Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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GRANITE FALLS — Ashley Hanson determined 12 years ago that what she called her true north was to use the arts to build rural communities. Hanson, of Granite Falls, is now among 24 people from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Native communities in those states to be selected Tuesday as a 2019 Bush Fellow by the Bush Foundation. "Twelve years in the making,'' said Hanson, laughing, of the fellowship.
BIRD ISLAND - The streets of Bird Island went snow free on Friday, thanks to the help of volunteers who decided not to trust Mother Nature to get the job done in time. The volunteers brought equipment and farm trucks to town on Friday morning to clear the streets of snow. The volunteer snow removal crew took on the task to make certain the streets were clear and that there will be plenty of spaces for parking when the community hosts the annual Tim Orth Memorial Foundation "Jam the Gym" event on Saturday, March 23, in the Bird Island gym.
BENSON — Swift County is forming a task force to consider how best to manage the growing demand on its groundwater resources. Groundwater usage in the county has been rising steadily since the early 1990s. Observation wells in the county show a corresponding, steady decline in the water levels in aquifers ever since, according to information presented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Benson.
WILLMAR — Spring load limits go into effect Tuesday for roads in central Minnesota north of U.S. Highway 12, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced. The spring load limits went into effect for areas south of Highway 12 and the southeast portion of the state on Friday. Road Restriction maps indicating the locations of weight restricted routes are on the MnDOT Seasonal Load Limits website at www.mndot.gov/loadlimits .
WILLMAR – Trouw Nutrition has closed its Willmar facility, affecting 23 employees. The company informed employees at the Willmar facility on Thursday that it was immediately closing the facility located along Highway 71 Northeast.
BENSON — The city of Benson is taking steps to prepare for possible flooding along the Chippewa River. The city has contracted to have a large excavator at the ready to remove ice that could jam on the pylons of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway bridge spanning the river on the city's western edge, according to City Administrator Rob Wolfington. An ice jam at the bridge could back up water in the Hawleywood subdivision along the golf course. The city has long urged that the bridge with wood pylons be replaced with an open-span bridge.
NEW LONDON — It's been a tough winter on wildlife, but deer, pheasant and other game species appear to be holding their own in west central Minnesota. "(You've) got to believe they are under good stress,'' said Jeff Miller, assistant wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in New London.
WILLMAR — Students in the Willmar Public Schools should not have to make up any of this year's snow days based on a plan adopted Monday by school board members. At this point, any makeup days are likely to impact staff only, unless the weather turns sour again, according to Superintendent Jeff Holm. The district has had to call off school on six complete days this winter. It was able to make up one of those days by holding classes on Presidents Day, which was otherwise scheduled as a holiday.
GRANITE FALLS — The Minnesota Department of Transportation had plans to repair concrete pavement problem spots this coming year on roads throughout the southwestern counties managed by the District 8 office in Willmar, but fiscal constraints have forced the work to be delayed to 2024. There are other projects originally proposed for this year that are being delayed for a year or more as well, including work on U.S. Highway 59 near the Murray and Cottonwood counties line; a portion of state Highway 4 north of Cosmos; and a section of U.S. Highway 212 in Glencoe.
WILLMAR — Persistent cold and snow and a forecast for more snow — a lot more — has led to an increased risk for spring flooding in west central Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities.