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Journal highlights and lowlights of 2012

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January -

• Echo Publishing, which includes the Pine River Journal, Lake Country Echo and Echoland Piper Shopper, made changes to its operations, closing its Pine River building and moving its offices to Brainerd. The Pequot Lakes office remains open from 8 a.m. to noon weekdays for customer service.

• First National Bank of Walker acquired Jenkins, Longville and Remer Woodland Bank offices.

• Jerry’s SuperValu and Godfrey’s grocery became Pine River Family Market and Godfrey’s Family Foods, and began carrying Our Family brand products.

• Road Crew wrestling captured the conference title for the first time in five years.

• The Vikings stadium was the hot topic as the legislative session began.

• Brandon Sannan was charged with arson in a Chickamaw Beach house fire.

February -

• Cities and counties were saving money from light snowfall throughout the winter, which meant less plowing.

• Emergency services made the switch to the new 800 megahertz radio system.

• Pine River Police Chief Josh Ebert accepted a position in Dilworth. His last official day with Pine River was Feb. 21.

• Josh Sweeney, seventh grade, took first place in the 10th round of the Pine River-Backus Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “telepathic.”

• The Cass County Republican caucus turned out more than 374 participants Tuesday, Feb. 7, tripling 2010 attendance.

• The PR-B School Board approved the sale of $4.26 million in general obligation school building bonds to finance projects at the school.

• PR-B senior Nathan Holm scored 33 points in a 77-29 victory over the Laporte Wildcats, passing the 1967 record for the Tigers’ all-time scoring leader.

• Tatum Sheley broke the PR-B girls’ all-time scoring record against the Laporte Wildcats, a game the Tigers won 61-12.

• Chad Bouc was named interim Pine River police chief.

March -

• As legislative districts were redrawn, Cass County was divided into three House districts and two Senate districts.

• Drey Loge, Darian Rubner, Peter Harrison and Anthony Phillipson were headed to state, representing the Road Crew. The Lakes Area Mat Rats wrestling team also advanced to the state tournament.

• PR-B Knowledge Bowl qualified for the state tournament.

• Former Jenkins Mayor Dwight Heim was appointed mayor of Backus after Backus Mayor Dean Engen was inactive with the city for 90 days.

• The PR-B Robotics Team competed in Duluth at the Superior Regional competition.

• Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch issued his 2011 report, with Pine River among the top four cities for call volume.

• Three vehicles sank through the ice on Norway Lake.

• Wildfires in Backus and Hackensack prompted burning restrictions.

• PR-B graduates Taylor Sheley and Katie Wangberg were honored for their college basketball accomplishments.

• The Pine River Food Shelf mourned the loss of dedicated volunteer Mary Switajewski.

April -

• Maple syrup makers were having a bad year, as syrup makers harvested little sap from their trees.

• The Legislature was considering an early fishing opener as ice was out early. Some resorts opposed the idea.

• The PR-B School Board approved its contract with teachers after a year of negotiations.

• Melina Birchem was named Miss Pine River. First Princess was Maggie Griffith and Second Princess was Shona Nagel.

• Udom’s Thai Cuisine opened in Hackensack.

• The recently formed Pine River, Pequot Lakes high school trap shooting team was featured.

• The former Piney Ridge Resort became as mock tornado zone for firefighter and first responder training. Many old buildings were burned as the property was to be divided and sold.

• Ole and Lena’s Pub was set to open in Pine River.

May -

• The city prepared for road construction on Highway 371 through town.

• PR-B grad Travis Kelley was featured for his invention, the Cheetah, a door-hanging tool.

• Chinese acrobats visited PR-B for a performance.

• Pine River resident Mark Edwards received a $28,000 settlement in a mediated civil lawsuit against the city.

• Chad Bouc was appointed permanent, full-time police chief.

• Detours went under way as Highway 371 saw improvements.

• Area farmers’ markets opened for the season.

• Mary Sheley was honored with a memorial scoreboard installed near the ball diamonds at PR-B school.

• Kindergartners in tiny hard hats broke ground on the new early childhood addition at PR-B.

• Jade Krueger was named as Regional Coca-Cola Scholar, winning $10,000.

June -

• All PR-B students in grades 5-12 were to have an iPad for use at school the following fall.

• A new arena was going up at the fairgrounds at the end of the sheep barn and next to the Don Smith building.

• The detour around Highway 371 was set to come to an end in the following few days.

• Paul Gardiner was remembered as a man of integrity and a pillar in the Pine River community as he died at age 93.

• School menus were to change and prices were to increase at PR-B as new nationwide school nutrition standards took effect.

• The dam in Pine River was running the fastest it had in 15 years as water was high on lakes and rivers.

July -

• Pine River City Council discussed disbanding the police department.

• Hens and Chicks Curiosities store opened in Pine River

• The PR-B superintendent contract was to be re-negotiated.

• Paul Sand was named Pine River interim police chief.

• Authorities were on the lookout for missing man, Mark Huesmann.

• Local teens Kayla Adkins and Ryan Sweeny tried out in Chicago for “American Idol Season 12.”

August -

• Dane Riley of Pine River was charged with the murder of Mark Huesmann.

• Test results showed that PR-B Schools improved in reading and math.

• Renee Rogers was selected as Miss Backus for the annual Cornfest celebration.

• Filings closed for local elections as a race emerged in the PR-B School Board and Backus mayoral races.

• The community garden hosted an open house, where visitors could see what was growing on the 28 plots.

• The Pine River City Council determined to keep its own police department, as opposed to contracting with the county. • The Lakes Area Bluegrass Festival came back to Pine River after a three-year hiatus, drawing around 3,375 people over a four-day period.

September -

• Classes resumed at PR-B, just as test results showed that the schools performed higher in Multiple Measurement Ratings in 2012 than 2011.

• Stacy Ebert, formerly of Pine River, published her first book, “It’s You.”

• The Pine River Depot was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

• IPads were distributed at PR-B middle level and high school.

• Christian radio debuted on the former KLKS station, 104.3 FM.

• Fire destroyed the home of Tina Kimball Riley and her two kids. No one was harmed, but the building was a complete loss.

• The Early Childhood Center was beginning to take shape at PR-B schools, with hallways emerging and brickwork on the outside of the structure.

October -

• Tyler, Austin and Brandi McAllister were featured for their 4-H success at the Minnesota State Fair.

• Beets, onions and potatoes were harvested from the school garden and were to be included in the school lunch program.

• PR-B homecoming royalty was crowned: Autumn Ackerman was named queen and Drey Loge was named king.

• Pine River Family Market hosted its grand opening.

• Bolton Law Office expanded to Pine River, and food came back to Willard’s in Backus.

• Alison McGhee was named the featured author in the Pine River-Backus Community Read.

• The Pine River Police Department had new and returning faces. Nate Gainey and Chelsey Collette were new to the department, while Paul Sand made his return, named chief in the fall.

November -

• Glen and Rena Leverington were featured for 71 years of marriage.

• Deer harvest was down on firearms opener weekend. Numbers for the inaugural wolf hunt were also lower than expected. • Local election results were announced. Kurt Sawyer became Backus mayor; the school board election was too close to call at press time.

• Kelly Virden, seven-year editor of the Pine River Journal, bid farewell as she moved toward another career.

• Gloria Felthous was named PR-B Teacher of the Year.

• Pine River City Council rejected the police union contract.

• John Palmer’s resignation from the PR-B School Board was accepted.

• Bea Burnson, who died at age 105, was remembered for her legacy of teaching and library support.

December -

• Brenda Anderson, food service director at PR-B, submitted her retirement resignation after 30 years in the district.

• PR-B basketball player Beau Howard surpassed 1,000 career points.

• The annual Pine River Parade of Lights drew an estimated 500-600 attendants.

• On a split vote, the Pine River City Council passed its police union contract, after lengthy negotiations that became controversial due to raise requests.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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