Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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OLIVIA — The first transcontinental highway through the northern tier of states owes its start to a group of businessmen in Ipswich, South Dakota, who got together in 1912 because they wanted a better road to Aberdeen, all of 26 miles away. By getting other communities to join their effort, in a matter of years they made possible the 3,600-mile Yellowstone Trail, which connected Plymouth Rock on the Atlantic Ocean to Puget Sound on the Pacific.
WILLMAR — A Willmar man faces a third-degree murder charge for allegedly selling the fentanyl that led to the overdose death of John Schlegel of Blomkest at age 24 on Nov. 4. Richard Michael Carl Houske, 29, was arraigned on the charge Thursday in Kandiyohi County District Court in Willmar. The charge carries a potential sentence of 25 years in prison. District Judge David Mennis ordered bail set at $750,000 for release without conditions, or $200,000 for release with conditions.
WILLMAR — State Rep. Dave Baker of Willmar applauded the work of local law enforcement in bringing charges against a suspect in the Nov. 4 overdose death of John Schlegel, 24, of Blomkest. Richard Michael Carl Houske, 29, was arraigned Thursday on third-degree murder for allegedly selling the fentanyl that led to Schlegel's death. "The family is grateful to start putting closure to this horrible tragedy in their lives,'' said Baker, speaking on behalf of the surviving family of John Schlegel, as well as others who have lost loved ones to opioid overdoses.
CLARA CITY — MACCRAY School Board members are asking interim Superintendent Sherri Broderius to remain with the district as its superintendent. Board members voted unanimously at their meeting Monday to direct the school board's negotiation committee to meet with Broderius to work out an agreement. Board members at a special meeting one week earlier had decided not to offer contracts to two finalists from a pool of 11 candidates.
OLIVIA — Home health visits are a losing proposition for the Renville County Public Health Department, which calculates that it costs an average of $150 per visit to provide the service, while it only collects $82 in reimbursements. Unbeknownst to the department, it should have been paying Minnesota's 2 percent provider tax on the revenues it receives for providing the service.
ST. PAUL — State Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, is carrying the outdoor heritage bill in the Senate this session in just the freshman senator's first year as a member of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. This year's bill divvies up $113,923,000 in allocations for natural resources projects, everything from land acquisitions for wildlife management areas in rural areas to habitat enhancement in the metropolitan area.
OLIVIA — Renville County is seeking special legislation to make the county recorder position an appointed, rather than elected, position. State Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, has authored legislation that would authorize the Renville County Board of Commissioners to appoint the recorder. It is believed that 38 counties in the state currently have the authority to appoint the recorder position, according to discussion Tuesday at the Renville County Board meeting in Olivia.
OLIVIA — After finding lackluster interest, the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District increased the amount of cost-share funds it would offer per acre to assist with installing buffers along public ditches. It also took to the airwaves to promote the new cost-share rates. "We were just swamped last week with applicants,'' Holly Hatlewick, Renville County SWCD manager, told the Renville County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
ST. PAUL — A federal indictment charges a former bookkeeper of the Farm Mercantile hardware store in Fairfax with embezzling approximately $535,000. A grand jury returned an indictment Tuesday charging Theresa Ernestine Linsmeier, 58, with wire fraud and filing false tax returns. The charges allege that she transferred money to her personal credit cards directly from the accounts of the company and an unidentified individual from 2011 through 2016. She used the money to gamble online.
CLARA CITY — MACCRAY School Board members will likely be starting a new search for a superintendent. Board members decided not to offer a contract to two finalists from an initial list of 11 candidates. Board members on Monday interviewed finalists Dennis Goodwin, superintendent, Camp Verde, Arizona, and Lynnelle Dirksen, principal, Moorhead. Following the interviews, board members decided they would not offer a contract to either candidate, according to Chairman Lane Schwitters.