I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR — Randolph John Douvier, 64, of Brooten, was sentenced Thursday on a felony charge of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle in connection with a high-speed chase in May. Douvier was arrested in late May after a chase from Willmar to New London that at times exceeded 100 mph. In addition to the felony charge, he was sentenced in Kandiyohi County District Court on misdemeanor charges of domestic assault and fourth-degree driving while impaired. Two felonies, a gross misdemeanor and three misdemeanors were dismissed.
WILLMAR — A Fairfax man is being held in the Renville County Jail after he allegedly shot a male employee and threatened a female employee Jan. 11 at a Fairfax service station and convenience store. The man who was shot, a 55-year-old from Hector, was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. A bullet is lodged at the base of his skull and is considered inoperable, according to court records.
OLIVIA — A Bird Island man has been sentenced to prison for setting fire to his home and leaving the family dog to die in the fire. Jeffery George Ackerson Jr., 35, received a 41-month prison sentence Monday morning in Renville County District Court. He was given credit for 15 days already served. Ackerson had pleaded guilty to two felonies in October — first-degree arson and cruelty to animals resulting in death. He was not sentenced on the animal cruelty charge, as it was judged to be part of the same incident.
WILLMAR — The overdose death of a 24-year-old veteran in November 2017 has led to a prison sentence for the man who sold him the drugs. Richard Michael Carl Houske, 30, of Willmar, received a 58-month prison sentence on a charge of second-degree manslaughter — culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk. Houske was given credit for the one year already spent in jail when he was sentenced Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court.
MONTEVIDEO — A second independent review of harassment claims against Montevideo Police Chief Adam Christopher, whose resignation was recently accepted, has found no basis for criminal charges. An 18-year-old woman was granted a harassment restraining order against Christopher, 47, in November. The young woman said in court papers that Christopher was an acquaintance, the father of a taekwondo classmate, and she had a casual relationship with him on social media.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will see some new faces when it convenes for the year on Jan. 19. Two members, Linda Mathiasen and Laura Warne, decided not to run for re-election. Mathiasen was first elected in 2010 and served two full terms on the board. Warne was appointed in 2013 to fill a vacancy and was elected to a full term in 2014. Later this month, Jay Lawton and Michael O'Brien will succeed them on the board. The departing board members said they had mixed feelings about leaving.
WILLMAR — A man who was wounded by police after refusing to put down his gun has been convicted by a jury of one felony charge of making terroristic threats. Matthew David Smith, 47, of Willmar, was on trial last week, and the jury returned its verdict Dec. 28. Smith was acquitted of two felony charges of second-degree assault for allegedly pointing his gun at each of the officers involved, one for each officer involved in the incident. Smith is to be sentenced Jan. 31.
ST. CLOUD — Scott Staska, former superintendent of Rocori and Yellow Medicine East school districts, has pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor indecent exposure charges in Stearns County District Court. As part of a plea agreement, Staska, 57, pleaded guilty Friday to four misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure. Under the deal, 15 similar counts will be dismissed. Staska is to be sentenced Jan. 31. The plea deal suggests he is to serve 80 hours of community service and face fines of up to $300 per count.
WILLMAR — Winter is about to arrive with a vengeance in west central Minnesota.. The National Weather Service predicts Kandiyohi County and the surrounding area will see snow beginning late Wednesday morning and lasting into Friday morning. A winter storm warning has been issued for areas along and west of a line from Granite Falls, to St. CLoud and Mora through Friday morning.
WILLMAR — A hearing to determine whether a Willmar man is competent to stand trial has been scheduled for Jan. 29 in Willmar. Joshua Jon Vlaminck, 33, was arrested Friday evening after a standoff with officers of the Willmar Police Department. Vlaminck made his first appearance Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court. An order was filed Tuesday setting the competency hearing.