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The Green Valley Fire destroyed several hundreds of acres in May.

The PJ looks back a year's worth of Wadena news

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Wadena PJ
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Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson, P.O. Box 31 56482

Throughout 2013, Wadena leaders worked tirelessly to make the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center a reality.

The $12.4 million facility might have prompted the most stories, but lots of other things happened in our community throughout the past year, from naming a new police chief and superintendent to a wildfire and small tornado.

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Here's a look back at some highlights:

January

• After 35 years as a pharmacist in Wadena, Diane Peters retired from Thrifty White Drug.

• The first baby born at Tri-County Health Care in 2013, Beckett Mitchell Messer, enters the world at 4:19 p.m. Jan. 2.

• Gillette Kempf and Brian Hillesland are sworn in as new members of the Wadena City Council, along with re-elected Mayor Wayne Wolden.

• Wadena-Deer Creek thespians present "The Humorist of Forest Leaves," a one-act play on Jan. 24

• HealthPartners, the city's health insurer, pitches in $50,000 for scholarships for underprivileged youth get memberships at the new wellness center.

• Terry Frost, veteran of both Iraq wars, joins the Wadena Police Department as a patrol officer.

February

• About 700 people attend the February Festival of Health Feb. 2 at M State Wadena. They received free health screenings and enjoyed entertainment.

• Wadena is blanketed with a foot of snow on Feb. 10 as the harsh winter continued.

• Wadena Public Works Director Ron Bucholz announced his retirement, effective in July, after working for Minnesota communities for 40 years, more than half of them in this city.

• The Wadena County Commission offered the auditor/treasurer job to Judy Taves on Feb. 22. She was sworn in less than three weeks later.

March

• The Park Advisory Board approves construction of a new shelter near SW baseball fields and skating rink. The building opened in the summer.

• Tri-County Health Care hosted an open house March 4 to showcase its new rehab center.

• TCHC started a new phase of construction March 18 to revamp its entrance, waiting room, lab draw stations and registration areas, as well as add a mental health wing, space for specialists and a gift shop.

• Lee Westrum accepts the WDC superintendent job via text message during the school board's March 18 meeting.

• In a unanimous vote March 27, the city council authorized architects to move forward with preparations for the wellness center.

April

• A group led by Ed Blazek petitioned the city to add a whirlpool at the wellness center to make it more appealing. The council later approved the idea.

• Former Twins player and coach Frank Quilici spoke to a capacity Memorial Auditorium crowd April 15 for the annual Men's Night Out.

• The Maslowski Charitable Trust upped its commitment to the wellness center, adding $250,000 to the $1.2 million it already had pledged.

• Wadena McDonald's manager Diane Lee received the Ray Kroc Award, given to the the top one percent of managers in United States.

May

• More than 100 M State Wadena students participated in a graduation ceremony May 10.

• Five houses and 25 outbuildings were destroyed in the Green Valley fire in northern Wadena County. Forty-two fire departments battled the blaze and 36 law enforcement organizations evacuated residents and controlled traffic.

• Fifty-six Wadena-Deer Creek seniors graduated from high school May 24 in the first ceremony at the rebuilt facility.

• Vining native Karen Nyberg blast off into space aboard a Russian vessel May 28 for a six-month mission to the International Space Station.

• Police Chief Bruce Uselman announces he will end his four-decade law enforcement career in July.

June

• Fair Oaks Lodge adds a regional transitional care unit and offered a public viewing June 6.

• Wadena residents participated in the annual June Jubilee from June 15 to 17. Events included a pancake breakfast, parade, golf scramble, fishing derby, walk/run, steak fry and fireworks.

• Paul Terry of Wisconsin won the 2013 Great American Think-Off debate in New York Mills, arguing for compromise over steadfastly sticking to principles.

• Wadena residents experienced a spree of daytime burglaries and police urge them to take preventative measures.

• Macy Hartman was named Miss Wadena 2013 during the annual pageant June 22.

• The Wadena County Fair returned with revamped facilities June 26 to 30. Revelers enjoyed live music, carnival rides and various livestock events.

July

• The Veterans Park Committee agreed to not include references to Jesus Christ on a planned monument, ending a long debate.

• Excavators demolish the city pool July 12. It had been damaged in the 2010 tornado.

• Friendly Rider driver LeRoy Rentz finished in the top third of competitors in the 2013 Minnesota Bus "Roadeo," a competition of driving, repair and safety skills.

• TCHC hosted its second annual block party July 16 with food, entertainment and a bike rodeo.

August

• The shooting death of 20-year-old Ethan Honer of Dent rocked the Wadena area. The presumed murderer, 23-year-old Jacob Geiser of New York Mills, died in a St. Cloud Hospital after shooting himself.

• Residents express complaints about dogs barking loudly at the Wadena Human Society shelter during an at-times heated city council meeting Aug. 14.

• The Wadena community showed its support for cancer survivors and patients during the Relay for Life at Sunnybrook Park.

• Wadena EMS director Scott McKellep announced his resignation at a Aug. 22 County Commission meeting. He took a job with the state.

• A small tornado touched down briefly near highways 10 and 75 just west of town. No damage or injuries were reported.

September

• WDC public schools started the year with 1,003 students, up two from fall 2012.

• The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation donated $500,000 for wellness center construction.

• Cozy Theatre hosted the 2013 Whiskey Creek Film Festival. One of the films it featured, "Girl from Birch Creek," was made in Minnesota.

• Mayor Wayne Wolden named Sept. 27 "Princess Warrior Day" in honor of Jane Fiemeyer, who died in 2012 at age 7 from leukemia.

• The city council awarded contracts for wellness center construction following several delays.

October

• The Pioneer Journal changed its publication day from Saturday to Thursday.

• The Minnesota Supreme Court visited Wadena, hearing arguments in an actual case and visiting with students.

• The city council voted unanimously to name interim Police Chief Naomi Platz for the permanent position. Platz has worked for the department since 1998 and was the first female officer in the city and is its first woman chief.

• Leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of the wellness center Oct. 22.

• The Wadena Elks Lodge donated $10,000 to WDC schools after completing construction of a greenhouse on the middle school/high school grounds.

November

• Hunters harvested more deer locally than in 2012 during the annual firearm season. Statewide, numbers were down slightly.

• The WDC Drama Department presented the musical "Don't Stop Believing" Nov. 14,15 and 16 at Memorial Auditorium.

• The Wadena County Commission approved a one-year 0.5 percent sales tax increase to help pay for transportation projects.

• Cheryl Helms opened "1776 - A Clothing Revolution" at 102 Jefferson St. S. It sells American-made clothing.

• The Cozy Theatre is selected as the top movie theater in the state in an online poll conducted by WCCO-TV.

December

• The first winter storm of the year slams Wadena with frigid temps and an estimated 16 inches of snow in the first week of the month. WDC schools canceled one day of classes.

• TCHC launches a community paramedic program aimed at reducing readmission to the hospital through visits to high risk patients.

• The WDC School Board approved a levy for 2014 that will reduce school district property taxes by 5.2 percent.

• The city council mulled adding features to the wellness center after reducing the project's cost through engineering savings.

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