Each year, the Brainerd Dispatch newsroom votes on its Top 10 local stories covered throughout the previous 12 months.
Needless to say, 2020 was the year marked by COVID-19, and very few stories we’ve covered since March were untouched by the coronavirus. Its effect has resulted in many changes — some good, some bad — that will no doubt have a long-lasting impact on the Brainerd lakes area.
Below is the list of our Top 10 stories from 2020 that can be found throughout the pages of this edition of the Brainerd Dispatch.
No. 1 — COVID-19 and its impact on the Brainerd lakes area. Life seemed to change in an instant in the middle of March after the global pandemic hit, a national emergency was declared, businesses were ordered shut, events were canceled and schools closed.
No 2 — Local elections. Absentee and mail-in voting surged because of the pandemic, with record voting turnouts reported. While there were few surprises locally, write-in challengers for Crow Wing County Board and Baxter City Council made pushes to win seats.
No. 3 — The impact of George Floyd’s murder reaches Brainerd lakes area. George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer resulted in mass protests and counter protests throughout the country, and Brainerd was no exception.
No. 4 — Nisswa mayor arrested. The city of Nisswa received national attention after its mayor, Fred Heidmann, was arrested after a profanity-laced tirade against two police officers.
No. 5 — Brainerd Dispatch reduces print days. For the first time in 137 years, on July 16 the printing presses at the Brainerd Dispatch didn’t roll out the daily newspaper. Earlier in the year, the Dispatch announced it would reduce its print days from six to two in an effort to offset financial losses brought to a head by the coronavirus pandemic.
No. 6. — Leadership changes. Several area community leaders left their position in 2020.
No. 7. — Second Amendment resolution at Crow Wing County Board. A push to make Crow Wing County a Second Amendment sanctuary turned out differently than proponents hoped.
No. 8. — East Gull Lake helicopter controversy. Whether to permit the installation of a helicopter landing area at a private residence dominated East Gull Lake government for several months.
No. 9 — Fate of historic water tower gets deadline extension. Brainerd historic water tower, scheduled to be demolished unless plans were developed and funds were raised to save it, was given a reprieve from being demolished.
No. 10. — Brainerd building projects. A couple fires aside, work continued on city of Brainerd and Brainerd Public Schools projects.