Carver County News Year In Review

2013 Year In Review GraphicAnother year has come and gone in Watertown, and not surprisingly, talk of the bridge reconstruction project dominated headlines once again in 2013.

The bridge has been one of the top stories in Watertown for several years running, and don’t expect anything to change in 2014. That’s when the bridge — if everything finally falls into place — will actually be constructed.

2013, though, was a year for ironing out the details. The city council finally settled on a bridge with no median, a two-way turn lane down the middle, and a roundabout at Lewis Avenue and Territorial Street.

In an even bigger decision, the Council decided on a construction model that will keep traffic open throughout the construction of the project. It will cost a bit more and take longer to complete, but likely prevent the possibility of an inconvenient and lengthy traffic detour.

There were plenty of other big stories in 2013 as well. The year opened with the shocking news of the Christian Oberender arrest, a story that drew national attention to the issues of gun control and background checks. Oberender was back in the headlines late in 2013 when his trial was set to begin, but now both sides are waiting for a judge to rule on a motion to dismiss the felony gun possession charge.

Of course, there were plenty of positive stories as well. The Watertown Library underwent a successful renovation project, Subway broke ground a new store set to open in the late spring of 2014, and the NAPA Auto Parts store will be able to stay in Watertown after finding a new home to settle into once the current store must be removed to make room for the new roundabout.

The following offers a week-by-week look at what made the news in Watertown and Mayer in 2013. Events are listed by the date of newspaper publication, not the date they actually happened.



Jan. 3: The new Spring Park Pharmacy is now open. The pharmacy is owned by Rose Rosdahl, who owns the Watertown Pharmacy. Her new store has been open since Nov. 14

Jan. 10: The Watertown School Board met with a group of about a dozen parents and a representative of the Carver County Sheriff’s Office to discuss possible improvements to school security within the district. The discussions were largely in response to the Dec. 14 shooting deaths of 26 students and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Those shootings prompted schools all across the country to re-examine security procedures in their own schools.

…Nearly 200 people attended the first service held in Peace Lutheran Church’s new building, an impressive number for a small church that previously had averaged around 80 attendees during services at the Watertown Community Center. The new building, located adjacent to the Community Park, gives the church its first true home since it was founded in 2010. Construction began in August, and the church was finished in time to hold its Christmas services in the new building.

Jan. 17: The city of Watertown swore in its new city council, with a new mayor and two city council members taking the oath of office. Charlotte Johnson was sworn in as the city’s Mayor, and Steve Washburn and Adam Pawelk were sworn in as city council members.

…Watertown-Mayer High School announced the winners of its annual ExCEL and Triple-A Awards. Meagan Campbell and Luke Sandquist, both juniors, were honored as the ExCEL recipients, and Josh Loomis and Ellie Poikonen, both seniors, were honored as the Triple-A winners.

…The Carver County Board of Commissioners elected new leadership for the year, including, in a unanimous vote, Tim Lynch (District 4) as the board chair, with former Chair Jim Ische (District 5) as vice chair.

…Watertown-Mayer Middle School student Judah Wall was crowned champion of the school’s annual geography bee.

Jan. 24: Watertown Township resident Christian Oberender was arrested at his home and later charged with felony possession of firearms earlier in the month. Oberender, convicted as a juvenile of killing his mother when he was 14 in 1995, and who was later deemed mentally ill and dangerous, is not allowed by law to own guns. The case drew statewide and national attention for the issues it raised in background checks and gun permits. Background checks mistakenly revealed no red flags regarding Oberender’s rights to own guns, allowing him to purchase many or all of the guns through legal means.

…Watertown-Mayer Middle School eighth grader Madison Daniels was crowned the champion of the school’s spelling bee.

…The Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce handed out its annual awards and elected a new leadership team. The 2012 Chamber member of the year was Jim May, owner of Marketplace Foods, and the business of the year was Chiropractic Specialists of Watertown. Heather Jarvis, who owns Chiropractic Specialists with her husband, was also named the 2013 Chamber president.

Jan. 31: Watertown City staff and members of the City Council said they were unaware of the recent high-profile arrest of Watertown Township man Christian Oberender until nearly two weeks after he was taken into custody. Several of them expressed disappointment during a council meeting that they learned of the arrest through a television report weeks after it happened, and expressed a desire for better communication between the city and the county sheriff’s office.



Feb. 7: Former longtime Mayer Lutheran High School superintendent Erlen Schroeder died on Feb. 1 after a more than 2-year battle with cancer. Schroeder spent 34 years at Mayer Lutheran as a teacher, principal, superintendant and coach.

… Allie Erdmann and Phil Burfeind were crowned SnoFest Queen and King at Mayer Lutheran High School.

… Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson presented data during a Watertown City Council meeting that showed that crime in Watertown during 2012 was generally below 5-year averages for the city.

Feb. 14: The Watertown-Mayer School Board gave final approval to a Primary School remodeling project that had been under consideration for much of the past year. The bulk of the nearly $4 million project focuses on the HVAC system, while other parts of the project involve a relocation of the school’s office into what had been the media center, a new roof, lighting improvements, and flooring and ceiling improvements.

Feb. 21: The Carver County Library system announced that the Watertown branch will get a $190,000 makeover that will double the number of computers available to the public, add self checkout stations, and expand and improve the children’s area.

… A new LED electronic message board was installed at the entrance to the Watertown-Mayer High School campus. The Daktronics sign was donated by the Watertown Lions Club and the Watertown Booster Club, which each contributed $15,000.

…A makeshift ice resurfacing machine, similar to a Zamboni, is being used by the Watertown Public Works staff this year and resulting in much better ice conditions. The device makes use of a Kubota Tractor, a 60-gallon water tank, a hose, and a six-foot piece of pipe with holes cut into it, and a piece of carpet to drag over the water. The creation was made by Public Services Superintendent Bill Boettner and seasonal staffer Logan Pysick.

Feb. 28: The Blaine man who robbed the Mayer Oil Company gas station in December 2011 was sentenced in federal court earlier this month to 14 years and 2 months in prison. Demetrius Charles Edward Derden, who in August pleaded guilty to the charge of Interference with Commerce by Robbery, was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Feb. 6 in Minneapolis.



March 7: Watertown-Mayer wrestler Davion Franklin finished in third place at the state tournament at heavyweight. Senior Austin Torres was also competing for the Royals.

…The Watertown City Council approved a new communication plan with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to improve the information sharing process between the city and its contracted law enforcement partner. The plan was put together largely in response to what the city felt was a lack of communication in the Christian Oberender case.

…A Mayer resident voiced concern about a proposed roundabout at the corner of Highway 25 and 62nd street, arguing that regular turn lanes would be cheaper and easier to navigate with farm equipment.

March 14: Watertown-Mayer’s mock trial team competed in the state tournament. It was the fourth year in a row the school’s team advanced to state. WMHS finished in fourth place.

March 21: Watertown-Mayer staff and students hosted more than 80 administrators and teachers from roughly 25 districts from around the state for a seminar designed to provide information on implementing 1-to-1 technology initiatives. Watertown-Mayer is in the first year of its own program, where each student is paired with an iPad.



April 4: The city of Mayer and Mayer Lutheran High School agreed to payment terms on the proposed roundabout at Co. Rd. 92 and 62nd Street. The project will give the school much-needed access to its campus and provide an important future component to the city’s transportation plan.

…Continued slow growth in Watertown is causing problems for the city. While new home permits were up 84 percent county wide in 2012, only one new home was built in Watertown, leading to increases in sewer and water fees. However, several realtors said it was likely only a matter of time before housing construction resumes in Watertown.

…Members of Watertown-Mayer’s BPA parliamentary procedure team qualified for the national competition in Orlando.

April 11: Producers and a television crew from the channel Animal Planet were in Watertown this week, filming an episode of the show Monsters Inside Me. The show, set to air in the fall, will feature Eric Reinert and the story of his battle with Rat Lungworm Disease, which he contracted during a trip to Hawaii. Reinert was hospitalized for seven weeks, and had to re-teach himself to walk with extensive physical therapy afterward.

April 18: A long winter continued to cause problems for Watertown-Mayer High School sports teams and teams around the state. A month after practiced opened for spring sports, most teams have practiced outside only a handful of times, if any. Almost all games have been canceled, including the first seven for the Royals’ baseball team, and the Minnesota River Conference has already redone its entire schedule for baseball and softball.

…A motor vehicle crash in Watertown Township claimed the life of rural Delano resident Debra S. Hart.

…Hundreds of Carver County dairy farmers and their families attended the 61st annual Dairy Day Dinner last Saturday night in New Germany.

April 25: The proposal for a roundabout at Watertown’s busiest downtown intersection was a polarizing idea last week during a public input open house, when the roundabout option was most frequently identified as the best choice by residents, but was also most frequently chosen as the worst choice by other residents. The city is planning to reconstruct the intersection at Lewis Avenue and Territorial Street in 2014 in conjunction with the anticipated bridge reconstruction project.



May 2: The Watertown-Mayer School Board officially recognized former school board member Therese Salonek during its meeting last week, presenting her with a certificate of appreciation for her 10 years of service on the board. Salonek resigned in March when she and her husband adopted another child.

…Citing concerns over both the costs and logistics of supporting a specialized event that must hold practices and competitions in other nearby cities, Watertown-Mayer Activities Director Mary Haugen recommended to the School Board that the district’s high school swimming and diving program eliminate diving as an event. Dozens of diving supporters filled the room, but no public comment was taken as no decision was set to me made during that particular meeting.

May 9: Bruce Laabs, former pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Watertown, and his wife Barb, are moving to Jamaica this fall to become volunteer co-directors at Montego Bay orphanage. Barb also spent 16 years as a teacher and staff member at Christ Community Lutheran School in Watertown and Mayer Lutheran High School.

…The Watertown-Mayer School Board appointed Mayer resident Jeff Jackson to fill the seat recently vacated by Therese Salonek’s resignation. The board interviewed four candidates during an open meeting before choosing Jackson. The board had been seeking better representation from the city of Mayer.

…The Watertown Library is closed for remodeling, but a large group of volunteers spent time boxing up books last week, preparing the library for its renovation.

May 16: Watertown-Mayer students who lag significantly behind their peers when it comes to reading comprehension have been making great strides in recent months thanks to a new reading intervention program. Read 180, a 90-minute per day, five-day per week program, is intended to help students who are numerous grade levels behind their peers when it comes to reading. Some students have made up several grade levels in reading in the span of several months using the new program.

…After a fire last week at the Waste Management facility in Norwood Young America, the staff and clients at the Adult Training and Habilitation Center in Watertown have been helping out, taking in recycling that can no longer be processed in NYA.

…During a school board meeting when a decision was expected to be made on whether to discontinue Watertown-Mayer’s diving program, a surprise proposal was pitched by swimming coach Chuck Charnstrom. Charnstrom proposed moving the diving boards to the side of the pool in order to possibly meet state safety standards for diving. The diving boards had been removed years earlier for safety. The School Board decided to have staff further investigate whether the proposal was a realistic option.

May 23: The Watertown City Council approved an agreement with the Watertown-Mayer Future Farmers of America (FFA) that will enable the organization to farm part of the Community Park site near the elementary school at no cost under a year-to-year agreement. The 10-acre portion of the site behind the Luce Line Trail has been farmed by Jerry Berg ever since he and his wife donated the land to the city. However, Berg has since relinquished his farming interests in the site, leaving the city with 10 acres of tillable land and nothing to do with it. The land should provide the FFA with both educational and fundraising opportunities.

…The city of Mayer is asking the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to complete the cleanup of the old creamery property located at the corner of 5th Street and Bluejay Avenue. A recent oil leak at the site led to the discovery of an underground tank. Clean-up of the property was conducted on April 20, involving eight Mayer firefighters and an environmental cleanup crew from Determan Brownie.

May 30: Watertown-Mayer High school held its commencement exercises last week in the school’s gymnasium.

…Pam Macias retired after 34 years as a physical education and health teacher at Watertown-Mayer High School.

…The Watertown-Mayer School Board will consider switching to a block schedule at all grade levels at  Watertown-Mayer Middle School after the recommendation of principal Nick Guertin. The sixth graders currently used a block schedule, but seventh and eighth graders use a six-period schedule, before they switch back to a block schedule in high school.



June 6: The Watertown Library is open once again this week after a month long remodeling project designed to add more resources, especially technology, for local patrons. Funded by Carver County, the city of Watertown and a sizable number of private contributions, the $220,000 project roughly tripled the number of public uses computers that are available, added several collaboration stations designed for several users at one computer, and installed several self checkout stations.

…The Watertown City Council chose its preferred options for the downtown bridge and intersection project that is anticipated to be built in 2014. The council chose a bridge with a two-way turn lane down the middle with a roundabout at the intersection of Lewis Avenue and Territorial Street. The council chose not to go with a bridge that would include a median down the middle to prevent left turns onto streets just east of the Crow River.

…Mayer Lutheran High School held its commencement ceremony.

…Watertown-Mayer’s Supermileage team took second place in the state tournament.

…Watertown-Mayer junior golfer Hallie Harding qualified for the state tournament by finishing tied for seventh at the section meet in Becker.

…A grand opening and ribbon cutting event was held for the Dakota Rail Trail extension from the city of Mayer to the city of New Germany.

…Mayer held its first ever Mayer Moves for Moxie 5K Run/Walk.

June 13: Watertown-Mayer track athlete Katie Heilman won the state title in the triple jump at the Class A state meet in St. Paul. Heilman was also third in the 400 meters, Liz Miller was fourth in the 1,600 meters, Hunter Hulley was eighth in the high jump, and the girls’ 4×800 meter relay team took third. The girls’ team as a whole finished fifth in the state.

…The Watertown-Mayer baseball team qualified for its first ever state tournament in improbable fashion, using a stunning comeback in Game 1 of the section finals against St. Peter in Belle Plaine to force a second game, and then defeating the Saints once again to advance to state. After losing early in the section tournament, the Royals had to win six games in a row, including several against highly-ranked teams, to move on to the state tournament.

…Mayer Lutheran’s Hannah Truniger took second place in the 3,200 meters at the Class A state track and field meet in St. Paul.

June 20: The Watertown-Mayer School Board voted to eliminate the girls’ diving program immediately and phase the boys’ program out over a number of years, allowing several high school divers already in the boys’ program to finish out their careers if they wish. The board voted 5-2 to eliminate diving.

…After a first round upset of Minnehaha Academy, the Watertown-Mayer baseball team went on to finish in fourth place at the state baseball tournament.

June 27: The city of Mayer is launching a new weekly event for car enthusiasts this summer. The Tuesday night Car and Cycle night, sponsored by R&V service, allows people to show off their antique cars in the downtown area, and also enjoy drink and food specials at local businesses.



July 4: Heavy rains in the area last week caused the Crow River to flood in several areas near Mayer and Watertown over much of the last week.

…The Watertown-Mayer School board officially approved a switch to a block schedule for all grade levels at Watertown-Mayer Middle School.

…The Mayer City Council approved a bid from Clark Engineering to study the former creamery site at the corner of 5th Street and Bluejay Avenue. The city recently acquired the site through a tax forfeiture, and the city’s EDA has been discussing the future of the site and possibilities for its use.

July 11: After 38 years, Neil and Susan Johnson are retiring as owners of Johnson Bus Company. The Johnson’s are turning their business over to Koch Bus Company of Waconia, which will take over the Johnson’s business with the Watertown-Mayer School District.

July 18: The city of Mayer held its seventh annual Mayer Rising Community Festival. The event included an antique, car, truck cycle and tractor show, a craft fair, games and activities for kids, lots of food, and amateur baseball games.

…The Watertown City Council met in closed session to begin discussions of the possible purchase of Madison-Green Park. The city currently leases the land from Trinity Lutheran Church, which is looking to sell the land to raise money for its building projects.

July 25: The city of Watertown held its annual Rails To Trails Festival, which this year was held entirely downtown. The event include a car show, toilet bowl races, games and activities for kids, a historical play put on by the River City Theatre Company and Watertown Area Historical Society, live music, food, and a fireworks display.

…The City of Watertown hosted Dr. Wolfgang Muller, the mayor of Lahr, Germany, for several days. Muller was visiting the city as part of a trip that also took him to Canada to visit one of Lahr’s sister cities there. Watertown and Lahr have a connection in that students from schools in each city have been participating in an exchange partnership program for many years. Watertown Mayor Charlotte Johnson hosted Muller in her home, where the two exchanged several gifts.



Aug. 1: The Watertown City Council approved a fee deferral program for home builders and developers that the city hopes will spur renewed residential growth in several of the city’s subdivisions. The new program will allow roughly two-third of new home permit fees to be deferred until the home is ready to be occupied rather than collected up front.

…The Watertown Lions Club donated $21,000 to the city to be used for the development of the Community Park. The contribution brings the Lions’ total donations for the park to $48,000.

Aug. 8: Minnesota State Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, announced her entry in the U.S. Senate Race. She will challenge for the Republican nomination to oppose incumbent Democrat Al Franken in 2014.

…A historic New Germany restaurant has reopened. The old Hollywood Ranch House, now called the Hollywood Roadhouse, has reopened under the new ownership of Paul and Lisa Joswick and their son Dylan.

Aug. 15: Trinity Lutheran Church of Watertown broke ground Sunday on Phase I of a long-term expansion project that will eventually include accessibility improvements, heating and cooling upgrades, a much larger fellowship hall, and an expansion of the church’s education wing.

Aug. 22: The Watertown City Council learned of a unique opportunity to acquire a roughly 45-acre parcel of land through tax forfeiture for as little as $250 if it uses the land for a public use. The council decided to take more time to consider its options for the land near Tuscany Village and the Wildflower development.

…The Watertown City Council is considering how to proceed with the replacement of dugouts at Highland Park. The recommendation before the council was to replace the below-ground dugouts with surface level dugouts that would improve drainage. However, several council members and members of the local amateur baseball team wanted more information on how much it would cost to preserve the historic and more traditional below-ground dugouts.

…Mayer residents Linnea and Rob Boyd asked the city council to consider making a chance to the city’s ordinance that prevents chickens from being kept within the city limits. The family keeps five hens. The council allowed the family to keep the chickens for the time being while it considers whether to change the ordinance.

Aug. 29: Local speech pathologist Linda Reinert had her first book published, called Talking Is Hard For Me: Encouraging Communication in Children with Speech-Language Difficulties. The book is illustrated by her niece, Emily Lynch.



Sept. 5: The Watertown City Council decided to pursue surface level dugouts at Highland Park to replace the current below-ground dugouts. The surface level dugouts were chosen because they are cheaper to build and will be easier to maintain.

Sept. 12: A new thrift shop is now open in downtown Watertown. The Eco Thrift store is run by the Adult Training and Habilitation Center, which operates the recycling center at the Douglas Kugler Eco Site.

…Joyce Peterson was hired as the Watertown-Mayer School District’s new Performing Arts Center Director. Peterson, who has previously been involved in 18 productions in the theater, will be in charge of marketing the venue, scheduling events, and helping to maintain the venue. The position is a new one for the school district, which felt it needed to make better use of the state of the art facility.

Sept. 19: A long-awaited agreement between the city of Watertown and Subway owner Steve Erhard was finally reached when the city council approved a site plan for Erhard to build a new restaurant just north of his current location. In addition to a new Subway store, which will include a drive through, the new building will also include additional retail and office space. Erhard had reached a deal to purchase a property near Highland Park for his new restaurant the year before, but that project fell through when the City Council declined to approve the site plan and later acquired the land for its own use.

…The Carver County Republicans hosted a gubernatorial debate at Chanhassen High School featuring all four Republican gubernatorial candidates for the 2014 election.

…Watertown’s new downtown wi-fi park got a new makeover thanks to Eagle Scout Josh Campbell. Campbell chose to make landscaping improvements to the park as his Eagle Scout project.

Sept. 26: The episode of Animal Planet’s show Monsters Inside Me aired featuring Watertown’s Eric Reinert.

…Mason Diedrick and Lauren Schroeder were crowned King and Queen at Mayer Lutheran High School’s homecoming coronation ceremony.

…Watertown-Mayer High School sophomore Wyatt Tatge and junior Anna Phearman were both selected to be part of the Minnesota Youth Council this year, an organization designed to connect high school students with local and state policy makers. The aim is to allow young people to share their perspectives on issues that impact them with the governor and other legislators, thus giving them a chance to impact the political process despite typically being too young to vote. Phearman and Tatge represent all of Minnesota’s sixth district.



Oct. 3: River City Theatre Company shattered its previous attendance record when roughly 1,800 people attended six showings of its fall production, Willy Wonka, at the Watertown-Mayer Performing Arts Center. The six-year-old theatre company roughly doubled its previous attendance record.

…Luke Sandquist and Liz Miller were crowned King and Queen at Watertown-Mayer High School’s homecoming coronation ceremony.

Oct. 10: The Watertown-Mayer football team upset the state’s third-ranked team, Tri City United, to win on homecoming for the first time in recent memory. The win also put the Royals right back in the thick of the Minnesota River Conference title race.

Oct. 17: Watertown City Administrator Luke Fischer submitted his resignation to the city. He is accepting a position as the city of Plymouth’s Administrative Services Director. Fischer’s last day in Watertown will be Nov. 8. Fischer has served as Watertown’s City Administrator since August 2010.

Oct. 24: The city of Watertown learned that it will receive a $10,000 grant from the Blandin Foundation to install free wireless internet in the downtown area. The city sees the wi-fi initiative as an economic development tool that hopefully will draw more people to the downtown area.

…The Mayer City Council met with Commander Paul Tschida of the Carver County Sheriff’s Office to during last week’s city council meeting to discuss the annual contract for services. The council was interested in increasing police coverage into the evening hours, at least occasionally.

Oct. 31: The Watertown City Council engaged in initial discussions regarding a potential wayfinding sign at the intersection of Highways 10 and 7 that would point the direction to Watertown. The idea of a sign there was long favored by Mayor Charlotte Johnson. However, the sign proposal eventually died out after city staff learned that the Minnesota Department of Transportation would not allow the sign either in the state’s right of way, or on private property.



Nov. 7: St. Mary of Czestochowa installed its new pastor, Father Joseph-Quoc Vuong, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam about 20 years ago.

…Watertown’s Subway restaurant officially broke ground on its new store, which is expected to be ready to open in late spring  of 2014.

…Stan Heldt of the Carver County veterans memorial committee discussed plans for a veterans memorial in Mayer. It would likely be the biggest in the county, and would be built with funding from grants and private donations, as well as the sale of pavers to remember and honor veterans from around the county.

Nov. 14: A school-wide effort has helped Watertown-Mayer High School renovate it’s on campus baseball field. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Minnesota Twins Community Fund, a matching donation from the Royals’ Booster Club, a $1,000 donation from the Watertown Lions Club and a labor donation from concrete contractor Shawn Killian, the school was able to make improvements to the field that will allow it to be used for sub-varsity level games and practice at all levels. Students in the school’s construction class also helped to build new dugouts, and a new grass infield was installed, along with a pitching mound.

…Mayer Lutheran High School held its annual Veterans Day Program on Monday, Nov. 11, with about two dozen veterans in attendance.

Nov. 21: The bridge debate in Watertown took more twists and turns, when, several weeks after it appeared the City Council was going to choose a construction option that would close traffic across the Crow River, it suddenly looked like the Council was going to choose the option that would leave traffic open during construction. However, the discussion was ultimately tabled in an effort to give the school district a chance to weigh in on what would be a drastic change in plans.

Nov. 28: The Watertown Friends For Life Food Shelf is celebrating is 25th anniversary. When it opened in 1988, the food shelf served about 30 to 35 households per month. In now serves about twice that many families each month.



Dec. 5: After nearly two dozen people spoke out in favor of keeping traffic open across the Crow River during next summer’s anticipated bridge construction project, the city council voted unanimously to keep traffic open. The decision will cost roughly an additional $75,000 to $100,000 and make the project take an extra two to three months, but will avoid the major inconvenience of a potentially lengthy detour during construction.

…Luke Jordan, a 2008 Watertown-Mayer High School graduate and a Minnetrista resident, recently became just the fourth person ever to hike the entire North Country Scenic Trail in just one season. The 4,600 mile hike started in North Dakota and ended in Vermont, and took about six months for Jordan to complete.

…The Watertown-Mayer School board approved a 2.07 percent raise for Superintendent Dave Marlette over the next three years, the first pay increase he has received since coming to the district two years ago.

Dec. 12: The Mayer City Council decided not to change parking restrictions this winter. The current parking ordinance prohibits on street parking during any snow event of 1 inch or more. The council had considered prohibiting all overnight parking on city streets during the winter months.

…The city of Watertown held its annual Chamber of Commerce open house at area businesses, and concluded the day with the annual tree lighting ceremony at City Center Park.

…The trial for Christian Oberender was set to start this week on felony gun possession charges.

Dec. 19: Watertown Parts Company – better known as NAPA Auto Parts – has found a new home in Watertown. Its current location will be displaced by next year’s anticipated downtown roundabout construction, but the business was able to acquire the building at 208 Lewis Ave. S, at the corner of Lewis Avenue and Madison Street. The building will continue to house the grooming business that is there, but the rest of the building will be remodeled to provide space for the NAPA retail store and storage space.

…The Watertown City Council approved a $1,942,343 tax levy for 2014. The preliminary levy had been trimmed down to $1,907,343 after a series of budget workshops, but during last week’s city council meeting, the council decided to put $45,000 back into the budget for park funding. The city council is anticipating and providing a funding mechanism for the potential purchase of part or all of Madison-Green Park next year.

Dec. 26: Watertown Evangelical Free Church pastor Paul Kling is preparing for his final service at the church. After 28 years at WEFC, he is moving on at the end of the year to pursue new and different ministries.

…Christian Oberender’s trial was put on hold after a motion to dismiss the felony gun possession charge was filed by the defense. The defense argues that Oberender did not know he wasn’t allowed to own guns, a belief the defense says was furthered when Sheriff’s Deputies visited his home in 2011 and his guns were not taken away.