Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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RAYMOND — If the plight of refugees in Burma and Thailand seems like something far, far away, consider how distant the Wisconsin border appears from South Dakota when you’re traveling by foot. Covering that ground at a jogger’s pace is the challenge facing four motivated runners, three in their 30s, the fourth in her 20s. “A nice run to just kind of cruise through,’’ said Aaron Coe, of Portland, Oregon, of the 200 mile-route they are running. Coe is the most experienced of the runners. He has competed in ultra-marathons.
OLIVIA — With seven of its nine roads crossing the Minnesota River closed, Renville County has taken the brunt of the problems associated with the heavy June rains. It will be days before all of the roads can reopen, but things are improving, according to Renville County Public Works Director Jeff Marlowe. “The river is starting to go down. Slowly,’’ said Marlowe. So far, the county engineer has not seen any signs of significant damage to the county roads. He knows of one washed out culvert.
GRANITE FALLS — Shot five times at close range, Christopher Panitzke told a 911 dispatcher that he was dying. When Panitzke called for help, he also said that he knew who shot him.
GRANITE FALLS — Plans to construct a new nursing home to replace a 57-bed facility built in 1958 are moving forward in Granite Falls. The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development has indicated it will allocate $11 million in low-interest financing for the project. Granite Falls City Council and Granite Falls Hospital Board members took action on Monday to arrange for the financing.
OLIVIA — The skeletons of “telemedicine ventures past” are buried in the storage rooms of hospitals across rural Minnesota. RC Hospital and Clinics CEO Nathan Blad stumbled on one in the storage room of the hospital in Olivia shortly after he started working there over eight years ago.
OLIVIA — Digital technology that is making it possible to expand telehealth services at hospitals could have far reaching benefits in the countryside as well. Dr. Robert Hauser, M.D., and cardiologist with the Minneapolis Heart Institute, is hopeful of seeing the technology play a major role in reducing heart disease and deaths in Renville County. He is proposing what is being termed the Renville Acute Cardiac Event Reduction project in the county.
SPICER — Steady growth is leading Let’s Go Fishing to move its home office from Willmar to Spicer. “We’re packing boxes now,’’ said Joe Holm, founder and president of the organization. The organization has outgrown its Willmar offices, Jim Schoeberl, president of the nonprofit’s board of directors, said in announcing the move. Let’s Go Fishing will make a more spacious office setting at 174 Lake Ave. N. in Spicer, its new home by the start of the month. “We welcome them,’’ said Spicer Mayor Denny Baker.
SPICER — What is believed to be a one-of-a-kind partnership is taking aim at zebra mussels to keep them from the waters of Kandiyohi County. A newly acquired, $18,000 power washer will be available and staffed to decontaminate watercraft at the Saulsbury Park access to Green Lake in Spicer this summer. It was dedicated at a brief ceremony Friday as Evan Freeman, regional watercraft inspection supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, trained its first operators. At no charge, the operators will decontaminate any watercraft brought to them.
RENVILLE — Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative takes pride in having put together a full-scale crisis management plan, complete with a specially-trained first responder team and employees well versed on what to do if disaster strikes. It was all put to the test on Thursday afternoon. “It’s something we’ve laboratory tested.
OLIVIA — Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative faced more environmental challenges in the last year than in the two previous, despite on-going investments to improve its water treatment systems. “The good, bad and the ugly, all in one year” is how Louis Knieper, manager of environmental affairs for the cooperative, summed up the past year in a report to the Renville County board of commissioners on Tuesday.