Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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BIG KANDIYOHI -- There's always a chance of spotting deer and other wildlife while driving along the wildlife management area south of Big Kandiyohi County Lake, but Penny Mulder of Willmar scored a first for modern times. It was a large, black bear she watched run across a field of corn stubble about 7:45 p.m. on Sunday. "You could see it plain as day,'' said Mulder.
MAYNARD -- Three area communities are named as recipients of state funds for flood mitigation projects as part of an overall, $20 million appropriation signed into law. Maynard, Montevideo and Granite Falls are among the communities listed as those in the state to be appropriated funds by the legislation approved at the end of the session. But this many days after the session's end, the communities are still unsure of what funds they will receive.
MILAN — Chuck Waibel and his spouse and business partner, Carol Ford wrote the book on how to build a passive solar greenhouse and economically raise greens in the deep of winter. No small feat in itself, but Waibel, of Milan, now has the opportunity to tackle the challenge that motivates him most of all. Waibel recently learned that he is a recipient of a Bush Fellowship. He wants to see passive solar technology utilized to expand our local foods production and economy. The ability to grow fresh greens in winter and the market for them is in place.
GRANITE FALLS -- It was difficult beforehand to tell people what a Paddling Theatre experience would be, since nothing of the sort had ever been offered on the Minnesota River in this area. Afterward, it was sure easy to describe people's reaction to it. "They were just so amazed at how it could happen,'' said Peg Furshong, associate director of Clean Up our River Environment.
OLIVIA -- The Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative met all of its water quality requirements while processing a record sugar beet crop in 2013. Louis Knieper, manager of environmental affairs, told the Renville County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the sugar cooperative is making considerable strides in meetings its surface water protection requirements.
MORTON -- Franky Jackson had no idea he would make history of his own when he accepted the position as director of the Renville County Historical Society and Museum in Morton. As a Dakota and member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe in South Dakota, Jackson, 40, was told that he became the first minority person to lead a county historical society in Minnesota when he started his new job Jan. 1. He's proud of his heritage, and confident that the 14 board members were looking at his abilities and passion for history.
GRANITE FALLS - Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord are not the first playwrights to take advantage of the beauty of Minnesota's outdoors and make it their stage for a play. They are among the first to put their audience in the seats of canoes and allow them to paddle the Minnesota River south of Granite Falls to enjoy the play written, directed and produced by the two. The water-borne audience will watch the play unfold at points along the river banks and an island. The paddlers will engage with the actors, and meet historical characters exploring the same waters.
OLIVIA -- Brian Noel Hester, 46, of Redwood Falls, will serve 35 months in prison for leading law officers on a high-speed chase in Renville County. Renville County District Judge Randall Slieter sentenced Hester on Monday under terms of a plea agreement. Hester pleaded guilty April 3 to a felony charge of fleeing a police officer and a gross misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired.
WILLMAR -- Toxins have a bad way of showing up in places we don't expect, like toys for children. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was able to convince Congress to place restrictions on lead in children's toys after 4-year-old Jarnell Brown of Minnesota swallowed a heart-shaped pendant and died Feb. 22, 2006, of lead poisoning. Heartland Community Action Agency is hoping to persuade parents to take a look at what items may hold toxins in their homes, and make the healthy choice of removing them from their children's lives.
GRANITE FALLS - Yellow Medicine County will remodel a former bank building into offices for county services at a cost nearly identical to estimates provided a few months ago. The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 on Tuesday to award bids totaling $564,204.14 to remodel the former bank building in downtown Granite Falls. That's within $2,000 of the construction estimate provided by Contegrity Group Inc. when the project was offered for bids in March.