From beginning to end, a look at 2012

As always, Stiftungsfest was one of the more memorable weekends of the year for Norwood Young America. In this photo, pushers Joe Borak, Tim Swanson, Jevon Rondeau and Allen VanDien propel Rhonda Kidrowski to the bed race championship title. (Times staff photo by Paul Downer)

As always, Stiftungsfest was one of the more memorable weekends of the year for Norwood Young America. In this photo, pushers Joe Borak, Tim Swanson, Jevon Rondeau and Allen VanDien propel Rhonda Kidrowski to the bed race championship title. (Times staff photo by Paul Downer)

From road-altering construction projects to rare sports and school achievements, unique personal stories to heartbreaking loss of life, the last year contained numerous memorable moments. Read on to see the top stories, week by week, covered by The Times in 2012.

January
Jan. 5: Jim Mesik, the Central ag instructor and FFA advisor in his third year at CHS, was named the Central Educator Association’s Teacher of the Year.

After 13 years at the helm of the Carver County Library system, Melissa Brechon has retired and is being replaced by Nick Dimassis, who began his library career as a shelver at a Minneapolis library branch. Prior to coming to Carver County, Dimassis was the assistant director of the East Central Regional Library, a six-county system.

ECM Publishers, Inc. has acquired the Sun Newspaper Group from American Community Newspapers II, combining two large Minnesota newspaper groups. The NYA Times is a part of the Sun Newspaper Group.

Jan. 12: Firefighters from NYA and Hamburg quickly doused a house fire on Elm Street. The first firefighter arrived on scene within 30 seconds, and the first fire truck arrived within two minutes of the emergency page. Despite the quick response, damage to the home was estimated at $100,000.

The NYA City Council is back to full strength after the resignation of councilor Chad Eischens. The council appointed Richard Stolz from four candidates to fill the seat.

Afton Wolter became the fifth female basketball player in Central High School history to reach the 1,000-career points plateau in a win over Tri-City United, and was the first Raider to do so since her sister Mackenzie reached the mark in 2009. The Wolter sisters are the first sibling combination to reach that mark.

Jan. 19: Dr. Anna Michael has taken over ownership of the Countryside Veterinarian and Feed business on Highway 5 just east of Norwood Young America after the passing of Dr. Ralph Molnau last January. The business has 2,500 active clients, and will remain open now that a certified vet owner has stepped forward.

CHS students are presenting their one-act production “Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon” at the Delano One Act Festival this week.

Marie Seltz, a 102-year-old resident of Waconia, has taken up pottery making in a quest to find new ways of self-expression and entertainment. She shares her story with Times readers.

Jan. 26: Central High School was plunged into mourning after the unexpected passing of 16-year-old Andrew Hendel of Cologne on Jan. 22. Hendel’s family remembered him as “Andyman,” and said his defining characteristic was compassion for others.

Eve Weipert is the new curator at the Carver County Historical Society. She began work there in mid-December after moving to Norwood Young America from Michigan, and replaces Larry Hutchings.

Firefighters from Cologne, NYA, Carver, Waconia, Chaska, Hamburg and Mayer responded to a residential fire in Dahlgren Township and discovered a deceased adult female inside the residence. No identification was immediately available.

February
Feb. 2: Several members of the Minnesota Twins stopped by Central High School as part of the Twins Winter Caravan, including broadcaster Bert Blyleven, Drew Butera, Danny Valencia and Denard Span. The players fielded questions from students and talked about a disappointing previous season.

Roberta Ann Michel of NYA was sentenced to 58 months in prison for robbing Kelly’s Bar in Chaska at gunpoint on May 11, 2011. She obtained approximately $400, and while her identity was initially unclear, a thorough investigation led law enforcement to Michel, who pled guilty to the act.

On average, the NYA Fire Department was called out once every other day last year, responding to a total of 188 emergency calls from Dec. 1, 2010 through Nov. 30, 2011.

Feb. 9: Since it opened last April 2, more than 1,000 visitors have come through the door, and the society’s membership now includes 43 individuals/families and 13 businesses. Donated items for displays are flowing in, and there has been no shortage of new attractions to keep new and repeat visitors from coming through the door.

A federal grand jury has indicted Demetrius Charles Edward Derden for his alleged armed robbery of the Mayer Oil Company gas station on Dec. 3, 2011. After Derden tried to force an employee to open a safe, a struggle ensued and Derden eventually fled the store. He was arrested soon afterward.

CHS senior Kelsey Kutil and sophomore Alex Kayser were chosen to participate in Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ StarKids program. The two students had the opportunity to take part in the “Hairspray” production.

Feb. 16: The man who investigators believe robbed at least 13 banks at gunpoint over the course of 11 months — including KleinBank in Cologne last March — has been arrested and was indicted in federal court last week. Mark Edward Wetsch, 49, of Minneapolis is believed to have stolen a total of $69,104 from the banks, including $11,400 from the Cologne location.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum made a campaign stop at Sovereign Estates Winery in Waconia as part of his bid to win the Republican nomination. He spoke to a crowd of about 300, despite little advance notice of the event. Santorum won the Republican caucuses by a wide margin in Carver County and Minnesota overall.

Bond refinancing means that the City of NYA will save a total of $473,299.97 in interest costs after rates dropped to a 45-year low.

Feb. 23: Young America Corporation employees celebrated the company’s 40th anniversary with a 1970s-themed party. The business was founded as The Dile Corporation in 1972 and moved to Young America in 1973. The name was changed to Young America Corporation in 1977.

A 42-year-old female pilot from Minneapolis made a safe emergency landing in a field near Hamburg after losing power to her instrument panel on Feb. 18. The plane was not damaged in the landing, and the pilot was able to take off from a nearby alfalfa field the following morning following an inspection by the FAA.

The Community Foundation for Carver County, an organization dedicated to organizing the collective efforts of civic-minded individuals to meet specific needs, is holding a community dialogue on March 3 at the Cologne Community Center.

March
March 1: Engineers from MnDOT presented final design plans for a new RCUT intersection at the junction of Highway 212 and Highway 284/County Road 53 in Cologne. Local residents are concerned about negative impacts on business due to restricted access, but the design is in response to a number of fatal accidents at the intersection, including two in 2011.

CHS wrestler Austin Kidrowski earned a berth in the 138-pound class of the Class A State Wrestling Tournament. He is the first Central wrestler to qualify for state since 2008.

Due to redistricting in congressional representation, local residents are now part of Michelle Bachmann’s District 6 after moving out of John Kline’s District 2.

March 8: Residents at The Harbor in NYA are taking part in a new project, Life Reflection Stories, which helps them share their memories and observations on life with future generations. Sylvia Kuenzel, Willard Bergmann and Leila Brelje recently completed the first set of stories by residents, and the plan is for all 36 residents of The Harbor to complete the project over time.

NYA native Robb Shanahan recently published his first book featuring photos from his musical photography career with a forward by Ringo Starr of the Beatles. Starr has named Shanahan his personal photographer.

CHS wrestler Austin Kidrowski went 2-2 at the Class A State Wrestling Tournament, losing to the eventual second and third place winners in the 138-pound bracket.

March 15: Lowell and Darlene Latzig of New Germany are displaying the vast miniature farm model constructed by their son Dean, who passed away at age 51 last October after medical issues kept him confined indoors for most of his adult life. He resolved to “farm indoors,” and created the impressive display that has attracted hundreds of visitors.

Paul Zunker, 36, of Waconia, a former chairman of the Carver County GOP and spokesperson for the SAFER organization that helped raise funds for the benefit of local families affected by autism, was convicted last week of sexual conduct in the second degree with a child under the age of 16.

For the first time since it opened in 1992, the West Carver Community Pool in NYA is about to undergo significant change. The NYA City Council has approved the addition of two slides and a handicap lift at the pool at a cost of a little over $32,000.

March 22: Former CHS wrestler Matt Meuleners successfully defended his Division II national heavyweight title on March 10 at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Meuleners wrestles for Northern State University of Aberdeen, S.D. and is a three-time all-American and now two-time national champion.

Bruce Boehmke, who spent much of his time visiting grandparents Carol and Martha Boehmke (owners of a flourishing hatchery and plant nursery on the land where Shady Lane is now located) took advantage of a visit to Mayo Clinic from his North Carolina home to come back to NYA and visit the history center, where he poured over old photos and reminisced about his boyhood adventures in town.

The Central School Board is now considering expanding Central Elementary School in order to stop leasing space. A preliminary construction plan shows four classrooms and new offices built onto the front of the existing school.

March 29: A week of tragedy. Seventeen-year-old Andrew Mulville of NYA was struck and killed while standing in the right lane of Highway 212 with a dark blanket over his shoulders just before sunrise on May 22. Mulville is the second CHS student to pass away unexpectedly in as many months.

A Brooklyn Park couple and the husband’s 76-year-old mother from St. Cloud, along with three dogs, perished in a high speed, single-engine plane crash in a field about four miles north of Glencoe. There were no communications from the plane before the crash, which occurred on a foggy, misty morning. The incident is under investigation.

The body of a 47-year-old Carver County man was discovered in a field in Young America Township after a passerby reported the scene. The Sheriff’s Office did not identify the individual, but confirmed that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

April
April 5: It appears that the project to install a fishing/observation pier on Benton Lake in Cologne is a go after the Benton Lake Watershed Conservancy, DNR and City of Cologne arranged for the necessary contributions. The project is envisioned as a highly visible amenity to the city and to increase the recreation value of the lake.

Carver County was named the second healthiest county in Minnesota behind Steele County (Owatonna area). In 2011 the county was ranked No. 5. April 2-8 is National Public Health Week.

After five days of jury selection and seven days of trail testimony, Judge Perkins acquitted Jesse James Rogers on the charge of second-degree murder. Rogers had been charged in connection with a fatal stabbing in the parking lot of Kelley’s Bar in Chaska on June 3, 2011. Perkins said the facts were sufficient to demonstrate the elements of the crime, but insufficient to sustain a conviction. County Attorney Mark Metz voiced his disappointment, saying there was no doubt that Rogers stabbed another man to death, only about whether it was self-defense.

April 12: The Carver County Dairy Day Dinner will celebrate its 60th year this weekend. Evonne (Stender) Bode of Young America was the first Carver County Dairy Princess in 1955.

After the deaths of two local high school students this year, several individuals have sought a way to make something positive come out of the tragedy of those events. Their efforts have resulted in the first annual Come Together event, which has been scheduled for April 29.

Central High School is holding a Holocaust Lecture series. Speakers include Mauthausen and Gunskirchn survivor Robert O. Fisch and Ellen Kennedy, executive director of World Without Genocide.

April 19: Hundreds of people gathered in New Germany for the 60th annual Dairy Day Dinner. Carver County Dairy Princesses crowed at the event included Victoria Haler, Christine Leonard, Nicole Manteuffel, Valerie Grimm and Samantha Wickenhauser.

An annual report shows that growth is continuing at Cologne Academy, with enrollment set to rise from 301 to 370 next fall. The school, which opened in 2007, is currently constructing a 13,000-square foot addition, its third building project so far.

Local youth with an interest in learning new things and serving the community while having fun with their peers will soon have a new outlet for their energy. The Cologne Lions are sponsoring the formation of a LEO Club, a group for students age 12-18.

April 26: CHS social studies teacher Mark Lagergren was recognized with the “Courage to Teach Award” by the Jewish Community Relations Council for his work regarding the Holocaust. He accepted the award during the annual Yom Hashoah Commemoration ceremony, which honors the memory of six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, at the Beth Jacob Congregation synagogue in Mendota Heights.

Holocaust survivor Dr. Robert Fisch addressed Central students on his experiences. Another Holocaust survivor, Inge Aurbacher of New York, has also been added to the schedule for Central’s Holocaust Lecture Series.

A chamber of commerce presentation highlighted Ridgeview Medical Center’s connection with NYA. In 2011, the clinic served 458 NYA patients and the hospital served 1,812 patients during 5,084 visits.

May
May 3: It has been about a year and a half since the Oak Grove City Center was built. Library circulation in NYA is up 35 percent during that time, and 45 out of 50 senior apartments have been leased so far.

Thanks to abnormally warm weather this spring, efforts to install Carver County’s fiber optic ring are well ahead of schedule. March 2012 was the warmest on record, allowing contractors to continue working rather than shutting down for the winter season. As of March 30, about 83 miles of conduit for the 89-mile ring were dug in.

The Renegade MX Track just east of Norwood Young America is sponsoring a benefit ride for the Kerber family of Jordan. Five members of the family, which was well known in dirt bike racing circles, were killed when their motor home crashed in Kansas. The crash made national news.

May 10: Jake Lemke of NYA, a 2010 graduate of Central High School, helped close the war in Iraq as a member of the National Guard. Lemke helped truck equipment from bases in Iraq back to Kuwait in the war’s final days.

Central senior Angie Kukacka is directing “The Murderous Mansion of Mr. Uno,” a dinner presentation at Hamburg’s Bi-Centennial Park. All proceeds will go toward the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

CHS softball coach Jon Lambrecht claimed his 100th career win, and the Central softball team is on a 12-game winning streak. In nine years at Central Lambrecht has a 100-71 record overall.

May 17: Carver County’s District Court is now considering the matter of the deteriorating Masonic Lodge building in NYA. The city passed a resolution last September to have the building repaired or razed, but the private owner has been unresponsive. Court approval would allow the city to proceed with enforcement of the order.

Cologne resident Jamie McMahon’s original recipe, Backwoods Bonfire Bark, was recently featured in the national Taste of Home magazine.

Around 120 community members came out to the NYA Pavilion on May 12 to honor local service members. National Guard members Matt Arnst and Jake Lemke, recently returned from Iraq, were given special recognition, as were Vietnam veterans. The evening’s guest speaker was Major General (Ret) Rick Erlandson.

May 24: As a prelude to Memorial Day, students at Emanuel Lutheran School in Hamburg heard a special presentation from Tony Van Hoeven, who was 6 years old when the Germans invaded his home country of Holland. Van Hoeven shared stories from the occupation years and the lingering effects of the war.

The Central boys made history by securing the first Minnesota River Conference golf title in school history. To do so, the Raiders beat Jordan, which was tied for first place going into the final meet, twice on Jordan’s home course.

Rep. Ernie Leidiger reflects on the recently ended legislative session, saying the passage of the Vikings’ stadium deal was a bad business deal for the state.

May 31: A total of 83 students will graduate from Central High School this week. About 90 percent of those students plan on continuing their education next fall in two or four-year colleges. Class valedictorian is Payton Schultz. Co-salutatorians are Molly Larson and Anna Selchow.

Rev. Adam Westrich is the new full-time minister at St. John’s United Church of Christ. He is the permanent replacement for Rev. Richard Mark.

Construction on Hamburg’s Protective Services memorial is now complete after installation of a large granite centerpiece on May 18. The total cost of the memorial was about $50,000, and all but $1,500 of that total has been raised from various donations.

June
June 7: World War II veteran John Stoeckmann of NYA raised the flag during the national anthem at Target Field before a Twins game on Memorial weekend with the help of his grandchildren while 30,000 fans looked on.

Vicki Halliday-Schultz, a teacher at Central Middle School, is retiring after 34 years in the classroom. She reflects on changes in the nature of her students, in teaching methods and in the town over that time for Times readers.

The West Carver Community Pool opens for its 20th season this week. Public Works Director Brent Aretz has been involved with the yearly operation of the pool since day one, and explains some of the work that goes into maintaining and running the pool.

June 14: Hamburg’s Zummerfest celebration will expand for the 2012 year. Major changes include increased youth activities such as a magic show, amphibian and reptile zoo show, and miscellaneous other activities.

Central High School posted an eye-popping 97.12 percent score in the new Multiple-Measurement Rating (MMR) system, which is at least temporarily replacing the No Child Left Behind standards.

Cologne Academy celebrated a milestone last week when it held its first graduation ceremony for 8th graders. The graduating class consisted of 12 students who will scatter to a variety of area high schools next year.

June 21: Even as students emptied their lockers and teachers tidied up their classrooms at the end of this school year, construction workers were gathering to transform Central Schools into a construction zone for the third consecutive summer. Major work this year includes a high school office remodel and climate control improvements.

Mayer Lutheran High School is celebrating its 50th Anniversary celebration, a three-day event from June 29 through July 1. During its history, the school has turned out just shy of 3,000 alumni. Events include a community picnic, reunions, and a concert by Erin Bode.

Cologne celebrated the 40th anniversary of its 1972 state tournament Hollanders baseball team on June 16 with a variety of activities at the Fill the Hill game.

June 28: A recent park survey revealed that residents of NYA appreciate the playgrounds, recreation fields and general cleanliness at the city’s nine parks, but would also like to see more playground equipment and trails, and better access to restroom facilities.

A successful 8th inning squeeze play broke a 1-1 tie between Norwood and Young America in the annual Slug and Chug game, allowing the YA Cardinals to pull away for a 6-1 win.

Willkommen Park Improvements are on the to-do list before Young America hosts the regional amateur baseball tournament this summer. Along with various field improvements, the grandstand roof will be replaced and handrails will be installed, trim on the Olde Town in the Park buildings and dugouts will be improved, a walkway extension to the restrooms will be installed and trees will be trimmed.

July
July 5: About 75 firefighters from seven area fire departments converged on NYA June 27 when the Waste Management transfer station on Railroad Street caught fire. Heat and humidity complicated the effort, and firefighters took turns fighting the blaze and resting at a rehabilitation station.

After several weeks of anticipation, two new slides were installed and ready for pool-goers at the West Carver Community Pool last weekend. All pool visitors enjoyed free admission to celebrate the new equipment.

The Church of Peace in NYA is hosting a Bike Rodeo, a fun way to learn about bike safety. The church, area businesses, and the Carver County Sheriff’s Office are cooperating in the effort.

July 12: In preparation for the 8th annual NYA Relay for Life, its organizers review the accomplishments of the first seven years. During that time, the local Relay has raised nearly $700,000 to fund research by the American Cancer Society.

Cologne City Administrator John Douville has been disciplined by the city as a result of a “personnel issue.” Douville was placed on paid administrative leave from May 17 through June 3, and was put on unpaid leave from June 12-25 for the same reasons.

The Hamburg Lions Club celebrated 30 years of service during its June dinner meeting. The club was chartered on June 28, 1982.

July 19: Burglars targeted a pair of area grocery stores on consecutive nights on July 4 and 5. On the first night, burglars cut a hole in the roof of Marketplace Foods in Watertown and made off with over $7,000 in cash, and the following night a glass exit door at Econofoods in NYA was broken and cigarettes and cough medicine taken.

NYA city officials executed a search warrant and entered the old Masonic Lodge building in NYA. They found piles of rubbish, extensive water damage and mold, standing water, sunlight streaming through holes in the roof and a dangerous upper level.

The American Legion chapter held its annual Chicken BBQ on July 15. The event drew roughly 550 people, who consumed approximately 750 pounds of chicken.

July 28: Despite steamy weather that may have discouraged some from enjoying an evening outdoors, 15 teams at the 8th annual NYA Relay for Life raised about $62,000 for the American Cancer Society. Robynne Schoenbauer was the honorary chairperson for the event.

About 135 riders and 40 support volunteers passed through NYA during the Habitat 500 bike ride on July 20. Riders stopped at Willkommen Memorial Park for a rest during their ride, a circuit from St. Louis Park out to Hutchinson and New Ulm.

School construction is on schedule at Central High School/Middle School, where climate control improvements and a high school office remodel are underway.

August
Aug. 2: The ball field at Willkommen Memorial Park will host eight teams and thousands of fans over the next two weeks during the Region 7C amateur baseball tournament. Players from around the league share their perspectives about the unique ballpark that the YA Cardinals call home.

Longtime teacher Tom Marcsisak, about to begin his 32nd year at Zion Lutheran School in Cologne, has stepped in to the principal’s role at the school to replace former principal David Gosa.

One of the more unique businesses in town will close its doors on Oct. 1. Owner Sue Samuelson said she decided to close The Mill House and The Mill House Café and Pub in July after sales declined drastically in the first half of the year.

Aug. 9: Members of the Heuer family have been farming near NYA for five generations, so it comes as no surprise that brothers Paul and Dean Heuer and their families understand and excel at their work. Heuer Dairy, Inc. has been recognized by the University of Minnesota as the 2012 Farm Family of the Year for Carver County.

For the first time ever, two Carver County Dairy Princesses have been chosen to compete as finalists for the Princess Kay of the Milky Way title. Valerie Grimm of Waconia and Victoria Haler of NYA/Waconia are among the finalists.

Construction on the RCUT intersection in Cologne will begin sooner than expected. The city was informed last week that work will start Aug. 13.

Aug. 16: Cologne business owners and residents have known for months that a major intersection redesign project was in the works, but scant warning of the actual starting date caused numerous individuals to voice frustration with the Minnesota Department of Transportation during a business meeting on Aug. 13, the same day construction began.

A new bar and grill, Unkle Thirsty’s, is scheduled to open at the old Hanging Kettle location on Main Street on Aug. 17. Nick Allen of Mound has purchased the building and extensively renovated the interior.

Tens of thousands of visitors enjoyed almost perfect weather and a wide variety of attractions at the Carver County Fair Aug. 8-12.

Aug. 23: NYA native Tom Baker, a skydiving enthusiast now living in Florida, recently helped break the world vertical skydiving record of 138 divers linked up in a snowflake formation while hurtling headfirst toward the earth at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour.

A man with NYA connections has been charged in a collision that claimed the lives of three generations of family members. Paul Wickenhauser, 21, a 2010 graduate of Central High School, was charged in the deaths of a 68-year-old woman, her 40-year-old daughter-in-law and that woman’s 8-year-old daughter. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor.

Nearly 400 vehicles and over 2,000 people came out to Cologne for the fourth annual Firehouse Drive-In, an event put on by the fire department to restore the city’s first motorized fire truck.

Aug. 30: Shelby Gratz of NYA won a $10,000 shopping spree from MyTalk 107.1 FM earlier this month. She enjoyed a hectic day rushing from store-to-store collecting various items, and also made several appearances on the radio.

Victoria Haler of NYA/Waconia was named runner-up in the Princess Kay competition at the State Fair this year. Valerie Grimm of Waconia was also a finalist for the Princess Kay title.

Near perfect weather, plenty of music and other attractions, and great food combined to make the 151st Stiftungsfest Aug. 24-26 a big success. While crowds weren’t quite as big as last year’s 150th celebration, organizers were pleased with the overall turnout.

September
Sept. 6: Enrollment is up slightly at Central Schools this fall. There are 348 high school students, 210 in the middle school and 450 in the elementary school for a total of 1,008 students. That is 14 more than last year’s opening day enrollment.

Central students graduating in 2012 posted an average ACT score of 23.5, better than the state average of 22.8. That is the first time ever that Central has exceeded the state average in all categories, and Minnesota led the nation in terms of ACT scores for 2012, making the achievement all the more noteworthy.

Students at Cologne Academy scored in the 99th percentile for proficiency compared to other schools around the state in the most recent Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) scores released by the state.

Sept. 13: Congregations at Church of the Ascension in NYA and St. Bernard’s in Cologne will officially install a new pastor in special services on Sept. 16. Father Gregory Abbott has been actively ministering to the two congregations since July in place of Father Martin Shallbetter, who retired at that time.

A new radio station, 88.3 KJGT, is a non-profit outfit run by the husband and wife team of Blake Rice and Anne Kidder. The station is located in Waconia and dedicated to the musicians, people and news of Waconia.

The Waconia Chamber of Commerce organized a meet and greet featuring Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her District 6 challenger, businessman Jim Graves, on Sept. 6.

Sept. 20: A benefit has been planned for the Tim and Liz Becher family of NYA. The Bechers welcomed a new daughter, Ava, on July 12. She was born with Brittle Bone Disease, and has already suffered three leg fractures as well as a broken arm.

It has now been a full year since the NYA City Council began taking action to have the old Masonic Lodge building in NYA repaired or razed and the council’s patience is wearing thin. Council members have set a January deadline for a decision on the building’s fate.

Around 20 local drivers took advantage of the CarFit station in NYA on Sept. 13, during which trained local technicians helped drivers make sure all seats, mirrors and other items were properly adjusted for safety and comfort.

Sept. 27: Rev. Bill Baldwin, pastor of two United Church of Christ congregations in Plato and Lester Prairie and a radio host on KDUZ, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his ordination this weekend.

Central School Board members viewed a revised elementary expansion plan, which includes a fifth classroom, music room, a new commons space with a terraced steps area and improved parking and bus travel route. The total cost estimate for that work is just over $3.2 million.

LHS seniors Ashlyn Hucky and Cole Carnes were crowned homecoming king and queen during Mayer Lutheran’s homecoming coronation on Sept. 23.

October
Oct. 4: It took a lifetime for Fritz Widmer of Cologne to build up an exhaustive collection of classic cars, trucks, tractors, signs and other historic memorabilia, but it will likely only take one weekend to get rid of it. A massive live auction is planned for Oct. 6-7, and items will also be auctioned online.

CHS homecoming king candidates this fall include Cristian Perez, Kyle Brazil, Trevor Groschen, Sam Newbloom, Matt Ditsch and Tom Messner. Queen candidates are Lexi Erpenbach, Devan Mellgren, Brooke Willemsen, Haley Peterson, Emma Schmidt and Brooke Brede.

Jason Kamerud is the new chief deputy in the Carver County Sheriff’s Office. He replaces Blair Anderson, who was recently appointed police chief for the St. Cloud Police Department.

Oct. 11: The highest scoring female basketball player in Central High School history recently added another notable achievement to her distinguished career. Kathy (Heuer) Mackenthun, a 1990 graduate of CHS, was inducted into the U of M-Morris Hall of Fame. She is one of only 30 individuals in the Hall.

Dale and Diane Bruers never exactly planned on owning their own liquor store, but 25 years after purchasing Good Time Liquors in NYA, they don’t intend to give up the business any time soon. The couple recently celebrated a quarter century in business.

Matt Ditsch was crowned CHS homecoming king, and Brooke Willemsen is the homecoming queen. The two were crowned at the opening of homecoming week.

Oct. 18: After several months of closed meetings, during which Cologne City Administrator John Douville was placed on leave three separate times, the city council voted 4-1 to fire Douville on Oct. 10 for failing to meet expectations after being placed on a performance improvement plan in June.

Sophomore Alex Wischnack became the first male runner from Central to win the individual MRC cross country title in 12 years after crossing the finish line first at the MRC Meet on Oct. 11.

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadet Lydia Wiff of Cologne writes about her experiences during a trip to Australia with a small CAP group.

Oct. 25: NYA Mayor Tina Diedrick will be unopposed in elections this fall, but incumbents JR Hoernemann and Richard Stolz are facing challenges from Mike McPadden and Chad Pederson.

Local Girl Scouts joined Girl Scouts across 49 counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the Centennial Day of Service on Oct. 13. Their service work focused on improving water quality by cleaning streets, marking storm drains and distributing educational door hangers.

Cologne candidates for city council in the upcoming election are Matt Lein and Scott Williams running for mayor, and Jeffrey McInnis, Jill Skaaland and Joel Sievers for council. Hamburg candidates are incumbent Mayor Richard Malz and Richard Odoms for council.

November
Nov. 1: The Central High School drama department is preparing for its fall production, ’12 Angry Jurors.’ The play will take place at Central Nov. 8-10.

For the first time in school history, both a boy and girl cross country runner have qualified to compete at the state cross country meet. Sophomore Alex Wischnack will run for the Central boys, and seventh-grader Judy Larson will run for the girls. Hit has been a decade since a Central runner qualified for state. Catherine Meuleners made it in 2002, and the last boy to go to state was Noah Radde in 1996.

About 160 guests came out to the NYA Pavilion for the annual Food and Wine Extravaganza on Oct. 26. The event included an enticing spread of food and drink from area vendors and live music by Ragtown.

Nov. 8: The new Reduced Conflict Intersection is now open in Cologne. The intersection was the site of two fatal collisions in 2011, and 19 crashes from 2006-2010.

A street study reveals that about a quarter of NYA’s streets are in need of complete reconstruction, about another quarter should be milled and overlaid, and the other half are either maintained by the county or in relatively good condition.

There are about 1,560 Facebook users in NYA, and nearly 10,000 Facebook users within a 10-mile radius of town. NYA Chamber of Commerce members heard those and other numbers while hearing a presentation on the role of social media in business on Oct. 31.

Nov. 15: No city or township in Carver County reported a higher percentage of voter turnout than Norwood Young America in the General Election on Nov. 6. A total turnout of 98.48 percent was reported in NYA. Elected in NYA were Mayor Tina Diedrick, incumbent Richard Stolz and challenger Mike McPadden. Turnout in Cologne was 95.72 percent and in Hamburg was 93.89 percent.

VFW senior vice commander Frank Presfield spoke at the Veteran’s Day ceremony at Central on Nov. 12. Presfield was impressed with the program, saying, “This is what Veteran’s Day is all about.”

More business burglaries have occurred around the area. In NYA, there were reports of break-ins from Creative Hair Salon and the Family Dollar Store.

Nov. 22: Thanks to upgrades to the Minnesota Prairie Line Railroad, bigger and faster trains will soon be rolling through Norwood Young America and Hamburg on their way southwest to Winthrop and beyond. A decade-long effort to raise funds and rehabilitate the line between NYA and Winthrop will be complete on Nov. 26.

The NYA City Council has ordered that the historic but deteriorating privately owned Masonic Lodge building be boarded up for safety.

NYA City Council members learned that the refinancing of $6 million in bonds will net the city an average savings of $80,792 per year from 2013 through 2040, a total savings of nearly $2.2 million.
Nov. 29: Due to budget constraints, the NYA city council decided not to renew the city’s contract with Economic Development Coordinator Christie Rock. City staff and Rock reflected on her six years in NYA, during which she obtained many grants and helped bring two businesses to the industrial park.
Hours will be reduced at the Hamburg Post Office beginning February of 2013. The total reduction will amount to two hours and 45 minutes per day during the week, while Saturday hours will remain unchanged.
Zion Lutheran School held its humorous fall production, “The Light in the Library,” on Nov. 20. Students in grades 5-8 portrayed a wide array of characters from children’s stories that magically come to life overnight in a library.

December
Dec. 6: Talk of a Kwik Trip opening in NYA has been circulating around the community for years, but concrete steps have now been taken to make that talk a reality. Purchase agreements have been signed for land near Highway 212 and Highway 5 that now includes the Crossroads Restaurant building, and construction is expected to take place next summer.

In an effort to raise funds for the NYA Relay for Life, team Blossoming With Hope is hosting a Christmas Tour of Homes that includes refreshments and a chance to see unique Christmas items.

Matt Ditsch has qualified for the state FFA competition as an individual in the poultry category.

Dec. 13: Hamburg native Darlene Wendlandt Fasching has completed a historical book, “Hamburg: History of a Central Minnesota Village.” The book includes 218 pages with everything from maps and articles on businesses and people to historic newspaper articles and even a manifest from the ship Hermine that arrived from Europe in 1857 bearing many of the immigrants who would later establish the town.

Property taxes will rise in NYA during 2013 after the NYA City Council approved a tax levy increase of 8.46 percent at its final December meeting.

Central Elementary students presented their winter program, “Snow Biz,” on Dec. 6.

Dec. 20: Sarah Hammers, an 8th grade geography and 11th grade world history teacher at Central Schools, has been named the Central Education Association’s Teacher of the Year. Hammers, a former collegiate volleyball coach, is also the varsity volleyball coach at Central.

Area schools responded to the tragic shooting of students and teachers in Newtown, Conn. by sending letters home to parents and discussing the issue with students during the school day. School officials also discussed the potential need to reassess security at area schools.

Both Central basketball teams have started their seasons 6-0. The last time a Central girls’ team started 6-0 that team went to the state tournament, and no boys’ team has started 6-0 in at least a decade.

Dec. 27: A fire that broke out at Hydro Engineering overnight was doused by the building’s sprinkler system before doing any serious damage on Dec. 20.

In response to parent concerns about rumors circulating around the metro area in regard to possible school violence in connection with the supposed end of the world on Dec. 21, Central Schools locked all outside doors and kept a police presence at the school for the day.

Area residents will see a decrease in the school portion of the 2013 taxes after the Central School Board approved a reduced levy on Dec. 17.

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