The first month of 2012 was unseasonably warm and left area lakes in no shape for the large influx of visitors for Celebration of Lakes ...activities were re-located to Ki-Chi-Saga County Park and various other landbased venues....Loretta Anderson served as 2012 Community Ambassador. Hardiness zones used as a guideline by gardeners and landscapers were revised in 2012 for the first time since 1990. Ordinarily anything you plant in this area has to be hardy down to zones 3 and 4 if expected to live. But Zone 5 crept northward under the new guidelines, up into the Twin Cities metro area, and some zone 5 plants are even doing okay in Chisago County. Master Gardeners still recommend planting stock rated at least to withstand the winters of a zone 4. The church in Almelund Immanuel Lutheran celebrated its 150th year all throughout 2012.... In January the USDA starts conversations about closing the FSA office in North Branch. Following public input, the office does close a few months later. It’s part of a cost-shaving consolidation measure within Farm Services Agency.
In January longtime area Pastor Russell Peterson passes away.... February 2012 The Chisago Lakes Area loses its popular librarian Carla Lydon, who takes a job in administration with the regional library system, and Parmly’s LifePointes senior campus Director Mary Cordts leaves for a job out west. The Republicans hold their county caucus for the start of a very long election season and in Chisago County the GOP handily selects Rick Santorum. Next behind Santorum in caucus results was Ron Paul. Mitt Romney was at the bottom with Newt Gingrich. Local service provider Grandstrand Funeral Home acquires the Edling Funeral Home, St. Croix Falls. The month of February officially starts the Chisago City Fire Department’s 100th aniversary, which is marked by various events like the return of the refurbished fire bell and a street dance later in the year. Chisago City Council member and former township supervisor Larry Parker dies on Feb. 24. Redistricting gets underway in earnest; based on the 2010 census population totals Districts 1 and 5 are the most out-of-balance. All five commissioner districts are affected in the district territory re-drawing effort though and all five county commissioners will run come November. The terms are now four years for commissioners holding office in districts 5, 2 and 3 and two year terms are given to districts 1 and 4. The North Branch and Chisago Lakes high school student AAA winners are announced. (See photo) In March, Chisago Lake Township residents okay the plan to build a new township hall complex. The township later moves ahead on a new maintenance shop at its land off 316th, but the new town hall building project awaits the sale of the existing site on Hwy. 8. The ice-out date for 2012, as provided by the Fredell family, which has been recording Chisago Chain of Lakes ice-out for decades-- is a record breaker. The earliest ice out before this year was March 24 in 2000. The ice out for 2012 is March 19.
April 2012 April marks the start of the construction project bringing one-way pairs to Lindstrom. The brick NABPCO auto parts building in the path of the new road design is razed, see photo. Gammelgarden in Scandia announces the start of its 40th anniversary year. The state department of corrections taps a former Rush City Prison Warden, Terry Carlson (from about 2007) as a deputy Commmissioner for the DOC. The local Audubon chapter petitions the state to halt application of iron filings in Rush Lake until an environmental assessment is completed. The matter is eventually heard and the petition for an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) is denied. The Citizens Board at the PCA rules that the iron filings experiment falls under an exemption from EAW mandates because it is research-based. The iron filings are being applied to help clarity of the water by reducing plant growth, through binding with phosphorus nutrients. May 2012 brings an announcement that Lakes Region has won a national honor from the American Ambulance Association. Two EMS staff members-- Ben Waslund and Jon England share the award for their community outreach and programs. Chisago Lakes high school’s Super Mileage Team does exceptionally well at the Brainerd Raceway test track competition. Running its special student-built ethanol fuel car against 60 other teams, the Super Mileage group comes in second. June 2012 The trial begins in the matter of a baby’s death in January 2011, that authorities say was the result of improper activity in a local home daycare.
The defense presents testimony, however, that the infant Brooke Kowarsch suffered a stroke or similar medical condition. The daycare provider, Salli Schultz, Center City, is acquitted by the jury. The county and local police and workers in emergency response celebrate the opening of the new dispatch and communications center. Construction for the brick arches for the area’s only outdoor public fresco artwork begins in Stacy. Artist Mark Balma will work during one of the hottest summers in a long time, to complete the three panel installation at St. John’s in Stacy. (See photo.) The Karl Oskar Days Queen is Haley Gajeski, who reigns during the special 50th anniversary of K.O. Days in Lindstrom. North Branch also celebrates its MidSummer Days. Ambassadors are chosen in place of “royalty” and they are Jessica Wicklund, Lydia Olund and Sydney Hylland. Area law enforcement get recognized for performing above and beyond when it comes to outreach to local youth-- with the Jim Trudeau Award that covers Chisago and Washington County. (Trudeau is a retired Washington County sheriff) This year’s winners are Scott Dexter and Rachel Columbus of the Wyoming Police Dept. In July there’s a hold-up at knifepoint at Lake Area Bank in Lindstrom. John Manthey, 64, is immediately apprehended and indicted later by the U.S. Attorney.
He is still held and awaits sentencing. Nobody was hurt in the incident. Members of the SWAT Team (special weapons and training)in the county compete at the CanAm Police and Fire Games in St. Cloud. Facing off against 30 other agencies the Chisago County group takes second place in overall honors. The first-ever wolf season is announced by the state DNR and the north part of the county is in one of the zones. The hunt allows for just 18 wolves to be killed in this season...there’s a 400 animal harvest limit statewide. August 2012 The Press starts following the removal and replacement of the histroic Kost Dam span in Sunrise Township. The old bridge is taken out at the end of July and in August some headway starts to be made on the new concrete span. The project is ot completed until the first part of December. Wolf Creek on-line Charter School celebrates its 10 year anniversary by planting trees on the campus in Chisago City. Well-know local coach and North Branch teacher Mike Lizotte dies August 30. In September the county’s Conservationists of the Year are announced, Lorie and Irv Stolp. The Homecoming festivities for Chisago Lakes get underway, the King and Queen are Lilly Nyquist and Hunter Haas. North Branch is next to mark Homecoming, the king and queen for the Vikings are Mikayla Hensch and Alex Parks. October brings a conclusion to a state investigation into an officer-involved shooting in the summer. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension sends its independent findings on to County Attorney Janet Reiter.
By the end of 2012 the potential for charges to be pursued in connection with the incident, is still under review. Robert Aho, 46, was shot in July when authorities responded to a call to his home in North Branch alleging Aho was a threat to family members. Aho was fatally wounded by shots fired by a deputy when Aho was spotted outside the house, carrying two weapons reportedly aimed at responding officers. Lindstrom City officials see the installation of solar panels at city hall, public works and the municipal liquor store. The DNR issues a call for people to conserve water resources whenever posisble, the lengthy drought conditions are beginning to escalate. November brings elections and in 2012 the results were all over the map...the voters ousted GOP Congressman Chip Cravaack after one term and seated Rick Nolan in the U.S. House for the 8th Congressional District. In St. Paul, though, the representation for this county stays firmly Republican with incumbents Rep. Bob Barrett and Senator Sean Nienow being returned to office. Also-- Bob Dettmer is now representing a southern-eastern chunk of Chisago County in a newly-drawn Hoouse district and Karin Housely is the senator. In the northwest part of Chisago County Brian Johnson serves as Representative now in a newly-drawn district that had no incumbent. All the incumbent county commissioners are re-elected. Chisago Lakes School District Supt. Mike McLoughlin announces his retirement at the end of this school year. The controversial sand processing plant in North Branch goes under the public spotlight when the company seeks an air quality permit from the state in order to operate the facility. (Update story is in this paper.) Highway 8 in Lindstrom re-opens with one-way pairs now functioning. There’s remaining work to be done in spring 2013 like landscaping, etc. Taylors Falls Lighting Festival names 10 royal ladies who share the honor in 2012. They are the Civic League, which is folding after 100 years. See photo on page 2.