Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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NEW LONDON -- A career of more than 35 years with the Minnesota state parks system hasn't made it any easier to answer the question that has made Paul Otto's work so rewarding. Otto retired from his career with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday as the manager of Sibley State Park. Asked what he's enjoyed the most, Otto said it comes down to two things that are hard to rank one over the other. He said he's always enjoyed the role of helping people who come to have fun, make memories and enjoy the outdoors. By the same token, he's always enjoyed making these outdoors h
WATSON -- Hunting geese in December takes some adjustment and, as we discovered, some cooperation from Mother Nature. For the first time ever, there's a December goose hunting season at the Lac qui Parle refuge, but successive winter blasts have deflated more than the Metrodome roof.
WILLMAR -- Fire destroyed a garage and its contents, including a work shop and two vehicles late Friday afternoon in Willmar. The fire was reported around 4:30 p.m. at a detached garage at 920 Southeast Second Street. The garage is separated by approximately 5 to 10 feet from a home. The homeowner had returned home and started a wood stove in the garage, according to Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin. The man went into his home and about one-half hour later saw a large amount of smoke when he looked out a window.
ROCK VALLE -- A matter of faith is splitting the congregations of some Lutheran churches affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Ch-urch in America. Just over two years ago, the ELCA voted to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors in committed relationships. Some congregation members have found the decision irreconcilable with their faith, and pressed for disaffiliation votes in their churches. Nowhere are the stakes greater than in some of the area's rural parishes.
WILLMAR -- Difficult driving conditions continue to be reported as snowfall amounts accumulate in the region. The Minnesota Department of Transportation reports difficult conditions on roadways in Swift, Pope, Stevens, Big Stone and Douglas counties, as well as fair to difficult conditions on roads in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Renville and Yellow Medicine counties. As much as 8 inches have been unofficially recorded in the Willmar area. The conditions led these area schools to cancel classes today: ACGC, BLHS, BOLD, CMCS, KMS, MACCRAY, NL-S, RCW and Willmar.
OLIVIA -- A Sacred Heart man has pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and domestic assault-strangulation. Jose Felix Barajas, 45, entered guilty pleas during a hearing Monday in Olivia. Under terms of a plea agreement, a charge of attempted murder in the second degree was dismissed. The court approved a stay of adjudication on the assault and domestic abuse charges.
WILLMAR -- A passion for hunting has led John Coulter from his classroom as a teacher in Tracy to the mountains of the western states, wilds of Alaska and even the African bush. It may bring him next to the hallways of the nation's capitol. Coulter, 62, now retired from teaching, is the Midwest representative for Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.
WILLMAR -- Volunteers are welcome to join the fun as Willmar area birders take part in the National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. This year's count will be conducted on Saturday, Dec. 18. Volunteers should meet in Randy Frederickson's classroom, room #104 in the Willmar Middle School prior to 7:30 a.m. Data sheets, assignments and last minute instructions and carpooling plans will be provided at this time. Volunteers will gather at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar for a 5 p.m. supper.
NEW LONDON -- Fire badly damaged a trailer home Thursday night located between Hawick and Regal. The fire started in a bedroom. The bedroom was destroyed and there was heat and smoke damage throughout the interior of the trailer, which will likely be considered a total loss, according to Sig Holme, New London fire chief. New London firefighters were called to the fire at 10:27 p.m. when a female occupant of the trailer returned home and discovered the fire, according to Mark Skindelien, a lieutenant with the volunteer fire department.
APPLETON -- After considering several possible partners, Appleton Area Health Services has chosen to enter into a contract with Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, S.D. The health services relationship begins at the start of the new year, according to a joint announcement Th-ursday by the two partners. The biggest, immediate benefit to the city-owned Appleton hospital and medical center will be the ability to take advantage of Sanford Health's volume buying power, according to Jason Carlson, CEO of Appleton Area Health Services.