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Year in Review 2012: Time of change, ongoing growth


West Fargo native Eric Schmidt, who graduated from West Fargo HIgh School in 2000, was honored as North Dakota Wildlife Officer of the Year. He is a game warden for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Longtime West Fargo Police Officer Allen Schmidt resigned from the police department following his arrest on simple assault charges. He had been on staff since 1995.

The West Fargo Park District promoted its annual Winter Days event with a passel of fun, outdoor activities at various locations around the community,Freedom and Liberty were the names chosen respectively for the West Fargo School Districts elementary and middle school projects in the works.

West Fargo Police Officer Todd Pearson was the recipient of the 2011 Chief's Award presented for his multiple accomplishments since joining the force in January of 2000. Pearson is a 1990 graduate of West Fargo High School.

Following a jury trial held in October of 2011, Alois Vetter of West Fargo was sentenced in Cass County Court to two years in prison followed by one year of probation for an aggravated assault conviction of running over a former tenant. He was free on jail awaiting appeal.

The Shakers revealed the results of their annual New Years Eve celebration that raised $7500 for the local Big Brother Big Sister program.

Ben Koppelman announced that he would be seeking a N.D. House of Representative seat in District 16, a brand new district representing parts of West Fargo and Fargo.

West Fargo Police Department officer Jason Anderson was promoted to the rank of Patrol Sergeant.

Judy Dvorachek was named special events coordinator for the Red River Valley Fair Association.


The seeds were planted regarding a proposed pool and community center for West Fargo, with the West Fargo Park District, West Fargo City Commission and West Fargo School Board banding together for joint discussion.

The city commission approved the purchase of new IT department equipment and software that will improve the process for tracking requests, license and registrations, code enforcement as well as replace the city's current ticketing system.

Bonanzaville unveiled a brand new logo which creates a very distinct identity, fun and exciting but yet a historical feel for visitors to experience when they visit the pioneer village.

West Fargo High School senior Cameron Dutt, son of Todd and Mary Dutt, West Fargo, was recognized as the West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the Month for January.

Three West Fargo residents threw their hats in the ring for the two open four-year City Commission Seats: incumbent Mark Simmons seeking a third term; incumbent Mike Thorstad seeking a second term; and Peter Karl making a bid after an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2010.

David Kruse, owner of Sheyenne Hearing Service, West Fargo, received training at Starkey Hearing Technologies' Hearing Innovation Expo held in Las Vegas, Nev.

Mark Vaux was named the new Director of Economic Development and Community Services for the city of West Fargo, filling the newly-expanded and restructured position that was created after the passing in Sept. 2011 of longtime city business development director Dorinda Anderson.

Olivia Clendon was named West Fargo Community High School student of the month for January.

South Elementary School students helped fight hunger through their Empty Bowls program that raised over $3500 for the Great Plains Food Bank.

David Pralguske stepped down after 28 years of service with the West Fargo Fire Department.

West Fargo VFW and Auxiliary hosted an appreciation event for Iraq war veterans.

Democrat Ben Hanson said he would be seeking a House seat in the newly formed District 16.


Eight years after moving out of town and resigning from the West Fargo School Board Jeff Shirley announced he was again living in the district and would be seeking a return to the board.

Carol Stillwell and Robin Busch were honored with a special open house for their thirty years of service at Ohnstad Twichell Law Firm.

Lauritsen Financial , owned by Louie, Jake and Stephanie Lauritsen, set up shop in a new West Fargo location at 1241 Prairie Parkway, Suite 100.

Incumbent Kay Kiefer announced her intention to run for a seat on the West Fargo School Board.

The West Fargo School Board voted to retain the name of Sheyenne for what will be the city's second high school. The Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center is being remodeled into high school facilities which will welcome students in 2013.

Harwood Prairie Playhouse staged its 28th season featuring "Marriage Roulette," a world premier production by David Lassig, who also served as director.

Local Boy Scout troops conducted their annual food drive benefitting the Emergency Food Pantry.

Danyal Hasan, a 7th grader at Cheney Middle School's STEM Center in West Fargo, qualified for the National Geographic Bee at the state level in North Dakota.

West Fargo businessman Kim Alberty was elected chair of the North Dakota Ag in the Classroom Council.

West Fargo Pioneer co-founder Betty Witham died at the age of 91 in Eventide Senior Living Community in Moorhead. She and her husband, Donovan established the Pioneer on March 15, 1967.

Eastwood Elementary students and members of the West Fargo VFW Ladies Auxiliary package goods from a Treats for Troops Fund Drive to send to U.S. soldiers stationed overseas.

Nathan Reitan, son of Mike and Michelle Reitan, West Fargo, earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He is a member of Boy Scout Troop 279, sponsored by Holy Cross Catholic Church and Lutheran Church of the Cross.

West Fargo High School Senior Alex Spacek, son of Rena and Jamie Stenseth, West Fargo, was named February student of the month by the West Fargo Exchange Club.


The Minnesota Feline Club held their annual show at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds showcasing approximately 100 ACFA purebred and household pets.

Freelance author Karen O'Leary of West Fargo published her first collection of poetry titled "Whispers."

Andrea Noonan, an eighth-grade language arts instructor at Cheney Middle School, was named West Fargo School District Teacher of the Year in a surprise ceremony that included students and peers.

Newcomer Shelley Treib and incumbent Patti Stedman filed paperwork as candidates for West Fargo School Board positions.

Tyler Hauschulz was named West Fargo Community High School student of the month for February.

West Fargo High School senior Jesse Suppa, son of Mike and Kim Suppa, West Fargo, was recognized as the West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the Month for March.

A popular South Elementary School Runners and Readers program, involving students and staff, promoted activity, nutrition and education.

West Fargo resident Gail Flom added her name to the list of those running for seats on the West Fargo School board.

Western State Bank presented a $3,000 donation to the West Fargo Packer Backers Association.

The West Fargo Park District hosted their 18th annual Gigantic Rummage Sale, one of the largest and most popular of its kind in hte area.

The Shooting Park, owned by Mark and Karen Erdmann, West Fargo, has reopended at its landmark Horace location, two miles north and three miles west of the community. With the reopening the Erdmanns said they would focus on tradition, safety and fun.

A special benefit event was held at the West Fargo VFW for the Drew and Kim Jameson family of Sheldon. Drew was diagnosed with cancer. Both he and Kim are West Fargo High School grads.

Donna Larson died at the age of 87. She and her husband, Roy, were longtime owners of Larson's Super Valu in West Fargo.


A one-of-a-kind state-of-the-art video display board was installed in the West Fargo High school gym thanks to generous contributions from Moore Engineering and First International Banks who each donated $25,000 toward the board and The West Fargo Packer Backers who contributed $13,000. The first of its kind board in North Dakota will be used to promote a variety of school activities.

An Arbor Day celebration at Rendezvous Park, nearl Aurora Elementary School, honored longtime West Fargoan Jim Martin with a special tree planting in his honor. The planting was held close to land that was previously farmed by Jim and his wife, Marlys, for over 50 years.

West Fargo High School students Tyler Buchholz and Jesse Suppa placed first in cabinetry and motorcycle service technology categories at SkillsUSA Competition that advanced them to national level competition.

Longtime West Fargo residents Jack and Janet Kist celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at First Baptist Church, Fargo.

West Fargo High School Senior Mickayla Dvorak, daughter of Kathy Dvorak, West Fargo, was named West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the Month for April.

Longtime West Fargo barber Doud Debing retired after 48 years with Melissa Shol taking over the popular Sheyenne Street location and renaming the business Lucky D's Barber Shop after her children, Hayden whose nickname is Lucky and Davis whose nickname is D.

The West Fargo VFW, Auxiliary and AMVETS Post #8 made their annual presentation to support local military families with a donation of $13,677.77 raised through their annual R.O.S.S. event that remembers our serving soldiers.

A construction accident at the high school addition to the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center claimed the life of Trevor Skarphol of Fargo after a steel beam fell from its mount and struck him He was an employee of Scott's Electric, Wahpeton.

Ally Stevens was recognized as the West Fargo Community High School student of the month for April.

The Community High School class of 2012 graduated May 31.


Graduation was held at the Scheels Arena for the 2012 West Fargo High School class on June 3.

Rachel Kennedy was named Community High School student of the month for May.

A big announcement from the Red River Valley Fair, top name country act The Band Perry backed out of their 2012 headlining appearance to work on an album saying they would instead be a grandstand performer at the 2013 Fair.

Thanks to a lot of support from family and friends Clara Barton fifth-grader Haley Dellaneva raised enough money during a first annual Haley's Milk Run (a motorcycle run) to supply milk for students in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo elementary schools, who would otherwise go without.

Incumbents Mike Thorstad and Mark Simmons were re-elected to West Fargo City Commission seats in the June 12 election; while incumbentsKathy Scully and Todd Rheault were re-elected to the Park Board.

Incumbents Kay Kiefer and Patti Stedman and newcomer Jeff Shirley were elected to the three open West Fargo School Board spots.

West Fargo City Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with a feasibility study to review areas for a proposed Community Center and Aquatics Facility for the city. The Park Board and School Board also endorsed support for the collaborative venture with each of three entities committing to share in the $60,000 cost of the study.

The Red River Valley Fair completed a $1.8 million renovation to the Scholander Pavilion including a new lobby, conference room, restroom facilities and executive offices, making the two-story building the focal point of the grounds.

Ted and Emily Veen, Harwood, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with an open house at the Harwood Community Center. They were married June 23, 1962.

Ilene Lodoen, wife of the late West Fargo Mayor Clayton Lodoen, celebrated her 90th birthday.

District 13 Senator Judy Lee, a longtime West Fargo resident and real estate associate, was honored by the West Fargo Exchange Club as the recipient of the 2012 Civic Excellence Award, while Detective Sgt. Greg Warren was honored as West Fargo Police Department Employee of the Year; and David Pralguske, who stepped down after 28 years of service, as the West Fargo Fire Department Volunteer Firefighter of the Year.


West Fargo Exchange Club member Shawn Preabt was the recipient of the groups. prestigious Exchangite of the Year Award A member since 2008, Preabt has been active in a variety of roles, in particular the community service area, serving as chairperson.

Rosie Lubenow and Don Witham were honored by the North Dakota Newspaper Association with Distinguished Service Awards. Rosie for her late husband, Wayne, who was a longtime reporter and columnist, and Witham as founder of the West Fargo Pioneer.

Daniel and Martha Garman celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at an open house at the West Fargo VFW. They were married July 2, 1962.

Deborah Fuglie, West Fargo, was elected president of the Dakota Territory District of the National Exchange Club. Fuglie has been a member of the West Fargo Exchange Club since 1987.

The 2012 Red River Valley Fair offered something for everyone during its shortened six-day run. Headliners included: Justin Moore, Eli Young Band, Jerrod Niemann, Kip Moore, Chevelle, and Hairball.

Denise Jonas accepted the position as the first principal of Liberty Middle School which will open the 2013-2014 school year. She will continue to serve as assistant principal and activities director at Cheney Middle School, a position she's held since 2008, until the new school is ready to welcome students.

Aaron, Allison and Brielle Deutscher, West Fargo, died in a tragic motor vehfcle accident involving an alcohol-impaired driver traveling the wrong way on the Interstate.

City officials wouldn't budge on the snake ordinance voting no to a request from Robert Butts III for an ordinance change that would allow constrictor snakes as pets in the city.

A special benefit was held for Ken Lammers at Blessed Sacrament Church where he and his wife, Jo, have been longtime members. Lammers was diagnosed with sarcoma and receiving treatment at Mayo Clinic and the Roger Maris Cancer Center.

Former West Fargo High School principal Gary Clark agreed to serve as interim principal for the 2012-2013 year filling the spot vacated by Cory Steiner during the summer.

The neighboring community of Prosper celebrated its centennial observance with a parade, food, games and fun for both residents and visitors.

West Fargo School Board members approved the purchase of approximately 12 acres of land along 40th Avenue at a cost of roughly $30,000 per acre for the construction of a new elementary school east of the Sheyenne 9th Grade Center.

Lance Wilson, a junior at West Fargo High School and the son of Lee ad Joan Wilson of Harwood, earned Eagle Scout rank. He is a member of Troop 232.


The West Fargo Fire Department gained a new weapon in its firefighting arsenal with the addition of 95-foot aerial ladder truck complete with hoist platform.

After 29 years as a West Fargo resident, ten of those as city commissioner, Lou Bennett announced he was leaving his post and moving to Bluffton, SC, to be closer to family. They will continue to maintain their home on Star Lake, spending the summers in the area.

A special benefit to support Paulette Domier was held at the Harwood Community Center. Paulette suffered a major crisis due to complications of cancer treatment and is on the mend. She served as a library para for 30 years in the Harwood Elementary School. She and her husband Dennis are longtime Harwood residents.

The announcement was made that DMI Industries would be sold, leaving the future of the plant that manufactures wind towers and its employees uncertain.

Heather Konschak was named Community Relations Coordinator for the West Fargo Public Schools, responsible for developing district wide communication strategy. She previously served as executive assistant to the superintendent and board.

Horace observed its annual Bean Day celebration with a ton of events including a Trap Shoot, Grand Parade, Mud Run and Community Street Dance.

Pioneer Days filled the streets at Bonanzaville for a two-day run complete with authentic demonstrations, music, food and plenty of fun.

Tom Hanks, by way of a stop at the Fargo Jet Center, made a much publicized early morning visit to TNT's Diner for a breakfast that supposedly included biscuits and gravy. TNT's owners Tim and Tammy Hagensen and their eight-year-old son Tyler enjoyed their short visit with Hanks and his wife, Rita, and their two children.

Freedom Elementary School, located off of Veterans Blvd., opened its doors for the 2012-2013 school year at capacity with 565 students enrolled.

Bea Lewandowski was honored at a special open house on her 90th birthday at the American Legion Hall in Brown Valley, Minn. Rosemary (Harvey) Heise, West Fargo, is among her daughters.


Faith Lutheran Church officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new Journey in Faith location on 40th Avenue during its annual Rally Day celebration.

Big Iron was held at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds observing 32 years as one of the Midwest's largest farm show expos.

The West Fargo School Board adopted the new district logo -- a green torch with a "W" shape that has an orange flame coming from it. The green represents the current high school and the orange is one of the colors of the soon-to-be Sheyenne High School.

The second annual Packer Jam featuring a variety of local talent was held at Horace as s precursor to West Fest.

West Fargo was home to the 21st annual West Fest community celebration working off the theme "Come Home to West Fargo" which thousands of participants did. The two-day event was capped by a variety of fun activities including the grand Parade which saw Senator Judy Lee serving as grand marshal, accompanied on the route by her family.

West Fargo City Commissioners gave their approval to two new buildings for the public works department -- an equipment storage facility at the public works headquarters at 810 12th Ave. NW, and another to be used for offices and break and locker rooms at the sanitation department offices at 117 8th St. W.

West Fargo High School Senior Mark Staples, the son of Les and Brenda Staples, was named West Fargo Exchange Club student of the month for September.

The West Fargo School Board adopted a logo for the new Sheyenne High School that reads West Fargo Sheyenne Mustangs -- featuring a mustang's head from a side profile, royal blue in color accented by orange and white.

Triumph West Lutheran Brethren Church, which opened on Sheyenne Street in 2009 added a 2000 square foot addition off the southwest corner of their building that will be used primarily for educational space.


West Fargo City Commissioners approved an increase in garbage rates taking residential fees from $11 to $13. The changes will be noted on the January 2013 billing.

Mark Wentz was sworn in as West Fargo's newest city commissioner taking over the seat left open by the resignation of Lou Bennett. A resident of West Fargo since 1998, Wentz is president and general manager of Red River Electric, Moorhead.

West Fargo School Board members voted to accept a proposal from MBN Engineering for the installation of classroom amplification systems in all district classrooms. Installation wil occur the summer of 2013.

The West Fargo VFW was recognized with the prestigious award of VFW All-American Post for 2011-2012. Commander Craig Johnson and Quartermaster Bill Tuff were also honored for their accomplishments as Post leaders.

The West Fargo Fire Department held its annual National Fire Prevention Week observance based off the theme "Having Two Ways Out." Tours of the fire department and visits to district classrooms were a part of the fun, educational mix.

Costco officially opened its doors to customers in its new West Fargo location off of Veterans Boulevard, marking the first store of its kind in the Dakotas.

Dr. Greg Grooters was named the principal for the new Sheyenne High School which will be phased in over the next three years. Grooters presently serves as principal at the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center.

Grand opening was held for the new Lucien C. Barnes Pavilion at Bonanzaville, a 15,000 square foot addition that houses an event center, conference room, rotating exhibit gallery, and additional museum space that will be open year round. harlise Hesteness was named Community High Student of the Month for September.

Dave's Tire & Service hosted a special customer service event as a way of previewing their new showroom and also saying 'thank you' for continued support.throughout the Main Avenue reconstruction project which concluded concurrently. Phase II of the project focused on roadway from 6th Street East to 45th Street.

High Point Networks broke ground on a new corporate office building at 728 E. Beaton Dr.


West Fargo City Commissioners voted to move forward with plans for a hotel and conference center on Beaton Drive southwest of the corner of Ninth Street East and 19th Avenue East. Citizen input during a public hearing was taken into account before a decision was made to put it on first reading.

The second phase of Main Avenue reconstruction completion became official marked by a visit from Governor Jack Dalrymple and Senator John Hoeven who spoke during a special ceremony.

West Fargo High School senior Erika Borslien, daughter of Tony and Rose Borslien, had the honor of playing first clarinet in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City's Herald Square.

Nov. 6 General Election Day results included race finishes: District 16: Tyler Axness (D), Senate, Ben Koppelman (R) and Ben Hanson (D), both House; District 22: Gary Lee Senate; and Wesley Belter and Pete Silbernagel, both House. In West Fargo, a measure to increase 911 fees through the Red River Dispatch Center in Fargo by $.50 also was narrowly approved.

Lextstar Development broke ground on a 30,000 square foot facility that will serve as Wanzek's corporate office at 2028 2nd Ave NW in West Fargo.

Keenan Golliet was named Community High School student of the month for October.

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church staff and volunteers cooked up thier annual Thanksgiving meal for anyone looking a little extra fellowship on this special day of sharing.

West Fargo High School senior Bryan Feist, son of Tim and Linda Feist, was named West Fargo Exchange Club student of the month for October.

New lighted four-way traffic signals were installed on 23rd Avenue East off of Veterans Boulevard to better define the traffic flow that has increased due to the opening of Costco and all the other new construction in the area.

The West Fargo High School team captured first place honors in the 50th annual NDHSAA State Student Congress held on the Capitol grounds at Bismarck.

West Fargo High School senior Christine Baltezore, daughter of Jim and Joan Baltezore, was named West Fargo Exchange Club Student of the Month for November.


West Fargo City Commissioners moved one step closer to a new police station by approving a motion to request qualifications for architectural services. The new construction addition would be located adjacent to the east end of the present facilities at 800 4th Ave., E.

Dr. David Flowers, superintendent of West Fargo Schools was recognized as the state Superintendent of the Year by the North Dakota Association of School Administrators.

The West Fargo School District and community were devastated by overwhelming tragedies as the school lost three members: Sophomore Tessa Miller passed away unexpectedly at Essentia Health; junior Ian Alves died at Sanford Health after an 18-month battle with cancer; and 18-year-old senior Levi Schulz died of injuries suffered when he was struck by a vehicle as he walked across a roadway after experiencing a flat tire.

West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen awarded the Chief's Medal to Canine Officer Pete Nielsen for his outstanding leadership and professionalism. He was hired as a police officer in 1999 and has been a police service dog handler for the last two years.

After a 34-year career in dentistry, Dr.David Dobmeier announced he would be stepping down the end of the month from Elmwood Family Dentistry in West Fargo.

West Fargo City Commissioners honored Charlewood president Bruce Clapham with a special engraved clock for his 20-year real estate development association with the city that resulted in one of the communities finest residential neighborhoods -- Charlewood,complete with its 37 defined additions.

The West Fargo Shakers mobilized for the sixth straight year promoting their annual New Years Eve bash Dec. 31 at the Speedway Event Center to benefit the Emergency Food Pantry. Organizers are hoping to raise $10,000 for the cause at this year's event.

Christian Karch has been named Community High School Student of the Month for November.

A news conference was held Tuesday, Dec 18th, at West Fargo City Hall regarding new legislation on driving under the influence of alcohol, which was introduced by Rep. Kim Koppelman (R-West Fargo). Also participating in the news conference were North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Lynn Mickelson, father of Allison Deutscher, who was killed, along with her West Fargo family, when their vehicle was struck by a drunk driver on I-94 last summer. Area law enforcement officials were also be present.