A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.
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WILLMAR, Minn. — When he looks at the herd of 100 Angus cows and their frisky spring calves grazing in a pasture of belly-high grass, Cullen Fischer still can't believe his lifelong dream of raising cattle is coming true. "It's kind of a pinch-me thing," said the 31-year-old from Lake Lillian about his good fortune of taking over ownership of the well-established cow-calf operation from a retired farmer he met just a few years ago — a man who will continue to be his mentor.
SPICER, Minn. — A historic Spicer community landmark that operates as a restaurant and bed and breakfast on the southeast shore of Green Lake is closing and is for sale. The change could bring an end to the 123-year ownership of the Spicer Castle by the family of the man who built the structure and helped found the town that bears his name. "This is the last season the Spicer Castle will be open," said Mary Latham, a fourth-generation member of the John M. Spicer family who has owned the classic old lake home since 1895.
GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — A former baseball coach was sentenced to 60 days in the Yellow Medicine County Jail after pleading guilty to a 2013 sexual assault of a girl he was coaching at the time. Jose Rodriquez, 22, of Hanley Falls, was also placed on 10 years of supervised probation and ordered to pay fines and fees of $575. The court granted a stay of adjudication, under which no conviction will appear on his criminal record if he successfully completes the terms of his sentence.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A growing market for industrial hemp as food, fiber and nutraceuticals is gaining ground in west central Minnesota and could find a place in Kandiyohi County. There's at least one field of hemp planted this year in Chippewa County and a food-grade processing facility is being established in Olivia—about 25 miles south of Willmar. Yes. It is legal. And, no, industrial hemp is not intoxicating.
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.
NEW ULM, Minn. — The Catholic Diocese of New Ulm, which includes 15 west central Minnesota counties, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday morning. The action was taken in response to 101 lawsuits filed against the diocese and some parishes in the diocese by victims and survivors of child sex abuse perpetrated by clergy. The diocese said financial reorganization was the "fairest way to resolve sexual abuse claims" and to carry out the mission of the church.
WILLMAR, Minn. — A festive Christmas light celebration Saturday, Dec. 10, near Willmar had a tragic end when several passengers and the driver of horse-drawn wagon were injured after the horses got spooked and ran for about a mile before crashing in a yard. The passengers had non-life-threatening injuries but emergency life-saving measures were performed on the driver, who was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital in critical condition and later transferred to the Hennepin County Medical Center.