Since North Wright County Today emerged on the scene in March of 2014, the site has covered a wide variety of topics, from breaking news and weather to local awards and people. Here are the top stories, according to page views and Facebook feedback, that caught readers’ eyes in 2014.
10. The Historic St. Michael Catholic Church Hits the Market
The St. Michael Catholic Church leadership announced to the Parish last fall the Historic Church, a fixture here for more than a century and cornerstone of the original city, would be hitting the market. The cost, Parish administrators said, was too much for a diocese that is looking to pay down its current debt, and plan for a future school. The proposal has been submitted to the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and the church will, hopefully, have new ownership in 2015.
9. Standoff Shakes Up Hot Summer Weekend
On the weekend of Aug. 17, an Albertville neighborhood was taken under siege after an incident overnight led to a standoff that lasted for hours. Eventually, the man responsible was found deceased inside the home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but not before residents were forced out of their neighborhood for several hours.
8. Riverside Church Attempts to Take Over St. Michael Theater
After talks in the spring of 2014 didn’t lead to progress, a May letter sent by Riverside Church’s attorneys to the mayor and council of St. Michael ended up moving things along, with the church eventually submitting a plan to purchase and renovate the theater by 2015. The problem: St. Michael city code doesn’t allow churches in commercial areas. After moving through the political process – including a one-month session (two meetings) at the planning commission and two meetings in front of the St. Michael City Council, the proposal was unanimously rejected when the church pulled away from the negotiating guidelines proposed by city staff. The saga could continue, as the church could sue for rights to purchase the building the group things were violated by the city.
7. Business Comings and Goings
By far, the biggest business news for 2014 was the impending arrival of John Hardy’s BBQ, which will take up residence in the former Albertville Perkins location. The restaurant, based in Rochester, is trying a totally new tactic here in STMA. Businesses such as Marketplace Pharmacy and Bravo Dance Company bid us farewell in 2014, but leaders from STMA, Otsego and Hanover are seeing a lot of commercial interest leading into 2015.
6. The 2014 Election Brings Change to Wright County
Michele Bachmann, former Congresswoman for the Wright County area and all of District 6, bid us farewell, to be replaced by Rep. Tom Emmer, who will cruise to Washington after years of serving us in the Minnesota House and an attempted gubernatorial bid in 2010. He’ll be joined by Albertville’s David FitzSimmons, who will serve as Emmer’s chief of staff.
Both city councils and the school board saw shake-ups. Cody Gulick earned his way on to the St. Michael council, Walter Hudson won a write-in campaign in Albertville, and, in a round-about way, Jennifer Peyerl replaced Jeanne Holland on the school board after Holland resigned, allowing Douglas Birk to retain, essentially, his seat.
5. Howard Lake Man Goes Missing, Two Arrested on Murder Charges
It’s a case that has kept the Wright County Sheriff’s Office investigations team on its toes since it developed in August. Christopher Rossing was out for a night on the town with friends in Wright County back on that fateful night. He hasn’t been seen since. Rossing, age 25 of Albion Township, was last seen frequenting several bars in the City of Howard Lake during the early morning hours of Saturday August 23rd. At the time of his disappearance Christopher Rossing was wearing a white t-shirt, dark pants, and dark shoes.
4. Interstate 94 Gets a Green Light for Expansion
After years of pushing, pleading, prodding and proposing, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Transportation offered the biggest gift of all to commuters in 2014 – the green light for the expansion of Interstate 94 between Rogers and St. Michael. Construction on a new bridge over the Crow River has already begun, and the new lanes should be fully functioning by fall of 2015. To boot, the state also designated funds to begin a study for expanding the freeway up to County Road 37 in Albertville through the so-called “Corridors of Commerce” project list, the same funding that allowed the present expansion.
3. Mothers, Babies Lose Special Friend in Dr. Eric Lefebvre
A little more than two weeks after the Fourth of July, beloved Wright County doctor Eric Lefebvre was out riding his motorcycle in Wright County. He came around a corner and collided with a golf cart that was crossing road, and died at the scene of the accident.
Mothers and families from around the area mourned the loss, as Lefebvre was well known in the area for delivering hundreds of children between Buffalo and Monticello hospitals. Quick with a smile and a hug for his “kids,” the good doctor left behind a wife and four children.
2. Steve McKee, Father and Fan, Succumbs to Cancer
No one will ever say that Steve McKee “lost” his cancer fight. Rather, we, the STMA community, lost a father, friend and huge fan. Wheeled to the side of the mats at the State AAA Wrestling Tournament in March, McKee and his son, Mitchell, along with Mitchell’s opponent in the state final, made worldwide news for their display of class, sportsmanship and love. It was, at the same time, a proud and heartbreaking moment, for we knew how the final chapter for Steven would be written. For Mitchell, this year has been a triumph – despite the loss of his father earlier this month, he’s gained a No. 1 ranking in the state, and is set to wrestle at the University of Minnesota with friend and STMA grad Tommy Thorn when he graduates in 2016.
1. Bear Shot By Resident in Albertville Park
In one of the strangest developments anyone can recall in Albertville, a resident was forced to put down a black bear in a neighborhood park on the night of July 1.
According to the Wright County Sheriff’s Department, the bear approached the glass sliding door of a home near Winter Park, which is on the city’s west corner. Wright County deputies responded, but a man who saw the animal approach a yard where children were playing put down the bear. Minnesota DNR chief Fred Bangsten of the St. Cloud area said it’s uncommon for a bear to be “that far south,” but it could have been a juvenile that was lost and confused. The DNR didn’t dispute killing the bear was the right action in the situation. Bot the sheriff’s office and the DNR closed the case immediately.