The year 2019 will be remembered fondly by many Osakis area residents.

It was a year of good attendance at fun community events, successful fundraisers, new businesses opening their doors, and shining accomplishments from students, both academically and athletically.

Here’s a look back at what made news during the first half of 2019. (The second half of the year will be in the Jan. 8 issue.)

January

Osakis native Leif Enger released his long-awaited third novel, “Virgil Wander.” It’s been 10 years since Enger last published a novel, the best-selling “So Brave, Young, and Handsome,” and 17 years since his first novel, “Peace Like a River,” charmed reviewers from coast-to-coast.

The Catholic Schools Raffle returned to St. Agnes School in Osakis. The fundraiser gives residents the chance to turn a $5 ticket into a brand new car or $20,000 in cash while supporting the local Catholic school.

A “Soup and Sandwich Meal” was organized to help hungry students. It raised money for the Osakis Hunger Coalition and the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties’ Backpack Attack program.

Eighth-grader Isaac Maddock won the Osakis Spelling Bee after battling another finalist, Larissa Hoffarth, through 16 rounds. Maddock correctly spelled “garbanzo” and “couriers” to win the trophy.

From a list of 65 possibilities, the Osakis City Council members decided the name of the downtown vacant lot at the corner of Central Avenue and Main Street West – “Central Park.”

At the Osakis School Board’s reorganizational meeting, Chris George, who was elected to the board at the Nov. 6, 2018 election, was sworn into office, along with incumbents, Becky Hensley and Greg Faber.

A feature story highlighted the First Presbyterian Church’s Friendship Table Meal. The meals are open to everyone and are served free, with donations accepted, on most months.

Osakis farmer Tom Williamson has inducted into the Minnesota Corn Growers Association’s Recruiter Hall of Fame. He recruited more than 400 members into the association.

February

The Osakis Fire Department, along with 72 other departments in the state, received grant money to purchase mechanical turnout gear washers and/or dryers. The department has an older style washing machine to clean the gear, but those types of machines just don't cut it anymore.

A front-page story highlighted the efforts of Osakis Police Chief Chad Gulbranson, off-duty Officer Allyssa Engfer and Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Asfeld who rescued a bald eagle that was badly injured in a mid-air collision with another eagle.

Akealy Moton, the granddaughter of Randy and Barb Neumann of Osakis, was featured in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Moton switched sports from basketball at the University of North Dakota to the Bison women’s track and field team at North Dakota State University where she found big success.

A first-ever Valentine’s Date Father/Daughter Dance in Osakis was a hit with about 130 people (65 couples) attending. The dance, put on by the Close Up students, was a fundraiser to help pay for their trip to Washington, D.C.

Alexandria Industries' 13th annual "Fishing for the Cure" ice fishing tournament on Smith Lake near Osakis drew 1,231 anglers to the ice, including 208 children. The event raises money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Organizers hoped to raise $100,000 this year.

March

Seventeen teams of eighth-grade students from eight area schools — including Osakis — competed in a Fluid Power Action Challenge at Alexandria Technical and Community College. The students had to construct a prototype, powered by fluid, that was capable of picking up blocks and moving them.

Fifth and sixth-grade students at St. Agnes School traveled to Aitkin County to the Long Lake Conservation Center for three days and two nights to explore the outdoors, connect to nature and learn survival skills.

A $1,000 cash reward was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for a drive-by shooting in Osakis March 5. No one was injured in the incident.

The Osakis City Council officially hired Maureen “Reenie” Goodwin as the Osakis Liquor Store manager.

A rescheduling of the St. Agnes Carnival due to the weather didn’t hinder its success. An estimated 500 to 600 people attended about $8,000 was raised.

After more than 20 years in the Osakis School District, Tim Roggenbuck, high school principal, is retiring. Superintendent Randy Bergquist, along with the school board members, all thanked Roggenbuck for his years of service.

Osakis firefighters battled a house fire on March 11 that caused an estimated $200,000 in damage. They were called to Karla Edenloff’s home at 12603 170th Street, Osakis in Todd County and found smoke and fire on the roof. No one was injured.

Two Scouts from Osakis Troop 426, Matt Ramey and Jason Wiggins, soared to the challenge of becoming Eagle Scouts. For his Eagle service project, Ramey led an effort to install a new flag pole at Park Osagi in Osakis. Wiggins made major improvements to the east entry way of Osakis Lutheran Church.

The old lumber yard building in Osakis, which stood vacant for years, is being transformed into a business plaza that could house a variety of commercial uses. Marc Moen, owner of Alexandria Auction Service, purchased the 10,000 square foot building and updated and remodeled it.

April

Glenwood Police Officer Cody Rupert, a graduate of Osakis High School, was honored for saving a man’s life in an apartment fire. Disregarding the thick smoke, Rupert entered the burning apartment, grabbed the man from the floor and pulled him out into the entryway.

The Todd County Corn and Soybean Growers came to the rescue of American soldiers serving in Iraq by donating soy-based lip balm.

Two Osakis sisters, Hannah Schad, a 2012 Osakis graduate, and Holly, a 2014 graduate, opened a new shop, Empower Nutrition. They serve up Herbalife shakes, teas, coffee and more.

Osakis Public School fourth-graders portrayed Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and dozens of other historical figures at the annual Wax Museum. Sixty-four students participated.

Osakis City Council received a “clean and unmodified” audit, the highest review that can be given for an audit.

The hallways of Early Childhood Family Education in Osakis were rockin’ and rollin’ on April 9 for the ECFE Family Fun Dance.

Serving numbers are up for the Osakis Public School’s food service program. Breakfast is served to between 75-90 students per day, up from 45-50 previously, and lunch numbers are up about 100 over last year.

The Pollard Community Center was hopping with activity as nearly 200 kids enjoyed Osakis Easter Day. The event was put on by the Osakis Fire Department Auxiliary.

May

The Osakis High School Prom was a dreamy one, which was fitting for the theme of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” A total of 102 prom-goers, wearing elegant dresses or dapper suits, participated in the Grand March.

Osakis School Board voted 6-0 to hire Brad Hoffarth as the high school principal next fall. He is the activities director and science teacher at the school.

The ice officially left Lake Osakis on April 24 – five days later than the lake’s median ice-out.

A vacant, hazardous structure known as the “rat house” in Osakis was burned down. The Osakis Fire Department used the house as a controlled burn exercise.

Osakis students showcased their artistic, acting, singing and musical abilities on May 2 for “Starry Starry Night” – a collaboration featuring short plays, instrumental solos, vocal solos, ensembles and the jazz band.

Osakis High School came close to posting a perfect 100 percent graduation rate. The state listed 53 graduates at the school in 2018, with one drop-out, making for a 98.1 percent graduation rate.

A close incident with a near drowning while lifeguarding piqued Elizabeth Pahl's interested in becoming an emergency medical technician. A senior at Osakis High School, Pahl recently became a first responder with the Osakis Emergency Medical Response crew.

Fifth and sixth-grade students at St. Agnes School were busy helping the earth May 17. They filled hundreds of bags of compost and sold them to residents who wanted to use them in their gardens. Proceeds went to the school’s playground.

The Osakis School Board approved funding of $41,000 to add boys tennis and girls dance for the coming year.

A total of 59 seniors graduated from Osakis High School. Superintendent Randy Bergquist said the Osakis Class of 2019 excelled in academics, are well prepared for the future and many already have a good jump on college.

June

Safety was the word for the day at the seventh annual Bike Rodeo organized by the Osakis Police Department with cooperation from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Jake’s Bikes and North Ambulance. Children sharpened their bike riding skills by testing out five obstacle courses.

Preschool will be offered for the 2019-20 school year at Osakis. The Osakis School Board approved the action.

From building structures out of noodles to complete a science challenge to presenting theatrical performances, students at St. Agnes School showcased some of the things they learned at the “Celebration of Learning.”

Three women – Jessi Bouldin, Noelle Koskela and Sarah Kluver – opened a new business at 214 Central Ave. in downtown Osakis, Locally Sourced, LLC. They described it as a creative gathering space that supports many small businesses and showcases handmade goods.

Two rural Osakis churches with roots going back to the early days of Minnesota history are thriving and growing with the help of their new intentional interim pastor, John Douglas Hopper. He is the pastor at Salem and Sauk Valley Lutheran churches.

Despite a rainy forecast, the 51st annual Osakis Festival on June 21-23 went off without a hitch. Hundreds of people from the Douglas County area came out for the vendors, kids activities, the grand parade and more.