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The Minnesota Vikings' then star receiver Randy Moss signs a "Sunny in DL" sunfish in the summer of 2003.

Remembering a not-always-happy decade of news

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Detroit Lakes Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
Remembering a not-always-happy decade of news
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Flipping through the pages of newspapers reveals the top local stories since 2000.

It's amazing how many things have changed in only 10 years.



For the second time, Winona LaDuke joins Ralph Nader and the Green Party for a run at the U.S. presidency.

The new Evans Foods building opens.

The Anishinaabe Center opens in Detroit Lakes.

Al Roder is named new county administrator.

Ponsford mother and daughter Shelley Jean Brown and Sheila Brown are convicted in connection with the murder of Vincent James Jourdain.


The largest drug sting in 25 years takes place in Detroit Lakes. Police Chief Kel Keena comes under fire for setting up the confidential informant in the Rossman School vicinity.

Daniel Lee Bettcher is arrested for escaping custody after serving time for his 23rd drunk driving violation. It wasn't his last, either.

DL native Kari Knuttila is crowned Miss Minnesota.

The $9.35 million Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center opens. Julia Ostgarden is the first paying patron.

Wal-Mart opens in Detroit Lakes.

Nationally, Sept. 11 will be remember after commercial airplanes are hijacked and used to bring down New York's Twin Towers. Security is heightened around the world.

The White Earth Investment Initiative, under the guidance of Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, is born.


After a heated election against sitting sheriff Warren Rethwisch, which includes accusations of dirty politics, Tim Gordon wins the county sheriff race.

Al Roder resigns after clashing with the county board. County EDA director Scott Wilson offers his resignation after Roder tries unsuccessfully to fire him. Roder resigns, and the board refuses Wilson's severance proposal, so Wilson withdraws his resignation.


Gov. Tim Pawlenty comes to Detroit Lakes for the fishing opener.

The Sunny in DL project is born. Artist Hans Gilsdorf creates the mold for the public art sunfish that are stationed around the city.

The local National Guard unit is deployed to Bosnia.

Firefighters battle a 350-acre wildfire north on Richwood Road. Two tanker planes are called in to assist.

Callaway Elementary School is awarded the prestigious No Child Left Behind 2003 Blue Ribbon Award.

Waubun and Ogema continue construction of the $10.7 million school renovations project.

Vergas celebrates its centennial.

Fairyland Cottages closes after 66 years, as do five other Becker County resorts in three years. The Becker County Resort Preservation Task Force forms.

Sunnyside nursing home gets a $1.7 million facelift.


Chip Wadena sought to regain his former position as chairman of the White Earth tribe after losing it for being convicted of skimming tribal funds. He wins the primary election, but Erma Vizenor wins the general election to become the first female leader of the tribe.

Becker County breaks with Mahnomen and Norman counties and puts its public health programs under the Becker County Human Services Department.

The National Guard Charlie Company returns after six months in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Detroit Lakes cuts seven teachers due to $715,000 in cost containments.

White Earth Head Start and Child Care move to a new $1 million facility.

The county's 48-bed minimum security jail opens in DL.

For the third year, Grant Remmen vies for the National Spelling Bee title.

Lake Park's Marian Jacobson is named Minnesota Outstanding Senior Citizen.

The county approves 6-month moratorium on big lakeshore development.

Incumbents Carolyn Engebretson and Roger Winter are ousted when Barry Nelson and Larry Knutson are elected to the county board.

Lake Park-Audubon passes an operating levy referendum.


Menards outbids Home Depot by offering $1.3 million for city land near Walmart.

The Ogema Café is destroyed by fire. The café owner's son is charged and found innocent of arson.

The DL School Board votes to close Callaway School to help solve a $1 million budget crisis.

St. Mary's renovates the old County Market building as a dialysis unit.

Joseph Duncan III is arrested in Idaho. The sex offender and murderer is linked to Becker County after he molests a child here and then is released on bail.

The county is awarded $350,000 for a 70-mile ATV trail. After a year of controversy, the county rejects the trail proposal.

DL guardsmen are called to serve in Iraq.

Bob and John Bekkerus dismantle the oldest ski lift in Minnesota and plan to develop Detroit Mountain as a housing development, Lookout Rock.


Guy Fischer becomes Becker County's new housing and economic development coordinator.

The Boys and Girls Club opens a thrift store downtown.

The Osage school becomes a condo.

Detroit Lakes Superintendent Lowell Niklaus submits his letter of resignation.

County Auditor Keith Brekken announces his intent to retire. The county board votes to merge the auditor and treasurer positions, and Ryan Tangen is elected the county's first auditor-treasurer.

Other retirements include Mike Daly, DL head boys' swimming and diving coach; Linda Livingston Wiedewitsch, DL Police Department investigator; Judge William Walker; and DL Street Commissioner Roy Estes.

The county and city propose a downtown parking ramp.

Henrik Bewarder, an exchange student that year, becomes DLHS's first-ever state champion in swimming.

Minnesota National Guard troops leave for Iraq.

Norby's Department Store celebrates 100 years.

Highway 10 realignment work begins.

The U.S. Postal Service proposes a forever stamp.

The Lake Park City Council holds a disciplinary hearing on police chief Tim Hoag, who was sentenced earlier for a DUI.

The Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce moves to its new building.

The refurbished DL Pavilion opens.

The Humane Society of the Lakes breaks ground on a new facility.

The DL girls' golf team wins the state golf meet for first time.

Detroit Lakes graduate Troy Linden is killed in Iraq. Joshua Hanson of Dent dies in Iraq.

DLHS graduate Kelly Heyer dies in plane crash.

Sucker Creek Preserve opens.

DL Superintendent Mark Adams is involved in an assault incident with Mark Rothschadl. After a mistrial and a change of venue, he is tried and found not guilty the following year.

Stu Omberg takes over for Arlen Kangas as CEO of Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center.

Joseph Duncan pleads guilty to three counts of murder and kidnapping in a plea agreement.

The new community band gives its first concert.

There is discussion about amateur baseball returning to Detroit Lakes.


Word comes that the Minnesota National Guard will stay in Iraq longer than planned.

The Humane Society of the Lakes opens its shelter doors.

A parking ramp is OKed in DL, but it never happens. Instead, the Berean Baptist Church is torn down and a parking lot goes in its place.

St. Mary's Regional Health and Dakota Clinic merge.

Prominent hog farmer Robert Briard is charged with first and second degree criminal sexual conduct charges. After two trials, he is ultimately found innocent of all charges.

The Becker County Courthouse expansion is started. It opens the following year.

Playhouse 412 disbands and Holmes Theatre takes over.

Menards opens in Detroit Lakes.

Highway 10 construction begins.

Frazee's Greg Riewer is killed in Iraq.

DL Police Department Captain Paul Goecke retires after 28 years of service.

Ogema man Chad Swedberg is found murdered. His friend Ken Andersen is later tried and found guilty of the murder.

DL moves forward with the new Tower Road industrial park.

White Earth breaks ground on a new tribal headquarters facility.

A train derails in Lake Park.

Callaway, Ogema and Waubun celebrate 100 years.

DL City Administrator Richard Grabow retires after 30 years. Former community developer Bob Louiseau is hired to replace him.

The DL Library Club celebrates 100 years.

The Freedom to Breathe Act goes into affect and indoor smoking is banned across the state.

County attorney Joe Evans is named district judge, and Mark Fritz takes his place as county attorney.

DL is awarded Capital for a Day accolades, which it celebrated in 2008, during the state's sesquicentennial.

The county approves the Veterans Memorial Highway.

After multiple attempts, Frazee-Vergas School District passes an operating levy.


Mitch Anderson is named elementary principal and superintendent at Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School.

Highway 10 opens to traffic.

Some residents battle to get the Frazee referendum reversed.

Five people are injured when a Shriner go-cart veers into the Northwest Water Carnival Parade crowd.

Wistead's Hardware Hank closes after 40 years in business.

Tow truck owner/operator Mike Smith is injured during set up for a disaster drill. One leg has to be amputated.

The courthouse addition opens.

The city battles flowering rush along the beach, and citizens host Crush the Rush and hand harvest portions of it.

The new White Earth powwow grounds open, as does the new community center.

St. Mary's Regional Health and Innovis Health merge to form St. Mary's Innovis Health.


Virginia Briard surrenders to authorities after failing to testify against her husband during his trial on first- and second-degree sexual conduct.

The charges have not yet been resolved. A state appeals panel is reviewing how the subpoenas were delivered.

Television goes digital.

Level 3 sex offender Robert Thomas Baca, who comes to DL briefly, is arrested in California for violating his parole.

A wind turbine is erected in Callaway.

The Detroit Lakes and Lake Park school districts pass levy referendums.

The Dave Matthews Band comes to 10,000 Lakes Festival, and at the end of the year, owners announce the concert is going on hiatus.

St. Mary's Innovis finishes up some construction and starts more, planning a campus with all of its entities, including EMS, in one area.

Community ed director Mark Greenig retires, and the city decides to cut its portion of community recreation. That portion is contracted through the DLCCC, and the school continues to run the community education portion of it.

The city also votes to discontinue lifeguards at the beach, and after months of debate, decides to staff the Lincoln Rink warming house.

In the midst of a nation-wide recession, building permits at the city plummet.

There's discussion of the Heartland Trail extending from Park Rapids to Moorhead.

The school districts and cities offer Instant Alert.

Two Detroit Lakes students set off Drano bombs in DL school and are charged.

White Earth discusses a new tribal constitution.

Area residents help with the Fargo area flooding. Some Becker County residents deal with their own water issues.

Parkfest, the community picnic, is born.

Frazee's Kay Bachman and her beaver skinning skills are featured on Kent Hrbek Outdoors.

United Way of Becker County celebrates 25 years.

Frazee's Gary's Furniture closes after 43 years.

The White Earth transit station, the train depot in DL, is finished but can't open due to unsettled property tax issues.

The Highway 10 overlook restoration project is completed.

DL and the BHSF railroad come to an agreement on the Whistle Free Zone.

Richwood Winery puts out its first 5,000 bottles of wine.

Father Jerry Rogers leaves Holy Rosary for Red Lake.

After being contested in Frazee, the state passes a new law that school operating levies cannot be taken away once the vote has passed.

Mahomen deputy Chris Dewey is shot and wounded while on duty. Daniel Verneir reaches a plea bargain, agreeing to testify against Thomas Fairbanks in the shooting.

A fourth of July crash kills four, and a DL man, Chad Eric Stewart, is charged in the crash. About a week later, a woman and her two children are killed in a one-vehicle accident. She is a relative of those who died in the July 4 accident.

The DL Waterfront project is approved.

DL Mayor Larry Buboltz retires and Matt Brenk is sworn in as his replacement.

Washington School is purchased for senior housing, and a portion of it is torn down.

Al Franken challenges Norm Coleman for his Senate seat. He claims that 61 votes from lost ballots in Becker County shouldn't be counted. Franken eventually wins the race.

Area agencies and schools benefit from federal stimulus monies.

The H1N1 flu panic hits the nation.

Judy Peterson retires as county coordinator on aging. She's been with the program since it started 12 years ago.

The Frazee Festival of Trees hosts it 14th and final year.

People gather from around the world to restore terminally ill Tyler Shipman's Fiero.

The county discusses purchasing Detroit Mountain.

MeritCare merges with Stanford and plans a $15 million renovation to the DL clinic.

DL and LP-A pass operating levies.

Cormorant schoolhouse, and now community center, celebrates 100 years.