Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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MADISON — Lac qui Parle County Sheriff Lou Sager has tendered his resignation 11 months after having moved from the East Coast to take the job. "It's time," Sager said. "At the end of the day I was hoping this to be a long-term, future thing. The citizens and everybody made it clear that is not going to happen." His resignation is effective Monday, May 15. He took the oath of office June 13, 2016, after responding to a "help wanted'' ad posted by the county when Sheriff Rick Halvorson resigned with about two and a half years remaining in the term.
WILLMAR — Five days after his son was born, Souen "Posy" Chheng was placed on a flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with seven other deportees from the United States. Chheng is now over 8,000 miles away from the son he has not met, Jakobie, and the child's mother and his wife of less than a year, Allison Chheng. "It's been hard,'' said Steve Peppin of Willmar, his friend and employer in Willmar. Peppin said the deportation of his friend on Tuesday, May 2, feels like a death. He is not optimistic that Posy Chheng will ever be allowed to return to the United States.
MONTEVIDEO, Minn. — A father and son in Montevideo are charged with felony theft for allegedly removing the gravestone from the burial plot of the wife and mother of the two. John Wendell Albrecht, 74, and John Darron Albrecht, 47, will make their first appearances May 1 in district court. They were arrested April 17 at John Albrecht Sr.'s farm property northwest of Montevideo and were released from custody on their personal recognizance on April 19.
WILLMAR, Minn. — For as long as many can remember, winter winds and blowing snow have made a curve on Minnesota Highway 67 west of Granite Falls a problem area for motorists. Those days may be over — and feature a first in North America. Two local landowners have teamed up with the the Minnesota Department of Transportation in District 8 to improve safety on the notorious stretch by building a permanent snow fence.
BENSON, Minn. — 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.''
ST. 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.
OLIVIA, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected a bid by a Renville County defendant for a reduction of his 415-month prison sentence for second-degree murder. The court rejected the argument by Dwayne Case, 31, that the sentence "exaggerates his criminality" in a ruling issued Monday, March 13. The court also said it found "no compelling circumstances'' to reverse the sentence.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Amy Rager spotted the first drops of sap seeping from a wound on the sugar maple tree on her Chippewa County farm, and was in disbelief. It was the last week of January. As the director of the University of Minnesota Extension's Master Naturalist program, she keeps an eye on the natural progression of seasons in Minnesota. This is one that tops the charts. She tapped her favorite maple and started collecting sap to boil for syrup, the earliest ever in her experience. "By a month,'' Rager said.
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — Project Turnabout was termed a "pioneer" when it opened its doors to help compulsive gamblers 25 years ago. It still is. Nearly 4,000 people have been helped by the Vanguard program for compulsive gamblers ever since, but this remains pioneering work. There have been lessons learned in how best to help those in need, but otherwise, only incremental gains have been made in responding to what many term the "silent addiction,'' according to today's team at the Vanguard program.
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — Skyrocketing costs for placing juvenile offenders in out-of-home facilities persuaded a western Minnesota county in 2002 that it was time to do something different. Yellow Medicine County took advantage of state funding to launch a restorative justice program. Victims, offenders and community members join in circles as part of a traditional, Native American approach to justice aimed at healing, accountability and behavior change.