Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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MONTEVIDEO — Darek Nelson’s defense attorney will not be able to enter evidence related to Nelson’s diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome during his upcoming murder trial. District Judge Dwayne Knutsen gr-anted a motion by the prosecution to exclude the evidence in an order filed Dec. 17. Nelson, 25, of Montevideo is charged with first- and second-degree murder and second-degree assault in the fatal stabbing of Vinessa Lozano, 18, on the night of Jan. 13 in Montevideo. The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 25.
WILLMAR — Their connection to friends in Syria is becoming more tenuous by the day, but they know this much: Their friends live in Syria’s second largest city of Aleppo, and have no more than two hours of electricity each day. They tell them there’s no bread in the city. Fuel for heating and cooking is in short supply. Their friends don’t dare talk about the fighting between the Free Syria rebel groups and the government of Bashar al-Assad that is the cause of it all. Teachers Barb and Dan Leritz of Willmar can only watch the news and suffer the pain of knowing.
MONTEVIDEO — Newly appointed Eighth Judicial District Judge Thomas Van Hon emphasized the importance of serving those who come before the court as he took the oath of office in an investiture ceremony Tuesday in Montevideo. The new judge will be chambered in Montevideo. He succeeds Judge Paul Nelson, who recently retired after serving in that seat since 1997.
GLENWOOD — James David Poock, 35, of Moorhead, will serve a minimum of three months and possibly up to a year in jail as well as four years of probation as the driver in a fatal car-pedestrian accident on July 23, 2011 in Pope County. Poock was driving a 2004 Saturn that struck and killed Wes Tessman, 27, of Glenwood, at 1:20 a.m. on Highway 114 near Lowry. District Judge David Mennis ordered Poock to serve the three months in jail up front during a hearing on Wednesday in Pope County district court in Glenwood.
OLIVIA — The RC Hospital board should have an estimate by the end of this month of what it would cost to build a new health care center. While no decision has been made yet, the county-owned hospital is moving forward with a scoping process to develop plans for a new facility. Glenn Haugo, hospital administrator, told the Renville County Board of Commissioners this week that the hospital board and Pope Architects of Minneapolis are developing plans for a facility in the range of 60,000 to possibly 62,000 square feet.
GRANITE FALLS — Ever rising farmland values are continuing to shift the property tax burden to agricultural lands.
GRANITE FALLS — Yellow Medicine County is moving forward with plans to remodel a newly acquired building that will hold many of the county offices most frequented by the public. The County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a motion Tuesday authorizing Wold Architects of St. Paul to develop schematic designs for remodeling a former bank building in downtown Granite Falls. The county recently purchased the 8,635-square-foot facility from Fagen Inc. for $450,000.
WILLMAR — Motorists will continue to have a rough and slow go for a few more days. State highways and county roads throughout southwestern Minnesota remain compacted and slick after a weekend snowstorm forced the closure of roadways throughout southwestern and west central Minnesota. It will take at least a couple of days, and warmer temperatures, before state highways can be cleared of the hard, compacted snow, said TJ Melcher, public affairs coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for District 8 in Willmar.
MINNESOTA FALLS — One of the state’s largest dam removal projects in recent years is about to unfold: The Minnesota Falls dam could come tumbling down before the start of the new year. Rachel Construction of St. Michael, Minn., hopes to start work on the project this coming week, pending final approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
MONTEVIDEO — City council members in Montevideo on Monday approved the 2013 budget and levy, two-year labor contracts with city employees and set next year’s street projects. The new budget calls for total general fund expenditures of $3,635,120 and revenues of $3,636,075. Council members set the total tax levy for operations and debt services at $1,866,700, a three percent increase over last year.