The Dodge County Court House flag remained at half-mast in September in honor and in mourning of the loss of Dodge County Sheriff’s Office Captain, Loring Guenther. Photo by Tara Lindquist
By Tara Lindquist
New leaders on area city councils
and school boards
Claremont had former Dodge County Commissioner Don Gray take the Claremont Mayor's seat and Michelle Welsh take a seat on the Claremont council. Hayfield City Council welcomed Anthony Reese. Hayfield School Board had Lisa Bungum and Chris Ebling take their seats on the board. Mantorville welcomed Mayor Chuck Bradford and councilmen Henry Blair and Don Swanson.
Area reels over tragedy
On January 6, Triton graduate, Manya Jewel Twite Johnson was brutally murdered in her home in St. Paul. Her husband, Steven Johnson was charged with 1st degree murder and plead guilty later in the year. Manya was the daughter of Terrance and Bonnie Twite of Dodge Center and was remembered fondly by many.
Sunshine Foods opened in Dodge Center
Sunshine Foods grocery store bought out John's Foods in Dodge Center. In January they held their grand opening offering store specials all week and celebrated with a ribbon cutting on January 15.
Monahan named Hayfield Citizen of the Year
Tom Monahan was elected to be Hayfield Citizen of the Year. Four citizens wrote letters nominating Monahan for the honor. "Tome is a big reason our community doesn't shut down," Ruth Kruger wrote. "From the food booths set up during Hey Days to employing many at the bowling alley Tom runs. He is a fair employer." All that nominated Tom stressed the positive influence he has been on employees, the school and the community since arriving in Hayfield. Sally Mindrup wrote that Monahan has been instrumental in promoting high school bowling with youth leagues and that students can letter in bowling.
Hayfield implements iPad program for students
Hayfield Community Schools approved an iPad program that would start the phases of every student and teacher having an iPad. The teachers received their iPads in August of 2013 and high school students will receive theirs at the beginning of the 2013-2015 school year.
Lucas Etchason makes second state wrestling trip
Junior, Lucas Etchason competed at the State Wrestling tournament with a goal of placing in the top sixth. After the dust settled, Etchason stood on the podium and accepted his fourth place metal.
On the season Lucas ended up 35-7. He was named All Conference in the HVL, took second in the section 1A tournament, and placed fourth at state. Etchason recently got his 100th win.
Hayfield Boys Basketball return to state
The Vikings made their fourth appearance in the boys state basketball tournament and first appearance since Coach Chris Pack took over as head coach in 2001.
The Vikings lost in the first round at Williams Arena against Eslko. Coach Pack was named Section 2AA Coach of the Year, later in March.
Triton 8th graders' fun fundraiser for D.C. trip
Last year was the first of, hopefully, an annual eighth grade Washington, D.C. trip offered by the Triton Middle School to students who choose to go. The parents and teachers came together to do a fundraiser night that hadn't been done before in the area - a Price is Right game show, in the performing arts center. Guests were selected to "come on down!" Students gathered over 80 prizes from local businesses to give away.
Operation: FUN! founded
Gabe Jerrod approached the Hayfield City Council in April to pitch his idea of raising money to install new playground equipment at the two city parks in Hayfield. Gabe worked on his "business plan" and also approached other area organizations throughout the year to raise money for the parks. He organized garage sales, fundraisers and sold water, ice cream and cookies at the annual Hey Days Celebration. As of December Gabe had raised over $3,000, he has a goal set of $15,000.
Triton 5th graders raise $7,000 in memory of classmate
On Friday, May 10, 2013 Cyrus Hackensmith would have been 12-years-old, but Cyrus passed away from complications of Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM) on March 10, 2013. To honor their classmate the Triton fifth grade class organized a walk and raised $7,000 to donate to Cure JM Foundation in memory of Cyrus. His twin brother, Dakota took part in the walk and said he knew his brother was happy they were doing the walk because his brother was always happy.
West Concord Police Chief resigns
Long time West Concord Police Chief Ken Frank was offered the chief of police position in Chatfield and chose to accept it. Shannon Boerner was appointed as temporary and then later permanent police chief after Frank's departure.
Dodge County buys old Mantorville school building
The Dodge County Commissioners voted to purchase the old intermediate school from Carole and Kent Keller paying $595,000 for the property. The Kellers purchased the building from the Kasson-Mantorville school district in 2011 and had rented out half of the building to various businesses. Construction and renovation on the building will begin in 2014.
Claremont Pub takes over town celebration
The Claremont Chamber was in charge of the annual Hog Fest celebration for many years but in 2013, due to chamber members no longer having the time to plan the event, the owners of the Claremont Pub took over as the organizers.
Area pools hold monthly free swim
Hayfield, Dodge Center and West Concord pools all took part in a free swim day once a month during the summer months. The area pools were open and free of charge during the Dodge County Free Swim Days.
Dodge County judge retires
Judge Joseph Wieners retired in August. He had taken over the bench from Judge Lawrence Agerter in 2010. He made the decision to step down from the bench and retire so he could enjoy his good health and spend more time working outdoors, biking and playing hockey. He still continues to be active with the girls Dodge County Wildcat hockey team.
Claremont names citizens of the year
Dean Schuette presented Dave and Romell Matejcek with the Claremont Citizen of the year award on August 2. They have a long history of being a part of the community and very involved as volunteers. They are members of the Claremont Chamber of Commerce and work to save lives as members of the Claremont Fire Department and First Responders. They also helped to organize several Claremont events and served on the Dodge County Expo committee representing Claremont.
County loses beloved sheriff's office captain
On September 10, Dodge County Sheriff's Office Captain Loring Guenther passed away of an apparent heart attack at his home, he was 43.
He was the type of leader people would follow voluntarily, even if he had no title or position. "He was our go-to guy for everything, the department just won't be the same without him." Deputy Scott Rose described Loring the same as he knew the rest of his department did - strong, steadfast, dedicated, kind and humble. He was instrumental in making the sheriff's department a better place to work and better for the county.
"He was one of those guys who always strived to do the right thing and could care less who knew about or recognized his involvement. This characteristic was seen year after year as he worked tirelessly to better our department, always being an instrumental part in accomplishing all of the great improvement we've seen over the years, yet crediting everyone else for getting it done."
Charter school becomes a reality
Five years of determination and hard work, paid off in September when West Concord officially opened their charter school. The efforts began shortly after Triton closed the middle school in West Concord and have continued ever since. In September the school welcomed roughly thirty students and new staff to the school. The school has faced some funding issues in their first year, but as of now have managed to balance their budget.
Triton Superintendent has last first day of school
Bob Kelly had 14 first days of school as the Superintendent at Triton. In 2013, it was his last. Lifelong, Kelly had 57 first days of school, 39 of them spent as an educator.
Oslo Store sold
The Oslo Store opened in 1880, when Oslo was a bigger town than Hayfield, according to Dale Tiegen, who was the last owner of the store when it finally sold in 2013.
Pure Country to bring restaurant back to Dodge Center Main Street
Kevin Nawrocki moved to Dodge Center from Michigan where he ran restaurant for many years and bought the café on Main Street in Dodge Center. The restaurant has been undergoing extensive remodeling since Nawrocki bought it in October. Pure Country Family Dining is expected to open sometime in January.
Franken visits local farm
Senator Al Franken visited the Callister Farm in West Concord on Wednesday, October 23 to meet with residents and discuss the federal farm and food safety bill that was being considered by Congress.
Alan and Lori Callister and their daughters Gail and Molly operate a sustainable poultry farm marketing meat and eggs and performing processing services for other poultry and rabbit growers. They have 11 employees assisting them. They raise about 12,000 chickens annually and produce about 300 dozen eggs weekly. They market primarily through the St. Paul Farmers Market and Mississippi Coop in St. Paul, Seward Coop in Minneapolis, Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, Just Food in Northfield and Lucia's Restaurant in Minneapolis.
Dodge Center plans new Christmas Celebration
The Dodge Center Chamber added a mix of new events to their traditional Christmas Celebration for 2013. The chamber added a bonfire, lighting of the Christmas tree, a musical show, along with the traditional photos with Santa and cookie decorating.
Waste Management buys ARI
Local trash hauler Alli Rolloff Inc, was quietly bought out by Waste Management on November 1. ARI was one of the last locally owned trash haulers in the county. Troy Andrist, owner of Alli Rolloff said the selling of his business was not something he set out to do or something he had planned on doing. He was approached in September and, after serious consideration, decided it was the time to sell. Due to the fifty percent solid waste tax increase in Olmsted County it was becoming harder and harder for him to stay competitive on the commercial side of his business. He said that increasing local competition was another deciding factor in the sale.
Flying Monkey lands in Hayfield
Long time establishment, Marv's Bar was purchased by Eric and Holly Hythecker and re-opened as the Flying Monkey Saloon. The bar officially re-opened on November 30, after being closed for two days for some remodeling and painting.
Dodge County names new sheriff's office captain
Deputy Ryer Anderson took the position vacated in September by the tragic death of Captain Loring Guenther.
Anderson has been with the department 11 years. He is third in command of the department's 30 officers and dispatchers and records personnel after Chief Deputy Mike Leonhardt and Sheriff Jim Jensen.
Social media guidelines start at Hayfield
The Hayfield School District implemented social guidelines for students who participate in extra curricular activities. The district said they would not be actively patrolling social media but would rather leave it up to others to report anything that was of questionable behavior.
The district is the first in the state to implement such a policy.
Hometown Haulers launches in Dodge Center
Local businessmen Mark Freerksen and Landon Koss started Hometown Haulers in December with plans to begin local trash pick up in January. The two felt there was a need and desire for a locally owned trash hauler in Dodge County after the sale of ARI to Waste Management. The company will service, Dodge Center, Kasson, Mantorville and Hayfield.
Joyce named new superintendent
Triton High School Principal Brett Joyce was chosen by the school board as the new superintendent in December. Joyce has been the high school principal for 16 years. He took the spot that was previously held by Bob Kelly who retired at the end of 2013.