Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
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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.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Jennie-O Turkey Store employees are going into the holidays with plenty of cheer. The company announced on Tuesday that a record payment of over $13 million has been distributed to employees as a discretionary bonus based on the company's record performance this past year. This amount equals an average payment of over $2,000 per eligible employee, with newly hired employees receiving at least $525.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A six-point buck head-butted a rural Willmar business owner, jumped over counters and tipped over boxes before fleeing out of the door in which he arrived on Wednesday. The "intruder" caused havoc at Johnson Fur on South Highway 71 where workers are in the process of handling thousands of deer hides harvested in the last two weeks. "It was something else,'' said business owner Scott Johnson, who took a set of six-point antlers to his ribs and stomach. Johnson said he had a few tender ribs, but otherwise was OK.
MONTEVIDEO - Gov. Mark Dayton has now gone six years in a row without a bird in the Governor's Pheasant Opener he started, and he was upped this year by his lieutenant governor. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith who bagged her first pheasant ever as she joined the governor and 75 other hunters for the Governor's Pheasant Opener hosted Saturday by the community of Montevideo. "Judge (Dwayne) Knutsen said it was homicide. I could have been charged,'' laughed Smith of the clean kill as verified by her hunting partner, a district judge in Yellow Medicine County.
BENSON -- Bill Lee is leaving an ethanol plant known as a leader in innovation for what he believes will be the next big step in renewable energy. Lee said he believes biomass from agricultural and forest-product residues will be playing an ever bigger role in not only providing the power to convert corn to ethanol, but also to produce the electricity that lights our homes. Lee has been CEO since June at Frontline BioEnergy LLC in Ames, Iowa.