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Turning the page on 2012

Another year is in the books, and we look back on 2012 with mixed emotions. A lot happened in the past year — some good, some bad, some controversial and some sad. An historic election took place, farmers had to hold their breath because of a drought, and

December 29, 2012
Marshall Independent

Jan. 4: The Lyon County Red Kettle Campaign for the Salvation Army blows away the old fundraising record by bringing in $28,000 in 2011. The previous record, set in 2010, was $17,000.

Jan. 6: Local politicians expressed their support for the proposed $12.9 million regional amateur sports facility in Marshall. Republican Sen. Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls called it a "good opportunity for the city of Marshall" and said it's a decision that needs to be made by the community.

Jan. 10: Marshall hit another weather record with the temperature hitting 57 degrees a week after a 63-degree day.

The Marshall City Council approved a purchase agreement for the former Marshall Junior High property. Council members voted to approve an agreement to sell the site for $475,000 to Trident Development, LLC, which will build a senior apartment complex there.

Jan. 11: Decatur, Ill.-based Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) announced it will cut 1,000 jobs, or about 3 percent of its workforce. ADM has a plant in Marshall.

Jan. 17: Marshall's proposed regional amateur sports complex was left off Gov. Mark Dayton's list of capital budget recommendations.

Lyon County officials and Balaton residents discussed flood control efforts in the northern part of the Des Moines River watershed at the Lyon County Board meeting.

Jan. 19: An informational campaign for the proposed regional amateur sports facility kicked off in Marshall.

Jan. 23: The Tracy Area School Board voted in favor of purchasing the Tracy Kid's World child care and preschool building. The school district will purchase the property from USDA Rural Development for $90,000, plus roughly $75,000 in back taxes.

Jan. 31: The Schwan Food Co. announced it will donate about 16 acres of land for the proposed regional amateur sports facility.

Feb. 5: The Marshall Tiger Dance team earned a trip to state by taking first in high kick and second in jazz at the Section 3AA Tournament.

Feb. 6: The Marshall School Board received an update on the progress of the joint track and field project at the old Mattke Field at SMSU.

Feb. 7: Party faithfuls gathered to elect delegates and discuss issues at their precinct caucuses.

Feb. 8: Affiliated Community Medical Centers broke ground on a new 45,000 square-foot medical clinic

Minneota-born Yellow Medicine County Commissioner Richard "Dick" Wambeke died at age 71.

Feb. 21: In a once-a-decade process that affected all legislators, newly-drawn political boundaries were released by the state. The redistricting extends U.S. Representative Collin Peterson's 7th District south to include all of Pipestone and Murray counties and more than half of Cottonwood County. District 16 now stretches north to include Lac qui Parle County, and District 22 also spread north to include Lincoln County and the southern portion of Lyon County.

Feb. 28: Residents affected by planned improvement projects on a number of city streets in Marshall attended the Marshall City Council meeting. Property owners expressed concerns about safety, as traffic in certain neighborhoods was increasing.

Feb. 29: A local group representing Marshall's push for a regional amateur sports facility testified in front of state House and Senate committees as they pursued bonding dollars from the Legislature. Marshall is pursuing $4 million.

March 1: A medical emergency sent Sen. Gary Kubly to a hospital in the Twin Cities. Kubly died March 4 at age 68. He suffered from ALS. Kubly served Senate District 20. He was elected to the House in 1996 and to the Senate in 2002. His funeral was March 8.

March 5: Sen. Doug Magnus, a Republican from Slayton, announced he won't seek re-election after eight years in the House and two more in the Senate.

March 8: On the day of Sen. Gary Kubly's funeral, former Senator and Marshall native Gary DeCramer died at age 67. DeCramer, a DFLer, served in Sen. District 27 (Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone and Rock counties) from 1983-92.

March 12: The Minneota City Council moved to cut one full-time police position on a 3-2 vote.

March 20: Marshall's proposed regional amateur sports complex was left off the House's list of bonding recommendations. Nine days later, the Senate would turn down the city's $4 million request.

April 1: A memorial service was held for former District 27 state Sen. Gary DeCramer at the SMSU Campus Religious Center. He was remembered as a politician who could work across the aisle and a man with a passion for eduction.

April 3: Approximately 50 people attended a special meeting of the Marshall City Council to hear proposals for the former Marshall-Lyon County Library building in downtown Marshall. Council members said the choice between selling the property to the Lyon County Historical Society or Marshall Public Schools would not be easy and voted to address the topic later this month to allow more time for discussion

April 4: A bill to change the way reports of child sexual abuse are handled in Minnesota got official approval from Gov. Mark Dayton, as Dayton signed Jacob's Law in a public ceremony.

April 5: Godfather's Pizza in Marshall closed its doors, as the property it was located on was purchased by its neighbor, Lockwood Motors, for future expansion of the longtime auto dealership.

There were no budget cuts made in a budget plan released by SMSU interim president Ron Wood, though students are looking at a tuition increase, either embedded or in the form of a referendum. SMSU administrators asked students to support a referendum designed to enhance the old Mattke Field site, including the renovation of the stadium and the infield surface.

April 15: The Marshall High School speech team qualified 13 students for the state meet after rising above the competition at the Section 2AA speech tournament at Mankato West High School. Those advancing are: Billie Miller, Luke Schroeder, Bo Erickson, Josh Kerkaert, Danny West, Eric Deutz, Jeff Paskach, Abby Surprenant, Jessica Oaxaca, Daniel Merna, Cassaundra Krogen, Aletta Arndt and Nick Evans.

April 13: A Lyon County District Court judge will consider a motion by the American Medical Association and the Minnesota Medical Association to file a brief as friends of the court in a lawsuit brought against Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center on behalf of its medical staff.

April 17: Members of the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School Board heard a proposal to renovate two of the district's school buildings. A building committee's plan includes renovating the oldest wings of the RTR High School in Tyler and the RTR Elementary School in Ruthton; Despite plenty of opposition to a proposed hog barn expansion outside Marshall, including concerns from neighbors and Lyon County commissioners, at a hearing, commissioners said they couldn't deny a permit for the barn, as it met the requirements of county ordinances.

Lyon County set new voting districts for next year after commissioners approved the option at a public hearing.

Members of the Lyon County Board offered their own proposal to buy the former Marshall-Lyon County Library building. The proposal will be one of three considered by the Marshall City Council.

April 18: Parties in a lawsuit brought against Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center had their say in court during a hearing with a Lyon County District Court judge. After hearing legal arguments from attorneys, Judge Michelle Dietrich took the case under advisement and will rule on it in the near future.

April 19: A spike in vandalism had the Marshall Police Department asking the public to keep an eye out for incidents of vandalism, even after one suspect had been charged.

April 21: Less than a week after a spring storm touched off a tornado outside of Ghent, another system rolled through the region, resulting in at least two confirmed twisters. One of those tornadoes demolished three greenhouses and ravaged other structures at the Mark and Suzanne Schmiesing farm in Redwood County.

April 23: Mace Eden, 49, of Olive Hills, Ky., was killed when the 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlas he was driving on U.S. Highway 59 towards Marshall drifted over the centerline and collided with a southbound 2007 Freightliner semi driven by Michael Sontag, 64, of Minneota.

April 24: The Marshall City Council voted 5-2 in favor of accepting $100,000 from Lyon County to buy the former Marshall-Lyon County Library building and turn it into a permanent home for the Lyon County Museum.

April 25: Owner Jennifer Kaup sold off the last of the inventory at the Balaton Food Center, as the store went out of business and reverted to First Independent Bank. "There was not enough community support," Kaup said.

April 30: A motion in a lawsuit against Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, which would have prevented the hospital from making changes to its medical staff bylaws, was denied in Lyon County District Court. Another motion in the same lawsuit was still under advisement by a judge. The suit alleged that Avera Marshall violated medical staff bylaws and prevented the chief of staff and the hospital's Medical Executive Committee from fulfilling their duties.

May 1: Nearly $10,000 in tax penalties and interest were abated as the Tracy Area School District paid for delinquent property taxes on the Kid's World building in Tracy. The Tracy School Board voted to purchase Kid's World earlier this year and intends to rent out space in the facility for a child care center to continue to operate.

May 4: Training sessions for ARMER (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response) were held at the Lyon County Law Enforcement Center as several counties in southwest Minnesota prepared to switch to the new radio system.

May 7: The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against Lyon County in 2009 by a group of county employees. A published appeals court opinion said the Lyon County District Court was not wrong to dismiss claims that changing a health insurance benefit for retired county employees violated the Minnesota Constitution, and that the original benefit should be enforced.

May 8: The Marshall City Council members helped set the stage for further development at the Marshall airport, voting in favor of funding projects meant to allow commercial development at Marshall Airpark East.

May 10: Outgoing Sen. Doug Magnus of Slayton delivered an emotional retirement speech following adjournment of the 2012 Legislature, thanking his family and colleagues during his 10 years of service.

Angry residents of Cedar Lane Trailer Park in Tracy, which is owned by Meadow Ridge Development Company, demonstrated after the water supply was shut off for non-payment of bills. Meadow Ridge owner, Gene Stierns of Mora, owed almost $10,000 in arrears on the park's water bill.

May 11: Students at SMSU voted to implement a per-semester student fee to raise money for improvements to the old Mattke Field for a new track and field complex to be used by SMSU in partnership with Marshall Public Schools.

May 14: The water to the Cedar Lane Trailer Park in Tracy was turned on again after the city was informed about legal recourse to cover some of the ongoing expense of providing water, and an offer to cover part of the arrears in payments; Minnesota Senate Majority Leader David Senjem made a brief stop in Marshall to reflect on the 2012 session.

May 21: The Marshall Public School board discussed a number of options in regards to future housing for MECLA. A 10-year lease for MECLA, which is located inside the Market Street Mall, was set to expire in August.

May 22: The Yellow Medicine County Board approved a budget plan for a multi-county health services agreement. The southern Prairie Health Purchasing Alliance (SPHPA) is a proposed joint powers agreement between 13 counties, including Lincoln, Lyon and Yellow Medicine, to work with the Minnesota Department of Human Services to have contracts with health service providers in lieu of insurance.

May 23: Jury selection and witness testimony was heard as a trial in the case of Gerald Phillip Gould, 68, of Cottonwood, began in Lyon County District Court. Gould faced multiple charges of criminal sexual conduct. Jurors later found Gould guilty on five of seven counts of criminal sexual conduct after more than 6 1/2 hours of deliberation. Gould was convicted of one count of first degree criminal sexual conduct and all four counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct. He was found not guilty on the other two first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges

May 31: The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce met with area businessmen, educators and local government officials for a discussion on the business climate and how legislative issues are impacting local business.

June 5: The Lyon County Board approved an agreement to help make a bike trail connecting Marshall and Camden State Park possible. In the agreement, the city of Marshall would pay for construction costs for the segments at either end of the trial and the county would be responsible for construction of the remaining segments.

The Lincoln County Board heard from the county's environmental administrator about two jurisdictional disputes with state and federal agencies - one with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on replacing old and damaged tile lines feeding into a county ditch and another with the Minnesota DNR on a parcel of land on the shore of Lake Benton.

The driver of a 2008 Cadillac was killed in a crash with a semi on the intersection of Minnesota Highway 23 and Lyon County Road 9 near Cottonwood.

June 6: The Lyon County Historical Society introduced Jennifer Andries as its new director and talked about its plans in moving to its new location on the intersection of Lyon Street and 3rd Street.

June 11: Marshall businessman and community leader Steve Strautz died at age 58. Strautz was a member of several civic and booster organizations and helped found the Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee.

June 12: The Marshall City Council heard a structural engineer's report on the vacant Marshall Hotel building, that it isn't in danger of collapsing, but it would require extensive repairs before anyone could occupy it.

June 13: A Marshall man, 23, and a Marshall boy, 17, were arrested by the Marshall Police Department in connection with a rash of residential burglaries.

Tracy native Tom Bolin was selected as executive director of the Marshall Area YMCA. He was chosen from a pool of 32 applicants.

June 18: Marshall School District Business Manager Bruce Lamprecht announced at a Marshall School Board meeting that the district wasn't going to make any cuts, and that it was adding a small number of positions, piloting new technology and expanding reading instruction.

June 19: The Lyon County Board approved a shared county highway shop in Cottonwood. In February, fire damaged the shop and equipment was lost. The motion would provide up to a third of the cost for a new shop shared by the county and the city of Cottonwood.

The Lincoln County Board voted to spend $79,000 of county funds to help clean up and renovate the Hendricks creamery building into a microbrewery.

June 20: The city of Balaton had a public meeting to hear from representatives the Menno, S.D., food co-op to learn how the group took over the town's grocery store. The Balaton Economic Development Corporation has been looking for ideas since the closing of the grocery store earlier in the year.

David Weiner, descendent of Weiner Memorial Medical Center founds, died at age 73. Weiner was a member of the hospital board of directors.

June 25: A weekend fire at a Marshall apartment complex left 21 people without a home.

June 26: Despite a protest from residents, the Yellow Medicine County Board approved a cattle facility in Echo Township. The facility was designed to accommodate 995 head of cattle.

A man was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Minnesota Highway 23 near Cottonwood.

June 27: Lyon County District Court Judge Michelle Dietrich said she would take a request for judgement in the lawsuit against Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center under advisement. The hearing was focused on a motion made by the plaintiffs for a summary judgement in the case.

July 8: A Lamberton man was killed and two other people injured in a boat crash on Lake Shetek. The Murray County Sheriff's Office reported a 21-foot boat wedged under the bridge at Valhalla Road at 12:28 a.m. One of the people on the boat, Perry James Altermatt, 49, of Lamberton was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, the Sheriff's Office said. Two others on the boat, Tamra Jo Altermatt, 49, and Miranda Frankie Altermatt, 19, both of Lamberton, were transported to the Murray County Medical Center, the Sheriff's Office said. Time of day and possibly speed were thought to be contributing factors in the crash.

July 10: Western Community Action broke ground for a new addition to the Kitchen Table Food Shelf in Marshall. The building expansion would allow for more cold storage space, expanding the amount of food available to area residents, food shelf volunteers said.

July 20: A pair of cases of waterborne illness led the city of Marshall and the Marshall Area YMCA to temporarily close their swimming pools. Two people under 18 were confirmed to have cases of cryptosporidium on July 18. Both swimming pools underwent treatment to eliminate any spores of the water-dwelling organism.

July 21: All military servicepeople matter, was the message of an event held at the Lyon County Fairgrounds. The event, "For All Who Have Served," was organized to help connect area military families and veterans with a range of needed services. Some sessions at the event were also open to civilians.

July 28: Tragedy struck the family of SMSU men's basketball coach Brad Bigler, as a head-on car crash near Starbuck claimed the life of Brad and Heather Bigler's infant son, Drake. A truck driven by Dana Schoen, 38, of Starbuck, swerved into the oncoming lane and struck the vehicle in which the Biglers, their son and Heather Bigler's grandmother Sharon Schuler, 74, of Granite Falls, were traveling. Drake Bigler was killed in the collision, and all three adults in the Biglers' vehicle received injuries. Schoen was found to have had an alcohol level of .35, more than four times the Minnesota legal limit, at the time of the crash.

Aug. 6: Two people were injured in an explosion at the CHS Inc. grain elevator in Tracy. While there was no actual fire in the blast, two people were injured. The two victims, one a CHS employee and the other an independent truck driver, were treated for burns.

Aug. 6: A former employee of Minnwest Bank in Marshall pleaded guilty to embezzlement in U.S. District Court. Barbara Kaye Rechtzigel, a Belview resident, admitted in a plea agreement that she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers between 1998 and June 2012. The U.S. State Attorney's Office said Rechtzigel created false paperwork to make bank customers believe their CDs were renewed and earning interest when she had actually taken the money. The bank paid out more than $1 million to victims, the U.S. State Attorney's Office said. At the time of her termination from the bank June 4, Rechtzigel was the senior operations manager at Minnwest's Marshall location.

Aug. 9: Residents of the Cedar Lane Trailer Court in Tracy met with legal aid to try and resolve problems with the court's owner failing to provide services. However, that meeting ended with residents being served with a notice that the property was in foreclosure and would be auctioned off in October. The city of Tracy had briefly shut off the trailer court's water in May, because of non-payment of bills.

Aug. 19: The Marshall community lost an artist of diverse talents after Jim Dahl died suddenly after suffering a brain aneurysm. He was 54. Up until his death, Dahl had been spending four to six hours a day working on a sculpture of Mrs. Mary Whitney, who played a key role in naming the city of Marshall.

Aug. 28: The Marshall City Council approved a business subsidy agreement to bring a local brewing company to Marshall. The Brau Brothers Brewing Co., originally of Lucan, had outgrown its facilities and sought to build a brewery in a vacant commercial building near the intersection of Minnesota Highway 23 and U.S. Highway 59 in Marshall.

Aug. 29: Irv Peterson, a Marshall resident and local musical icon, died at the age of 91. Peterson traveled around the country as the leader of the Sammy Jensen Orchestra, playing ballroom music. The orchestra was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in 1998. However, many Marshall community members also remember Peterson through the Marshall Municipal Band, where the played the trumpet for more than 60 summers.

Sept. 4: Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer Paula VanOverbeke said she would be retiring from office. VanOverbeke's retirement came before the official end of her term in 2014, but she said she had reached the retirement age set by PERA. Members of the Lyon County Board accepted a phased retirement plan for VanOverbeke, so she could still be available to help with November elections.

Sept. 8: Police were looking for two suspects responsible for firing shots through the window of a Marshall residence around 2:50 a.m. An investigation found several large-caliber handgun rounds were fired into the bedroom window of a North 6th Street resident as he was sleeping. One of the rounds penetrated the mattress, Police said.

Sept. 14: The Marshall Area Fine Arts Council announced it would be commissioning a new sculptor to create a statue of early Marshall settler Mary Whitney after the death of local artist Jim Dahl. MAFAC said artist John Sterner would create a new statue, rather than complete Dahl's work already in progress.

Sept. 15: A gas explosion and fire in a Tracy home hospitalized a mother and her three children the morning of Sept. 15. Sonja Timmons, 31, and her daughters Kaylee and MKena, ages 8 and 2, were able to get out of the burning house. A neighbor, Matt Schons, ran inside to get Timmons' two-month-old daughter Jaydn from her crib. Timmons and the children were airlifted to a Twin Cities burn facility, where Sonja and Kaylee were in critical condition. Recovery would require multiple surgeries and months of physical rehabilitation, family members said.

Sept. 25: A Lyon County District Court judge issued a final ruling in a lawsuit brought against Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center on behalf of its medical staff. The judge's order said Avera Marshall's staff bylaws did not make up a contract between the hospital and medical staff. The order also said the hospital is required to follow the provisions in its staff bylaws. The suit was filed by two members of Avera Marshall's medical staff, and alleged that the hospital violated medical staff bylaws.

Sept. 28: Department of Natural Resources area wildlife manager Bob Meyer retired after a career of more than 40 years. Meyer was a key player in the restoration of Black Rush Lake in 1999. The project took 357 acres of challenged farmland and wetland and made it a haven for waterfowl.

Sept. 29: Family and friends made the last of four memorial runs at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in memory of Reed Stevens, who was killed in the 2008 Lakeview School bus crash.

Oct. 3: The state Board of Animal Control issued a rabies alert for Lyon County after a cat tested positive for rabies and was euthanized on Sept. 28.

Oct. 4: Workmen continued to seal the old creamery building in Hendricks so interior renovations could go on through the winter. The creamery was purchased by a limited liability corporation for the purpose of turning the building into a brewery.

Oct. 5: Developers, contractors, and city officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new senior center on the site of the former Marshall Junior High School.

Oct. 6: Southwest Minnesota State University unveiled the new Mustang logo at halftime of the homecoming game against Wayne State.

Oct. 8: A helicopter on loan from the state Department of Natural Resources helped local fire departments battle a prairie fire in Camden State Park.

Oct. 9: A semi hauling hay rolled over on U.S. Highway 59 north of Marshall, killing the driver.

Oct. 10: Minnesotans United for All Families held an panel discussion at Southwest Minnesota State University on same-sex marriage and the proposed marriage amendment.

Oct. 13: The second annual Governor's Pheasant Opener started with the participation of Gov. Mark Dayton.

Oct. 15: The Marshall School Board approved an application for a $7 million dollar Race to the Top grant to provide a technology-rich learning environment for six regional school districts.

Oct. 16: The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners approved an issue of $4.3 million in general obligation road reconstruction bonds to resurface about 45 miles of county roads.

District taxpayers had a chance to examine several proposed renovation plans for the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School at the RTR School Board meeting.

The Lyon County Board of Commissioners voted to appoint E.J. Moberg as county auditor/treasurer to serve the remainder of retiring Auditor/Treasurer Paula VanOverbeke.

Oct. 17: The Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce held an informal meeting for citizens to ask questions about the proposed sales tax increase to fund a sports center and improvements to the MERIT Center.

Oct. 21: Crowds welcomed the return of the Marshall High School Marching Band from the Bands of America competition, where they placed first in Class A.

Oct. 23: A large grain bin at the Tracy grain elevator collapsed, two months after an explosion at the same facility. There were no casualties.

The Lyon County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the City of Cottonwood to lease space for a highway shop.

Oct. 24: The Marshall Municipal Utilities Commission approved a 2 percent rate increase at its regular meeting, after nobody showed up for the public hearing.

The Marshall City Council approved a local business' quote for a contract to relocate trees being removed from about the city's flood protection dikes, contingent on certain "irregularities" being addressed.

Oct. 29: Nearly 100 people attended a community watch meeting at the Marshall-Lyon County Library to discuss a recent rash of burglaries.

Nov. 5: Lisa Zmeskal, audit manager with Hoffman and Brobst, told the Marshall School Board revenues for the year exceeded expenditures by $260,000 at a regular work session at Marshall Middle School.

Nov. 6: On election day, Marshall voters approved a 5 percent sales tax and 1.5 percent hospitality tax to fund the regional amateur sports center and MERIT Center expansion. The sports center vote garnered 62 percent of the vote, while the MERIT Center question received 60 percent approval. Seventh District Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson won a 12th term by defeating challenger Lee Byberg for a second time; Republican Sen. Gary Dahms was re-elected to a second term in the newly-redrawn District 16; and Republican Rep. Chris Swedzinski won a second term in House District 16A.

Nov. 13: The Marshall City Council approved a transfer of land for a Ralco warehouse expansion.

The Lynd City Council passed an adult business ordinance and licensing fee aimed at restricting the operations of The Juice Bar, which features nude dancers.

Nov. 19: Members of the Marshall School Board approved an audit and superintendent's contract for 2012 at their regular meeting on Monday. Results of the audit showed the district's revenues exceeded expenses by $260,000 in 2012.

Nov. 20: A representative of the public finance firm Ehlers informed the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners the county's Standard & Poor bond worthiness rating had been raised to AA-, the second time the county's rating had been raised since Oct., 2011.

Nov. 21: Ruth Ascher, executive director of the United Way of Southwest Minnesota, is retiring after nearly 10 years in the position.

Nov. 21: Almost 50 residents of Echo gathered to hear representative of the Echo Community Hospitality Organization describe what had been accomplished in plans to replace the Echo Bar and Restaurant, destroyed in a fire in August, 2011, and discuss what remains to be done.

Nov. 26: The Marshall Police Department held a meeting for residents wanting to set up neighborhood watch programs.

Nov. 27: The Marshall City Council approved a Conditional Use Permit for the Brau Brothers Brewing Company to use the former Runnings Building for a new brewery.

Nov. 27: John Berends, owner of Bootleggers Supper Club, was sworn in to the Yellow Medicine County Board, to fill in the last two years of the term left vacant by Commissioner Dick Wambeke's death.

The Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission moved the Marshall sports complex project to the top of its capitol bonding recommendation list for the 2013 legislative session.

Dec. 3: The Marshall School District levy will increase by 5 percent, the board learned at its annual Truth in Taxation hearing. The levy is expected to increase by $300,890.75.

Dec. 4: A rash of fires that broke out near Amiret put seven area fire departments into action. The fires were located within a 2- to 3-mile radius of the Redwood River Sportsman's Club, south of Marshall. Law enforcement quickly started investigating the possibility the fires were started deliberately. No one was injured and there was no damage to any structures.

The man charged with criminal vehicular operation in the crash that killed 5-month-old Drake Bigler of Marshall, the son of SMSU men's basketball coach Brad Bigler, pleaded guilty in Pope County Court to three counts of criminal vehicular operation. Two of those charges were amended from criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm, to criminal vehicular operation causing substantial bodily harm. Dana Schoen of rural Starbuck was behind the wheel of a truck that swerved into oncoming traffic and struck a vehicle occupied by the Bigler family in July.

Dec. 6: Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center unveiled plans for a new $12.5 million to $13.5 million cancer institute, which is scheduled to begin serving patients in July 2014. The cancer center will include radiation therapy, among other treatments. Roughly $7 million of the cost will be paid for by a gift from the city of Marshall after the sale of the hospital from the city to the Avera Health System.

County officials went though the proposed county budget and property tax levy. The proposed county levy remained frozen at the 2008 level. The proposed tax levy was $12.1 million, with levy dollars going toward the county's general fund, roads and bridges, and debt service.

Dec. 9: The first snowstorm of the season dumped 15 inches of snow in Granite Falls, 13 in Ivanhoe and 10 in Marshall. Strong winds blew into the area beginning Sunday morning and lasting well into the night, essentially shutting down the area.

Dec. 11: The Marshall City Council discussed in detail plans for the regional amateur sports facility and MERIT Center projects. Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said the city once again will pursue bonding dollars - $4 million for the sports complex and $2 million for the MERIT Center.

Dec. 17: The Marshall School Board expressed concern over the city cutting back by one day the time the school resource officer spends at schools in Marshall because of staffing issues within the Marshall Police force. Board member Jeff Chapman proposed setting up a meeting with city officials to discuss the matter further.

Optometrist Dr. LeRoy Affolter completed his final exam after more than 50 years of service in Marshall. The business, where Affolter started in 1958 with his father-in-law, dates back to 1936.

Dec. 18: Marshall City Council members say they want the school resource officer's regular hours to be reinstated and voted unanimously to restore the position to the full work load for now, a day after the Marshall School Board expressed concern about the reduction in hours on the heels of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The Lyon County Board voted unanimously to increase funding for the county fair to make admission to the fair free. The county will boost its financial contribution from $14,500 to $25,500 for a total of $40,000 to make the move possible.

Dec. 26: Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center and the Minnesota Nurses Association, represented by Registered Nurses from Avera, agreed to a new three-year contract, with terms retroactive to Oct. 1, 2012. The current contract was to expire on the last day of 2012.

A planned trail project in Lyon County received a big boost from the state, as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources named it the r



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