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2012: The year in review

Changes marked the year of 2012 across the Pine River and Backus communities. As 2012 came to a close, the Journal reflects on the happenings, good and bad, of Pine River and its surrounding communities.

The Pine River-Backus School District saw many changes. Perhaps most notably, construction began on the school additions funded by the $4.26 million building bond. Ground was broken on the new early childhood center addition, and the building bond project also includes construction of a new bus garage and athletic addition.

PR-B students also saw the rollout of the one-to-one iPad project, where all students in grades 5-12 were provided iPads for learning.

School menus also saw a change. Aside from a rise in prices, new nutritional guidelines, federally mandated, rolled out across the nation.

The Pine River Police Department saw many changes. Three separate police chiefs served in 2012. Police Chief Josh Ebert took a position in Dilworth, and Chad Bouc took over and was appointed full-time chief in May. Bouc then took a position at the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, citing job security as one of the factors in his resignation.

At that time the Pine River City Council was discussing disbanding the police department. Paul Sand was named interim police chief in July, and later appointed permanent chief.

In more tragic news, the remains of Mark Huesmann, 27, were found in a shallow grave near Pine River. Dane Riley was charged with Huesmann’s murder. Riley’s next court hearing is Feb. 8, 2013.

Other notable news includes a Chickamaw Beach house fire that destroyed the Volcke home in January. Timothy and Carla Volcke reported that their home was on fire shortly after midnight Jan. 8, 2012. In the house with them were six minor grandchildren and another minor. Brandon Todd Sannan pleaded guilty to arson on April 30. Sannan’s plea agreement called for a total sentence of 10 years in prison.

Highway 371 saw changes through town. A detour went into effect May 16 as the road saw improvements, which included a mill and overlay, curb and gutter, sidewalks, turn lanes at the signal, storm sewer work and new signal systems. The detour was lifted June 20.

For a bulleted list of the most notable moments of 2012 reported in the Journal, see pages 6-7.