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Passing the gavel: Former Detroit Lakes Mayor Larry Buboltz, left, and new Mayor Matt Brenk. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

For a quiet year, a lot happened in 2009

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As 2009 slips away, here's a look back at the last 12 months:

January

"New Year's baby" Dade Marcel Keezer was born at 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 1, becoming the first child to be born at St. Mary's Innovis Health, Detroit Lakes, in 2009 ... Matt Brenk was sworn in as the new mayor of Detroit Lakes, succeeding Larry Buboltz, and new council members Madalyn Sukke and Jamie Marks Erickson also took office ... Gerry Schram was sworn in as Becker County commissioner, as Harry Salminen was elected board chair for 2009 ... Detroit Lakes residents Ellie and Bob Hauser attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20...

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The annual Eagles' sock drive brought in more than 1,800 socks for Mahube Community Council, breaking the previous record of 1,600 ...The Dave Matthews Band was announced as the headline act for the 10,000 Lakes Festival, July 22-25 ... The Third Crossing Sled Dog Rendezvous was called off due to a lack of snow...

More than two months after the 2008 election, Al Franken was declared the winner of the U.S. Senate race recount over incumbent Norm Coleman, who announced that he would contest the results in court ... Record December snowfall left local businesses celebrating the boost in sales for winter sports and snow removal equipment, while area cities and townships felt the financial pinch of keeping roads clear.

February

Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Dewey was shot in the city of Mahnomen on Feb. 18 ... The two men allegedly involved in the shooting made their first court appearance in Mahnomen County on Feb. 20...

Detroit Lakes Community Education Director Mark Greenig announced that he would be retiring April 1, leading to major changes in the program ... Detroit Lakes Newspapers launched its redesigned website at www.dl-online.com...

Community theater returned to Detroit Lakes with the debut of Summit Productions' presentation of "The Mousetrap" at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Feb. 28 ... The digital television switchover caused many area residents to lose over-the-air television reception in their homes...

Senate hopeful Al Franken, embroiled in an election recount dispute with Norm Coleman, asked that 61 Becker County ballots be removed from the election tally, claiming that there were some irregularities in how the ballots were documented and stored following the election...

Two people died in a Wolf Lake garage fire Feb. 27. They were later identified as Gregory Scott Tabatt and Denise Dawn Beito, both of Goodridge, Minn.

March

The Detroit Lakes School District and community rallied behind beloved middle school teacher Michelle Harris as she battled colon cancer; unfortunately, Harris passed away March 9, less than a month after being diagnosed ... Three Detroit Lakes High School students were investigated for setting off homemade bombs in the school ... Nineteen people at St. Mary's Innovis Health lost their jobs as the result of budget cuts...

Spring flooding wreaked havoc on Becker County roads; the problem was exacerbated by a late-March snowstorm that dropped more than a foot of snow on Detroit Lakes and surrounding areas ... Detroit Lakes firefighters as well as workers from several city, county and state agencies volunteered their time to help Fargo-Moorhead residents battle rising flood waters, as Emmanuel Community, Breezy Shores Resort and several area hotels opened their doors to evacuees.

April

Becker County commissioners considered a proposal to become a joint powers partner in the proposed expansion of the Perham solid waste incinerator ... Delegates to a constitutional convention at Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen ratified a new tribal constitution by a 16-8 vote, paving the way for a later public referendum...

Detroit Lakes School Board members prepared to cut $900,000 from the district's budget to offset an anticipated $973,000 deficit; Frazee's school board also eyed $225,000 in cuts ... Detroit Lakes resident Jason MacPherson was killed in a car crash following a high-speed chase with local law enforcement on April 13...

The first "probable" case of H1N1 (i.e., "swine") flu was reported in Minnesota in April, prompting local health officials to step up prevention efforts as a vaccine was sought ... The Becker County Food Pantry reported a successful March food drive, as area organizations reported that charitable gambling proceeds were down by more than half in 2009...

A bomb scare caused clinic facilities at both St. Mary's Innovis Health and MeritCare to be evacuated on April 15, prompting an investigation by state, county and local law enforcement.

May

The Becker County Highway Department and Detroit Lakes Public Works Department began working on plans for a joint city-county maintenance facility...

Plans began to take shape for a new Becker County Veterans' Memorial in downtown Detroit Lakes ... Nereson Chevrolet-Cadillac-Jeep of Detroit Lakes received word that it would be losing its Jeep franchise, as Chrysler announced that it would be eliminating 789 dealerships across the country...

Controversy reigned at the Frazee-Vergas School Board meeting in May, as one board member resigned, another protested allegations made against him and an audience member "picketed" the meeting to protest the firing of a tenured teacher...

The Pine to Prairie Birding Trail officially became international May 19, as plans were unveiled for a 300-mile Canadian loop that would extend the 200-mile Minnesota trail across the border ... A new BMX track was unveiled at the Becker County Fairgrounds, in anticipation of the first race of the season on May 27...

The Lake Park Liquor Store celebrated its 40th anniversary ... The Becker County Courthouse held an open house to celebrate the completion of a $6.6 million addition and $1.6 million remodeling project.

June

Most of the old Washington Elementary School on Detroit Lakes' Washington Avenue came tumbling down June 2 to make way for a new housing project ... The Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center took over the reins of the DL Summer Recreation Program from Detroit Lakes Community Education, but the activities and location remained unchanged...

Frazee hog farmer Robert Briard was acquitted on charges of second-degree sexual conduct following a three-day jury trial at the Benton County Courthouse in Foley, Minn ... Meanwhile, motions for dismissal of contempt of court charges against Briard's wife, Virginia, were denied and a trial date was set ...

Former Lake Park-Audubon High School teacher Jared Sanborn was acquitted on charges of felony third degree criminal sexual conduct following a Becker County jury trial...

Following a lengthy eight-month battle that ended in the Minnesota Supreme Court, Al Franken was finally declared the winner of the race for Norm Coleman's seat in the U.S. Senate. Coleman conceded the victory to Franken after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor...

July

Four people died and three others were injured in a July 4 single-car crash near Pine Point. ... Christopher Dewey, the Mahnomen County Sheriff's deputy who was shot in the line of duty in February, was placed in intensive care at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colo., after an infection caused him to be placed on a ventilator for a brief period of time...

The Detroit Lakes Development Authority granted developer Drew Olson a $1.2 million tax increment financing district for his planned waterfront project at the corner of Washington Avenue and West Lake Drive...

The 10,000 Lakes Festival, with featured headliner the Dave Matthews Band, drew record 10KLF crowds to Detroit Lakes' Soo Pass Ranch over the weekend of July 22-25; but it wasn't enough, as organizers announced later in the year that the festival would not return in 2010...

Detroit Lakes businesses Floral Impressions, Domino's Pizza and Ginny's Style Station Boutique all closed ... A benefit for Gaylene Smith, who is battling stage 4 colon cancer, raised more than $30,000...

Daniel Vernier, the man accused of being an accomplice in the Feb. 18 shooting of Mahnomen County Deputy Christopher Dewey, was sentenced to 22 months in prison and agreed to testify against the man accused of shooting Dewey, Thomas Fairbanks, as a condition of his plea agreement ... The first cases of H1N1 flu were reported in Becker County ... Chamber of Commerce President Kris Tovson was injured in a ziplining accident and would spend the next three months recuperating...

August

A Detroit Lakes family rescued an injured bald eagle that they found near Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in early August. The bird was taken to the Minnesota Raptor Center for rehabilitation ... Don Thorp was appointed to replace Kathryn Kallis on the Frazee School Board by a 4-2 vote of the board...

More than 42,000 fans flocked to the Soo Pass Ranch south of Detroit Lakes for the 2009

WE Fest celebration ... Detroit Lakes and Waubun students failed to make "adequate yearly progress" as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act...

The Becker County Food Pantry and Human Services Department both reported a dramatic rise in usage for 2009 ... Minnesota State Community & Technical College in Detroit Lakes reported record enrollment for the fall semester, with 1,013 students...

St. Mary's Innovis Health unveiled plans for a new clinic that will replace hospital facilities built in the 1920s and 30s ... Bail was set at $200,000 for Chad Stewart, the Detroit Lakes man accused of killing four people and seriously injuring two others in a July 4 car crash near Ponsford...

September

The Rochert Post Office closed its doors Sept. 1 ... The Becker County Board of Commissioners set a proposed tax levy increase of 1.38 percent for 2010 ... First-day enrollment numbers at Detroit Lakes Public Schools were higher than expected, with 2,737 students ... The Minnesota State Patrol dispatch center in Detroit Lakes announced plans to close and move operations to Duluth over the next few years...

Detroit Lakes Public Schools announced that next year's tax levy would drop roughly 10 percent, even as administrators noted that the district was facing a growing space shortage ... A third-party investigator cleared Frazee-Vergas School Superintendent Deron Stender of charges of discrimination or harassment...

White Earth resident George Libby Sr., 58, died in a house fire Sept. 12 ... Chad Stewart pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal vehicular operation in the July 4 crash that killed four people and injured two others ... Daniel Vernier was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in the shooting of Deputy Christopher Dewey...

October

The Becker County Record and Detroit Lakes Tribune switched publication dates Oct. 1, with the Tribune now being published on Wednesdays and the Record on Sundays; the Tribune also unveiled an all-new look...

Two area men, Jesse Reed and Mitchell Reller, were charged with a string of house, lake cabin and garage burglaries on Oct. 6... The expansion project at St. Mary's Innovis Health is expected to result in the closure of two local streets, Park Street from McKinley Avenue to Lincoln Avenue, and Lincoln Avenue between Oak and Frazee streets ... KRCQ Radio in Detroit Lakes was sold to Lake Lida Broadcasting of Fond du Lac, Wis., for $850,000...

Detroit Lakes Public Utilities announced that electric rates would rise 5.5 percent on Jan. 1 ... DL Blades notified parents that it would not be offering skating lessons this year ... Plans to cut staffing at the outdoor rink warming houses in Detroit Lakes this winter met with strong local resistance ... Shortages in the H1N1 flu vaccine were reported...

November

School operating levy referendums in Detroit Lakes, Ulen-Hitterdal and Lake Park-Audubon were approved, while levies in Perham, Pelican Rapids and Moorhead were defeated on election day ... MeritCare Clinic in Detroit Lakes announced plans for a $15 million expansion...

Hospice of the Red River Valley celebrated its 25th anniversary ... Sen. Al Franken made an unannounced visit to the farm of Bill and Karolyn Zurn in rural Callaway, to learn more about the local sugar beet industry ... Battling terminal cancer, Frazee teenager Tyler Shipman gets an unexpected gift when his dream of restoring his 1986 Fiero GT comes true -- with the help of about two dozen Fiero lovers from across the country ... The Frazee Festival of Trees organizers announce plans to discontinue the festival after the 14th annual event concludes...

The Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center announced plans to expand its summer recreation program and add a winter component over the holiday break in December ... A new Mexican restaurant, El Metate, opens its doors in the former Beachfront building on West Lake Drive ... Plans were announced to open a new helicopter service at the Detroit Lakes airport.

December

After 12 years on the job, Becker County Coordinator on Aging Judy Peterson announced that she would be retiring Dec. 31 ... Detroit Lakes firefighters were called to rescue eight-month-old Australian shepherd Georgie after a fall through the ice, earning the gratitude of his owner, Katie Green ... The Detroit Lakes outdoor rink warming house will be staffed this winter, thanks to appeals by community members that saved it from the budget cutting axe...

Detroit Lakes learned that it would not lose $442,000 in state funding due to a last-minute decision by Governor Tim Pawlenty not to "unallot Local Government Aid funds that were payable at the end of 2009 ... Five sets of twins were born at St. Mary's Innovis Health during a three-week period in late October-early November...

Mike Smith, the tow truck driver who lost his leg in a serious accident during preparations for a Becker County disaster drill last year, was given the Becker County Sheriff's Department Volunteer of the Year Award for 2009. The man who saved him, Detroit Lakes firefighter Ryan Swanson, as also honored with a lifesaving award...

The Frazee Sled Dog Club announced that it would once again cancel the Third Crossing Sled Dog Rendezvous in January, but pondered scheduling a dry-land race next fall.

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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