Top 10 news stories of 2013

Authorities find body of Danielle Jelinek

  Danielle Jelinek


Danielle Jelinek

The body of Danielle Jelinek, the 27-year-old Oakdale woman who disappeared from a Chisago Lake Township residence Dec. 8, 2012, was recovered May 10 in a small lake just west of Kodiak Avenue and 261st Street.

The lake was just a few hundred yards from the residence, which is owned by 28-year-old Aaron Jude Schnagl, who was an acquaintance of Jelinek’s.

Schnagl has denied any involvement in Jelinek’s death, but he was indicted last month on third-degree murder (unintentional murder) in her death.

The indictment for third-degree murder means the grand jury determined there is probable cause to believe Schnagl provided a controlled substance to Jelinek, which was the proximate cause of her death.

Details of the investigation into Schnagl’s possible involvement in Jelinek’s death are not public at this time.

Schnagl has been in custody since Jelinek’s disappearance last December and has been serving a prison sentence on drug charges.

NB council votes no on police contracting

North Branch residents showed up at multiple council meetings to show their support of the city’s police department.

North Branch residents showed up at multiple council meetings to show their support of the city’s police department.

As a potential way to pare down the North Branch city debt load, the city’s council in the spring began looking into the feasibility of disbanding its police department and contracting for services with the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office.

The decision to consider the disbandment and contracting was was not popular with residents.

Sheriff Rick Duncan told the council the cost to contract with the county was about $953,000 a year, which would save the city about $138,000.

Citizens began showing up at meetings en masseforce to show their support for the city’s police.

On numerous lawns in the city, “We stand with NBPD” signs could be seen even after the council made a unanimous decision June 10 to stop researching contracting.

Longtime NBAHS French teacher dies after battle with cancer

Andrea Grote pictured before her death at the May 3 production of “Detention Debut” at North Branch Area High School. Grote had organized the program for more than a decade. This year, her battle with cancer made that directing role an impossibility. At the end of the show, school staff, wearing green “Team Madame” shirts that had been made for the occasion, sang “Lean on Me” to show support to their struggling friend and colleague.

Andrea Grote pictured before her death at the May 3 production of “Detention Debut” at North Branch Area High School. Grote had organized the program for more than a decade. This year, her battle with cancer made that directing role an impossibility. At the end of the show, school staff, wearing green “Team Madame” shirts that had been made for the occasion, sang “Lean on Me” to show support to their struggling friend and colleague.

After an 18-month battle with cancer, longtime North Branch Area High School French teacher Andrea Grote died of cancer May 22. She was 47.

Colleagues and former students of Grote’s mourned her loss with an impressive outpouring of support for the Grote family.

During her funeral service at North Branch Area High School May 24, hundreds of people came for hours to pay their respects.

Grote leaves behind her husband, Kevin Grote — North Branch Area Middle School science teacher and the city’s fire chief — and two children, son Kyle and daughter Kallie.

Rescue in Rush City

Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan presents Citizen’s Lifesaving Award plaques to, from left, Michael Carroll, Robert Johnson, Michael Locher and Jeff Haugrud during an awards ceremony Sept. 17 at Funeral and Cremation Service-Olson Chapel in Rush City. In back right is Corey Sucky, whose life was saved by the four men.

Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan presents Citizen’s Lifesaving Award plaques to, from left, Michael Carroll, Robert Johnson, Michael Locher and Jeff Haugrud during an awards ceremony Sept. 17 at Funeral and Cremation Service-Olson Chapel in Rush City. In back right is Corey Sucky, whose life was saved by the four men.

Four local men were awarded for their quick actions and assistance that saved a life in Rush City last July.

Michael Locher, Jeff Haugrud, Robert Johnson and Michael Carroll received the Citizen’s Lifesaving Award from the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office during a ceremony Sept. 17 near the scene of the heroic act at Funeral and Cremation Service-Olson Chapel.

Also present were 23-year-old Corey Sucky, the man whose life was saved, along with his girlfriend and other loved ones.

Around 11:30 a.m. July 23, Sucky was attempting to change a tire on a minivan at his residence across from Auto Value in the 100 block of West Fourth Street, just west of Forest Boulevard, in downtown Rush City. As he tried to remove the spare tire, the van fell off the jack and pinned him under the vehicle, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Haugrud, owner of Auto Value, had been working in his store at the time when a customer alerted him to the accident and to call 911. Several calls were made, thanks in part to people driving by with cellphones, Haugrud recalled, before he and employee Johnson quickly responded across the street.

Within seconds, Locher, who had been pumping gas at a nearby gas station on his lunch break, also rushed to the scene along with Carroll, owner of the Olson Chapel funeral home.

Once there, Haugrud, Johnson and Locher lifted up the back of the van “just enough,” Haugrud recalled, as Carroll pulled the man out.

Following the rescue, Sucky was transported by ambulance to the hospital, and except for some bruising on his head and chest, he was uninjured. He was released the next day.

NB superintendent recommends going back to five-day school week

North Branch Area Public Schools superintendent Deb Henton recommended the district go back to a five-day school week during the July 11 school board meeting.

North Branch Area Public Schools superintendent Deb Henton recommended the district go back to a five-day school week during the July 11 school board meeting.

As a result of the State Legislature’s decision to give school boards more authority to levy money from taxpayers, North Branch Area Public Schools Superintendent Deb Henton recommended the district go back to a five-day school week during the board’s July 11 meeting.

The changes made by the Legislature to the school funding formula allow for the district to levy an additional $300 per pupil unit and possibly combine that with another $212 per pupil unit in what was dubbed a “location equity index.”

The board made the decision to accept the max of $512 per pupil unit at its Dec. 12 meeting by a 3-2 vote.

The district has already been approved for another four-day school week for this year, so the change back to the five-day week likely wouldn’t come until the 2014-15 school year.

Rush City hosts all-school reunion

All- school reunion committee member and RCHS 1981 grad Scott Friday surprises 98-year-old Lucille Ekstrand, the most senior of the alumnius who attended the reunion, with flowers during the Aug. 16 salad luncheon at St. John’s Lutheran. She graduated from Rush City High in 1932.

All- school reunion committee member and RCHS 1981 grad Scott Friday surprises 98-year-old Lucille Ekstrand, the most senior of the alumnius who attended the reunion, with flowers during the Aug. 16 salad luncheon at St. John’s Lutheran. She graduated from Rush City High in 1932.

For the first time in about a decade, Rush City hosted an all-school reunion.

The event proved to be popular for graduates of years gone by and even for those who didn’t attend Rush City Schools.

A number of now well-known people have graduated from Rush City High School, including Ruth Robinson Duccini, one of the last surviving Munchkins from “Tthe Wizard of Oz,” and Lonnie Hammargren, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and former lieutenant governor of Nevada.

The Rush City High School All School Reunion and the Rush City Chamber Music and Art Festival coexisted in fine fashion Aug. 16-17. While numerous classes reunited for either lunch or social time at local eateries and the high school, the music and art festival was moved from the city park to the fairgrounds.

Woman robs Stacy bank

The woman who robbed First State Bank of Wyoming in Stacy made sure to disguise herself.

The woman who robbed First State Bank of Wyoming in Stacy made sure to disguise herself.

A petite woman wearing black clothing, sunglasses and a black scarf robbed the Stacy branch of First State Bank of Wyoming Aug. 22.

The woman presented a note to a teller that demanded money and threatened that the woman would use a weapon if the teller did not comply, according to the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The FBI eventually caught up with the 23-year-old woman and arrested her Sept. 9 in Roseville.

She is believed responsible for the following bank robberies:

•Klein Bank, Cologne, Minn., on Aug. 15.

•First State Bank of Wyoming, Stacy, Minn., on Aug. 22.

•TCF Bank, Forest Lake, Minn., on Sept. 1.

•First State Bank & Trust, Hudson, Wis., on Sept. 5.

•Dairy State Bank, Menomonie, Wis., on Sept. 9.

RC renames avenue in honor of Dennis Frandsen

Rush City Mayor Dan Dahlberg, right, presents Dennis Frandsen with a ceremonial Frandsen Avenue sign at the Dec. 2 ceremony at City Hall.

Rush City Mayor Dan Dahlberg, right, presents Dennis Frandsen with a ceremonial Frandsen Avenue sign at the Dec. 2 ceremony at City Hall.

The Rush City Council honored Dennis Kirk Frandsen, longtime Rush City entrepreneur, at a Dec. 2 City Hall ceremony.

Some of the ways Frandsen has impacted the community include donating the original Plastech building to the city for a library and community center, donating portions of Kinger’s Mall to the Rush City Schools and Family Resources, donating 117 acres on the north end of Rush Lake to Chisago County for a park, building tennis courts, building a townhome complex for seniors, donating to the Rush City Regional Airport and Rush City Community Center and many other charitable contributions too numerous to mention.

In 1953, Frandsen began his connection with Rush City by purchasing 200 acres of virgin timber in the area for his logging company and relocating the business to Rush City.

As a token of the city’s gratitude to Frandsen, Mayor Dan Dahlberg officially renamed Rush City’s Field Avenue to Frandsen Avenue at the ceremony.

Salo resigns from NBAPS School Board

Kim Salo

Kim Salo

Kim Salo, NBAPS School Board chairperson, told the board at its Nov. 14 meeting it was with “mixed emotions” that she has decided to resign from her post on the board.

Her resignation was effective Dec. 31.

Salo said it was a decision made with “careful thought and consideration.”

She cited a desire to spend more time with her family and focus more on her business as the reasons why she was resigning from the board.

She served on the board for North Branch Area Public Schools for 14 years.

The board decided to use an appointment process to fill the vacancy created by the Salo resignation. The school board will consider candidates at the Jan. 9 meeting.

MaryHelen Swanson receives NB Lions 2013 Community Service Award

Swanson pictured with 5M7 District Governor Lion Paul Hanson (left) and North Branch Lions President Chris Thoma.

Swanson pictured with 5M7 District Governor Lion Paul Hanson (left) and North Branch Lions President Chris Thoma.

The North Branch Lions awarded MaryHelen Swanson with its prestigious Community Service Award during its Governor’s Night, complete with dinner and awards banquet, March 12 at the Legion Hall in downtown North Branch. She is the 11th recipient of the award.

Swanson is the former editor of the Post Review; she served in that capacity at the paper from 1999-2012.

Before her time as editor, she was a reporter at the Isanti County News for about 14 years.

The Lions recognized her for the award because of her dedication to the North Branch community and surrounding areas.

She worked to convey the importance of the Lions Club and other volunteer organizations in the communities of Chisago County.

 

 

 

 

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