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home : news : news May 24, 2016

1/2/2013 1:20:00 PM
The year that was 2012
Death of Byron student tops the year's stories

By David Richards

It was a year of triumph and tragedy for Byron in 2012.

Loved ones died, state berths were earned and a change at the top happened at Byron Public Schools.

Here are the top stories for 2012.



1) "Deej" Logan killed in crash.

On the afternoon of the first day of school, Byron High senior Deianerah "Deej" Logan, died from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident off County Road 5 in Byron.

"She was that person you could always go to," classmate Kaitlyn Joseph said at the time. "She always had the best advice."

The following day, superintendent Jeff Elstad sent a mass e-mail to district parents sharing the news. The district also provided counseling and grief support for both students and staff.

It didn't end there. Through the next school day, students wrote notes and cards that were shared later with the family.

"Deej" played soccer as a youth and was a member of Byron's "C" squad as a freshman.

Not too long after the crash, the Kasson-Mantorville girls soccer team presented Byron's girls soccer team with a tree in "Deej's" honor. The tree has been planted on the campus of Byron High School.

At the end of October, the sheriff's crash report showed that text messaging had played a role in the accident, which led to words of caution by both law enforcement and the Logan family about the dangers of texting while driving.



2) Dr. Shannon says goodbye, Elstad takes over

After a successful, 13-year tenure as Byron's superintendent, Dr. Wendy Shannon stepped down in 2012.

Shannon's time in the position included the passing of the bond election that led to the new high school and the survival of three, straight years of deep cuts during the recession.

"It's the collective work of all of us in this organization," she said. "Every day there has been a drop in my bucket - feeling fulfilled, grateful that I have had the opportunity to be the superintendent here."

Elstad was hired in April, is a resident of Owatonna and was previously an administrator at Willow Creek Middle in Rochester.

"Coming into Rochester, I learned about Dr. Shannon and gained a tremendous amount of respect for her, and the system she created," Elstad said. "Knowing she and I have similar beliefs with continuous improvement was one of the things that attracted me to the position."



3) Three from Byron survive plane crash

Three Byron residents, including city councilman Alan De Keyrel, were passengers in a small plane that crashed in a field Dec. 2 near the Rochester International Airport.

"We are very thankful that Alan and his friends all walked away from the crash with only minor scrapes and bruises," the family said in a statement. "We are all very lucky and blessed and enjoying this time as a family." Byron mayor Ann Diercks echoed that sentiment.

"We are pleased they are all ok," she said.

As of this writing, the final crash report had not been released.

4) Council greenlights Frontage Road fix

At its Sept. 27 meeting, the Byron city council approved a major renovation to the town's Frontage Road that lines many of the city's businesses and restaurants.

City engineer Bill Angerman described the decades-old stretch as the second worst road in Byron. The multi-million dollar project is slated to begin next summer with completion sometime next fall.

At the council meeting, residents spoke out about the renovation.

Janet Dahlin, one the homeowners who lives near the road, said she's in favor of the project, but added that there should be a limit.

"We don't need the Lamborghini model if Ford will suffice," she said.

5) Girls 4x100 relay team wins state

The Byron girls 4x100 relay team, made up of Morgan Savage, Anne Christofferson, Camille Fawcett and Jillian Krier, saved its best effort for last and ran a personal best time of 49.76 to outlast the competition.

"It was a great season for all the girls on the track team, and it was a great state meet for these four young ladies," coach Charro Coleman said. "I could not be happier for the four of them as there is no question they deserved this one."

6) Ruth Hanson retires

After three decades, Byron Review reporter Ruth Hanson retired in June. Her final edition was published June 12, and she was later inducted into the Byron athletic Hall of Fame for her years of sports coverage.

"I have this theory that everyone has a story; they don't always want to tell it, but they can say no," Hanson said.

Hanson was first hired as a reporter for the Village Press, a competing paper in town before she eventually switched to the Review.

She's outlasted various owner changes, and just kept cracking out stories, roughly eight per week.

"She always likes to look on the positive side of things," said Melanie Dobson, current co-owner of the Byron Review. "She just has a lot of heart. She just doesn't go to things because she has to cover them. She goes because she wants to be there."

7) Jillian Krier earns a state berth

Byron gymnast Jillian Krier earned a spot at state after placing fourth on the balance beam with a score of 8.75 at the section meet in Red Wing in February. The state meet was held Feb. 25-26 at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavillion.

"I didn't expect it, and I can't believe it yet," she said. "It's awesome."

8) Byron runner Alex Ondler makes it to state

Cross country's Alex Ondler earned his second consecutive trip to state this past fall. The state meet was held Nov. 3.

"It might sound cliche," said Ondler, "but I feel lucky and honored to have raced well, and now to be able to race with others at this level is a pretty good feeling."

"As a coach, I'm thrilled for Alex and looking forward to seeing him continue to grow as a runner," head cross country coach Tom O'Leary said. "His efforts and drive have helped him earn this trip to the state meet, and that can springboard him into the track season and beyond."

9) Soccer teams make deep playoff runs

Both the boys and the girls soccer teams found success this past season, scoring post season victories for the year.

10) Peterson receives Good Neighbor Award

As part of the Byron's Good Neighbor Days this past summer, Marie Peterson was named the 2012 recipient of the Good Neighbor Day Award.

Peterson is a 13- year resident of Byron, involved in everything from the parent-teacher organization to being an election judge at various precincts.

She's been on three hiring committees for different administrators within the school district, was on this year's Good Neighbor Days committee and is active in her children's sports, helping out with volleyball, gymnastics, baseball and basketball.

"Awesome," Peterson said about the nomination. "I think it means just that, that I'm an active community member. And I do think I'm a god neighbor. If you asked any one of my neighbors, I think they would say myself and my family are there if you need something."


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