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Former Packer newspaper staff members Emma DeJong, left, and Abby Hammes address the West Fargo School Board on July 13, to show their support for journalism instructor Jeremy Murphy.

Looking back at 2009: A year in review (Part 2)

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News Fargo,North Dakota 58102
West Fargo Pioneer
Looking back at 2009: A year in review (Part 2)
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102


West Fargo High School students received their diplomas during commencement ceremonies at the Fargo Civic Center.

Amber Tendeland, a senior at West Fargo High School and the daughter of Darin and Carmen Tendeland, completed her 13 years of schooling with a perfect attendance record.


Twin brothers, Kevin and Kyle Roberts, members of Troop 213 and sons of Russ and Julie Roberts, West Fargo, earned the rank of Eagle Scout and were recognized at a special court of honor at Holy Cross Catholic Church.

West Fargo City Commissioners approved a land swap for a new proposed southside sub station on the corner of 29th Avenue and Fifth Street West that will provide better access onto Sheyenne Street than the swapped land that was located a few blocks north and a block east.

The $65 million bond referendum vote for new construction and renovation building projects in the West Fargo School District failed to receive the 60 percent majority necessary for passage, with 2,329 'yes' votes and 2,209 'no' votes.

Kevin Froeber, owner of Classic Vending, donated $500 in scholarship money to the West Fargo Dollars for Scholars, a contribution he makes every year, with the 2009 recipient Haylee Swanson.

Five new volunteers became active members of the West Fargo Fire Department including two first-time ever women firefighters, Brittany Ragan and Lorissa Lenertz, joined by Pat Ward, David Sapp and Scott Otto.

Vicki Schmidt of West Fargo participated in the Second Annual Bike for Justice event, a weeklong, 500-mile ride up the north shore of Lake Superior to raise money for two programs she helped co-found, Sister Parish, Inc. and Abriendo Fronteras-Opening Borders.

West Fargo city employees were honored at a special appreciation luncheon hosted by Faith Lutheran Church as a way of saying thank you for everything they do throughout the year, as well as for the extra support and long hours they contributed during the spring flood fighting efforts.

Sadie Sorenson and Jaden Sorenson, both West Fargo, were winners in the 34th annual International Old-Time fiddle contest held at the International Peace Gardens, respectively earning fifth place in the championship round and second in the junior division.

Bonanzaville and the Red River Horseless Carriage Club sponsored their annual vintage car show at the pioneer village.

District 13 Rep. Kim Koppelman of West Fargo was elected by the Canadian national government as a delegate for its Rising State Leaders Program, one of only eight state legislators selected throughout the nation.

Fargo Harley-Davidson, West Fargo, and Andy's Harley-Davidson, Grand Forks, teamed up for their 10th annual Ride for Miracles, benefitting the MeritCare Children's Hospital.

West Fargo High School English instructor Jeremy Murphy, who also served as advisor for "The Packer" newspaper, was let go from his role with the latter for what was described as a difference of philosophy with the West Fargo School District.


A rash of burglaries in Charleswood resulted in a high alert message from the West Fargo Police Department to lock car and garage doors to help ensure safety.

Kent Campbell was hired as the new executive director of the West Fargo Area Chamber of Commerce, leaving his position as a consultant for Woodward Davis and Associates in Seattle, Wash.

Kathy Halverson, West Fargo, a 17-year employee of the Corps of Engineers presently serving as office administrator at the district's field office in Fargo, was selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, as one of its three Civil Servants of the Year.

The West Fargo Park District showcased its newly remodeled office space at 500 13th Ave. W., which included a 1,350 square foot 30x45 addition connected to the 900 square foot existing office.

The Red River Valley Fair hosted a successful nine day run July 10-18, that offered something for everything, featuring a wide variety of grandstand entertainment including The Zac Brown Band, Julianne Hough, Joe Diffie, Diamond Rio, Survivor, 38 Special and Hairball.

Students, teachers and staff made a strong appearance at a regularly scheduled West Fargo School Board meeting in support of Jeremy Murphy who was ousted in his role at the school newspaper advisor.

The City of West Fargo earned recognition from the nationally known CNN Money Magazine as one of the best places to live in 2009, including the community in its listing of America's top 100 small towns based on a population of 50,000 or less, ranking it 81 with a population of 23,100 and giving it extra distinction as the only North Dakota community listed.

Dylan Quern, a junior at West Fargo High School and son of Brent and Melissa Quern, participated in a National Leadership Conference at the University of Maryland, with his involvement focusing on the engineering field.

In a formal show of support for veterans, service members, and their families, four members of the West Fargo VFW Post 7564, Jim Hapala, Bill Tuff, Dale Ronning and Bert Hanson, joined in a Community Military Covenant signing during a regularly scheduled West Fargo City Commission meeting advocating 'standing strong together,' with the covenant signed earlier in the year by Governor John Hoeven in a special ceremony held at Bismarck.

The West Fargo Park District conducted their annual popular summer theater program under the direction of Renee O'Connor, assisted by Mike Anderson, presenting performances of "Monster in the Closet" and "Who Dunit...and to Whom?"

Florence Myers was honored on her 90th birthday at an open at the Harwood American Legion, with the event made extra special by the fact her two older sisters helped her celebrate - Rose Thompson, 91, from California, and Gladys Gehrke, 96, who lives in Fargo.


Prominent West Fargo couple Larry and Sharon Christiansen celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a special open house. As owner of Christiansen Cattle Company, Larry has been in the livestock business for over 50 years, and prior to her retirement, Sharon had served as an administrative assistant at West Fargo High School for 31 years.

West Fargo Police Department officials continued to investigate a string of 22 burglaries in the Charleswood and Tintes Additions, as well as an armed robbery at Town and Country Credit Union, 925 14th Ave. E., where the suspect got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

An open house was held honoring Bessie Murray, West Fargo, on her 100th birthday at the Cooperative Living Center, hosted by her family.

Air Force Captain Eric Handegard, a 1996 graduate of West Fargo High School and son of Kyle and Russ Handegard, was one of two Air Force T-6 instructor pilots stationed on the grounds during the two-day Fargo Air Show to talk about the turbojet and its capabilities. Eric and his family live in West Point, Miss., which is located a short distance from Columbus Air Force Base.

West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen was presented with the prestigious North Dakota Peace Officers Association's Lone Eagle Award from the 2005 recipient North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, at a special ceremony held in Jamestown, for his still active contributions to law enforcement on the local, state, regional and national level.

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney offered up kudos to West Fargo officials in the form of special mementos as a way of saying thank you for allowing the sheriff's department to operate their tactical command center out of the West Fargo Police Department facilities for a month, after the spring flood forced them to evacuate from the Cass County Jail in Fargo.

Al and Betty Hoffart and Don and Cecelia Brown opened the first touchless car wash, along with a Tesoro gas station and convenience store in Eagle Run at 3210 Sheyenne St.

Horace observed its annual Bean Days with a three-day community-wide celebration.

The overpass bridge crossing Interstate 94 on 9th Street East and 19th Avenue South, officially opened with West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern and Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker the first to have the honors of driving over it on what Mattern described as a "very historic occasion that has been in the works for at least eight years."

North Dakota Ladies Auxiliary President Joyce Weible, a member of West Fargo VFW Post 7564, was named Runner-up Department President of the Year for her membership group during the national convention held in Las Vegas.

Red River Valley Fair officials announced record-breaking attendance figures for the 2009 nine-day run with 125,000 plus individuals taking in the event and a potential profit figure set at $300,000.

Longtime West Fargo residents Terry and Betty Potter celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends.


The new Osgood Kindergarten Center still needed some finishing touches as it opened to 209 kindergarten and 50 first grade students.

The community of Harwood rolled out the welcome mat for its annual Community Days celebration packed full of a variety of family oriented events including Harwood State Bank observing their 90th anniversary.

Robert Hoy, Brian Neugebauer, and Robert Rosenvold, attorneys at Ohnstad Twichell Law Firm in West Fargo, were selected by their peers as "Great Plains Super Lawyers 2009."

Big Iron marked its 29th annual show as the premiere agricultural exposition in the region, with 800 exhibitors representing over 600 companies and approximately 80,000 visitors taking in all the event had to offer during its three-day run.

Ellie Grooters, daughter of Greg and Robin Grooters, and Robert Jacobs, son of Rick and Cindy Jacobs, were crowned West Fargo High School Homecoming royalty, kicking off a week of related activities including the traditional powder puff football game and the concluding homecoming football game versus Minot High School.

The congregation of Horace Lutheran Church officially moved from their longtime facility at 210 Wall Ave. to their brand new church at 650 1st St. N., just north of Horace on Highway 17.

West Fargo celebrated their 18th annual West Fest celebration complete with grand parade and 100-year-old Goldie Houkom serving as grand marshal, family games, a variety of food vendors, and all the corresponding activities including the Firefighters Ball and the Valley Vintage Car Show, that go into making it the annual success it is.

Angie Dockter was named West Fargo Community High School Student of the Month for September.

West Fargo City Commissioners adopted the final 2010 budget that brings the city's mill levy to 91.46, a 2.99 mill increase, resulting in an additional $13.50 in taxes per year on a $100,000 home.

Longtime West Fargo resident and businessman A.C. "Art" Kleingartner, who operated West Fargo Insurance Agency, passed away following a lengthy illness.

LeRoy and Clara Fuss of West Fargo celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at the home of their daughter Karen (Kenneth) Berg.

Diane Hahn, a senior at West Fargo High School and the daughter of George and Janet Hahn, was named West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the Month for September.


In August the 9th Street Interchange overpass was opened to traffic, this month the entire interchange was officially opened, providing another option for north-south traffic to cross the Interstate. The event was celebrated with a special ribbon cutting attended by a variety of local and state officials, including West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, and members of the North Dakota Department of Transportation, key to seeing the project realized.

Bob and Goldie Olson of West Fargo celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary, and Bob's 85th birthday, with a special open house attended by family and friends.

The West Fargo Fire Department observed National Fire Prevention Week, hosting a variety of activities for elementary school children in the West Fargo School District, working off the theme "Stay Fire Smart - Don't Get Burned."

West Fargo City Commissioners adopted a new residential construction exemption plan allowing for up to a $150,000 exemption on the building value for two taxable years on new single family construction, replacing the old exemption which allowed for up to $75,000 of the value.

Local churches participated in the 4th annual Homeless and Hungry event to raise awareness about homelessness, with participants fasting for 30 hours, spending a night in a cardboard box, and going door-to-door asking for donations.

United Way of Cass-Clay held their annual Day of Caring with several local businesses allowing their employees to visit metro area homes of seniors and other individuals needing assistance with various projects around their homes or yards as a way of 'giving back.'

West Fargo dentist Patrick Capp encouraged trick-or-treaters to bring in their excess candy which he purchased for $1 per pound and then sent to troops serving overseas as part of the Operation Gratitude program.

Allan and Louise (Dahl) Schober of Harwood observed their 50th wedding anniversary at an event hosted by their children.

District 13 Representative Kim Koppelman was appointed to the Supreme Court's Judicial Planning Committee by North Dakota Chief Justice Gerald VanDeWalle.

Kaitlyn Watkins was recognized at West Fargo Community High School as the October Student of the Month.

Greg Mastrud was promoted to president of First International Bank & Trust, West Fargo.

After more than six months of negotiating, the West Fargo School Board and the West Fargo Education Association, agreed on a WFEA contract settlement offer of a 3.26 percent salary increase for the first year and a 5.35 percent raise for the second year.

Students and staff at Eastwood Elementary School and representatives of the West Fargo VFW Auxiliary joined forces to send a variety of goodies to Kosovo, with their ultimate destination two dads of Eastwood students, Major Brad Brown and Sgt. Melvin Lynn.

Sixth and seventh grade students in Holly Erickson's class finished second overall out of a field of 24 teams at the Bison BEST competition, aided by their original robot creation that resulted in them qualifying for national competition in Arkansas.

Levi Bachmeier, a senior at West Fargo High School and the son of Jeff and Eileen Bachmeier, was named West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the Month for October.


Matthew Harsch, a 2008 West Fargo High School graduate and the son of Dennis and Diane Harsch, was featured in an article about his missionary service, along with 12 other members of his team, working with children at the New Hope Orphanage earlier this summer in Uganda, Africa, teaching them Bible school daily, as well as making their home at the orphanage.

The West Fargo Lions Club hosted a highly successful first annual Harvest Nights event, featuring winetasting and a silent auction at the West Fargo VFW, with proceeds benefitting a variety of Lion supported causes.

The North Dakota School Board Association re-elected West Fargo School Board member Angela Korsmo as vice president of the group.

Lieutenant Duane Sall, a 17-year veteran with the West Fargo Police Department, was named the 2009 Safe Communities Coalition Member of the Year.

Mary Tintes was elected president of the Cass County Democratic Women Plus and will serve a two-year term.

The first phase of work on Main Avenue reconstruction from 6th Street West to 5th Street East officially opened to traffic, accented by a special grand opening ceremony with North Dakota Governor John Hoeven in attendance along with other state and local dignitaries, including West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern, and North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Francis Ziegler, who all took their turns commending those involved with this six-month long project.

Decorated Vietnam War veteran Roger Jacobsen, also a longtime retired local postal employee, passed away after succumbing to a five-year struggle with ALS.

The third annual Fill the Dome project promoted by metrowide schools once again met its 'epic' goals by raising $96,266 and 97 tons of food, easily surpassing the original goal of $75,000 and 75 tons of food, a great feat in that it secured enough food to feed 21,000 people through the month of March.

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church hosted its 29th annual Thanksgiving Day gathering, offering food and fellowship for anyone looking for a turkey meal with all the trimmings, along with companionship and conversation.

The city of West Fargo lit the community tree in a special tree lighting ceremony, complete with Santa and goodie bags for all the youngsters who attended.

Six-year-old Gracie Erickstad of Horace, a first grader at Horace Elementary School and the daughter of Brian and Roxane Erickstad, was the recipient of the AMVETS National Americanism award for her entry in a flag drawing poster contest sponsored by local AMVETS Post No. 8.

Austen McFarren, a senior at West Fargo High School and the son of Pat and Sherri McFarren, was named West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the Month for November.


West Fargo City Commissioners voted to move forward with preliminary plans for a new city water treatment plant, and in doing so, working on language to place a request for a one percent sales tax on the ballot in June 2010 that would be dedicated to funding a water treatment facility that will service the city. The board received the initial draft from the engineering firm contracted a year ago to conduct a study, with much more discussion and planning lying ahead in the process before any plans are officially formulated.

Bonanzaville hosted its annual Christmas on the Prairie celebration at the pioneer village.

The West Fargo Exchange Club donated $1000 to the STEM fundraiser that helped send a group of middle school students to national competition in Arkansas.

Ken Dahl, founder and owner of Dahl Plumbing and Heating, Inc., announced he was stepping down after a 27-year career to pursue other interests that didn't require 24/7 devotion, leaving his clients in the excellent hands of Jeff Cote, owner of Cote Mechanical of Casselton, who had also spent time working with Dahl in his business.

Col. Robert Becklund, a West Fargo native, officially relinquished command of the 119th Wing to Col. Rick Gibney during a Change of Command ceremony at the North Dakota Air National Guard. Becklund moved to Washington, D.C. to take on a new assignment with the U.S. Air Force UAS Task Force.

West Fargo VFW officials presented a check for $1652.85 to the West Fargo Fire Department to purchase new firefighter gloves for the entire group.

Jamie Parsley, an associate poet laureate and Episcopal priest, who graduated from West Fargo High School in 1988, published his ninth book of poems titled "This Grass."

Dr. Dana Diesel Wallace announced during a regularly scheduled West Fargo school board meeting she would be resigning as Superintendent of Schools effective June 30, 2010, a position she has held the past three and a half years.

The city of West Fargo has implemented a new "Connect With Us" program on their Web site at that provides residents a venue to have city-related questions answered as well as provide a space for them to make special requests.

Barbara Larson agreed to assume duties as temporary executive director at Bonanzaville, until a full time replacement can be found for the position left open by the resignation of Bruce Whitmarsh.

Members of the West Fargo Shakers, a group of eight longtime friends working together to assist various local groups, made a $500 donation to the 231st Charlie Company Family Readiness Group, that was used to help cover expenses for a Christmas party for children of families in the military.

Moore Engineering, Inc. officials presented a donation in the amount of $1,130 to Salvation Army staff on behalf of employees who had raised the contribution through a special raffle for the cause along with other employee donations.