A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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NEW LONDON, Minn. — Julia Iverson figures she's been painting since she was 5 years old. While those early pieces of artwork are long gone and over the years she's given away and sold scores of original pieces — mostly watercolors — the 81-year-old New London artist and retired art teacher still paints nearly every day. She has had quite a stash of her work hanging on walls and stored under beds in her roomy, three-story home.
HECTOR, Minn. — A Willmar, Minnesota, man is in jail after leading law enforcement on a 21-mile, high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle Saturday, Oct. 7. Jeremy Nordberg, 25, was arrested four hours later in a cornfield near Hector after officers used a drone, a K-9 officer and State Patrol helicopter to get him to emerge from the field. He is being held in the Renville County Jail pending a court appearance on charges of theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing a peace officer, driving after revocation and possession of drug paraphernalia.
ATWATER, Minn. — After taking a "little vacation" to Las Vegas last weekend to listen to country music at the Route 91 Harvest concert, Justin Schroeder is back at work this week at Central Counties Cooperative in rural Atwater. That should have been an unremarkable transition. But while working at his job as an agronomist with the farm cooperative, Schroeder is also processing the harrowing experience of escaping a barrage of gunfire that killed at least 58 and injured more than 500.
LITCHFIELD, Minn. — The termination of a former Litchfield police sergeant — who was charged last year with DWI while off-duty — has been upheld. In the binding arbitration decision published earlier this month, it was determined the Litchfield Police Department was justified in firing Bryant Blackwell, a veteran peace officer who had at one time been a finalist for the job of Litchfield police chief. Blackwell was fired from his job as police sergeant in January as a result of the 2016 DWI arrest.
SPICER, Minn. — Sweeping his arm across as he viewed the sprawling property — 71 acres of thick woods, sandy beach, rolling prairie, trails, campsites, a 6,600-square-foot gym, a house, numerous cabins, a dining hall, shower house and shop — Pastor Steve Bakke said his congregation members at Open Door Christian Church are not the new owners but the new "caretakers." The possibilities for using the land and facilities are exciting and overwhelming, Bakke said.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A growing market for industrial hemp as food, fiber and nutraceuticals is gaining ground in west central Minnesota and could find a place in Kandiyohi County. There's at least one field of hemp planted this year in Chippewa County and a food-grade processing facility is being established in Olivia—about 25 miles south of Willmar. Yes. It is legal. And, no, industrial hemp is not intoxicating.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A former employee of a licensed community residential facility in Willmar and a vulnerable adult who lived there have been charged with 14 burglary- and theft-related charges for allegedly taking property from garages and vehicles while delivering newspapers. Both individuals made court appearance this week.
PAYNESVILLE, Minn. — Crews were finishing up the final details and getting ready to demobilize equipment Wednesday afternoon at a 108-acre solar farm by Paynesville. With about 48,600 solar photovoltaic panels tilted to the west, the Paynesville farm started producing 10 megawatts of direct current in June. It was one of the last of 16 sites in the Aurora solar project to go online in what is currently the state's largest solar project that will produce a total of 150 MWdc of renewable energy that is being sold to Xcel Energy.
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — A crew leader for a Sentencing to Service program remains on administrative leave after accusations he coerced a female inmate to have sex in exchange for special privileges. Michael John Martin, 47, of Wood Lake, faces three felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct — force or coercion, and three felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct — a correctional employee. He appeared on the charges in Yellow Medicine County District Court last week and has since posted bail.
NEW LONDON, Minn. — Requests from citizens to have a book removed from the New London-Spicer School District curriculum have been denied. In a 3-2 vote Monday the central Minnesota school board agreed to follow the recommendation of the school administration and allow "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" to remain as an option for teachers to use in the classroom. The action doesn't mean the book must be part of the curriculum, but that teachers can use it if they choose.