Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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MADISON — Blowing snow and sub-zero temperatures didn't stop more than 80 people from traveling the roads of western Minnesota Thursday to reach the aptly-named Frozen Farm Forum in Madison. They braved the weather to learn about the possibility of raising industrial hemp in Minnesota. Their interest came as no surprise to Margaret Wiatrowski, coordinator of the industrial hemp program for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The forum marked the fourth big event she's spoken at this year already, each with large crowds.
CLARKFIELD — The former occupants and owners of the old school buildings in Clarkfield left the country three years ago, believed to have done so literally in the middle of the night, and now one of them sits in a prison in Iceland. The tax-forfeited, 1.3-acre site of the former Clarkfield Public School is now the property of the state of Minnesota but the responsibility of Yellow Medicine County. Most of the structures are water-damaged and filled with mold, have crumbling ceilings and walls, and filled with all kinds of items that were left behind.
OLIVIA — The possibility of hiring a part-time superintendent, possibly on an interim basis, was the focus of discussions as BOLD School Board members met for a work session Monday. Board members did not come to a consensus, but agreed to put the matter back on the agenda for their regular meeting on Jan. 22. They informally agreed to take advantage of a three-hour work session offered by the Minnesota School Boards Association aimed at helping school boards in the process of selecting a superintendent.
BENSON — The long and bitter legal dispute between the Glacial Plains Cooperative and Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company has reached the state's high court. The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Jan. 3. The justices will be deciding whether to affirm or remand rulings by Swift County District Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals that have favored Glacial Plains Cooperative. The two cooperatives located in Benson have been in litigation since 2009.
OLIVIA — A Minnesota Court of Appeals decision upholds the conviction of a Cosmos man for driving while impaired in Renville County, and the case helps establish how the courts view traffic stops initiated when a vehicle drives on a fog line. In a published decision released Monday, the court affirmed the 2017 conviction for driving while impaired of Phillip George Kruse, 42, of Cosmos.
MONTEVIDEO — Supporters of a veterans nursing home in Montevideo made their mark again as they again showed up in large numbers Monday for a visit by the Minnesota Senate Capital Investment Committee. "This is pretty remarkable," State Sen. David Senjum, R-Rochester, chairman of the committee, said Monday afternoon to a crowd estimated at nearly 200 at the American Legion Club in Montevideo.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed a Kandiyohi County District Court decision dismissing felony charges of theft by swindle and theft of services against a defendant who did work on the side and pocketed money that might otherwise have gone to his employer. When the roof leaked after the worker fixed it, the company made good on a warranty that did not actually exist as the work had been done on the side without the company's knowledge.
MONTEVIDEO — A new rift has emerged in a Montevideo area family's dispute over a gravestone. The dispute has already led to both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit. John Wendell Albrecht, 75, and his son, John Darron Albrecht, 48, were sentenced in July to one year of unsupervised probation on felony theft charges for removing a gravestone that other family members had placed at the burial site of wife and mother Sandra Albrecht, who died July 24, 2016, at age 74.
OLIVIA — A sheriff's deputy credited with reaching out and bonding with the communities he serves is the 2017 recipient of the Chris Domeier Community Policing Award in Renville County. Colleagues and the family of Renville County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Swyter joined to congratulate him as the award was presented to him Tuesday at the County Board of Commissioners meeting in Olivia. Sheriff Scott Hable described Swyter as a "go to guy'' for his work in keeping communities safe.
OLIVIA — Barns are becoming an increasingly popular wedding venue, but as of now, they're not allowed in the county billing itself as the state's top agricultural producer. That might be about to change, as members of the Renville County Board of Commissioners indicated they are open to the possibility of establishing a license for wedding barn venues. "I don't want to just say no," said Commissioner Doug Erickson as he and other board members responded to Scott Refsland, director of environmental services for the county.