Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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WILLMAR — A Kandiyohi County jury found Joseph Alan Schleeter, 32, of New London, guilty Thursday afternoon of third- and fifth-degree domestic assault charges, as well as criminal damage to property and threats of violence on. The jury returned not guilty verdicts to charges of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree, second-degree assault, and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. The jury returned its verdicts following a three-day trial in district court in Willmar.
WILLMAR — A man accused in a rash of thefts and burglaries in Kandiyohi County pleaded guilty Friday to 11 felony and two gross misdemeanor charges in district court in Willmar. Jordan Anthony Brede, 24, of Kandiyohi, pleaded guilty to a felony, first degree burglary charge, seven other felony, third degree burglary charges, and felony and gross misdemeanor theft charges. The first degree burglary charge carries a presumptive sentence of 45 months in prison, according to information from the Kandiyohi County Attorney's office, which prosecuted the case.
WILLMAR — It's been a "weird'' three months weather wise, but that's all right for the fishing opener, according to Brad Foshaug, avid angler and owner of '71 Bait and Sport in Willmar. This string of unusual weather from warm to cold to warm again could set the stage for one of the area's best fishing openers May 13, with one caveat. "I'm praying and hoping for a nice weekend,'' said Foshaug. His optimism for an active bite come next Saturday is shared by many.
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.