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Year in review: October, November,December highlights bring 2009 to a close


Oct. 2: A 27-year-old woman who has been charged in the past with writing bad checks, forgery, theft, burglary and assault in several counties is now accused of theft and falsely reporting a crime in Nobles County. Gretchen Marie DeGuara, who is scheduled to go on trial later this month for check forgery, possession of stolen checks and theft by check, was charged Wednesday with theft over $500 with a prior conviction and falsely reporting a crime.

Oct. 3: U.S. Rep. Tim Walz stopped in Windom Friday morning to see firsthand how seniors at Sogge Memorial Good Samaritan Society are using health care technology to stay independent longer. He was touting legislation, the Fostering Independence Through Technology (FITT) Act.

Oct. 8: Southwest Star Concept students will honor classmate and cancer survivor Valoree Stevenson while raising money to combat childhood cancer through a sponsored walk Saturday.

Oct. 10: Eleven people, including one infant, are without a home after fire and smoke heavily damaged their multi-unit house early Friday morning. The Worthington Fire Department was paged to 839 10th St. shortly after 1 a.m. Friday to find the fire confined mostly to the kitchen and living area on the main floor of the older, three-story home. No one was injured in the blaze, and six people were at home at the time the fire broke out.

Oct. 12: A coating of snow and temperatures in the upper 20s weren't what the people of Windom had hoped for when they planned their grand re-opening of the Windom Municipal Airport Saturday morning. The grand opening celebration was one of the final events to cap off what had been more than a month-long salute to aviation at the Cottonwood County Historical Museum in Windom.

Oct. 13: Two people died Monday morning after a head-on collision between two vehicles east of Wilmont on Nobles County 25. Earl Graf, 67, of Wilmont, who was driving a 2000 Ford Ranger pickup, was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Margaret Cooper, 93, of Worthington, was transported to Sanford Regional Hospital Worthington (SRHW), where she died a short time later.

Oct. 14: Sibley-Ocheyedan High School agriculture instructor Mike Earll has been named a runner-up in Iowa's 2009 Excellence in Education award. More than 70 teachers across the state were nominated for the honor.

Oct. 15: A few changes are in store for Ridley Block Operations on the east edge of Worthington in the coming months. The plant that specializes in Crystalyx, a blended molasses nutritional product for cattle, will undergo an expansion by mid-December to manufacture the Golden Lyk line of compressed nutritional blocks for livestock.

Oct. 16: More than 30 people attended an informational meeting Thursday afternoon on the proposed Nobles Wind Project to be constructed in Olney, Dewald, Larkin and Summit Lake townships beginning in the spring of 2010.

Oct. 16: Two men arrested after allegedly robbing a grocery store at gunpoint made a first appearance Thursday in Pipestone County District Court. Bail was set at $30,000 each for Luis Antonio Torres, 21, and Ronald Alexander Hernandez, 25, both of Worthington. Each was charged with first- and second-degree aggravated robbery and theft.

Oct. 21: Randy Simonson, general manager and chief operating officer at Newport Laboratories, a division of Prairie Holdings Group, said Tuesday that one of the company's vaccines has been found to neutralize the H1N1 virus. The USDA National Animal Disease Center completed its evaluation of the product three weeks ago; however, a determination has not yet been made to have the vaccine mass-produced for swine herds nationwide.

Oct. 21: Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday learned that there is remaining bridge bonding money in the state's coffers, which will allow the county to move forward with its plans to replace a bridge on County State Aid Highway 11, northwest of Ellsworth.

Oct. 24: It's not clear whether Worthington's group of Canadian visitors actually brought the snow and sleet with them, but it made for a good joke Friday, as a group of science-minded students from Manitoba continued their tour of the community's bioscience facilities.

Oct. 29: A 2009 Windom High School graduate returned home from the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., last weekend with a plaque and a $500 scholarship after being named a national FFA proficiency finalist. Tanner Smith was one of four finalists in the forage production entrepreneurship and placement proficiency.

Oct. 30: A rural Worthington man is facing 32 misdemeanor counts of animal mistreatment after a Nobles County deputy responded to a call of sheep in the ditch and found carcasses, skulls and underweight sheep.


Nov. 3: The Worthington Area YMCA-DeGroot Family Center and City of Worthington Aquatics Center was more than a decade in the making. Hundreds attended the facility's grand opening on Saturday, many of them clad in red T-shirts that read "I helped open new doors in our community!"

Nov. 3: A 37-year-old Worthington man was struck by a Union Pacific (UP) train at approximately 7:40 a.m. Monday near the 12th Street and First Avenue intersection.

Nov. 5: Absentee rates are nearly back to normal in schools throughout the region after the second wave of the H1N1 novel influenza spread across the region in recent weeks.

Nov. 5: Five Rock County teens have been charged with burglary and theft after allegedly taking thousands of dollars worth of personal possessions from an unoccupied farm site in Beaver Creek.

Nov. 5: Susana Murillo, a senior at Worthington High School, was selected from the roughly 20 members of the Minnesota Youth Advisory Council (MNYAC) to represent the state at the Ready by 21 Forum for Youth Investment National Conference last week in Washington, D.C.

Nov. 6: Approximately 175 full-time and additional part-time positions will be eliminated at Farley's & Sathers Candy Co. in Round Lake in early 2010.

Nov. 10: An elderly rural Worthington woman died early Monday as a result of a fire at her residence. June Wiese, 83, died in the fire, which was reported at 2:28 a.m. Monday at 27111 Oliver Ave.

Nov. 10: The United Way of Nobles County will host its annual live telethon from 5 to 8:30 p.m. tonight in the Worthington High School gym. The call-in fundraiser is also being billed as a community celebration, with the public invited to attend the telethon and enjoy food, entertainment, vendors and a silent auction.

Nov. 14: Members of the Macy's Great American Marching Band performing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will march to the beat of a different drummer this year -- percussionist Andrew Paulson, a senior at Jackson County Central High School.

Nov. 18: It took six years of litigation, including five years of appeals, but Scott Allen Amundson is finally in prison for his attempted methamphetamine manufacture and possession back in 2003. In what Nobles County Attorney Gordon Moore has referred to as "the oldest pending case in Nobles County," Amundson was sentenced recently to 36 months, with credit for 279 days served.

Nov. 19: Students at Windom Area High School and Westbrook-Walnut Grove Secondary School are saying YES! -- which stands for Youth Energy Summit, an initiative that involves 22 teams of students in southwest and west-central Minnesota who are developing projects to increase energy efficiency and promote renewable energy in their schools.

Nov. 24: Wes Kruse, the driving force behind KLP Studios of Superior, Wis., is producing and directing a docudrama, "Rhythm and Courage," and will use the biannual Civil War re-enactment in Pipestone to film parts of a movie that tells the story of the Craig brothers, young men who served during the war.

Nov. 27: Minnesota Soybean Processors (MnSP) in Brewster had returned to normal operations in soybean receiving and soybean meal loading Wednesday afternoon, following a fire late Tuesday night at the facility. According to a press release issued Wednesday by MnSP, the fire was detected in the air system in the soybean preparation area of the plant.

Nov. 30: Something fishy went down Main Street in Round Lake Saturday, as more than 25 area fishermen showed off their ice fishing houses in the town's first Winterfest parade Saturday.s


Dec. 1: A hearing scheduled to discuss motions in the John VanGammeren perjury case was continued for the third time in three months, according to documents filed in Lyon County District Court. The latest order for a continuance gives no indication why the hearing did not take place as scheduled last week, but other paperwork filed states court and counsel will conduct a status conference Dec. 21 to discuss several aspects of the case. VanGammeren, 82, was charged in August with six counts of felony perjury in connection with the three-decade-old murder of Wilma June Nissen, whose body was found in a ditch in October 1978. Nissen's body was not identified until 2006.

Dec. 3: During the Nobles County 4-H Achievement Banquet Saturday night in Worthington, Arla Engelkes was presented the Sapphire Clover -- an honor bestowed on those who have served 35 years of adult leadership in the 4-H program. Engelkes is the first Nobles County 4-H volunteer to receive the high honor.

Dec. 11: According to reports from the investigation into a November train/pedestrian accident, the victim was intoxicated and trying to crawl under a Union Pacific (UP) tanker car to cross the tracks when he was run over.

Dec. 12: After being busted for misdemeanor possession of marijuana four times in less than a year, a Worthington man now faces a charge of felony controlled substance possession. Since March 2008, Gabriel Miranda Jr., 19, of Worthington, has been charged or cited 13 times in Nobles County for law infractions from underage drinking to second-degree riot armed with a dangerous weapon.

Dec. 14: The Nordby family was the latest to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Southwestern Minnesota to become the owners of the three-bedroom house at 804 11th St.

Dec. 15: Nobles-Rock Community Health Service is planning another H1N1 clinic, this time in Worthington, for preschool through 12th-grade students. The clinics will begin at 9 a.m. Monday at Prairie Elementary, Worthington Middle School and Worthington High School.

Dec. 16: Nobles, Pipestone, Rock and Murray counties have partnered in Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota, with a goal of raising $136,000 to provide a free, two-day trip for all World War II veterans who wish to go. The trip includes a visit to the World War II Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial and attendance at ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

Dec. 23: Andrea Ruesch, a spirited, enthusiastic worker in 4-H programs across southwest Minnesota, died suddenly as a result of blood clots in the heart Sunday at Sanford Health Center, Jackson.

Dec. 26: The Christmas Blizzard of 2009, powered by a merger of two separate storm systems, dumped more than 15 inches of snow on southwest Minnesota, brought holiday travel to a standstill, caused a 14-hour power outage in Slayton and cost the City of Worthington alone about $50,000 in snow removal costs. The heaviest snow was over by Christmas evening, as the storm pulled itself west, leaving only a few inches to fall overnight.

Dec. 28: Though South Dakota was hit far harder by the Christmas snowstorm than its neighbor to the east, the highest snow total in southwest Minnesota was measured in Nobles County -- 20.5 inches. In comparison, Jackson had an estimated 14.5 inches of snow.

Dec. 29: Less than a month before he was scheduled to go to trial for premeditated murder, Gerard Irving Holt pleaded guilty Monday in Cottonwood County District Court to intentional murder in the second-degree. Holt, also known as Ivan Lopez and Latin, was arrested in November 2007 for the murder of Alberto Samilpa Jr., along with several other people.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

(507) 376-7320