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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OLIVIA, Minn. — A Hector man accused of causing serious injuries to a woman and to himself after causing their vehicle to crash has pleaded guilty. Damon Dwight Wiederhoft, 29, of Hector, formerly of Cosmos, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon in Renville County District Court to one felony charge of criminal vehicular operation with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more. The crash occurred July 30, 2017, on a rural road north of Stewart and southeast of Cosmos, about 70 miles west of the Twin Cities.
ATWATER, Minn. — Tanya and Chris Garvick spent their Saturday clearing tree branches from their yard and wondering what they would do about the crushed Impala in the driveway and the gaping hole in their garage roof. The Garvicks' home at Fourth and Idaho in Atwater was hit hard by a storm that roared through the area early Friday evening, Aug. 3. The National Weather Service determined Saturday that the damage in Atwater and east along U.S. Highway 12 was an EF0 tornado with maximum winds of 80 mph, according to Caleb Grunzke, a meteorologist in the Chanhassen office.
HAWICK, Minn. — Two members of a family died, and two others were injured Saturday, July 7, in a car/motorcycle crash Saturday near Hawick. The crash occurred when a Chevrolet Monte Carlo traveling west on Highway 23 made a left turn onto 160th Street Northeast just outside Hawick in Roseville Township. The car turned into the path of three Harley Davidson motorcycles traveling east, according to a news release from the Minnesota State Patrol.
HECTOR, Minn. — A man's body was found Saturday, July 7, in a drainage ditch downstream from the spot where an unoccupied, submerged car was found Thursday night. The car belonged to Adam Michael Rein, 24, of Buffalo Lake, who has been missing since late Tuesday. The body was found just after noon Saturday. According to a news release from the Renville County Sheriff's Office, the man's body has not been identified but it is believed to be Rein. The body has been sent to the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Ramsey for identification and an autopsy.
WILLMAR — Two people from Willmar are facing felony charges of false imprisonment with intentional restraint for allegedly keeping a juvenile in their apartment for at least two days against his will after he and another boy tried to flee after not paying for a ride to another Minnesota city. Jose Agapito Sanchez, 21, and Ashley Connie Marie Valadez, 25, made their initial court appearances Wednesday, June 13, in Kandiyohi County District Court.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Stearns County prosecutors said they plan to seek the maximum sentence allowed for Gregory Allen Scheel, 33, of Paynesville, because of his criminal history. Sheel faces two counts of second-degree intentional murder of his grandparents Willie and Gloria Scheel of Paynesville. He is currently in the Stearns County Jail on $3 million bail. Gregory Scheel had been living with his grandparents.
WILLMAR, Minn. — The animal health business Epitopix of Willmar has been sold to Vaxxinova, a Netherlands-based company specializing in the industry. Epitopix is a vaccine research and development company based on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar, Minn. It is owned by the Willmar Poultry group of companies. The sale was completed Wednesday, Feb 28, according to a news release from Vaxxinova.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Joel Opatz, interim president of Ridgewater College, has notified the college staff that he will resign effective April 3. In a letter addressed to colleagues this week, Opatz said he is leaving for health reasons. He was appointed a year ago to a contract that was to have lasted through June.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A search warrant Tuesday, Jan. 30, led to five arrests and uncovered drugs, nearly four dozen firearms and suspected explosives, including items found in a concrete bunker in the basement. The items seized from the rural Willmar home included submachine guns, homemade silencers, night vision goggles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
WILLMAR, Minn. — State Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, has ended his campaign for Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District. Instead, Miller will seek re-election to his current seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives in District 17A in 2018. "It's been an honor to run and discuss meaningful issues with voters all over the district these last nine month," Miller said in a news release.