Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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NEW LONDON -- There's still time to reserve camping sites and lodging in Minnesota State Parks before the reservation system is taken down for an upgrade. The system will be temporarily unavailable from Dec. 27 to Feb. 29, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced this week. The reservation system will be upgraded as part of a transition to a new provider, US eDirect. It is possible to reserve campsite, camper cabins and teepees in state parks one year in advance. The temporary shutdown of the reservation system is not likely to affect camper plans at Sibley State Park.
OLIVIA -- Just as they had everything lined up and ready to go, world financial markets erupted in turmoil with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Although nearly 1,500 miles separate them from Wall Street, brothers Tom Revier and Dave Revier were forced to put plans on hold to expand their cattle feedlot in Renville County into one of the state's largest. Saying "whoa'' at the time was one of the best things that could have happened, Tom Revier told visitors from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Agriculture last week.
OLIVIA -- Its responsibilities may be growing, but not its staff. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has seen its staffing drop from a high of around 1,200 in 2007 to 900 today. It will likely shrink to 850 to 875 positions after federal cuts are felt over the next 18 months, the commissioner of the MPCA told reporters during an informal luncheon Dec. 1 in Olivia. Paul Aasen, appointed to lead the agency by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011, was in Olivia as part of a tour of large agricultural operations in the area.
OLIVIA -- A former Danube city council member will serve five years of probation and time on home arrest, but will be able to avoid time in prison if she repays the city's economic development agency the money she stole. Sharon Lothert, 59, now of Hector, apologized for her actions shortly before being sentenced Friday for a felony theft charge and gross misdemeanor misconduct charge by a public official in Renville County district court in Olivia. "I am really sorry for the problems I caused for the City of Danube and for my family," Lothert told District Court Judge Randall Slieter. The j
OLIVIA -- A former Danube City Council member will serve five years of probation and time on home arrest, but will be able to avoid time in prison if she repays the city's economic development agency the money she stole. Sharon Lothert, 59, now of Hector, apologized for her actions shortly before being sentenced today for a felony theft charge and gross misdemeanor misconduct charge by a public official in Renville County District Court in Olivia.
WATSON -- Part two in a new era in goose hunting at the Lac qui Parle wildlife refuge gets underway today. Goose hunting will continue to be allowed in the state blinds for only the second December in the more than 40-year history of the controlled goose hunt at the refuge.
MONTEVIDEO -- Workers at Luther Haven have ratified a new three-year labor contract that averts a possible strike at the skilled nursing facility in Montevideo. Workers approved the agreement in a vote Wednesday, according to Ryan Nagle with Service Employees International Union-Health Care. The bargaining unit represents about 135 to 140 of the 180 full-time employees. Workers had authorized a strike that would have started on Saturday. A tentative agreement reached on Nov. 21 led workers to postpone the action until a vote could be held.
WATSON -- During the summer, a daily ritual for 90-year-old Ernest Solseth was to putt-putt his way downtown to the post office on his riding lawn mower. Postmistress Jodi Williamson never missed a beat, and dashed out of the Watson post office to hand Solseth his mail and save him the need to climb up the steps. "I would hate to see the post office go,'' Solseth said. He's one of many in the Chippewa County community of just over 200 people who are writing letters and signing a petition pleading with the United States Postal Service to reconsider its proposal to close the office.
WATSON -- There are nearly 3,600 post offices under review across the country for possible closure. It's not clear how many will actually be closed in the months ahead, but post office closings in both rural and urban areas will be a fact of life. The volume of postal activity has declined by 20 percent in the last five years.
Erma Iverson says she has lots to be thankful for after spending about 20 hours stranded and helpless outside her rural Yellow Medicine County home on a late September day and night. The 79-year-old woman's first thanks go to her dog, Crackers, for keeping at bay coyotes and raccoons through the long night of her ordeal. Her next thanks go out to postal carrier Stan Boushek, who discovered her and called for help.