Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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Kurt Kramin felt as if he had escaped the worst when the July 1 storm that tore through Renville County toppled 35 trees on his farm place, but spared his home and buildings. That was until July 13, when he put a match to fuel to burn the tree limbs he had cleaned up. "Just a flash and it was over," he said. Caught in the fumes from the fuel, Kramin, 53, suffered third-, second- and first-degree burns to his arms and face.
MILAN -- The Milan Community Foundation launched the Karen Jenson Endowment Fund Sept. 30 with a Norwegian tea at the Milan Community Center. This new fund is designed to provide financial assistance to needy students at the Milan Village Arts School in the name of one of Milan's most famous artists. Jenson is among those who helped establish the school. Approximately $5,000 was raised by the end of the evening. In order to establish the fund under the auspices of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, a minimum of $10,000 is needed.
MONTEVIDEO -- As certain as the colors change in autumn, so too do the faces dropping in at DJ's Sporting Goods in Montevideo. There's always an influx of customers as pheasant and waterfowl hunters from the Twin Cities and places as far as Kansas make annual trips to their favorite stomping grounds, said Jon Dahlvang, of DJ's Sporting Goods, now part of Running's Farm and Fleet, Montevideo. "It's always been good,'' he said of the sales generated by out-of-town hunters to the area. The goal now is to make it even better. The opportunity to host the first Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Open
MINNESOTA FALLS -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has determined that an environmental impact statement will not be required for the removal of the Minnesota Falls dam. The Sept. 27 decision is based on a review of an environmental assessment worksheet completed by Barr Engineering for Xcel Energy, and on public comments to it. The environmental assessment worksheet -- a questionnaire about the project's setting and potential for environmental harm -- is a screening tool used to determine whether a full environmental impact statement is needed.
WILLMAR -- Two dozen Patriot Guards remembered the service of Russell Castro to his country by serving as honor guards at his funeral Monday at Bethel Lutheran Church in Willmar. Castro, 37, of Willmar, died Sept. 23 after being diagnosed about one year ago with leukemia. Castro was proud of his service to country and the military, and family members felt it would be appropriate if the Patriot Guard served at his funeral. "My husband would have been smiling,'' said his widow, Dawn.
GRANITE FALLS -- America's great social experiment with Prohibition made criminals of many otherwise law-abiding citizens. That was just as true in western Minnesota, home of Congressman Andrew Volstead, the author of Prohibition, as it was elsewhere in the county. Along with taking a look at Volstead's legacy, Pioneer Public Televison's documentary "Volstead Fever'' also offers a look at how the law was flouted and its end celebrated in western Minnesota. Dustin Brau, co-owner of the Brau Brewery in Lucan, tells how many farmers simply brewed their beer at home during Prohibiton. Jon Bere
GRANITE FALLS -- For George Boman, there is no question about how Andrew Volstead should be remembered. "They were nice people,'' said Boman of Volstead and his wife, Nellie, and daughter Laura. Boman grew up on a farm owned by Volstead, and got to know him well enough to be called to serve as his pall bearer. Volstead was a frequent visitor to the farm outside of Granite Falls, said Boman, 87, and was always interested in all things farming.
GRANITE FALLS -- If you want to reverse years of decline and redefine a future for a small town Main Street, where do you start? In Granite Falls, they decided there is no place better than the choicest lot in the downtown. "He picked it because of its location,'' said Barb Benson, a member of a local group calling itself Granite Falls Riverfront Revitalization. She's speaking of K.K. Berge and the building he erected in 1924. The immigrant tailor located his business as the "front porch'' to the downtown.
GRANITE FALLS -- The K.K. Berge building will be the center of activities as Granite Falls hosts the kick-off events for the eighth annual Meander Upper Minnesota River Arts Crawl. The Meander takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at locations throughout the counties of the Upper Minnesota River Valley. This year's Meander offers opportunities for self-guided tours to 35 locations featuring 45 regional artists. The kick-off activities get under way from 4 to 8 p.m.
APPLETON -- All artists are born with their own creative talent. Some learn how to express it through formal study at schools with well-known artists. Kerry Kolke-Bonk was arguably more fortunate. "I grew up with it; all the time it was around me,'' said Kolke-Bonk. She is the featured artists for the 2011 Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl known as the Meander. No different than a carpenter's son or daughter growing up with the tools of the trade always at hand, the materials and opportunities for creating art were always a part of the Kolke household.