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A year of transitions, surprises, success

Osakis teacher Chris Stroup gave high fives to graduates in the Osakis High School commons area after last year's graduation ceremony. (Ryan Pietruszewski / Osakis Review)1 / 12
Randy Bergquist was officially hired as superintendent of Osakis Public Schools last April. He had been serving the district as elementary principal. 2 / 12
The St. Agnes Carnival last March provided food, games and a chance to win prizes. (Contributed) 3 / 12
Connie Ferris retired in 2017 after serving as a teacher at Osakis Public Schools for 34 years. 4 / 12
During a practice round at last year's Osakis Spelling Bee, fifth grader Eva Van Acker recited a word. (Al Edenloff / Osakis Review)5 / 12
A man later identified as Brett Huber stood on top of a truck on Interstate 94 east of Osakis on March 18. He was later arrested. (Contributed)6 / 12
Kearney Frank, selected as the Osakis VFW junior vice commander, gave a salute at the Osakis Armed Forces Memorial during last year's Memorial Day service. (Al Edenloff / Osakis Review) 7 / 12
Destiney Jones, portraying Pocahontas, talks to another student during the Wax Museum last April. (Lowell Anderson | Osakis Review)8 / 12
At last year's Ice Golf Tournament, Kirby Chermak tried to sink a racquet ball into hole number 5. (Celeste Edenloff / Osakis Review)9 / 12
The Osakis High School Marching Band was part of the Grand Parade at the Osakis Festival last June. (Osakis Review file photo)10 / 12
Taylor Hicks, American Idol winner and now the host of a TV food show, posed for a photo with the crew at Jacob's Lefse Bakeri in Osakis during a visit on May 28. They include (left to ight) Joanne Ranum, owner Bonnie Jacobs, Margaret Ellingson, Nancy Collins, Sue Sibell and Kevin Sorenson. (Celeste Edenloff / Osakis Review)11 / 12
Senior class president Jena Backes and vice president Isaac Infanger kicked off the Grand March at last year's Osakis High School Prom. (Ryan Pietruszewski / Osakis Review) 12 / 12

How will the 2017 be remembered in the Osakis area?

It was a year of transition with several community leaders moving on to the next chapter in their lives, including Superintendent Joe Broderick, teacher Connie Ferris and Galeon CEO Dave Carlson.

It was a year of unexpected surprises, both good and bad — a Christmas ice storm, a visit from American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, and news that Just Like Grandma's was closing and up for sale.

There were unusual crimes, including a suspect who stole two cars, fled law enforcement and brought traffic on Interstate 94 near Osakis to a standstill as he climbed on top of a semi.

And there were amazing athletic accomplishments — a high school baseball player who overcame 20 surgeries to become team captain and a girls track and field team that made school history.

Here's a look back at the first half of 2017. Next week's Review will wrap up the rest of the year.


A sports utility vehicle broke through the ice of Lake Osakis on Dec. 26. The driver wasn't injured.

Ruth Hinnenkamp from St. Agnes School of Osakis was honored for 15 years of service through the Catholic Charities Central Minnesota Foster Grandparent Program.

A Christmas ice storm left some Osakis residents feeling cold about the city's snow removal ordinance. The city charged them $185 for having to tow their vehicles so the roads could be plowed.

New improvements are in the works for the Central Lakes Trail in Osakis. One idea is a bicycle repair station where bikers could make basic repairs and maintenance.

Panther Distillery requested and received preliminary approval to try something new — a cocktail room where customers can sample the distillery's whiskey and moonshine mixed with soft drinks.

A year-end report showed that Osakis police officers responded to 2,680 calls in 2016 — an increase of 24 percent from 2015's 2,160 calls.

Osakis Schools Supt. Joe Broderick will leave his position on June 30, 2017, after having

spent three years as the administrator.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency extended the public comment period about a water quality improvement report for Smith Lake, Faille Lake and Lake Osakis. The report focuses on pollution caused by excess nutrients, mainly phosphorus.

ProBuild in Osakis is changing its name to Builders FirstSource.


A driver has been charged after a July crash near Nelson that killed 28-year-old Amber

Martinson of Alexandria. Deborah Kempkes, 49, is facing three misdemeanor

charges for careless driving, inattentive driving and failure to yield.

Craig Lamont Williams was sentenced for 12 and a half years in prison for fatally striking his ex-wife with a shoe hammer.

Sixth grader Isaac Maddock won the Osakis Public School's Spelling Bee. Ember Eckel and Laureen Walter shared runner-up honors.

The Osakis Review won two awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association — first place for Best House Ad and second place for Best Website.

Planning is under way for the next phase of the downtown project. The 2017 improvements

will include Main St. W. from Sixth Ave. N to Second Ave. W.; First Ave. W. from Nokomis St. to Main St.; First Ave. E. from Nokomis St. to Lake St.; Central Ave. from Lake St. to the boat landing; and mill and overlay on Second Ave. W., Third Ave. W. and Fourth Ave. W.

Randy Bergquist was named interim superintendent of Osakis Public Schools to replace Joe Broderick. Shad Schmidt was named interim elementary principal.


The Osakis School District clarified an idea discussed at last month's meeting to have girls submit photos of themselves wearing their chosen prom dress in order to attend the event. It was "merely a suggestion," not an official action, said Interim Superintendent Randy Bergquist.

Wind made for difficult conditions for the 13th annual Ice Golf Tournament and Osakis Fire Department Fundraiser. A total of 23 teams competed.

An investigation into credit card fraud and swindle in Osakis led to felony drug charges. Denise Carol Waldvogel was charged with felony theft by swindle. Her husband, Curtis Dale Waldvogel,

was charged with felony credit card fraud and two drug-related counts.

The number of gun permits issued by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office spiked to 700

in 2016. That's more than the combined number of permits, 685, that were issued between 2005 and 2009.

A discussion took place at a city council meeting about last year's downtown project and damage it caused to downtown businesses.

The Osakis Carnival on March 12 was a rousing success. Children of all ages had fun

playing games, winning prizes, eating food and burning off some energy.

A bridge replacement project at the Osakis exit on Interstate 94 will mean some detours for

drivers this spring and summer.

A man who brought traffic on Interstate 94 near Osakis to a standstill on March 18 was

high on drugs when he fled the Douglas County emergency room before stealing

two cars, fleeing authorities and climbing on top of a semi, according to court documents.

The Fish and Wildlife Service recently preserved a 34-acre wetland in Orange Township near Burr Oak Road SE south of Interstate 94 from the Jerry D. Kuhlman Living Trust.


The annual fourth grade Wax Museum at the Osakis High School Gym impressed visitors who learned about historical figures from Abraham Lincoln to George Lucas.

Randy Bergquist was officially named superintendent of the Osakis School District. The school board approved a three-year contract.

A teacher shortage is squeezing districts throughout the state, including Osakis. High School grades are proving to be the hardest to fill.

The last sheets of ice melted away on Lake Osakis on April 1, four days earlier than 2016's March 27 ice-out.

After auditors found discrepancies in the cash balancing procedures for overages and shortages at the Osakis Liquor Store, the Osakis City Council approved a revised cash balance policy. The council felt the old policy was too lenient and decided to revamp it and make it more restrictive. The new policy checks for discrepancy procedures of $5 or more.

Osakis High School students were dressed to the nines for prom, which featured a 1920s theme. The Grand March drew 58 couples.

Both the grebe and the walleye will be featured as symbols of Osakis as part of the downtown project.


A new dog grooming business, Bark and Buzz, opened in Osakis. Cathleen Long, a certified master groomer, is the owner.

The Osakis High School 13th annual fine arts show, Starry Night, entertained a large crowd. It included the jazz band, short plays, vocal solos/ensembles and a display of student art projects.

Osakis senior Isaac Infanger was spotlighted in a feature story for overcoming 20 surgeries on his legs and knee to become a team captain for the Osakis baseball team.

Osakis is looking spiffier after the annual Clean-Up Day sponsored by the city, West Central Sanitation and Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management.

Osakis High School juniors and seniors heard a sobering message about the dangers of drinking and driving. Liana Lien of Carlos shared the story of how her brother was killed in drunk driving crash four years ago.

Connie Ferris is retiring after helping students learn for 34 years at Osakis Public Schools. She touched the lives of more than 10,880 during her career.

During Memorial Day ceremony at the Osakis Armed Forces Memorial, residents and veterans honored those who gave their lives for their country. The guest speaker was Bruce Sadlemyer.

The Osakis girls track and field team made history by winning the True Team state title. It was the first team championship of any extra curricular sport in Osakis history.


Sixty-four Osakis High School graduates accepted their diplomas in the Osakis High School Gym.

The winner of the fifth season of American Idol — Taylor Hicks — rolled into Osakis on May 28 to visit Jacob's Lefse Bakeri. Hicks and a television crew were in town to shoot a segment for his new TV show, "State Plate."

Nearly 100 children had fun while learning about bike safety at the Osakis Boy Scout's Bike Safety Day and Rodeo.

Just Like Grandma's — an Osakis business that's been part of the community for 32

years — closed its doors and is up for sale. The property at 113 W. Main Street was listed for $294,750 and includes 2,710 square feet of finished space.

A new rental housing option will soon be available in Osakis. The council approved tax increment financing for Paul Hartmann Properties' eight-plex multi-family housing development at 463 West Main Street.

Dave Carlson is retiring July 1, after spending 29 years as administrator/CEO of Galeon Senior Living, Wellness, Care and Recovery in Osakis.

A 23-year-old Osakis man was charged in connection with a high-speed motorcycle chase that reached speeds of 100 miles per hour. Brandon Lee Cada faces a felony, fleeing a peace officer.

Touch Chromebooks will be used in fifth and sixth grade classrooms at Osakis Public Schools, following a decision by the school board.

A bit of rain, chilly temperatures and gusting winds didn't stop the fun at the 49th annual Osakis Festival on June 23-25.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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