Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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LAC QUI PARLE VALLEY — More than 470 instructors gathered Monday at the Lac qui Parle Valley High School to learn the latest strategies and digital technologies to employ in their classrooms. The K-12 teachers with the Minnesota River Valley District schools also learned about the latest drugs available to students on the streets outside of their classrooms. Some of these drugs are also being made available to them via the Internet.
MONTEVIDEO — Darek Nelson, 25, will serve life in prison without the possibility of release for the fatal stabbing of Vinessa Lozano, 18, on Jan. 13, 2012, outside of the Pizza Ranch restaurant in Montevideo. District Judge Dwayne Knutsen sentenced Nelson to the maximum sentence just moments after he entered a guilty plea Friday afternoon to first-degree murder, premeditated, in District Court in Montevideo. Nelson entered the plea as part of an agreement in which charges of second-degree murder, with intent, and two second-degree assault charges were dismissed.
GLENCOE — Hennepin County is looking to build a 14-mile-long, light rail line from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis. It’s not just prospective riders — from Twins’ fans to suburban workers — who are weighing in on the Southwest Light Rail Transitway.
WILLMAR — The 75th anniversary of the Willmar War Memorial Auditorium was allowed to go unnoticed last year, but there is a chance to make up for it. This can be the year that Willmar celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Richard Haines mural it holds, and let the world know about all that is here, according to Dale Johnson, former parks and recreation director for the city.
OLIVIA — A decision on whether to go forward with a plan to build a new Renville County hospital facility could come in the next week or two. The Renville County Hospital Board will take up the issue Jan. 22, Hospital Administrator Glenn Haugo told the Renville County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. The County Board has to make the final decision on whether to go forward. The county commissioners expressed differing views, and did not commit to a date to make a decision.
OLIVIA — Political gridlock in Washington is taking an economic toll on farm country, representatives of agricultural businesses in Renville County told U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., during a stop Monday in Olivia. The lack of a farm bill has forced Corn Capital Innovations of Olivia to put decisions on expanding its staff on hold, Joel Mathiowetz, director of growth with the consulting and risk management company, told the senator. He said it’s hard to invest in additional staff when there is so much uncertainty.
MONTEVIDEO — Felony char-ges of criminal vehicular homicide or operation will go forward against a 70-year-old defendant in a fatal motor vehicle accident that occurred Dec. 16, 2011, in Chippewa County. District Judge Thomas Van Hon ruled this week that probable cause exists for the charges against Arnold Jaenisch, 70, of rural Clara City. The judge denied a defense motion to dismiss the charges. Jaenisch is charged with three felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide, as well as misdemeanor charges for open bottle and a stop sign violation.
GRANITE FALLS — Workers are only about one month away from opening what some expect will become western Minnesota’s top destination for paddle sports, and a popular fishing spot as well. Rachel Construction of St. Michael is on track to have the Minnesota Falls dam on the Minnesota River removed by mid-February. Work began in mid-December and has continued on schedule, thanks to low water flows and the cold temperatures.
SAINT PAUL — Challenges ranging from aquatic invasive species to disappearing grasslands have the attention of the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources this year, as well as finding a way to share the landscape of the Minnesota River Valley among often competing, recreational users. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr announced that the department will be looking at how to create a new type of recreation and conservation area in the Minnesota River Valley this year that can accommodate multiple uses.
MONTEVIDEO — Jose Mujica has six bullet wounds and the memory of 14 years in prison to tell the story of his path to public office. Ana Olivera spent 11 years in exile overseas before she was able to return home and run for office. Mujica, the president of Uruguay, and Olivera, the mayor of its capital city, were among the Uruguayan office holders who rolled out the red carpet for Debra Lee Fader, mayor of Montevideo, Minn.