Archive for Hot Topics

Photos and Video: Paragliding in McLeod County

McLEOD COUNTY, MN — Brad Hoese of Winsted was part of a group of paragliders near Glencoe May 22. Check out our videos and photos here:

A story about Hoese’s paragliding experiences will be in a future edition of the Herald Journal. Click here to subscribe online or in print.

Ready for lift-off!

Ready for lift-off!

Angvall to serve as Lester Prairie’s mayor for the third time

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – Council Member Eric Angvall has agreed to take over as Lester Prairie’s mayor following the resignation of Mayor Andy Heimerl, who is moving out of the city.

During Heimerl’s last meeting as mayor May 12, the council formally accepted his resignation. Acting Mayor Angvall agreed to move into the mayor seat for the remaining 1.5 years of the current term. He has served as mayor twice previously.

The change opened up a council seat. Three applicants have stepped forward expressing interest in the seat. The council will meet with the candidates during a special work session.

Read more in Monday’s Herald Journal.

Bullets from target practice strike buildings in LP; no injuries reported

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – A man firing a rifle toward a residential area Sunday resulted in damage to property but no one was injured, according to a report from the Lester Prairie Police Department.

Lester Prairie police responded to a report of a residence in the 300 block of Fir Street South in Lester Prairie that had been struck by a bullet at approximately 6:09 p.m. Sunday, May 3.

Upon arriving at the residents, a Lester Prairie police officer observed movement on a farm to the west, and advised backup units to check the farm.

A Winsted police officer located a male suspect at the farm in the 300 block of Babcock Ave. South with a rifle in his car.

Upon arriving at the farm, the Lester Prairie police officer asked the man if he had been firing the rifle.

According to a report from the Lester Prairie Police Department, the suspect said he was sighting-in his rifle, and had been aiming east, shooting at milk jugs on a post.

The officer asked the suspect to show him the rifle.

It was a Savage Arms .223 caliber rifle with a 3-9x Bushnell scope.

The officer impounded the weapon.

According to the report, the officer took a taped statement from the suspect.

The officer asked the suspect if he was aware the backdrop to where he was shooting included houses and other things he should not be shooting at, and the suspect said he was aware of this.

The suspect told the officer that when he purchased the rifle, he was informed the range was roughly 200 yards.

The officer asked to see one of the rounds the suspect had been shooting.

The officer informed the suspect the .223 is a high velocity round, and can carry more than than 500 yards.

He told the suspect he needs to be better educated about his weapon.

The officer impounded the round and the magazine for the rifle, as well.

After interviewing the suspect, the officer spoke to a resident in the 300 block of Fir St. South.

The resident said he had heard three shots, one of which hit the house and went through the siding and the drywall inside the residence. A bullet was later found and taken into evidence.

Officers checked with all residents on the south side of Third Ave. South, and four townhomes on Third Avenue Drive to make sure they were OK.

Another resident informed officers his shed had been hit twice by bullets.

The suspect has not been charged, but charges are pending subject to review by the city attorney, according to the Lester Prairie police department.

Possible charges include reckless use of a firearm and damage to property.

‘Nowhere to go but up’ for Winsted skydiving business

WINSTED, MN – Winsted officials are cautiously exploring the possibility of keeping skydiving in town under the ownership of Kristin Merritt, but they’re not jumping into a new agreement just yet.

Look for the full story in the Monday, April 27 edition of the Herald Journal. An excerpt is below:

Kristin Merritt (left) attended Tuesday’s Winsted City Council work session to discuss the possibility of operating the skydiving business at the Winsted airport under a new LLC and a new name – Skydive the Lakes.

Kristin Merritt (left) attended the April 21 Winsted City Council work session to discuss the possibility of operating the skydiving business at the Winsted airport under a new LLC and a new name – Skydive the Lakes.











At the April 21 Winsted City Council work session, Council Member Tom Ollig said that before approving anything, “We all want to see the new contract and what’s in it.”

He noted that he has no desire to put a local entity out of business because of what one person did, and that his aim is also to protect the city and the other hangar owners.

The “one person” he referred to is former Westside Skydivers owner Joe Johnson, who was indicted by a Colorado grand jury in March for his involvement in an extensive drug ring.

Merritt said she had been in a relationship with Johnson until about two years ago. After their relationship ended, she continued to be involved in Westside Skydivers, which has locations in Winsted and in Texas.

“I considered leaving, but I’ve been here since day one, and I’ve invested a lot of my own money into the business,” she said.

City Attorney Fran Eggert said Merritt has a restraining order against Johnson, preventing him from coming within 300 feet of her or the hangar where she works.

Council Member George Schulenberg noted he doesn’t want Johnson on the airport property at all, and Eggert responded that he has already e-mailed Johnson’s attorney, Brian Toder, to ask if this is a possibility.

Toder had also been representing Merritt, but Eggert said that is no longer the case. Eggert also noted that some people thought Merritt and Johnson had two children together. He explained that while Merritt does, in fact, have two children, they do not belong to Johnson.

Merritt said there were many things Johnson did that she did not agree with, and she hopes to start fresh.

For background on this story, see articles printed on page 1A of the March 30 and April 13 editions of the Herald Journal.

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Lester Prairie mayor resigns

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – Lester Prairie Mayor Andy Heimerl announced at the end of the April 14 city council meeting that he is resigning his position effective June 1.

Heimerl said he has purchased a house outside the city, and will no longer be eligible to serve.

Read more in the April 20 issue of Herald Journal.

UPDATE: Suspicious death under investigation in Carver County

CARVER COUNTY, MN – Carver County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to 16000 block of Homestead Rd. in San Francisco Township to investigate a suspicious death at approximately 7:19 p.m. April 11, according to a release from Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson. The reporting party had been asked by a relative of the homeowner to check the homeowner’s welfare.

When he checked the residence, he found the homeowner deceased and summoned law enforcement. Sheriff’s Deputies entered the house and found the victim homeowner deceased. The decedent has been presumptively identified as Earl Arthur Olander, 90.

Olander, who lived alone, was found with his hands bound and he appeared to have been assaulted. Olander’s house had been ransacked. Sheriff’s Deputies summoned the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to process the crime scene and assist in the investigation. The cause and manner of death has not yet been determined. The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office is assisting in the investigation. Investigators continue to examine evidence to locate witnesses or suspects. Sheriff Olson is asking anyone with information about this incident to contact the Carver County Sheriff’s Office immediately.

UPDATE 4-14-15 8:24 a.m. Crime Stoppers of Minnesota has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and charging in this case. Contact or 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) to help solve this crime. Your contact with Crime Stoppers is anonymous.