Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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GRANITE FALLS -- If you want to reverse years of decline and redefine a future for a small town Main Street, where do you start? In Granite Falls, they decided there is no place better than the choicest lot in the downtown. "He picked it because of its location,'' said Barb Benson, a member of a local group calling itself Granite Falls Riverfront Revitalization. She's speaking of K.K. Berge and the building he erected in 1924. The immigrant tailor located his business as the "front porch'' to the downtown.
GRANITE FALLS -- The K.K. Berge building will be the center of activities as Granite Falls hosts the kick-off events for the eighth annual Meander Upper Minnesota River Arts Crawl. The Meander takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at locations throughout the counties of the Upper Minnesota River Valley. This year's Meander offers opportunities for self-guided tours to 35 locations featuring 45 regional artists. The kick-off activities get under way from 4 to 8 p.m.
APPLETON -- All artists are born with their own creative talent. Some learn how to express it through formal study at schools with well-known artists. Kerry Kolke-Bonk was arguably more fortunate. "I grew up with it; all the time it was around me,'' said Kolke-Bonk. She is the featured artists for the 2011 Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl known as the Meander. No different than a carpenter's son or daughter growing up with the tools of the trade always at hand, the materials and opportunities for creating art were always a part of the Kolke household.
BENSON -- What John Daniels calls his company's "challenge'' is one that many rural communities would consider a good one to have. Case New Holland in Benson is preparing to expand its Case IH manufacturing facility and add roughly 50 hourly jobs and an unspecified number of salaried positions. The challenge is finding applicants for the positions, although recent news of the dilemma has started to bring job seekers to its door and website, according to Daniels, general manager. Case IH is the largest employer in Swift County with 470 employees at its Benson facilities.
WILLMAR -- A Willmar area family is mourning the loss of a loved one who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Friday. Army Spec. Christopher David Horton and two fellow soldiers were killed by enemy small arms fire when they were ambushed in Paktia, Afghanistan, according to information the family has received. Horton, 26, was serving his first deployment in Afghanistan with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, A Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. He is the son of the Rev.
WILLMAR -- Willmar area residents commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Sept.
Specialist Kyle Miller's death while serving with the Minnesota National Guard in Iraq on June 29, 2006, was heart-breaking and unnerving news for Kim Schmit. She worked with the fallen soldier's stepmother and knew the 19-year-old soldier's boyhood ties to Willmar and Bird Island. From her home in Willmar, she relayed the tragic news by telephone to her son Joshua as he served with the 1451st Transportation Company in Iraq. He sought to calm her nerves. "Well mom,'' Kim recalls her son telling her: "Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. It won't happen.
OLIVIA -- Felony charges accusing former Danube city council member and whistle blower Sharon Marie Lothert of stealing funds from the city appear headed to a jury trial in December. Lothert and her attorney told District Judge Randall Slieter in district court in Olivia earlier today that they wanted a jury trial on the charges she faces. The defendant and her attorney, Thomas Van Hon, had met privately before the court appearance for a settlement conference with the special prosecutor for the case, Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson.
MILAN -- The potential to grow the local foods economy in the region from a niche-oriented enterprise to one serving the mainstream is not lost on Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel of Milan. They operate a community supported agriculture venture based on their low-cost greenhouse that produces fresh greens for area families during the winter months.
MILAN -- Institutional customers in west central Minnesota have a growing appetite for local foods. Tapping this market could elevate the production of local foods in the region in a big way, and not just because non-retail food sales represent roughly 48 percent of all food sales.