Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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MADISON -- A Lac qui Parle jury has acquitted a Montevideo business owner of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The jury found Thomas Lauritsen, 59, not guilty on Tuesday, the second day of the trial in District Court in Madison. The jury of nine men and three women deliberated for an hour and 10 minutes before returning the not guilty verdict, according to attorney Joseph Friedberg of Minneapolis, who represented Lauritsen. Lauritsen issued a statement on Thursday pointing out that he was found not guilty, and expressing his thanks to the jurors and to friends and family "who always be
GRANITE FALLS -- A 30-year-old man will serve a 21-month prison sentence after being convicted in Yellow Medicine County on five felony counts for possession of child pornography. District Judge Bruce Christopherson on Monday sentenced Scott Russell Brown, of Milroy but previously of Hanley Falls, to serve the prison sentence and pay a fine of $500 during. Brown had previously pleaded guilty to five of 10 felony counts of child pornography possession.
WATSON -- The city of Watson and resident Aziz Ansari are headed back to court, despite a mediated settlement that was intended to resolve differences the two. Ansari filed a motion in District Court on June 2 contending that the city of Watson has not fulfilled its obligations under the settlement, which the two sides reached during a 13-hour-long mediation session in April.
MONTEVIDEO -- Kim Johnson's concerns over plans by the Farmers Union Co-op Oil Company or Cenex to build an expanded, anhydrous ammonia storage facility near his home only grew as he gathered information about the dangers of the farm fertilizer. Those concerns became a lawsuit when the city of Montevideo approved a conditional use permit on Aug.
MONTEVIDEO -- Richard "Butch" Halterman purposely makes the annual river trips as economical as possible so that all students who want to participate can do so. He said community support goes a long ways towards making that possible. Clean Up the River Environment provides canoes and kayaks and shuttle and support services along the route. Local businesses also donate supplies. Bill's Supermarket donated over $200 worth of meat for this year's adventure. It wasn't just the students or their adult chaperones who benefited by the community support.
MONTEVIDEO -- Richard "Butch" Halterman can tell of camping adventures with high school students where tornados swirled in their vicinity, torrential rains forced them to find dry ground, and straight-line winds rattled their tents and brought sheriff's deputies to make sure they were okay. This year's trip brought three days of intermittent rains, but the results were no different. "Fun,'' said Kimberly Botkin.
GRANITE FALLS -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty made Chippewa County Attorney Dwayne Knutsen his 100th judicial appointment on Thursday. Pawlenty flew Thursday afternoon to Granite Falls to announce his selection of Knutsen to succeed retired Judge Bruce Christopherson to the trial court bench in Yellow Medicine County. Pawlenty described the new judge as a "thoughtful, fair and diligent attorney,'' and said his legal skills came with the "temperament and personality that you would want.
ASBURY -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will not require an environmental impact statement for a proposal by Duininck Inc., of Prinsburg, to construct a large asphalt storage facility in Chippewa County. By a 6-1 vote Tuesday, the citizens board of the MPCA adopted a staff recommendation to find a "negative declaration'' for an environmental impact statement -- an in-depth analysis of a development project that will significantly change the environment.
MONTEVIDEO -- City Council members in Montevideo adopted a series of changes Monday to liquor ordinances in the community. One of the changes could make Sunday liquor sales possible. Council members at their meeting on Monday voted to put the issue of Sunday liquor to the voters in the November general election, said City Manager Steve Jones.
GRANITE FALLS -- Mayor Dave Smiglewski of Granite Falls made phone calls to Wadena over the weekend offering any help that he or his community could provide as Wadena recovers from the damage inflicted Thursday by a tornado rated EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. What was deemed an F4 tornado on the Fujita scale in use at the time tore a 12-block path of destruction in Granite Falls on July 25, 2000, killing one man and destroying 69 homes. "Now when you drive through the neighborhoods that were hit, it looks pretty normal,'' he said.