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A year of challenge, change, and growth

West Fargo High School Principal Gary Clark introduced class representative Mark Staples during 2013 Commencement ceremonies at Scheels Arena. Staples had announced earlier that he would be attending prestigious Harvard University fall semester of 2013.1 / 3
In an effort to rid some of the snow piles accumulating around the city a dump truck unloads a box of snow on a vacant lot along 10th Avenue East and 16th Street as part of the March snowfall clean-up project.2 / 3
Cody Wendelbo lifts the hood on Al Nelson’s 1968 SS/RS Camaro on display at the Topper’s Car Club’s 55th anniversary show.3 / 3

The year 2013 was a dynamic one for the community in terms of challenges, change, and most of all growth in both residential and commercial areas with the city’s ever-rising population figures attesting to that.

The year saw new schools, plans proceeding for a new city hall and police department complex, people promotions, changes in city staff and in status quo operating policy, as well as flux in the community’s religious areas with new worship sites being realized and old concepts being repositioned to better accommodate overwhelming growth.

The following bits of news played a part in molding 2013 into the year that it was for the community of West Fargo.

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The West Fargo Park District held their annual Winter Days celebration with a full slate of activities for ages scheduled at various locations around the community.

Magellan Pipeline presented the West Fargo Fire Department with a $1,000 donation to be used for equipment at the conclusion of an inspection tour of the facility. Facility manager Paul Klabunde made the presentation to Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider.

West Fargo High School received a $10,000 endowment to support the school’s ROTC Program through a partnership between the Midway USA Foundation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The city of West Fargo announced a record-breaking building year with valuation numbers coming in over the $200 million mark. “Compared to $86 million last year, which was a good year, this is extraordinary,” Mayor Rich Mattern stated.

It was announced that the West Fargo High School graduating class of 1967 had raised $2,000 which was donated to the West Fargo Education Foundation.

The West Fargo School Board authorized the administration to advertise for Phase II of the Sheyenne 9th Grade Center’s expansion to a full high school.

Nine Cass-County 4-H Clubs were recognized by the Fargo Rotary Club for being the top clubs in the county for 2012. They included: Golden Clovers, Golden Kids, Harwood Helpers, Horace Stars, Kindred 4-H Friends, Rainbow Kids Fargo, The Uniters Fargo, Valley Adventures West Fargo, and Wheatland Pioneers.

Taylor Miller was named West Fargo Community High School Student of the Month for January.

Matthew Tintes, formerly of West Fargo, performed as a member of the premier men’s vocal ensemble “Cantus” at Concordia College.

The West Fargo Exchange Club named Sarah Schaeffer its student of the month for January. She is the daughter of Paul and Kim Schaeffer, West Fargo.


The new Cass County Museum opened at Bonanzaville featuring a new display on Native Americans, bonanza farms and homesteading, and the modernization of North Dakota.

The city of West Fargo implemented a new snow removal tracking system on their website that reveals a map of the city streets showing where work by the department’s fleet of vehicles is in progress or has been completed. It can be accessed at and clicking on the Snowplow link.

A dedicated cast and crew of nearly 90 Cheney and STEM school students presented a high energy production of the the Disney Channel Original Movie “High School Musical, Jr.

Kari Bucholz and Tracy Dunham were certified as Barton Reading and Spelling Tutors for Haley’s Hope of West Fargo. Bucholz is founder, director of Haley’s Hope working with dyslexia for six years, while Dunham is a tutor and Director of Operations for the past year.

Melissa Shol, owner of Lucky D’s Barber Shop in the former Doug’s Barber location on Sheyenne Street stepped down from her barbering career to accept a correction officer position at the Cass County Jail.

Aaron Knodel, a language arts instructor at West Fargo High School was named the West Fargo School District Teacher of the Year. A Beulah ND native, Knodel had been teaching in West Fargo since the 2004-2005 school year, at Shanley High School two years prior to that. He also coaches Student Congress.

The city of West Fargo upgraded their water meters all businesses and residents have the same style making them more time-efficient to read. This involved the installation of 1,900 new meters that will all be radio-read.

Mayim Stith, a student at the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center, earned state Voice of Democracy honors including a $1,000 scholarship and an all-expense paid trip toWashington, DC for national competition. The annual event is sponsored by West Fargo VFW Post 7564 and Ladies Auxiliary.

Josh Poer was named West Fargo Community High School student of the month for February.


The Harwood Prairie Playhouse kept dazzling the crowds with their 29th season presentation of “The Fox on the Fairway,” at Dawson Hall, Bonanzaville, with Shanara Lassig as director.

Longtime West Fargo educator Dean Hall passed away. He and his wife, Joan, moved to West Fargo in 1967, where he was principal at South Elementary the next 25 years.

Jeremy Keller moved his old Barber Hut location from the longtime 213 E. Main Ave. spot to 408 Sheyenne St. in the space vacated by Lucky D’s, previously Doug’s Barber.

Jennifer Fremstad was named the new principal of West Fargo High School, assuming the position that Gary Clark had held on an interim basis. Fremstad had served as assistant principal at Fargo South High School.

Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis announced she was leaving her position to assume new duties in an educational capacity. She had spent 34 years in the district as a teacher and administrator.

Firestone Complete Auto Care opened a brand new West Fargo store on the corner of 9th Street East and 13th Avenue that many will remember as the old Seven-Eleven and Kum N Go location.

West Fargo High School social studies instructor Ross Richards earned the spot of first activities director at the new Sheyenne High School.

Area Boy Scouts held their annual non-perishable food drive in the community benefitting the Fargo Food Pantry.

The West Fargo School Board approved professional staffing requests for the 2013-2014 school year calling for the hiring of roughly 50 full-time employees including 12 elementary level teachers to cope with the anticipated enrollment growth as well as to open Liberty Middle School and an expanded Sheyenne High School.

Demi Cook was named West Fargo Community High School Student of the Month for March.

Mark Vaux stepped down as Director of Economic Development and Community Services for the city of West Fargo to assume new duties as Executive Vice President of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation.

Ashley Warner, a senior at West Fargo High School, was named West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the month for March. She is the daughter of Todd and Deanne Warner of West Fargo.


The Fargo Moorhead Toppers marked significant milestones celebrating the 60th anniversary of club existence and their 55th annual car show which was held at the Veterans Memorial Arena in West Fargo.

A military theme highlighted the 67th and 68th Minn-Kota Feline Club Cat Show at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. Over 100 cats representing 30 different breeds participated.

John Fugleberg, West Fargo, was honored for a long career in law enforcement by local and state officials.

Organizers spread the word early that new events would be added to the September West Fest line-up, a 10K run and 2 miles walk coordinated by Fargo Marathon Founder Mark Knutson, Streets Alive and Packer Jam.

Midcontinent Foundation, the charitable arm of Midcontinent Communications, donated a $2,400 grant to the West Fargo Fire Department that was used to purchase a “cutter’s edge” saw that will cut through wood and metal, allowing firefighters to access structures more quickly.

Border Town Bar & Grill, 807 E. Main Ave., underwent a major renovation inside and out participating in the city’s façade grant application program.

West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen recuperated after undergoing open heart surgery to repair blockage at Sanford Medical Center. He was released later in the week and recuperated at home.

West Fargo Community High School celebrated its 30th anniversary with a special open house. The alternative high school was created in 1982 by Gerald Hagen housing roughly a dozen students compared to the expanded classrooms and the average of 60 students that now attend.

The Big Iron Farm Show was the recipient of the North Dakota Governors and Tourism Award as the state’s tourism and travel event of the year.

Benjamin Huber, a senior at West Fargo High School, was named the West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the Month for April. He is the son of Jason and Maira Huber, West Fargo.

Cub Scout Pack 232 of West Fargo observed its 30th anniversary. The pack was originally chartered by the West Fargo Jaycees in 1981. The West Fargo Exchange Club is the current charter organization.

Lexi Kasowski was named West Fargo Community High School student of the month for April.

Jayne Rieth of West Fargo received was honored at the North Dakota Governor’s Awards Luncheon in Grand Forks as the front-line tourism employee of the year as a travel ambassador at the Fargo Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she is employed.


One of West Fargo’s busiest thoroughfare saw the start of a two-phase reconstruction project that would widen Veterans Boulevard from a two-lane rural section to a four-lane divided urban section with medians and turn lanes. The first phase involved 32nd to 36th Avenue while the second phase focused on 36th to 40th Avenue.

The threat of flooding caused a change in scheduling for the city’s annual May clean up week that was ultimately put back on track and back to the beginning of May, when the flood threat was downgraded.

Longtime West Fargo resident and businessman Gene Johnson passed away at the age of 82. Gene and his wife of 59 years, Norma, purchased and managed C&C Market in West Fargo in 1971, retiring in 1984 and he also retired as District Sergeant in of the North Dakota Highway Patrol in 1989.

West Fargo City Commissioners adopted salary changes for some of the city employees as a result of a compensation and job analysis study project. The move brought designated employees up to par with the studies’ findings.

Beth Slette was named assistant superintendent of elementary curriculum and instruction and Allen Burgad assistant superintendent of secondary curriculum and instruction .

Craig Olson took over the fourth generation of family ownership of West Funeral Home, West Fargo and Casselton, from his uncle William “Bill” West. Olson accepted the position with 16 years experience as a funeral director at West Fargo.

The West Fargo Park Board held grand opening for their news Splash Pad and playground area at Shadow Wood Park.

Longtime West Fargo resident and community supporter Larry Lubben with honored with an Arbor Day tree planting of an oak tree at Maplewood Park on 17th Avenue.

City commissioners learned plans were falling in line for a new West Fargo Police Department and City Hall complex on their location on 4th Avenue East. The architectural firm presented them with a preview of the early design phase concept as well as additional information.

It was announced that two new motels would be coming to West Fargo: an Elements Hotel at 925 19th Ave. E. and the Cambria Suites and Conference Center across the way on the corner of 9th Street East and 19th Avenue East.

Former longtime West Fargo resident Mary Ann Johnson observed a 50-year milestone with Tupperware, describing it as the perfect profession suited to raising kids and making a living as well.

West Fargo High School senior Jodi Arie Stende was named West Fargo Exchange Club student of the month for May. She is the daughter of John and Jodi Stende of West Fargo.

Dan and LaVonne Pulczinski of West Fargo celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends. They were married May 25, 1963 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in

Roseau, Minn. They raised four children and have 8 grandchildren.

Dorene Tollefson marked 50 years as a West Fargo hairdresser and is still continuing in her dream job on a regular basis. She started out as Dorene’s Snip and Snarl and much later changed her name to Dorene’s Beauty Shop.

Kristin Zon was named West Fargo Community High School Student of the Month for May.


The city of West Fargo finally decided to join forces with the Fargo Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city commissioner voted unanimously effective Sept. 1 that all taxes collected through the visitor’s promotion fund would go directly to the FMCVB for promoting tourism and related activity in West Fargo and the metro community.

For the first time ever, West Fargo served as host for the 129th annual North Dakota Firefighters Association Convention. Welcoming over 300 firefighters from across the state events were held throughout the community, including West Fargo High School and the Red River Valley Fairgrounds.

The 11th annual Brian Mattson Invitational Golf Scramble Fundraiser was held at the Leonard Country Cub in honor of Bill Lopez who passed away at the age of 57 in early May after a battle with cancer. Lopez played an active role in local sports.

VFW Post 7564 held election of officers with Jamie Olson, serving as post commander; Elizabeth “Betsy” Olson, Auxiliary president; and for the Military Order of Cooties Pup Tent 8 James Hapala, as Seam Squirrel-Commander.

Hubert and Joan Blegen, West Fargo, formerly of Leeds and Kindred, N.D., observed their 50th wedding anniversary with family. They were married June 23, 1963 in West Prairie Lutheran Church, rural Kindred. They have three children and eight grandchildren.

Mary Hoganson, a long-time West Fargo resident, historian, and member of the WF Amita Club, passed away at the age of 101, in Hazen where she had shared a home with her daughter, Anne and son-in-law, John, for the past 2 ½ years.

Mike Jacobson,well-known local resident and owner-operator of Mike’s Catering for over 20 years, passed away at the age of 64, after a fight with cancer.

Three Rivers Garden Club Yard of the Month honors for June were presented to Jim and Diane Nelson, 826 6th Ave. E.

Lester Hazer turned 100, still remaining active in the family business, Hazer’s Auto & Truck Parts which he founded in 1969 and has been working there ever since.

Back by popular demand, West Fargo Cruise Night, invaded the north end of Sheyenne Street with its hundreds of vehicles much to the delight of the thousands of spectators making it a point to take it all in.

Gabe and Corky Scheett, West Fargo, marked their 50th wedding anniversary with family. They were married June 22, 1963 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, West Fargo. They have five children and ten grandchildren.

Longtime West Fargo resident, businessman and city commissioner Mike Thorstad was recognized by the West Fargo Exchange Club with their prestigious Exchangite of the Year honor that is presented annually to a member that has made significant contributions to both the community and organization.

Minnesota native, Matthew Marshall was hired as the new Director of Economic Development and Community Services for the city of West Fargo. He and his wife, Rebecca, and son, August, moved to the community shortly thereafter.

(For July through December see next week’s Pioneer / News.)