa County farm, and was in disbelief. It was the last week of January. As the director of the University of Minnesota Extension's Master Naturalist program, she keeps an eye on the natural progression of seasons in Minnesota. This is one that tops the charts. She tapped her favorite maple and started collecting sap to boil for syrup, the earliest ever in her experience. "By a month,'' Rager said.
APPLETON — Local legislators are hopeful legislation will be approved this session calling on the state of Minnesota to either lease or purchase the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, although the Department of Corrections remains uninterested in the facility.