Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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OLIVIA — Barns are becoming an increasingly popular wedding venue, but as of now, they're not allowed in the county billing itself as the state's top agricultural producer. That might be about to change, as members of the Renville County Board of Commissioners indicated they are open to the possibility of establishing a license for wedding barn venues. "I don't want to just say no," said Commissioner Doug Erickson as he and other board members responded to Scott Refsland, director of environmental services for the county.
ATWATER - The community of Atwater is mourning the loss of a man who was very much the quintessential small-town police chief. Reed Schmidt is remembered for how much he loved his work and community, and helping others. Schmidt, former chief of police in Atwater, died Dec. 27 at his home in Atwater at the age of 67. He had been diagnosed with a brain cancer in March 2017. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m.
LITCHFIELD — A version of the national debate over public lands has recently played itself out in Meeker County, where conservationists were surprised when the County Board initially denied the transfer of land by willing sellers to the state. The Meeker County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 7 voted 3-2 to deny a request by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to purchase 150 acres for a wildlife management area.
GRANITE FALLS — Two burglary suspects are in custody after a homeowner's home security system alerted him that a vehicle was in the driveway of his rural home while his 12-year-old son was home alone. The homeowner hopped into his squad car, contacted his son en route and shortly afterward, pulled the suspects over on a rural roadway and with gun drawn, took them into custody with the help of a sheriff's deputy and the Granite Falls police chief. Michael Allen Chenoweth, 36, of Springfield, and Ashley Dawn Schultz, 29, of Marshall, are currently held in the Yellow Medicine County Jail
WILLMAR - A house fire has displaced the renters of a duplex in northwest Willmar.
Fire destroys mobile home in Meeker County LITCHFIELD – A fire destroyed a mobile home in Manannah Township of Meeker County on Wednesday. The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office reported that a home belonging to Edward Holmgren, 56, was reported on fire at 57700 340th Street in Manannah Township at 5:13 p.m. The Meeker County Sheriff’s Department, Eden Valley Fire and Litchfield Fire Departments responded.
Opioids are being abused in Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties, home to the Lower Sioux and Upper Sioux communities respectively, but it's not happening at the crisis levels being reported in some area of the country and Minnesota, according to law enforcement officials in those areas. And they are quick to emphasize that the abuse of opioids and other narcotics is occurring at similar levels among native as well as the non-native populations in those counties.
MONTEVIDEO — A convicted pedophile from Chippewa County will remain in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by a judicial appeal panel to deny a petition by Steven Allan Housman, 63, of Montevideo, for his full discharge from the program. In its decision released Tuesday, the court agreed with the judicial panel that Housman did not meet the criteria for discharge.
OLIVIA — Renville and Redwood counties are creating a standing committee to promote recreational opportunities in the 65-mile-long corridor of the Minnesota River they share. The Renville County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday approved creation of the committee and approved a conservation master plan for the corridor. The Redwood County Board of Commissioners was expected to approve the same at its meeting.