Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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ST. LEO - Joe Blastick is looking to put more smoke up in the air, all for what it makes possible on the ground. Better habitat. Blastick is a fire manager with The Nature Conservancy's Prairie Coteau office in Clear Lake S.D., serving southwestern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. Thanks to a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Legacy funding, he's helped train volunteers with 14 rural fire departments in western Minnesota on how to conduct prescribed burns over the past three years.
WILLMAR — Every year, about 2 percent of the people reported missing are ages 18 to 22, and they can pose the biggest challenge for law enforcement to find, according to Patty Wetterling, who spoke Friday at the Willmar Civic Center. Wetterling said she was hoping to meet that day with relatives of Danny Newville, who is among those who have gone missing as a teenager. Newville was 18 years old when he left a party in New London in August of 2002. He has not been seen since, despite a continued campaign by family members and friends.
WILLMAR — Her 27-year-long search for her son is over, but it's left Patty Wetterling wondering what's next for her. "There are days when I think I am better. I am doing better. I am lighter, I am focused. And, then there's days when I have no idea who I am,'' Wetterling told an audience Friday at the Willmar Civic Center.
KERKHOVEN — James Rothers may be an enigma to many in Kerkhoven today, but Rich and Carol Radtke have no questions about his willingness to help. They owe the survival of their small organic dairy farm to his generosity. "We couldn't have done it without him,'' said Rich Radtke. Rothers' help came after fire destroyed the barn and thousands of dollars worth of equipment in it on the Radtke farm east of Kerkhoven in March 2014. They discovered to their surprise that the loss was not insured.
KERKHOVEN — City Council members in Kerkhoven will decide Monday whether to accept the resignation of Mayor James Rothers only three months into his two-year term. If they do, which is expected, they will also decide whether to appoint a successor or hold a special election to replace him. City Council member Scott Lamecker said the meeting will be the first step in an effort to move on from months of controversy with the mayor that has left many unanswered questions in the community.
WILLMAR — For as long as many can remember, winter winds and blowing snow have made a curve on Minnesota Highway 67 west of Granite Falls a problem area for motorists. Those days may be over. Two local landowners have teamed up with the the Minnesota Department of Transportation in District 8 to improve safety on the notorious stretch by building a permanent snow fence.
WILLMAR — Lance Lovin, 26, of New London, pleaded guilty Tuesday in District Court in Willmar to two gross misdemeanor charges of stalking and a misdemeanor charge for driving without a driver's license. A felony stalking charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement, and the two charges to which he pleaded were amended from felony second or subsequent stalking charges to gross misdemeanor stalking. The agreement also provides a stay of adjudication for the driver's license offense.
WILLMAR — A public information meeting about the Willmar chain of lakes, and efforts to improve and protect their water quality, will be held Wednesday at the Willmar Community Center, 624 Business Highway 71. It will begin at 6 p.m. with an open house featuring various exhibits and information displays, followed by short presentations at 6:30 p.m. Topics will include the Robbins Island Regional Park, Willmar Area Lakes Association, history and current condition of the lakes, water quality testing, and project ideas to improve and protect water quality.
APPLETON - For a former Boy Scout who cut his outdoor teeth as part of a search-and-rescue team based on Alaska's Kodiak Island, this subject might seem out-of-character. Adventure Publications has just released "Best Minnesota Camper Cabins'' authored by Tom Watson of Appleton. "Roughing it in style'' proclaims a sub-head on the cover of the 144-page guide book. Watson admits that camper cabins are a step or two up from the primitive, minimal impact camping he has always enjoyed.
GRANITE FALLS — Karen Savage-Blue loves telling a story as much as she loves inviting us to discover the natural beauty of the world around us. "I like doing them all,'' said Savage-Blue, whose art reflects both pursuits. Landscape paintings that reveal her appreciation for nature, such as "Minnesota River," and her paintings that tell a story, such as "When the Buffalo Come to Tea," are all on display through May 13 at the K.K. Berge Building Granite Falls.