A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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PAYNESVILLE, Minn. — Crews were finishing up the final details and getting ready to demobilize equipment Wednesday afternoon at a 108-acre solar farm by Paynesville. With about 48,600 solar photovoltaic panels tilted to the west, the Paynesville farm started producing 10 megawatts of direct current in June. It was one of the last of 16 sites in the Aurora solar project to go online in what is currently the state's largest solar project that will produce a total of 150 MWdc of renewable energy that is being sold to Xcel Energy.
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — A crew leader for a Sentencing to Service program remains on administrative leave after accusations he coerced a female inmate to have sex in exchange for special privileges. Michael John Martin, 47, of Wood Lake, faces three felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct — force or coercion, and three felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct — a correctional employee. He appeared on the charges in Yellow Medicine County District Court last week and has since posted bail.
NEW LONDON, Minn. — Requests from citizens to have a book removed from the New London-Spicer School District curriculum have been denied. In a 3-2 vote Monday the central Minnesota school board agreed to follow the recommendation of the school administration and allow "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" to remain as an option for teachers to use in the classroom. The action doesn't mean the book must be part of the curriculum, but that teachers can use it if they choose.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Calling his actions "animalistic" and evidence of "how evil a person can act," Judge Jennifer Fischer sentenced Joseph Alan Schleeter to 42 months in prison for a gruesome attack on his former girlfriend that included forcing human feces into her mouth and urinating on her face. The sentence is an upward departure of the sentencing guidelines. "We were able to obtain justice for this victim," said Kandiyohi County Attorney Shane Baker.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A Willmar man was sentenced Monday to 45 months in prison for a long list of felony theft and burglary charges for taking nearly $30,000 worth of items from farm sheds and garages in his rural Kandiyohi County neighborhood and pawning or selling them on Facebook. Jordan Anthony Brede, 23, cried in court Monday as he pledged to change his ways while in prison. "I want to take this time to apologize to the community and victims of my crime," Brede said.
PENNOCK, Minn. — A family dairy operation west of Willmar was hit hard by a powerful storm that rolled through west central Minnesota early Sunday morning. Nearly every barn on the Carlson Dairy was damaged by the high winds that punched the early morning with a wallop around 7 a.m. According to the National Weather Service, a trained spotter estimated winds at 60-70 mph in the Pennock area, where the farm is located.
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — A corrections officer who supervised Yellow Medicine County jail prisoners on a Sentence to Service work crew is facing charges of coercing a prisoner to have sex with him in exchange for special privileges. Michael John Martin, 47, of Wood Lake, faces six felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. During a bail hearing Tuesday in Yellow Medicine County District Court, unconditional bail was set at $100,000 and conditional bail was set at $10,000.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A well-known Minnesota music hall of fame performer, who was playing music to entertain residents at a memory care facility earlier this spring in Willmar, has been charged with sexually touching one of the residents who has dementia. Terrance Raymond Shaw, 72, of Willmar, faces two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree with a victim who was mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A registered Level 3 sex offender convicted of molesting a child is set to leave prison Tuesday and move to a home in rural New London. But before that happens, Craig Allan Hargreaves, 49, will be in court Monday in Willmar for a hearing that could result in his civil commitment to the state's sex offender program as a sexually dangerous person. In 2010, Hargreaves was sentenced to 143 months in prison for molesting a 12-year-old boy during the summer of 2007.
WILLMAR, Minn.—Two men who played key roles at two separate area golf courses made their initial court appearances Wednesday, May 10, in unrelated cases alleging they stole from their employers. Phillip Andrew Sam, 31, of Coon Rapids, a former assistant golf pro at Willmar's Eagle Creek Golf Course, is accused in Kandiyohi County District Court of swindling nearly $90,000 from the business during a seven-month period in 2015.