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.
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. — 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.
WILLMAR, Minn. — When Maddie Thaden saw a seventh-grader toss his iPad in the air and catch it, she walked over and told him to knock it off. It's something a teacher would do. Someday, Maddie intends to be a teacher. For now, she and her four classmates are some of the first teacher cadets at Willmar Senior High School.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Seventh District U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson and Minnesota's two U.S. senators weighed in Wednesday, Dec. 13, on Gov. Mark Dayton's pick to succeed Al Franken in the U.S. Senate. Dayton has appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to join the Senate when Franken submits his resignation in the coming days. He is stepping down after allegations of inappropriate behavior. In addition to praising Smith's experience, Peterson commented on her skill as a sportswoman. Smith participated in the 2016 state pheasant opener hosted in Peterson's district.
WILLMAR, Minn. — The lawyer for a man accused of tossing a raw pig's foot onto a table at the Willmar Farmers Market has filed another motion for dismissal, this one seeking dismissal of the most serious charge, which alleges bias.. Joseph Francis Fernkes, 61, of Willmar, faces three charges stemming from an incident in August. He is accused of throwing the raw pig's foot onto the table where Muslims from the local Somali community were selling vegetables. The vegetables could not be sold after the raw meat had been on the table.