December 30, 2010 at 8:29 a.m.
Year in Review

2010 faces and places that were newsworthy

2010 faces and places that were newsworthy
2010 faces and places that were newsworthy

The year 2010 in Chisago County brought no real changes in the economy, especially the housing market, which had begun to stagnate in 2006-2007 and still showed no growth. The county remained high in the 2010 rankings of foreclosures per 100 homes (within top six in state) and valuations for taxing purposes across the county on homesites, dipped about 10 percent.

Despite this, or maybe because of the state of the economy, individuals and organizations seemed to increase their visibility, do even more good works and promote volunteerism.

The Ambassador for the Celebration of Lakes, named in January, is one example of this. Gary Gerke's list of activities where he volunteers time is lengthy. Annually the winter celebration committee selects an ambassador who can be counted on to help when needed and gets things done, and that's what community is all about.

The early winter was rough on sportsmen. In 2010, two ice fishermen were found dead on area lakes, both believed to have succumbed to medical conditions.

In January North Branch School Board member Donna Setter resigned and the Board appointed Robert Jutz.

North Branch Board members also begin reviewing the pros and cons of going to a 4-day school week, which ultimately is activated. Public meetings and information gathering take several months before the decision is made as a budget-reduction measure.

East Central Electric's General Manager Garry Bye announces his retirement in January 2010. In the 74 year history of the electric co-op Bye is only the third person to serve as GM.

The Lindstrom City Council votes in January to preserve the property that is now Allemansratt Park and directs staff to look into financing and report back. The vote is 3-1 with Roger Lindgren absent and Curt Flug opposed.

February 2010

The LS Power Electric Station vote is taken and the County Board declines the development agreement. The measure returns in March, however, and the agreement is approved 4-1, with Lora Walker continuing to be opposed.

A group of citizens and landowners fighting the power plant project file a civil lawsuit several months later. They ask that the development agreement be nullified because the county and township lack the authority, and because the LS Power company doesn't actually own the land and only a landowner can enter into a development agreement. The suit was heard, additional materials were submitted until late November, and a judge still has the request to nullify the agreement under advisement.

Joe Thimm, Taylors Falls Principal, is selected for the state Leadership Award from the Minnesota Elementary Principals Association.

North Branch schools Knowledge Bowl Team members are conference champions.

March

Good works being done by the Amador Women's Environmental Institute are made national news. The WEI is honored, with the announcement it has won the 13th Annual Ann Bancroft Award.

Sheriff Todd Rivard announces he'll retire-- well ahead of the fall election to give interested candidates plenty of time to campaign.

There are three who file and a primary is needed to get the list down to two for ballots in the general election -- Rick Duncan and Karl Schreck. Duncan comes out victorious and will serve starting in 2011.

North Branch Council member Peter Holmes announces he's stepping down. He is accused of theft by swindle at a private company. His vacancy is filled with the appointment of John Philipsen.

The North Branch City Bus starts running routes tailored to the city, as a special program of the Heartland Express countywide transit system.

Chisago Lakes students trying to help earthquake victims in the nation of Haiti, they put together the Hats for Haiti fund drive.

The first indications that Congressman Jim Oberstar might be facing an uphill re-election battle are obvious as dozens of protesters gather outside his satellite office in North Branch.

April

Ironically, days after the protestors openly exhibit their displeasure with Oberstar groundbreaking takes place on the Hwy. 95 North Branch bridge replacement. We say ironically because Congressman Oberstar worked to fund this project through a federal appropriation, so local taxpayers wouldn't be footing the multi-million dollar project budget alone. Oberstar, Dem. is defeated in elections in November by Chip Cravaack-R.

Raven, the K-9 dog in the North Branch Police Dept. retires.

The county's waste medicine disposal program wins a Humphrey Institute "Innovation Award."

The Chisago Lakes-North Branch Robotics Team goes to nationals in Atlanta Georgia and both communities lend support.

Franconia Township Supervisor Gene Green retires after 36 years as a township official.

Firefighters gear-up for a bad wildfire season, calls for brush fires, etc. start quickly and come often the next several weeks due to early dry conditions.

Camp Triumph finds a new home at Ojiketa Regional Park, Chisago City. The grief camp for youngsters has been located at a site in west Wisconsin and is made possible by a crew of local volunteers.

May

May is when Judge Robert Rancourt wins the On Behalf of Youth Award. People involved in the area's teen and youth law enforcement, social services and educational programs choose an awardee and Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau presents the honor.

Rebecca Fredlund is the winner of the Chisago Lakes Teachers' Association scholarship.

North Branch EDA member Jeremy Lindman is arrested and charged with illegal possession of a firearm. Lindman's trial is slated for January 3, 2011.

McDonald Distributing is honored by the County Board for 77 years in the business sector here. The family-owned beverage and snack distribution company is based in Rush City.

Lakes Area Officer Mike Delmont resigns in May after being charged with procuring alcohol for a minor.

U.S. Census response is great, Chisago County returns 81 percent of its forms.

June

In early June students at Chisago Lakes Middle School in Lindstrom gathered in a huge assembly on school grounds to note the completion of "Project Independence." The fundraiser had many students working for at least two years to collect enough money (T-shirt sales, walk-run, etc.) to install solar panels on the school.

Lindstrom's new Postmaster Cheryl Kempf is sworn into office.

North Branch celebrates Mid Summer Days and Grand Marshal is Dave Hermann.

The Jon Moulton Farmstead outside of Rush City hosts an open house so people can get a look at milking done by robots. The Lely "Astronaut" milking system is the first of its kind in this county.

July

In July Dan Meyer is officially appointed as North Branch's new police chief and is worn in by Steve Forner, who retired. Forner started in North Branch in 1983. Meyer is promoted to interim chief from the department.

Karl Oskar Days in Lindstrom honors co-Grand Marshals Ken Harmon and John Broecker.

Taylors Falls Wannigan Days event includes a parade with Bill Scott in the grand marshal lead car.

The ground is broken for a multi-million cancer center in West Wisconsin. The center should open in spring 2011.

County Commissioners Lora Walker and Mike Robinson vote no on an action to proceed with design and specs for a new communications center and 9-1-1 dispatch base. The work moves forward on the simple majority vote. The two also are opposed to the motion selling $11.3 in bonds for the 800 megahertz system buildout in a bond sale later, in December.

August

Late summer always brings the announcement of the county's Farm Family of the Year. Arlen and Alice Burnside are the honorees this year, they farm with family members outside of Almelund.

Chuck Gramling is the Ki-Chi-Saga Days Grand Marshal.

September

The county board okays granting an easement of a few extra feet so the township can replace the Kost Dam Bridge.

The upgrade of the North Branch water and light electric generation system is underway. The utility moves out huge old engines being replaced with greater capacity modern units to meet all generating needs of its service territory.

Chisago Lakes Homecoming Queen is Elsa Osterberg and King is Dan Medin.

October

In North Branch Whitney Jackson is chosen as North Branch Homecoming Queen and King is Andy Freel.

The North Branch Bridge project is the scene of a ribbon cutting for the project's substantial completion and in November Veterans' Day is marked by dedicating the highway in memory of a local Marine and the bridge itself is dubbed "Veterans Memorial Bridge."

The school musicals are Suessical, the Musical at North Branch and Chisago Lakes offers Oklahoma.

November

The general election brings new office-holders....Chip Cravaack ousts Jim Oberstar in the eighth congressional district race, Bob Barrett is the new state House Representative, coming out ahead of Cindy Erickson, (incumbent Jeremy Kalin did not seek re-election) and Sean Nienow defeats incumbent Rick Olseen for the state Senate seat.

New Sheriff is Rick Duncan.

Rick Greene wins re-election to the County Board, defeating challenger Katherine Johnson. Ben Montzka is unopposed.

Both Chisago Lakes and North Branch offered levies to voters for generating additional district revenues locally. North Branch had all three questions defeated on about a 2:1 ratio. Chisago Lakes saw one question re-authorized by voters and a second question failed.

Coleman McDonough travels to Washington D.C. to speak with federal lawmakers about a host of educational issues and the role that principals play in school success. McDonough is just starting his first year as North Branch High School's principal, but won the state Middle School Principal of the Year for the state in his previous post in St. Paul and went to the nation's capitol with state winners from all over the nation.

The Royal Lady of the Village for Taylors Falls is Mary Murphy.

The last week of November has county auditor Dennis Freed overseeing a recount to determine the governor's race. A package of six contested ballots is sent to state election officials. The outcome stays the same and Mark Dayton is eventually certified as the winner of the governor's race.

December

The North Branch MainStreet School starts to come down. District officials consolidated programs from the old brick school facility into Primary School renaming Primary the North Branch Education Center. The demolition clears the way to sell the lot where MainStreet stood on Hwy. 95, for development at some point.

Jaye Kruckeberg is appointed to the North Branch School Board as Vicki McDougall announces she will resign. Kruckeberg was the third highest vote-getter in the elections just held.


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