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WILLMAR, Minn. — While some parts of Minnesota farm country struggle with a new state law requiring buffer strips around pubic waters, implementation in Kandiyohi County's appears to be off to a good start with 97 percent compliance countywide under a plan they took into their own hands.
WILLMAR — Marijuana and methamphetamine continue to account for most of the drug-related arrests in Kandiyohi County in central Minn. But heroin is starting to show up more often, and fentanyl recently was seized for the first time during an arrest, said agents of the CEE-VI Drug Task Force. "We had not seen fentanyl in our task force area until last year," said agent Robert Braness. Information on numbers and trends was shared in a recent report to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.
LAKE LILLIAN, Minn. — One person has died in a house fire that broke out early Saturday morning near Lake Lillian in southwest Minnesota. The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office said the fire was reported at 2:50 a.m. at a house on Minnesota Highway 7 about two miles east of Lake Lillian. Some occupants of the house were initially unaccounted for, but by the time deputies arrived, only one remained missing. Firefighters later found the man's body inside the residence, the Sheriff's Office said. His name is being withheld at this time.
LITCHFIELD, Minn. — A Litchfield woman faces four felony charges of second-degree assault for allegedly ramming her ex-boyfriend's truck from behind. Minor injuries were reported to the four occupants of the truck, including two children. Desirae Margaret Nelson, 21, also is charged with two misdemeanor counts of domestic assault. She made her first appearance Monday, Nov. 20, in Meeker County District Court.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Changes are coming to the Rice Memorial Hospital emergency department to increase safety for staff, patients and visitors. The Willmar hospital is responding to a sharp rise over the past three years in the volume of patients with acute needs, especially substance use. The trend began in 2014, at about the same time the use of synthetic marijuana, spice, K2 and other designer drugs became more widespread, said Dr. Ken Flowe, an emergency physician and chief medical officer at Rice.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Two more charges have been filed against a Willmar man accused of throwing a pig's foot onto a farmers market stall operated by Somali vendors. Joseph Francis Fernkes, 61, was originally cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with the Aug. 12 incident. According to a formal criminal complaint filed late last week, he is now also charged with one count each of third-degree and fourth-degree criminal damage to property.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Amid the turmoil surrounding the future of the Affordable Care Act and the individual insurance market, MNsure has a clear message: We're here and ready for open enrollment to start Nov. 1. "Coverage is available. Help is available all across the state," said Allison O'Toole, MNsure chief executive. With less than two weeks to go before enrollment season begins, the MNsure exchange is working to prepare the public and help make the process go smoothly.
WILLMAR, Minn. —Despite a request for leniency, a Willmar man convicted of kidnapping his estranged wife was sentenced Monday to more than three years in prison. Judge Jennifer Fischer ordered Cesar Octavio Garcia-Gonzalez, 38, to serve 41 months in prison. In an agreement reached in July, Garcia-Gonzalez pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping, a felony. Seven additional charges, including stalking, assault and domestic assault, were dismissed as part of the agreement.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Public health officials are reminding people to practice good hand-washing and avoid swimming in lakes or pools if they have diarrhea. Renville County in central Minnesota reported an uptick earlier this month in cryptosporidium infections. At least two day cares were seeing cases of the disease, which is caused by a parasite and is often waterborne. It's one of the most common illnesses associated with recreational water use. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the state had 67 outbreaks of cryptosporidium from 2007 to 2016.
WILLMAR— At 82, Ralph S. Johnson still goes to work daily at Woodland Centers, where he's a licensed clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist. His schedule is always full. Many of his clients have been seeing him for years. This week Johnson reaches a milestone: 50 years with Woodland Centers. The time has flown, he said. "This field has been meaningful to me. I can't think of anything better to do with my life."