Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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ATWATER -- Ethanol producers in west central Minnesota are coping with corn prices that are squeezing margins and have no plans to reduce production. "We've certainly seen throughout this year different challenges, pressures on that margin,'' said Mike Jerke, general manager of the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company in Benson. But he also expressed views shared by his colleagues at Bushmills Ethanol, of Atwater, and Granite Falls Energy, of Granite Falls.
GRANITE FALLS -- Supporters of Steven Jon Lynn Horton, 22, of Montevideo, held picket signs Tuesday outside the Yellow Medicine County courthouse in Granite Falls to protest his recent convictions on first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. They came also to show their support for motions filed that morning by Horton's attorney, Aaron Walton of Olivia, asking for an acquittal or a new trial.
MONTEVIDEO -- A trial date has not been set in the first-degree murder case against Darek Jon Nelson, 24, of Montevideo pending a second evaluation requested by the defense. Nelson faces a first-degree murder charge in the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Vinessa Lozano on Jan. 13 in Montevideo. He also faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. He remains in the Chippewa County Jail on $1 million bail. Nelson had undergone a mental health evaluation following his arrest.
GRANITE FALLS -- Entrepreneur Sunny Ruthchild of Walnut Grove wants to open a community kitchen where local food producers can process their foods and realize value-added earnings. Brian Schulz, director of the Yellow Medicine County Historical Society, believes that we are waiting too long to instill in our children a sense of place and identity. He wants to develop curriculum that would allow teachers to begin introducing the unique history and landscape of southwestern Minnesota to children in first, second and third grades, rather than waiting until they reach the sixth grade. Ruthchild
GRANITE FALLS -- Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis is urging fellow mayors not to squander the opportunity to propose significant changes in how the state distributes Local Government Aid, even if it means bringing a "politically risky" plan to the Legislature in 2013. "I'm up for it. I hope you guys are too," said Rybak as he and fellow mayors on Gov. Mark Dayton's tax reform advisory group met Friday in Granite Falls. The governor appointed 15 mayors in February to recommend tax reforms related to Local Government Aid.
There is heightened interest as Minnesota marks the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862. Hundreds of monuments and markers are scattered throughout southwestern Minnesota and the Minnesota River Valley to remember the tragic conflict. There are also historical sites that can also help us understand why it happened, and how it still shapes our lives today. Tom Ellig, Minnesota Historical Society, southern district, offers these starting points for those who want to begin a journey of understanding. Starting points Begin either at the Traverse des Sioux Treaty Site near S
GILFILLAN -- Funding for the basic research that makes American agriculture a world leader in innovation and production is stagnant if not in decline. America used to account for 21 percent of all research and development focused on agriculture in the world. Today, it is China that holds that lead position. The U.S. investment has shrunk to 14 percent, according to Dr. Brian Buhr, head of the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota.
SACRED HEART -- Three words explain why Susan Gustafson and her four young children can be found under the hot, summer sun in a roadside stand this week, hawking T-shirts and waving down motorcyclists on their way to the Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D. "Genetic, terminal illness'' are the words on the report handed to her six days after the birth of her youngest child, Ella. "I couldn't get past that line,'' said Gustafson. The diagnosis of cystic fibrosis also explained why Ella's older brother Zachary had been so ill for the first 2½ years of his life. Ella, now age 4, Zachary, 6, and
GRANITE FALLS -- An historic bridge considered the iconic image of a community's struggles with flooding will be saved, thanks to a recent grant award and state bond funds. The City of Granite Falls recently learned that the National Scenic Byway will be awarding the city $512,000 to repair and preserve the historic pedestrian bridge that spans the Minnesota River in the city's downtown, according to Granite Falls City Manager Bill Lavn. The federal grant funds will match state bond funds previously allocated.
LITCHFIELD -- Is there a profit to be made helping the many nonprofits striving to raise funds for their cause? Kathy Lotzer of rural Litchfield believes the answer is a resounding "yes," and that she has the perfect formula and place to make it possible. Lotzer has converted her former, non-profit Developing Winning Personalities operation into a for-profit business to help nonprofits with their fundraising and missions. Her seven-acre site outside of Litchfield offers day activities for young people. Rock wall climbing, mini-golf, remote-control car racing, go-carts, disc golf, paintball