Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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WILLMAR -- Cold temperatures and deep snow didn't stop volunteers from venturing out for the annual Christmas Bird Count in the Willmar area, but it probably kept some of the birds from showing up. The volunteers spotted 43 species of birds and 3,353 individual birds, slightly above the average but down when compared to years with milder weather, according to the annual report by organizers Joel Halbritter and Joel Schmidt. "The cold weather and deep snow surely affected our count numbers," they wrote in their report on the day. Raptor numbers were down, as were waterfowl, no doubt due to t
WILLMAR -- Arcadio Salinas Jr. 23, of Willmar, offered an Alford plea in district court in Willmar this morning for his role in an incident last fall where shots were fired as Willmar Police officers responded to a burglary. Salinas offered the plea as part of an agreement that reduced the charge against him to first degree, aiding and abetting attempted burglary. He could receive a 10 year sentence with a minimum of 34 months served in prison, based on discussions in the courtroom on Friday.
PENNOCK -- The price of gas was fast approaching 40 cents a gallon when bank president Wally Westrom pitched his job offer to Nancy Stockland. She could join the staff at the State Bank of Pennock and walk half a block from her home to work each day, instead of making the daily commute to her job in Willmar. She's stayed close to home ever since. A good thing too, judging by the crowds of people who made their way to the bank on Thursday.
OLIVIA -- Two men have been charged for allegedly burglarizing a rural property in Renville County, stealing firearms and gas and damaging a gas tank on the night of Dec. 23. Matthew James Wrobleski, 37, of Willmar, and Nicholas Ray Schmitz, 24, of Hector, face charges of burglary, first-degree possession of dangerous weapons; receiving stolen property; damage to property; and felony possession of firearms after being convicted of crimes of violence. Schmitz pleaded not guilty to the charges during a Jan. 31 court appearance in Olivia.
MONTEVIDEO -- A Clara City man faces felony charges of assault in the third degree and domestic assault for allegedly inflicting serious facial wounds on a woman. Frank Lee Chapman, 31, made an initial court appearance Jan. 24 in Montevideo and will return Feb. 2. He is being held on $100,000 conditional bail. Chippewa County charges that Chapman injured a 25-year-old woman during incidents Jan. 18 and 21 at a residence in Clara City. The complaint alleges that the defendant broke the victim's nose and the orbital bones in her face during an assault on Jan.
WILLMAR -- Efforts to improve water quality in Hawk Creek are showing results, but a solution to one of the more troubling of the problems remains elusive. Ten years of data show a steady trend toward decreasing amounts of sediment and phosphorus in Hawk Creek and Beaver Creek, two important tributaries to the Minnesota River, according to Cory Netland, director of the Hawk Creek Watershed Project. Netland spoke at the watershed project's annual meeting Wednesday in Willmar. "We've definitely made a difference over the last 10 years,'' Netland said. Yet while phosphorus and sediment loads
BENSON -- With a business as important as its movie theatre at stake, Benson has decided to write its own script to make sure the show goes on. The stars of the show couldn't be happier with their roles. "It's time to pay the community back,'' said Larry DeMarce, 74, owner of the town's DeMarce Theatre. "I want to be sure the community has a theatre.'' So do Tim and Susie Kletscher, who will soon become the new owners of the theatre that has been part of the DeMarce family since 1925. It's being made possible in large part through community involvement.
GRANITE FALLS -- It seems a difficult task to save a 105-year-old dam to spare an ethanol company the estimated $2 million cost for revamping its water intake system on the Minnesota River. No apparent solutions were in the offering as company officials with Xcel Energy and Granite Falls Energy on Friday joined representatives of the Chippewa, Renville and Yellow Medicine county boards, the city of Granite Falls, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and citizen groups to discuss the fate of the Minnesota Falls dam. The dam is located on the Minnesota River, a few miles downstream fr
Arctic winds howled through the day and by nightfall, the thermometer was on its slide to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Hardly a night when goose bumps would be in short supply or much less wanted, yet the Chippewa County-Montevideo Library was packed with people who wanted still more. Some 170 people came Jan. 20 to hear Chad Lewis of Eau Claire, Wis., spin stories of the paranormal, including accounts of haunted houses and cemeteries in Montevideo. "Amazing,'' said Library Director Dave Lauritsen.
OLIVIA -- Matthew Thomas Fahey, 25, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the abduction and sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl during what was to have been the start of his trial on the charges in District Court in Olivia. Now, he is awaiting rulings by the court that could add 10 or more years to the sentence he receives for the May 4 assault on the Fairfax newspaper carrier. Testimony provided by the girl on Tuesday will be considered as District Judge Randal Slieter decides whether there were aggravating factors and heinous elements to the crimes.