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A year of crime, achievements

A rider is thrown from a bull shortly after jumping out of the gate Saturday, Sept. 9, during the bull riding at Moonshine Madness. (Jeff Beach / Osakis Reivew)1 / 10
Sisters Mackenzie, 12, and Kenessa, 10, Goodwin of Alexandria look under the hood of their uncle's 1970 Roadrunner at Roddin' Round the Lake. (Celeste Edenloff / Osakis Review) 2 / 10
A noxious weed, Palmer amaranth, was found in Todd County last fall. (Contributed) 3 / 10
Marjorie Swor, a regular volunteer with the Osakis Senior Club, was honored during the Douglas County Fair as one of two outstanding senior citizens. (Judd Martinson / Osakis Review)4 / 10
Adam Ciepielinski (Hawaiian shirt) helps his mom, Heidi, with the Plinko game at the Osakis Halloween Party. Adam watches as one contestant, Noah Wallace, 11, drops his chips into the game to try and win a prize. (Celeste Edenloff / Osakis Review)5 / 10
Runners in the Turkey Dash for Diabetes 5K take off near the O-Town Tavern on Thanksgiving morning. (Al Edenloff / Osakis Review)6 / 10
Shepherds in St. Agnes' Catch the Christmas Spirit program included (left to right) Jerrald Witt, Kaleb Helberg and Zackery Bruder. Isaac Ruegemer and Maggie Dirkes played the parts of Joseph and Mary, Michael Mathaler, the son of Tim and Tonya Marthaler, was Baby Jesus and Ellie Bock was an angel. (Al Edenloff / Osakis Review) 7 / 10
Austin Zarbok (left) and Adam Petrich act their parts in Stealing Home, the Osakis High School theater department's fall play. (Celeste Edenloff / Osakis Review) 8 / 10
Kris Chisholm (left), fundraising and event coordinator for the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties, joins volunteers in packing food items for Backpack Attack at the Osakis School Cafeteria on Sept. 27. (Al Edenloff / Osakis Review) 9 / 10
Homecoming King Shane Massmann and Queen Lauren Savageau take a lap around the gym after being crowned on Monday, Sept. 25. (Beth Leipholtz / Osakis Review)10 / 10

Osakis experienced a lot of ups and downs in the second half of 2017.

Several crime stories made news, many involving drugs and theft. A guilty verdict also came in on a Todd County murder case.

But there were also many achievements — an Osakis Red Cross worker received Volunteer of the Year recognition; a resident who recently moved here from China earned two national academic awards; the VFW Post brought home several awards at their state convention; an Osakis woman was selected as a Douglas County outstanding senior citizen; and Osakis students excelled on statewide tests.

And the year was spiced with fun — a lively car show, Moonshine Madness, homecoming, a Turkey Dash 5K and several holiday events.

Last week's Review covered January through June of 2017; here's a look at the final half of the year:

July

Bonnie Braun, a volunteer for the Central Minnesota Red Cross Chapter received the Volunteer of the Year — Disaster Preparedness Award.

Osakis was all revved up at the 26th annual Roddin' Round the Lake car show.

Lind-Rite Precision in Osakis was acquired by Talon Innovations Corporation in Sauk Rapids.

Vandals caused between $6,000 and $7,000 in damage to the Osakis Country Club.

The Tip Top Dairy Bar won WCCO-TV's "Viewers Choice" for Best Ice Cream Shop in Minnesota earlier this spring and people are still screaming for ice cream as summer warms up.

Just three years after moving from China to Osakis, Merry Kalpin won two national academic awards — first place in college accounting and second place in prepared speech at the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Curtis Waldvogel, whose house was searched during an investigation into business theft allegations against his wife, was sentenced on a felony drug charge while a credit card fraud charge was dropped. He will not have to serve jail time if he obeys the conditions of his probation.

At its state convention,VFW Post 7902 came home with second-place awards for youth activities, safety and community service record book, and first place awards for most outstanding community service post and achieving 36 consecutive years of membership growth.

August

The Owl Books and Brew opened in Osakis. Owner Heather Neal, who used to work at the

Douglas County Library, started the store.

Craig Williams, who was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the August 2013 death of his ex-wife, Nancy Williams, earlier this year, recently filed a notice of appeal.

Jason Maloney of Clarissa was sentenced to 28 months in prison for burglarizing a house in Nelson and 13 months in prison for trying to elude officers during a chase in Alexandria last February.

Jose Raul Herrera-Torres, who is accused of using a knife to kill his girlfriend in their Long Prairie home on July 27, was charged with second-degree murder.

All four elected Douglas County officials — attorney, recorder, auditor/treasurer and sheriff — will see a salary increase next year, ranging from 2 to 2.9 percent.

The front page of the Aug. 16 Review was blank, except for the words, "Imagine Osakis Without Local News." More than 200 newspapers in the state participated in the "white out" effort to show the importance of local news coverage.

Kurt Haakinson, who has served as the Osakis Public Works director since 2012, resigned to take a position with Minnesota Rural Water Association, based out of Elbow Lake.

Marjorie Swor of Osakis will be honored at the Douglas County Fair as an outstanding senior citizen. She's active in Lutheran World Relief, the Osakis Lutheran Church, community center work, and many other volunteer duties that help others.

An Osakis couple, Jessica and Dustin Wagner, face felony charges for allegedly leaving methamphetamine paraphernalia in the home they share with their three young children.

The Osakis Liquor Store had a very profitable July, partly due to Sunday hours that began on July 2. After adjustments for the inventory increase and the purchase of a new compressor, the store turned a profit of $31,320 for the month.

Robert Radtke of Osakis was charged with three felonies for allegedly possessing stolen property, damaging property and possessing meth.

The public access on Lake Osakis closed on Sept. 5 for several weeks to allow for reconstruction.

A feature story highlighted Gordo Berthiaume, 78, of Osakis who still enjoys adventure. He ziplined the Royal Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River.

September

An event will be missing from this year's Moonshine Madness — Quilts Along the Trail. Its founder, Carol Mihalchick, passed away in January after a long battle with cancer.

Nikki Colleen Gillespie was accused of taking money from the Subway sandwich shop she was managing in Osakis. She was charged with felony theft.

Kristy Ann Heuchert woman was sentenced to 180 days in jail after she pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor theft charge — taking money from AJ's Restaurant in Osakis.

The Osakis City Council voted to bond for $360,000 to help pay for the 2017 downtown improvement project.

Moonshine Madness was a day filled with fun and frolic for all ages in Osakis. A Kids Mad Dash Color Run kicked off the event in the morning.

Osakis students did well on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. Their scores way outdistanced the state average in reading, math and science.

Osakis was all fired up for homecoming. A full week of events began with the coronation of King Shane Massmann and Queen Lauren Savageau.

The Douglas County Board set its preliminary levy at $27 million, a 3.96 percent increase from 2017.

Enrollment at the Osakis Public Schools on the first day of classes totaled 813 students, which is just five less than the opening day 2016-17 figure of 818.

October

At a special meeting, Osakis School Board members approved a maximum tax levy of $1,695,474.

Volunteers helped hungry kids by packing bags full of food, 750 in total, for Backpack Attack, a program of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties.

A feature story about American Red Cross workers providing relief to the victims of hurricanes in Texas and Florida included the work of Kathy Johnson of Osakis.

Four Osakis residents were charged with felony crimes involving methamphetamine or other drugs. The suspects were Matthew Hjelm, Stephanie Karnes, Tylor Ebel and Ingrid Stanley.

Citizens are pushing for action on an item that's remaining from the 2016 downtown project — the relocation of the decorative four-sided clock in the downtown area.

Osakis firefighters educated families at an open house during Fire Prevention Week. This year's theme: "Every second counts: Plan two ways out!"

Stan Moore, who was hired as the school district's technology integrationist, introduced School Board members to the new touchscreen Chromebooks and Google Cardboard technology.

A noxious weed — Palmer amaranth — has invaded Todd County. The Minnesota Department

of Agriculture confirmed the infestation in a conservation planting.

November

Osakis theater students drew laughter and applause when they performed their fall play, Stealing Home.

An effort to improve the water quality on Lake Osakis received a $300,000 boost. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency awarded the grant to the Todd County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Osakis Halloween Party drew a large crowd again this year. An estimated 350 kids attended the annual event.

Students, residents and veterans gathered in the Osakis High School Auditorium for Veterans Day. Pastor Randy Knuth noted that every foundational freedom of American citizens is there because of the sacrifice of soldiers.

Shelly Engfer-Triebenbach of Osakis has been increasing awareness about lung cancer for

the past four years. She'll be hosting Painting for a Cause and Silent Auction, a Shine a Light Lung Cancer Alliance fundraiser.

The World's Best Workforce Report for the 2016-17 school year was presented to the Osakis School Board by Principals Shad Schmidt and Tim Roggenbuck.

Two events took place in Osakis on Thanksgiving — a free dinner at First Presbyterian Church and a Turkey Dash for Diabetes 5K that began downtown.

The Osakis School District received a clean audit report from Mary Reedy of Clifton Larson Allen LLP.

December

The Osakis Mitten Tree program brought Christmas cheer to the area. Sponsored by the Osakis Women's Association, the program collects gifts donated by the community and gives them to those who need them.

A former general manager of the Osakis Creamery Association was ordered to serve 60 days in jail and pay $32,269 in restitution. Denise Waldvogel pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge of taking movable property without consent.

Minnesota State FFA Reporter Elena DeMuth of Grand Rapids made an official FFA Chapter visit to Osakis. She facilitated workshops in the eighth grade agriculture and wildlife management classes.

Students from the Osakis Public School's Leadership Group got into the Christmas spirit by

helping decorate trees at Galeon.

A new spray-tanning business, There She Glows, opened in the Lillian Building in Osakis. Lori Rasmusen, a 2003 Osakis graduate, is the owner.

A Todd County jury found Jose Raul Herrera-Torres of Long Prairie guilty of intentional second-degree murder of his girlfriend, Dominga Mejia Guerrero. They didn't believe his claim that he acted in self-defense.

The Douglas County Board approved a final levy increase of 1.8 percent for 2018 — 2.2 percent less than the preliminary levy it approved in September.

St. Agnes students brought the Christmas Bible story back to life with their play, Catch the Christmas Spirit.

The Osakis City Council approved a property tax levy increase of 9.4 percent for 2018.

Recently compiled numbers show that first-day enrollment in Osakis High School for 2017

was 396.

Christmas songs, favorite classics and new renditions filled the Osakis Fine Arts Auditorium

when the Osakis High School Music Department presented its Winter Band Concert.

A new recycling option for food waste may soon be available for Osakis residents — the Green Bag Organix Curbside Program.

The maximum allowable tax levy for the Osakis School District for 2018 was certified at $1,695,474, an increase of 3.27 percent from this year.

Osakis joined communities throughout the nation on Dec. 16 by placing wreaths on veterans' graves in three cemeries as part of Wreaths Across America Day.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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