Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved a bill aimed at reopening the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, announced Tuesday in a news release. Its approval in the House assures that the measure will be considered as House and Senate conference committees consider legislation. Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, has authored a companion bill in the Senate.
WILLMAR — A man accused of assaulting a woman and later threatening a good Samaritan who helped her pleaded guilty Monday to charges in these and two other cases. Darren Gregory Melges, 45, of Spicer, entered the guilty pleas in Kandiyohi County District Court in Willmar. He pleaded guilty to felony second-degree assault, felony threats of violence, and felony charges of illegal possession of ammunition/firearm, fifth-degree marijuana possession, and storage of methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of a child from separate criminal cases.
BENSON — Here's how far and wide the fame of the Benson Bakery reaches. When Toby Johannessen's neighbor returned from a camping trip to Alaska, he reported that the ranger who handled his registration took one look at his address and told him matter-of-factly: "There's a good bakery there in Benson.'' Now it's official, as the bakery's second-generation patriarch Jerry Johannessen was inducted March 4 into the Upper Midwest Bakery Association Hall of Fame. The association honored Jerry in the lifetime achievement category during its annual convention in St. Cloud.
DAWSON — Doug Woolverton performs at famous venues around the world, alongside talent that most recently included Aretha Franklin, and most importantly, before audiences who appreciate his talents as being among the country's best. Where do you get a start to make a career like this possible? The Lac qui Parle Valley High School, which is just down the road from the Dawson Memorial Auditorium, where Woolverton and the Beginnings, a New York City-based tribute band to Chicago will perform on April 7.
LITCHFIELD — Noelle Anise Pridgen, 29, will serve a 50-month prison sentence for a fiery vehicle crash that killed a Litchfield woman. District Judge Stephanie Beckman sentenced Pridgen on Monday in Meeker County District Court to 50 months in prison on a felony conviction for criminal vehicular homicide. The judge also sentenced her to a concurrent sentence of 28 months in prison on a second count of criminal vehicular homicide, and to 365 days in jail on third- and fourth-degree counts of the charge, also to be served concurrently.
UPPER SIOUX COMMUNITY — The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a driving while impaired conviction in Yellow Medicine County which resulted from a traffic stop during which a squad car's video recording device stopped operating. In a decision issued Monday, the court ruled that the district court in Yellow Medicine County had not erred when it denied a motion by the defense to suppress evidence from the arrest. However, the ruling came with a warning by Chief Judge Edward Cleary in support of concerns expressed by District Court Judge Thomas Van Hon in this case.
CLARKFIELD — Neil Linscheid knows firsthand what community development requires in rural Minnesota. He has served on the city council for Clarkfield, a town of 863. As an educator with the University of Minnesota Extension, he makes it his mission to help leaders in rural communities pursue their goals of community development. "I have definitely been in the room when you're trying to figure this stuff out,'' Linscheid said. Someday, he could play a role in rooms all across the state whenever community development is the objective.
BENSON — Benson School Board members will learn in April what it is expected to cost to take on needed but costly upgrades to the heating and ventilation systems in the district's facilities. It's another step in a process to prioritize the school district's facilities needs before possibly going back to voters for support of a bond measure.
BENSON — A group of citizens in Benson is hoping to persuade the Benson School Board that the school's indoor swimming pool is too valuable an asset to lose. Board members voted nearly one year ago to close the indoor pool at the end of the 2015-2016 school year rather than invest in new lighting for it. A school board-appointed task force recently examined what to do with the pool as part of its overall look at the school's facilities needs. The task force made no recommendation one way or the other on what to do, according to Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer.
SAINT PAUL - A coalition of religious and civil rights organizations will continue to oppose legislation that calls for the State of Minnesota to lease or purchase the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton. "Locking up people for profit has nothing to do with justice and has everything to do with making millions from human misery,'' said Rick Neyssen, a corrections sergeant at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud and president of Local 599 with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees during a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday.