Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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MONTEVIDEO, Minn. — When attorney Janice Nelson of Montevideo emceed a conference in September looking at the region's workforce challenges, she announced at the start just how familiar she was with one of them. Her administrative assistant had just quit. She was unable to find child care for her first child. A "quiet crisis'' is what the Center for Rural Policy in Minnesota calls the growing shortage of child care providers in Minnesota.
HANLEY FALLS, Minn. — Two central Minnesota cooperatives are among the first in the state to make group health insurance policies available for farmers. Glacial Plains Cooperative, based in Murdock, and the Hanley Falls Farmers Cooperative Elevator are offering group health insurance for their members through Land O'Lakes cooperative.
BIRD ISLAND, Minn. — When solar panel installers told Glen Jacobsen that his utility bill looked different than others they have seen, he began investigating. Now Jacobsen, and many others who produce some of their own electricity with solar panels or wind turbines, are entitled to refunds on some of the state sales tax they have paid.
WALKER, Minn. – The man charged with raping, kidnapping and murdering 5-year-old Alayna Ertl of Watkins has pleaded not guilty to 19 charges. Zachary Todd Anderson, 26, formerly of Monticello, entered not guilty pleas Wednesday in Cass County District Court in Walker to all of the charges he faces, according to court records. The case is scheduled for trial in April. Anderson is accused of kidnapping Ertl from her family home in Watkins in Meeker County on Aug. 20, 2016.
APPLETON, Minn. — In a span of 16 days last month, workers removed and replaced all of the shelving, restocked them all, and poured 102 yards of concrete to build a new floor while keeping the doors of Don's Food Pride open for all but six and a half hours of its regular schedule. "Looking good, Tim,'' said a customer pushing a cart down the newly polished floor in Appleton's grocery store last week.
WEGDAHL, Minn.—The last time the tiny, Minnesota River community of Wegdahl could be called a destination dates to the days when a dance hall and speakeasy known as Skunk Hollow sold bootleg whiskey, and there were stories galore about fights and shady card games. The crowd that showed up Thursday, Sept. 28, found a much different environment. Chippewa County hosted an open house to introduce people to the park it has developed on this site along the Minnesota River roughly halfway between Montevideo and Granite Falls.
MONTEVIDEO, Minn.—When residents of the Upper Minnesota River Valley are surveyed on the challenges the region faces, the number one response is "a lack of jobs.'' "Absolutely against what all the data say,'' said Luke Greiner, regional market analyst with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
JORDAN, Minn. — Jay Gustafson quit the job he loved and hit the trail. We should say trails, as in Minnesota's water trails. He intends to paddle all 34 of them, a total of 4,500 miles. "This is the thing I love more than anything,'' said Gustafson. "I love to canoe. I love to be on our rivers. I love paddling,'' he said during a break from the waters of the Minnesota River last Saturday, Sept. 16.
MONTEVIDEO, Minn. — A woman accused of using her mother-in-law's assets to support a lavish lifestyle, while the older woman was evicted from a nursing home, made her initial appearance Tuesday in Chippewa County District Court in Montevideo. Martina Annette Christie, 61, of Billings, Montana, faces 12 felony charges for the alleged financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. She is currently held in the Yellow Medicine County Jail in Granite Falls with bail set at $500,000 for release without conditions and $250,000 for release with conditions.
BIRD ISLAND, Minn. — Rural grocery stores do not have to go the way of the iconic red barn and disappear one by one from the Main Streets of small towns.