Take a look back at 2022 stories in the Echo Journal

Highlights include students who shined in athletics and fine arts, events that returned to 'normal'

Photo illustration /

The year 2022 saw a plethora of news topics in the Echo Journal coverage area.

We lost some longtime residents who left their mark on the area.

We saw high school students shine in athletics and fine arts activities.

We saw state legislative districts change, and we elected new and returning legislators, as well as new and returning city council and school board members.

Area events returned to “normal” after being held virtually or in a more low-key fashion because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Following are month-by-month highlights from the 2022 editions of the Echo Journal.

Happy New Year, and we can’t wait to see what 2023 brings for news stories.


Kurt Stumpf joined the Pequot Lakes School District as interim superintendent in July and was hired to the full-time position Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Here, he stands in front of the school Aug. 23, 2021.
Dan Determan / Echo Journal File Photo

  • Pequot Lakes junior Maci Martini scores her 1,000th career point in basketball Dec. 30, 2021.
  • Kurt Stumpf, interim superintendent since July for the Pequot Lakes School District, is hired for the full-time position.
  • Irma Cragun, longtime owner of Cragun’s Resort with her husband, Dutch, dies Jan. 10 at age 87.
  • Pine River-Backus junior Ramsey Tulenchik scores her 1,000th career point in basketball Jan. 7.
  • Pine River-Backus senior Connor Tulenchik earns his 200th win as a Road Crew wrestler Jan. 21.
  • The Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza is held in person on the ice of Gull Lake’s Hole-in-the-Day Bay after being held virtually in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A nationwide virtual tournament also takes place a week before the Extravaganza.
  • The Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals honors Pequot Lakes’ Mike O’Neil as the 2022 Middle Level Principal of the Year.


The Celtic Cottage in Pequot Lakes exterior
The Celtic Cottage on Main Street in Pequot Lakes, shown Feb. 10, 2022, closed in 2022.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal File Photo

  • Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch announces he won’t seek reelection after serving as sheriff for 12 years.
  • The Celtic Cottage on Main Street in Pequot Lakes closes its doors after 25 years in business.
  • Area state legislative districts are shuffled after redistricting occurs. Candidates announce their intentions to seek endorsements for new area Senate and House districts.
  • Pequot Lakes junior Josie Harguth finishes 36th on the balance beam as a Brainerd Warrior at the Class 2A state individual gymnastics meet in St. Paul.
  • Pequot Lakes sophomores Calia Chaney and Lauren Kalenberg finish 23rd and 24th to earn all-state (top 25) honors for the Brainerd Warriors alpine ski team at the state meet in Biwabik.
  • The Pine River-Backus High School Knowledge Bowl team advances to the state tournament after placing third at the regional contest.


Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade 2022_3386.JPG
Crowds of people lined the street for the Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade in March 2022.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal File Photo

  • Senior Road Crew wrestler Connor Tulenchik secures his first state championship in the Class 2A Individual Wrestling Tournament in St. Paul. Teammate Parker Zutter places fifth. Five other Road Crew wrestlers also compete in the Class 2A state individual contest: Caleb Ruhl, Owen Carlson, Corbin Knapp, Austin Staricha and Easton Miller.
  • The Pequot Lakes High School robotics team advances to the world competition in Houston in April after winning the regional contest in Duluth.
  • Jesse Zahn is appointed to the Nisswa City Council.
  • The Pequot Lakes girls basketball team takes fifth place in the state tournament.
  • After two years, COVID-19 restrictions ease and the Crosslake St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration returns after being canceled at the last minute in 2020 and canceled in 2021.
  • David Chanski is Breezy Point’s next city administrator/clerk.
  • The Pequot Lakes boys basketball team takes sixth place in the state tournament.
  • Pine River-Backus eighth grader Nesika Belleville wins the Regional Spelling Bee to advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May in Washington, D.C. Runner-up is Pequot Lakes sixth grader Brekkin Glazier. 
  • Calvin Wallin receives the Minnesota Interscholastic Activities Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award for his many years of contributions to youth and high school athletics.


  • Pequot Lakes High School senior Madeline Ryan is crowned Miss Nisswa. First Princess is Brooke Krivich, a Brainerd High School senior. Miss Congeniality is Alexis Shaw, a Pequot Lakes High School senior.
  • Pine River-Backus High School junior Ashlee Crawford is crowned Miss Pine River. First Princess is Hannah Barchus, PR-B junior. Second Princess is Shailyn Butricks, PR-B senior. Miss Congeniality is Joselin Sexton, PR-B junior.
  • Pequot Lakes High School speech team members Olivia Armstrong, Veronica Broskovetz, Steve Maschhoff and Tabitha Kibwaa qualify for the state meet.


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Pequot Lakes English teacher Megan Johnson stands beside the "encouragement wall" outside her classroom at Pequot Lakes School on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
Dan Determan / Echo Journal File Photo

  • State Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, announces she will retire and not seek re-election after serving in the state Senate from 2003-06 and then since 2013.
  • Pequot Lakes English teacher Megan Johnson is honored as the Education Minnesota Pequot Lakes Teacher of the Year.
  • Pequot Lakes High School junior Quinn Trottier is crowned Miss Pequot Lakes and Miss Congeniality. Princesses are PLHS senior Annika Schlagel and PLHS junior Brea Eckes.
  • Tina Foster is the 2022 Nisswa Citizen of the Year.
  • Memorial Day storms bring rain and high winds, toppling power lines and trees to cause extensive damage and multi-day power outages across the Brainerd lakes area.



  • Crosslake Community School graduates its largest class ever at 48 students.
  • Lake Shore celebrates its 75th anniversary of being incorporated as a city with a public picnic event at Fritz Loven Park.
  • Pequot Lakes sophomore Calia Chaney wins the 800-meter run at the Class 2A state track and field meet to become the state champion. She places third in the 1600-meter run. 
  • The Pequot Lakes girls 4x100 relay team of Julia Keiffer, Riya Johnson, Josie Taylor and Joselyn Rinio finishes fifth in the state finals. The same group places ninth in the 4x200 relay. 
Lake Shore 75th anniversary celebration history display
From left, Arlene and Max Bush, Lake Shore residents for 28 years, talk to Cindy Terwilliger, Lake Shore Park and Recreation Committee member who put together a history display, at the city's 75th anniversary celebration Thursday, June 9, 2022, at Fritz Loven Park.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal File Photo

  • Senior Cruz Megazzini finishes sixth in the high jump at state, also competing in the 400 dash. Charles Schiessl competes in the hurdles at state.
  • Pine River-Backus golfer Joe Zaczkowski ties for 60th, Cate Travis ties for 38th and Hannah Barchus is 77th at the Class 1A state golf tournament.
  • The Pequot Lakes girls golf team places third in the Class 2A state tournament. Genevieve Birkeland takes fourth and Morgan Krieger ties for ninth individually.
  • The Pequot Lakes boys golf team takes seventh in the Class 2A state tournament. Tyler Seeling places 18th and Anthony Armstrong 29th individually.
  • John and Lottie Teune, rural Pine River, are the Cass County Farm Family of the Year.
  • After more than 40 years in business, the Wallin Berry Farm is likely getting out of the strawberry business.
PL Speech.jpg
Olivia Armstrong, left, Tabitha Kibwaa and Steve Maschoff represented the Pequot Lakes Patriots at the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament from June 13-17, 2022.

  • Pequot Lakes speech team members Tabitha Kibwaa, Steve Maschhoff and Olivia Armstrong compete in the National Speech and Debate National Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, after qualifying in March at a tournament in Moorhead.


  • A Pequot Lakes High School trap shooting squad places fourth in the nation at the USA Clay Target League National Championship. The squad includes Cooper Johnson, Jaden Anderson, Maddie Pettit, Mitchell Morrison and Annika Wiczek.


  • Dean and Briana Visser, who own Benvelle Equestrian Center in Pequot Lakes, receive the 2022 Crow Wing County Farm Family of the Year award.


Community service organization.jpg
Dave Guenther (with plaque) is the Ideal Community Service Organization's Volunteer of the Year for 2023. Back row from left: ICSO board members Mary Jo Schneider, Ron Engblom, Sandy Meyer, Carrie Ruud and John Boline, Barb and Dave Guenther, ICSO board members Larry Knutson and Steve Tufte; front row from left, ICSO board members Mary Plein, Sally Jo Baumgartner and Joanna O'Neil.

  • Both the reigning Miss Pequot Lakes Quinn Trottier and Miss Pine River Ashlee Crawford receive second crowns as homecoming queens. Also crowned are homecoming kings Leo Bolz-Andolshek (Pequot Lakes) and Cole Burrell (Pine River-Backus).
  • A tentative contract agreement is reached days after a Pequot Lakes School union that includes custodians, paraeducators, secretaries, food service and nurses files an intent to strike.
  • Jay and Jacki Kline, owners of Kline Funeral Home, receive the Pine River Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award.
  • Troy Gregory, Pine River-Backus Community Education director and Pine River City Council member, is recognized with the Community Educators of Excellence Award from Region 8 of the Minnesota Community Education Association.
  • Eveland’s, Inc./Scamp Trailers, a Backus business, receives the Cass County Economic Development Corporation Legacy Business Award.
  • Dave Guenther is named the Ideal Community Service Organization’s Volunteer of the Year for 2023.
  • Dick Houston, Pine River, longtime owner of Houston Ford and the youngest Ford dealer ever at age 27, dies Oct. 31 at age 83.


Tom Nelson Pequot Lakes fire chief head shot.jpg
Tom Nelson retires in November 2022 as Pequot Lakes Fire District chief.

  • Tim Holmes, a Nisswa resident and a former Nisswa police sergeant and firefighter, receives the 2022 Fire Officer of the Year award for a population over 10,000 from the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.
  • Longtime Pequot Lakes Fire Chief Tom Nelson retires after 19 years as chief and 26.5 years as a firefighter.
  • Pequot Lakes’ Calia Chaney finishes 10th in the Class 2A state girls cross-country meet, while teammate Eli Hall places 13th in the state boys meet.
  • The Pequot Lakes volleyball team finishes second in the Class 2A state meet.
  • The Pine River-Backus volleyball team plays two matches in the Class 1A state tournament.
  • Tractor Supply Company opens in the prominent building space in Pine River that ALCO previously occupied.
  • Bob Spizzo, CEO of Breezy Point Resort, is honored with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber’s Business Legacy Award.


Minnesota Power in Pequot Lakes Dec. 18, 2022.JPG
A Minnesota Power crew, including Dusty Hadrava in the bucket, repair a power line Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, on West Grove Street in Pequot Lakes with a temperature of 1 degree above zero.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal File Photo

  • The Pequot Lakes Chamber names its 2023 Service in Excellence Award winners: Lonesome Cottage Furniture Company, Business of the Year; Tyler Gardner, Citizen of the Year; Nancy Ryan, School Staff of the Year; Shari Monahan, Employee of the Year; and Jenni Gonczy, Volunteer of the Year.
  • Cullen Kratochvil, a Pequot Lakes senior linebacker and tight end, is the only area player named to the Minnesota Football Coaches Association All-Star game held Dec. 10 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, home of the Minnesota Vikings.
  • An unprecedented and historic winter storm slams the lakes area with more than a foot of wet, heavy snow that causes thousands of power outages and prompts schools to turn to e-learning days for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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