Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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BENSON -- You can measure the commitment by Paden Strutz to his favorite sport in miles. The senior on the Morris-Benson Area Storm hockey team makes an 80-mile, round trip five days a week from his home in Granite Falls to attend practices. He pays for all of his gas by working and saving during the off-season, according to his mother, Anne Brown. It's the commitment that makes hockey special to fellow Storm senior Luke Schwarz of Benson as well. "It takes so much more commitment than any other sport, because of the cost and the hard work. Every practice is a work out no matter how light.
CLINTON -- While plans for a quarry in Big Stone County have some concerned about the environmental impact, the developer says it is committed to mitigating any damage. Strata Corporation of Grand Forks, N.D., is proposing to develop a 104-acre quarry on a 478-acre property on the edge of the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. That area of western Minnesota is already home to two large quarry operations. The Cold Spring quarry opened originally as a dimensional stone quarry but now crushes granite for aggregate. The larger, L.G.
Western Minnesota has its own version of the mining debate taking shape on the edge of the Boundary Waters. Can we allow mining and still protect what remains of a unique and endangered natural environment? This debate is taking place on the edge of the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge between Ortonville and Odessa.
GRANITE FALLS -- A 35-year-old man will return to prison for a burglary that allegedly netted him an X-Box console and a game for it. Daniel Ray Blue will serve a 43-month sentence for a second-degree burglary conviction. The court issued the sentence Monday in Yellow Medicine County District Court in Granite Falls.
OLIVIA -- A judge's order issued on Wednesday means that Sergio Turrubiates could see a longer sentence for his second-degree murder conviction in the death of 19-month-old Tiana Moore in December of 2010. Turrubiates, 21, of Olivia, pleaded guilty on Jan. 31 to second-degree murder, without intent - child endangerment. The presumptive sentence for the charge is 153 to 216 months in prison.
CLARA CITY -- Sarah Guggisberg is speaking up so that young victims of sexual abuse do not have to suffer in silence. Lawmakers are listening. The Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives advanced "Jacob's Law,'' a bill being championed by the Clara City mother. Guggisberg told her story to committee members on Feb. 2 in St. Paul.
APPLETON -- Why compete when you can rule on Main Street? There remain plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs on the Main Streets of rural communities away from the mega-stores of urban areas. Just ask the Scandi Girls. Since they became business partners last November, Susan Erickson and Pam Ellison have seen growing demand for an ever-expanding menu of bakery goods and treats, as well as for their catering service. Their biggest challenge is to temper their enthusiasm for all of the opportunities they see and discern what works best for them.
BIRD ISLAND -- Although she was just 12 at the time, McKaia Ryberg didn't feel so much as a twinge of the nerves when she sang the national anthem at Gov. Mark Dayton's inauguration. Dayton couldn't say the same Friday, when he made good on a promise and visited Ryberg and her classmates at St. Mary's Catholic School in Bird Island. "I have to make a confession," the governor told an assembly of the elementary school's 123 students. "I get extra nervous talking in front of young people." He blamed it on his son, Andrew.
BENSON -- The company that put Benson on the map as a distiller of fine spirits and Shakers on store shelves as an ultra-premium vodka has filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. The voluntary petition by Infinite Spirits Inc., of Blaine, was entered on the court docket Jan. 5 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Minnesota division. The first meeting of creditors was held Wednesday. The five original founders of Pete's Wicked Ale launched Shakers Vodka in frosted bottles shaped like Martini shakers in March 2003.
OLIVIA -- A dozen young men who have called west central Minnesota home during their youths have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are among 68 Minnesotans who made the supreme sacrifice in Iraq and 26 who have done so to date in Afghanistan, according to Fallen Heroes, which honors their memories. Their ultimate sacrifice, and the ongoing sacrifices made by their surviving families and all veterans who have served in these conflicts, will be remembered and honored Aug.