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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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. — Joel Opatz, interim president of Ridgewater College, has notified the college staff that he will resign effective April 3. In a letter addressed to colleagues this week, Opatz said he is leaving for health reasons. He was appointed a year ago to a contract that was to have lasted through June.
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. — Members of the Willmar's different ethnic communities came together Saturday morning, Dec. 16, to talk about communication over sambusa, fruit and coffee. More than 60 people, mostly from the Anglo and Somali communities, crowded into the Community Integration Center in downtown Willmar for the center's first Coffee with the Community gathering. Abdirahman Ahmed, one of the center's founders, said he was amazed at the number of people who attended. "This is a success," he said.
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.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A group of immigrants from east Africa has formed a nonprofit organization to help members of the Willmar community learn more about each other. The Community Integration Center in downtown Willmar is open to everyone, seven days a week. The center will act as a welcome center for people who have just moved to Willmar. Its founders hope they can help break down some cultural barriers, too. The services offered there will be free.
BENSON, Minn. — A Benson man faces 11 felony charges of possessing child pornography in addition to two felony charges related to his alleged attempts to solicit sex with a minor through electronic communications. Bradley Christopher Alsaker, 33, was arraigned Monday in Swift County District Court on the 13 felony charges. His next court appearance will be Dec. 18 in Benson.