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2018: Echo Journal Year in Review

Wayne "Wheaties" Wallin, longtime area sports writer, died in August. File photo.1 / 8
John Wallin (center) is surrounded by some of his family - daughter Julie Fritz (left), wife Carolee, grandson Ryan Fritz, son-in-law Robb Fritz and grandson Carter Fritz - outside Adirondack Coffee in Nisswa. FIle Photo 2 / 8
Crow Wing County buys the Pequot Lakes fire tower from the Department of Natural Resources. File Photo 3 / 8
Reid Pierzinski finished first in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 200-meter dash to win the team state title all by himself.4 / 8
Pine River-Backus senior Bailey Wynn is the Brainerd DIspatch's All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year. Brainerd Dispatch File Photo 5 / 8
From left are Kevin O'Hern, goldsmith, and Barb and Don Merritt, owners of Merritt Jewelers, at the downtown Pequot Lakes store. File Photo 6 / 8
Distinguished Service Award winner Jay Cline thanks those present for honoring him. File Photo 7 / 8
The new, $7.3 million Crosslake Community School opened in September. File Photo 8 / 8

As we prepare to ring in 2019, it's always fun to go back and see what made news throughout the past year in the lakes area.

Countless names and events made news in 2018, as documented in stories spread throughout the pages of the Echo Journal every week. Many highlights centered around our schools in Pequot Lakes and Pine River. Other newsmakers were honored in some way. And some made the news because their deaths left definite voids in our communities.

Find our month-by-month look back at the Echo Journal news-makers of 2018 on page A11. We hope you look forward to a healthy, happy and safe 2019. And we hope you continue to subscribe to the Echo Journal to read all about the newsmakers in 2019.

Happy New Year!

Following is a month-by-month look back at newsmakers published in Echo Journal stories throughout 2018. Enjoy!

JANUARY

• Eleven days of below-zero temperatures and wind chill warnings during the Christmas and New Year holidays make for a cold start to winter in the Brainerd lakes area.

• Cuyuna Regional Medical Center announces it will open a medical clinic on County State Aid Highway 11 in Breezy Point in the spring of 2019. The North Star Center development also will include a pharmacy, dental office and other medical-related facilities, gas station and convenience store. Whitebirch, Inc./Breezy Point Resort is the project developer.

• Pequot Lakes High School seniors Chelsea Skluzacek and Reid Pierzinski are nominated for the statewide Academics, Arts and Athletics (Triple "A") Award. Pierzinski advances to represent Subsection 24 as the male candidate in Section 6A.

• Pequot Lakes High School juniors Molly Johnson and Ben Golden are named Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (ExCEL) Award candidates.

FEBRUARY

• Pequot Lakes seventh-grader Erin Kempka wins the Pequot Lakes District Spelling Bee. Madeleine Hoag is runner-up.

• Alyssa Semmler scores her 1,000th career point Feb. 5 for Pine River-Backus in a win over the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines.

• Breezy Point hires Patrick Wussow as its city administrator, to succeed Joe Rudberg, who is retiring.

• After 14 seasons as head coach of the Pequot Lakes Patriots football team, Chip Lohmiller announces his retirement as coach.

• Pequot Lakes High School senior Grace McGuire represents the Brainerd Warriors at the state alpine ski meet.

• The Pequot Lakes School Board unanimously agrees to add clay target as a school-sponsored spring sport, beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

• Mary Jo (MJ) Schneider was chosen as the Ideal Community Service Organization's Volunteer of the Year for 2017 for her dedicated volunteerism as an ICSO board member and in other capacities.

• Tony Maucieri Sr., a longtime Crosslake resident who owned Maucieri's Italian Bistro and Echo Ridge Supper Club and who helped found the Crosslake St. Patrick's Day parade, died March 6 at age 80.

MARCH

• The Pequot Lakes High School robotics team wins the Medtronic Foundation Regional in Minneapolis, qualifying for the world championships in Detroit, Michigan.

• Four Future Problem Solving Program teams representing Forestview Middle School in Baxter and Nisswa Elementary School compete at the state competition and will represent Minnesota at the International Future Problem Solving Conference.

APRIL

• Molly Johnson, a Pequot Lakes High School junior, is crowned Miss Nisswa. Peyton Wicklund is first runner-up and Eloise Gitchell is Miss Congeniality. Little Miss Nisswa winners are Autumn Johnson, Kendra Lhotka and Isla Mattson.

• Ellie Smith, a Pine River-Backus High School junior, wins the Miss Pine River title. Fellow PR-B juniors winning titles are First Princess Shayna Moore, Second Princess Ally Anderson and Miss Congeniality Grace Rivers.

• Eagle View Elementary School third-grade teacher Sean Bengtson is named the Pequot Lakes Teacher of the Year.

• Pequot Lakes High School speech team members Savannah Ellison, Allie Miller, Ali Sommerness, Mollie Pierson and Sydney Ellison qualify for the Class A state speech tournament.

• Fred Boos, who managed Grand View Lodge from the early 1960s through 1986 with his wife, the late Mary Cote Boos, and brought championship golf to the lakes area by building The Pines golf course, dies April 13 at his home in Nisswa at age 84.

• Hailee Swenson, a Pequot Lakes junior, wins the Miss Pequot Lakes title. Junior Ashlynn Reynolds is Miss Pequot Lakes Princess, and junior Necole Lyons is Miss Congeniality. Their escorts are Presley Crawford, Amelia Reynolds and Cecilla Kinney.

MAY

• John Wallin, 76, is honored as the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce's 2018 Nisswa Citizen of the Year.

• Jay Cline receives the 39th annual Distinguished Service Award from the Pine River Chamber of Commerce.

• Six local teachers were among 49 Region 5 educators honored as National Joint Powers Alliance Educators of Excellence: Patty Durham, Crosslake Community School; Renee Barnaby, Eagle View Elementary School; Angie Klein, Pequot Lakes High School; Jana Lueck, Pequot Lakes Middle School; Melanie Lindquist, Pine River-Backus High School; and Nancy Meier, Pine River-Backus Elementary School.

• Jim Sherwood, Pine River native and longtime owner of The Treehouse nursery in Pequot Lakes and G&S Plants in Pine River, dies of prostate cancer at age 80.

JUNE

• After being known as Houston Ford for 77 years, the Pine River Ford dealership undergoes a name change to Kimber Creek Ford.

• Harold Kraus, longtime Nisswa mayor and city council member, dies June 8 at age 88.

• Pequot Lakes senior Reid Pierzinski makes Minnesota boys track and field history by winning three titles (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 200-meter dash) and capturing the Class 2A state team championship all by himself as the Patriots' only state competitor on the boys' side.

• The Pequot Lakes girls track team finishes third at the Class 2A state meet, and the 4x400 relay consisting of seniors Grace McGuire and Kristin Skog, freshman Lydia Hubbard and sophomore anchor Cassidy Chaney defends its state title.

• Pine River-Backus sophomore golfer Brady Raph places fourth at the state meet. PR-B sophomores Anna Felthous and Bella Netland finish 56th and 80th, respectively, at the class 1A state golf tournament.

• Merritt Jewelers, owned by Barb and Don Merritt Jr., is named the Pequot Lakes Business of the Year. The business, along with the Citizen of the Year and Volunteers of the Year will be honored at a community picnic during Bean Hole Days.

JULY

• Wayne Pryor and Arlene Tepfer are honored as Cass County Senior Citizens of the Year at the Cass County Fair in Pine River.

• Marion Linn III and his Blind Lake Cattle Co., rural Pine River, are named Farm Family of the Year at the Cass County Fair in Pine River. The family includes Linn's wife, Christina, and children, Cody, Bryant, Nikki and Brooke.

AUGUST

• After 71 years, a Pine River family business says farewell when Walt and Jeannette Silbaugh's daughter and son-in-law, Jackie and John Wetrosky, sell the family store that once housed Silbaugh's Department Store.

• Wayne "Wheaties" Wallin, a popular and longtime sports booster for the Pequot Lakes Patriots, dies Saturday, Aug. 11, at age 77 after battling cancer. An athlete at Pequot Lakes High School and for years afterward, Wheaties was a sports writer for the Lake Country Echo (Echo Journal) for many years.

• With only a handful of upperclassmen on the roster, Pine River-Backus High School doesn't field a varsity football team for the 2018 season.

• Crow Wing County Sheriff's Capt. Scott Goddard and Deputy Pat Pickar move on to the November general election to become sheriff after garnering the most votes in the August primary election, while Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang is out of the sheriff's race.

SEPTEMBER

• Crosslake Community School opens its new $7.3 million building to students and staff for the first day of school Sept. 4.

• Paul and Lynn Hunt, of Hunt Utilities Group and Happy Dancing Turtle, will receive the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce's Business Legacy Award for their work on the resilient living campus in Pine River.

• Dave Guenther, former Pequot Lakes High School art teacher and current Patriots track coach, is inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame.

• Jack Thomas, co-owner of Mann Lake LTD and co-founder of Paws and Claws Rescue and Resort, both in Hackensack, dies after battling brain cancer.

OCTOBER

• The Treehouse in Pequot Lakes closes its doors after nearly 30 years in business.

• Pequot Lakes junior Courtney Boller plays in the Class 1A state singles tennis tournament.

• Pequot Lakes gets a second bobber water tower. The Pillsbury Street water tower is more visible from the new four-lane Highway 371 than the original bobber tower downtown.

• Crow Wing County's purchase of the historic fire tower off County Road 11 in Pequot Lakes from the Department of Natural Resources for $1 is finalized. The county plans to restore and reopen the tower to the public.

NOVEMBER

• Election Day highlights: James Taylor voted Pequot Lakes mayor; Dave Nevin unseats Mayor Patty Norgaard in Crosslake; Mayor Kevin Egan wins re-election by two votes over challenger Don McFarland in Lake Shore; Linda Steffens unseats Tim Anick for mayor in Fifty Lakes; Manhattan Beach's mayoral race ends in a tie; longtime Pine River-Backus School Board member Garny Gaffey loses his seat; incumbents Brandon Andersen and Valarie Wallin lose their seats on the Pequot Lakes School Board; challenger Bill Brekken defeats incumbent Crow Wing County District 2 Commissioner Paul Thiede; Scott Goddard wins the Crow Wing County sheriff seat.

• Pequot Lakes seventh-graders Calia Chaney and Rian Zutter compete at the Class A state cross-country meet. Chaney finished 32nd and Zutter 90th.

• Incumbent Mayor Paul Allen retains his seat in Manhattan Beach by winning a high-card draw after he and challenger Kevin Larson each received 23 votes in the General Election.

• Jim Dullum, well-known Nisswa resident and downtown business owner, dies Nov. 17 at age 86.

• After working at the Pine River Public Library for 32 years, branch manager Muriel Erickson retires.

• Pequot Lakes High School juniors Mariah Rickard and Grant Kotaska represent Pequot Lakes as ExCEL - Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership - Award candidates for their leadership and involvement.

• Pine River-Backus senior Bailey Wynn is the Brainerd Dispatch's All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year.

DECEMBER

• The Pequot Lakes business community comes together to help a family in need with donations of money, goods and services.

• Homeless and Wounded Warriors Minnesota and the Crosslake-Fifty Lakes American Legion gather gifts for a family in need, as well as a car.

• The Christmas for Kids organization again makes Christmas brighter for many children and families across the lakes area. Students at Eagle View Elementary School and Pequot Lakes Middle School raise money to donate $3,320 worth of torys.

• The Black Bear 4-H Club celebrates 20 years.

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