Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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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.
MONTEVIDEO — Construction could get underway this year on Chippewa County's first commercial wind farm. Fagen Engineering is currently in the permitting process for a 44.6-megawatt wind farm, which would be capable of producing electricity to power approximately 13,000 homes a year. Representatives of the company outlined plans Tuesday to the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners for the planned Palmer's Creek Wind Farm. A group of investors formed Palmer's Creek Wind Farm LLC for the project, according to Todd Hay and Mike Rutledge with Fagen Engineering of Granite Falls.
GRANITE FALLS — Project Turnabout was termed a "pioneer" when it opened its doors to help compulsive gamblers 25 years ago. It still is. Nearly 4,000 people have been helped by the Vanguard program for compulsive gamblers ever since, but this remains pioneering work. There have been lessons learned in how best to help those in need, but otherwise, only incremental gains have been made in responding to what many term the "silent addiction,'' according to today's team at the Vanguard program.
BIRD ISLAND — Many rural communities are embracing art and culture to promote tourism and economic opportunity. And some rural communities also realize that there is much more to community revitalization than the economics alone. That includes Bird Island, population 1,042, which is opening its own Cultural Centre. Everything from displays of local art and music jam sessions to a "poetry pound down'' are already in the works for it.
MONTEVIDEO - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is gathering public comments to prepare a deer management plan with the pledge it will include the first ever, statewide harvest goal. And when area residents had their opportunity to provide input on the plan in Montevideo on Monday, not one word was raised about setting a higher target for the harvest.
ST. PAUL — Budget constraints have forced Minnesota's state parks to shorten camping seasons, postpone maintenance work, reduce winter services, and even trim the amount of time staff have for contact with visitors. And yet the people keep coming in record numbers, with over 10 million visits counted last year, the most ever in the system's 125-year history.
WILLMAR — Ben Taatjes ran the numbers and advised his 62-year-old client that he had the resources to retire right then and there. He did, and now Taatjes considers it the worst advice he ever gave. Three months later the client was back in his office looking as if he had aged three years. "I messed up with that client. I could see it in his face when he came in,'' said Taatjes, owner and founder of Taatjes Financial Group of Willmar. The client was unprepared mentally for the dramatic changes that retirement brings, according to Taatjes.
OLIVIA — Minnesota's new buffer law is getting a lot of attention in Renville County where farmers will soon face decisions on how to comply with it. The Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District sent out 507 letters earlier this year to the owners of lands that border public waterways, where 50-foot buffers must be seeded by Nov. 1.