A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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WILLMAR, Minn. — A festive Christmas light celebration Saturday, Dec. 10, near Willmar had a tragic end when several passengers and the driver of horse-drawn wagon were injured after the horses got spooked and ran for about a mile before crashing in a yard. The passengers had non-life-threatening injuries but emergency life-saving measures were performed on the driver, who was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital in critical condition and later transferred to the Hennepin County Medical Center.
NEW LONDON, Minn. — Need to burn those extra Thanksgiving dinner calories or take a break from Black Friday shopping? Well, take a hike. It's "Free Park Friday" when entrance fees to all Minnesota State Parks are waived for the day to encourage people to take advantage of the outdoors. "Fresh air, great scenery, the company of family and friends and all at no cost. We hope thousands of Minnesota families take advantage of this offer," said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails.
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Courthouse has been selected as a pilot site for a centralized court payment system for the Minnesota Judicial Branch. The decision to locate this "one-of-a-kind" payment center in Willmar could mean the addition of 12 to 16 jobs for the Eighth Judicial District Court, said Kandiyohi County Administrator Larry Kleindl. The center will process payments for certain fines, such as traffic and Department of Natural Resources violations, for all 87 counties in the state, Kleindl said.
Pie makers and jack-o'-lantern carvers may want to nab a pumpkin while they can. A cool summer in Minnesota, and much of the Midwest, could result in fewer pumpkins for sale this fall at farmers' markets and retail outlets. "It was too cold of a summer. The heat wasn't there," said John Blonigen, who grew about an acre of pumpkins this year on his 6-acre vegetable farm near Paynesville. He sells to local retail outlets.
WILLMAR -- A pilot project to "e-charge" individuals for crimes gets under way next week in Kandiyohi County. Starting Monday, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will be in Willmar to set up the computer software and train officials from law enforcement, the county attorney's office, court administration and judges before the system is put online Thursday. When it's up and running, police reports, criminal complaints, signatures from law enforcement, prosecutors and judges and notarization of documents will all be done electronically. Currently, those thick piles of paper documents are han
SWIFT FALLS -- Carol Skarsten said she was "oblivious" to pending danger Tuesday afternoon while watching TV news about a storm warning for Swift County. But then her husband, Sanford, came tearing in the house and told her to run to the basement. A screaming tornado appeared to be just a couple hundred yards behind the barn, said Sanford Skarsten on Wednesday morning while standing in the debris that was strewn through the family's rural Swift Falls yard. The couple barely made it to the cellar of their 100-year-old house before the swirling winds hit. "The intensity of that thing," said
Last year the YMCA child care center fielded five to six calls every day from people looking for childcare services. This year they've been getting five to six calls a week. "There is a change there," said Donna Brau, child care program director of the center, located at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services building in Willmar.
WILLMAR -- When it comes to unemployment, the good news is that Kandiyohi County has the lowest unemployment rates in the 11-county area.
ATWATER -- A relatively straightforward air-permitting procedure, started in April of 2006 to allow Bushmills Ethanol to expand its production, has turned into a lengthy and expensive venture for the Atwater business. "It's a long, convoluted process," said Erik Osmon, a bit wearily, during a recent interview.
WILLMAR - It's amazing how many sounds there are when it's quiet. Under a cool, gray sky Wednesday outside the Willmar Civic Center, sounds of grief, honor and respect rolled across the grounds as family, friends, military personnel, political leaders and community members arrived and departed the funeral of Army Sgt. Joshua Schmit. The 26-year-old Willmar High School graduate was killed by a roadside bomb April 14 in Iraq, just 10 days before his tour was to have ended. As birds began their early morning songs, Trudie Guptill and T.C.