Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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BENSON -- Take a seat at the DeMarce Theater in Benson if you want to see what the future might hold for Main Street movie theaters in rural Minnesota. That is, if you can get a seat. The 320-seat theater was only a few seats shy of capacity when the DeMarce joined other theaters across the nation in hosting the midnight opening July 14 of the final Harry Potter movie, "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part Two." Many who filled the seats for the 3-D movie had arrived at 9:30 p.m.
GRANITE FALLS -- Yellow Medicine County recorded its first conviction under its new social host ordinance when a defendant pleaded guilty to the charge Monday in District Court. Thomas Specht, 50, of rural Granite Falls, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge. Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson said the case demonstrated the value of the social host ordinance. Prosecutors did not have evidence that the defendant furnished alcohol to the underage party attendees.
WILLMAR -- Ever since the state's electronic licensing system went dark with the shut down of state services, there has been no way to buy a fishing license. It may be impossible to measure what kind of impact this has on the local economy, but there is no question about the frustration it is already causing. "Everybody is upset,'' said Brad Foshaug, of Brad's '71 Bait and Sports, Willmar. Foshaug said he fields inquiries every day from people looking for some way to buy a fishing license. Many are visitors from out of state who were caught unawares by the state shutdown.
DANUBE -- For 32 years, Keith Anderson has answered the call after every major storm to help restore power as an employee with Renville-Sibley Cooperative Power and Light. Not this time. "It hit me when they told me not to come,'' said Anderson. Keith and Pat Anderson lost their home to the Friday storm that knocked out power to many. They are now six days into the arduous work of cleaning up the debris that still lies about their home site north of Danube. "We're so tired out it isn't even funny,'' said Pat on Wednesday. The Andersons had fled to their basement and listened as what the
OLIVIA -- Matthew Thomas Fahey, 26, will serve a life sentence for the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 14-year-old newspaper carrier in May 2010 in Fairfax. He will not be eligible for parole until he serves a minimum of 404 months in prison -- more than 33 years -- under terms of the sentence issued Tuesday by District Judge Randall Slieter. Fahey had no comments to make before hearing the sentence on convictions for kidnapping, criminal sexual predatory conduct, and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree - causing injury or by force or coercion.
COSMOS -- Not since sod buster days has the start of a new farm generated this much interest in Meeker County. In this case, it's two farms. More than 500 people are estimated to have attended an open house on June 22 to celebrate the Adams Wind and Danielson Wind farms near Cosmos and Grove City, respectively. "It's the energy resource we have in Minnesota,'' said Doug Adams, who along with his wife Karen launched Adams Wind. Each of the wind farms consists of 12 turbines. Each unit stands 404-feet tall from base to tip of the blade.
OLIVIA -- A summer camping trip is forever a tragedy for the parents who lost their infant son when a cousin to the victim -- still intoxicated from a night of drinking and marijuana use -- backed over their tent in a van as they were waking up to a new day. Can the death of 3½-month-old Whyatt Sander in a Renville County park on July 5, 2009, serve to keep others from knowing the lifetime of hurt that's become the burden of those who loved him most? That's the hope that led Whyatt Sander's grandmother to author "Where the White Dove Flies, The True Story of the Homicide of Whyatt James Sand
GRANITE FALLS -- As contractors work to complete the final leg of more than $10 million in improvements before the start of school, litigation over how the Yellow Medicine East School District is financing nearly one-third of the project is headed to trial. District Judge Randall Slieter issued an order this week that will put the matter to trial at a date yet to be set. The judge ruled that the district had acted within the law in how it financed $7,220,276 of the $10,068,977 in health and safety improvements.
GRANITE FALLS -- Yellow Medicine County will pursue discussions aimed at the possible transfer of the Minnesota Falls dam from Xcel Energy to public ownership. Board Chair Dick Wambeke, Granite Falls, urged the commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday to support discussions that could lead to the transfer of the dam to public ownership.
GRANITE FALLS -- Child care that helps low-income parents re-enter the work force, treatment programs for juvenile offenders in custody, and chemical dependency treatment are among the areas where human service cuts are most likely to be made first by Yellow Medicine County. The Yellow Medicine County board of commissioners discussed the implications for the delivery of family service programs in the county in the event of a state shutdown at their meeting on Tuesday. The commissioners took no formal action, and said they would take a "wait and see'' approach.