by April Scheinoha
The pages of The Times have turned on another year. Looking back, several themes were noticeable throughout the stories from 2017. They are listed in no particular order.
In January, Textron purchased Arctic Cat in a cash transaction valued at about $247 million, plus the assumption of existing debt.
In March, Digi-Key announced it was considering plans to build a one-million square-foot facility. On May 31, the company formally announced that the building would be constructed in Thief River Falls on the site of its current western parking lot. A skywalk will connect that building to its current facility. Digi-Key broke ground on the project Sept. 15. Construction is expected to take three years.
As part of the project, Digi-Key purchased the former site of the Municipal Service Center and tore down buildings on that property, which now serves as a Digi-Key parking lot. As a result, the city of Thief River Falls Electric Department moved to various locations in the city, and parks maintenance employees also moved elsewhere.
The city plans to construct a new building for the Electric Department on a site south of Westside Motors. The city is also adding onto its Streets/Sanitation Division storage building along Atlantic Avenue to accommodate parks maintenance employees. Their department consolidated with the Streets/Sanitation Division this summer.
In April, area residents heard about a proposal for a bridge near Sanford Health. Pennington County commissioners are considering whether to build a bridge over the Red Lake River from County State Aid Highway 8 to Mark Boulevard. Another possibility is on CSAH 7, which is located south of CSAH 8. If approved, construction is expected to occur in 2020. Construction could possibly start in 2019 if the county were awarded the grants it is seeking for the project.
Commissioners are expected to consider the project after a draft study is completed and a second public hearing is held. The county’s consultants are expected to present information to the County Board in mid-February.
The Thief River Falls Area Food Shelf gained a permanent home in 2017. It closed on the former Woodmen Construction property in September. On Sept. 21, it began distributions at that location, 16330 150th St. N.E. in rural Thief River Falls. The Food Shelf was without a permanent home for five years.
Thief River Falls gained some notoriety in June, when Brianna Drevlow was crowned Miss Minnesota. The Thief River Falls resident was Miss North Star at the time.
Six prominent local residents retired or resigned from their positions in the community.
LeRoy Stumpf returned to private life in January after serving in the Minnesota Legislature for 36 years. Stumpf was elected as a state representative in 1980. Two years later, he ran for the Senate District 1 seat and served until his final term expired Dec. 31, 2016.
Longtime Times Sports Editor Mike Lundgren retired Jan. 31 after more than 46 years at The Times.
The Thief River Falls School Board accepted the resignation of Lincoln High School Principal Shane Zutz at its July 10 meeting. Zutz is now employed as the human resources director at Digi-Key.
Van Swanson and Kim Swanson retired at the end of December from their positions with the University of Minnesota Extension. They have worked there for 28 and 35 years, respectively.
The Pennington County Board accepted County Attorney Al Rogalla’s resignation at its meeting Wednesday, Dec. 27. Rogalla is set to leave his position Jan. 15. He has been appointed as the Clearwater County attorney.
Two well-known Thief River Falls businesses closed in 2017, and another announced that it would close in January 2018. Both Titan Machinery and JCPenney closed this summer. Kmart expects to close this month.
Work continues on the $18.3 million justice center, which is expected to be completed in 2018. The facility will house the Pennington County Attorney’s Office, Pennington County Board room, probation, court administration and courtrooms as well as an updated jail.
K9 Max joined the law enforcement community in February.
Emergency personnel responded to a plane crash Sept. 23 in rural Thief River Falls. All three occupants were killed. They included pilot Moy Wing, 69; Brian Duke, 27; and Zach Ostertag, 26, all from Rawlins, Wyo. All three were employed at Mountain West Motors Inc. Wing was transporting his coworkers back to Wyoming from a training session at Arctic Cat.
Crime also made the headlines. On Oct. 22, several pipe bombs were found inside a container hidden in a rubble pile near a hunting cabin northeast of Oklee. Eric James Reinbold, 41, Oklee, was charged in connection with the case. After posting bond in the case, Reinbold allegedly fled to Kansas, where he was arrested during a traffic stop Nov. 7. The criminal case is proceeding through the court system.
On Nov. 1, a heightened law enforcement presence was visible at LHS after an unsubstantiated shooting threat was made.
Four men were charged after two men were assaulted Nov. 27 at their St. Hilaire home. Guadalupe Francisco Peralta, 27, Thief River Falls; John Wayne Balderston, 40, Thief River Falls; James Michael Dahlin, 32, Thief River Falls; and James Richard Shaugabay, 26, St. Hilaire, have been charged in connection with the case. Their criminal cases are proceeding through the court system.
A lot of attention was devoted to the Lancaster and Roseau Ports of Entry after U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it wanted to reduce hours at both ports, reducing hours at the Lancaster port by six hours and the Roseau port by four hours. Town hall meetings were held. CBP has since announced that it has finalized plans for reduced hours. Beginning Jan. 7, the Roseau port will be open year-round from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. as planned. The Lancaster port will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the winter months and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer.
Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 replacement project continued to be in the news. A final decision is pending from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.