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Year in review: Animals make headlines in 2017

District 2155 voters passed both ballot questions in a Nov. 7 vote on increasing the operating levy and upgrading the Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal1 / 9
Antonio St. Marie pled not guilty to nine charges in connection with the Nov. 7, 2016 death of his estranged wife, Margaret St. Marie, in Wadena County court. Submitted photo2 / 9
Wadena County Auditor/Treasurer Judy Taves was hit by allegations of violating a county-union labor policy. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal3 / 9
The Wadena City Council upheld a decades-old kennel ordinance broke up a family of three basset hounds in town, sparking controversy and a petition signed by tens of thousands of people worldwide. Submitted photo4 / 9
Tom Grasswick of Deer Creek held a young whitetail deer down after it wandered into the Walmart Supercenter in Wadena on a spring evening. Submitted photo5 / 9
The Meadows of Wadena, an assisted senior living facility, opened in Wadena in September. The facility is located at 110 Hemlock Ave. NW in Wadena. Photo by Kim Brasel6 / 9
A record crowd filled the streets in Wadena for the Princess Warrior 5K in October. The event drew an estimated 540 participants. Doug Wolff photo7 / 9
The 124th Wadena County Fair was a big attaction in June. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal8 / 9
Children hustled for free candy at the June Jubilee parade in downtown Wadena. The parade attracted around 4,000 spectators. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal9 / 9

A pair of animal-related Pioneer Journal stories generated buzz in 2017, including one of a man wrestling a deer to the floor in Walmart and a big push by dog lovers everywhere to help a Wadena woman keep her three basset hounds in her home despite a city ordinance that doesn't allow it.

In May, a young whitetail deer entered Walmart in Wadena through the Garden Center. The deer triggered a motion detector that opened two sliding doors.

Store manager John Wakeman, who was not working at the time, says he received "800 calls, I think."

A shopper helped wrestler the deer to the ground and held it there until police arrived.

Wadena Police arrived during the capture and helped remove the wild animal.

"Thankfully no one, including the deer, was hurt," Wakeman said at the time. "I don't want to even think about what could have been. I'm just happy it ended with no one getting hurt."

In July, nearly 50 thousand signatures were collected on a worldwide petition in support of Wadena woman Amber Block, who wished to keep her three basset hounds together despite a violation of a Wadena city kennel ordinance.

Despite a plea from Block to keep her three dogs, the city council did not take action on her case.

"I take care of my dogs. You are coming to me and saying, 'OK, we are going to start with you because we know you have three dogs,' " Block told the council in a meeting in July.

The kennel ordinance has been around Wadena since the 1980s.

Here are some other top stories from 2017:

• Wadena State Bank and First National Bank announced the merging their operations in January. The First National Bank building closed as personnel were moved to the Wadena State Bank site. First National Bank President Scott Pettit pointed out his bank had served the community for more than 100 years. The combined entity was expected to have assets of more than $180 million.

• A group of 23 Wadena-Deer Creek students honored a departed classmate, Sam Kelderman, in January with a snowmobile ride to school.

• Two-year-old Mason Mousseau of Wadena was the sole survivor of a head-on crash on Highway 10 which took the lives of his mother, Jessica Lannes, 31, and Lucille Rehm, 63.

• Antonio St. Marie of Wadena was indicted on nine felony charges in February, including murder in the first degree, in connection with the death of his estranged wife, Margaret, on Nov. 7, 2016. At a later hearing in May, St. Marie pled not guilty to all nine charges.

• The Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary, Middle and High School buildings were on soft lockdown in March after a staff member at the high school found a piece of paper with a message that school and law enforcement officials agreed could be interpreted as a threat. Parents and guardians were informed of the threat the night before the lockdown.

• Henning sophomore 16-year-old Jacob Quam died in a two-vehicle accident on Highway 210 in April. Quam's 2005 Chevrolet Impala was struck by a semi-truck one mile northeast of Vining. Charges were filed in July against the truck driver, 35-year-old Jacob Vadner of Wheaton.

• The 16th annual Ronald McDonald House Motorcycle Ride in June raised $125,000.

• Gabi Ross was crowned Miss Wadena in 2017. Taylor Dirks was crowned First Princess and Maxine Junker was crowned Second Princess.

• A crowd estimated at 4,000 attended the June Jubilee Parade.

• The 124th Wadena County Fair enjoyed good weather and a number of special events, including the return of Enduro Racing.

• Wadena businessman and coach Bob Tubandt learned in July he had been picked from coaches in 50 states for induction into the Golden Gloves Boxing Hall of Fame in May, 2018.

• More than 1,200 attended the Tri-County Health Care Block Party in July on the Wesley lawn in Wadena.

• The MS Tram visited Wadena. The group of 500 cyclists and support personnel entered Wadena County from the south and touched base in Aldrich before biking into Wadena where they camped for a night at Sunnybrook Park. They proceeded into Otter Tail County one day later.

• Wellness in the Woods realized a windfall when the state of Minnesota gave the four-year-old group a planning grant of $100,000 in their quest to establish a peer respite in Wadena. The organization promotes mental health and helps people with mental health issues.

• Hurricane Harvey dogs flooded the Wadena Humane Society shelter after the storm ravaged the area around Houston, Texas. Some 23 dogs arrived in Wadena in September.

• The Meadows of Wadena, a $5.3 million, 49-unit senior living facility opened in Wadena in September.

• Wadena County auditor/treasurer Judy Taves was hit with allegations of creating a hostile working environment in September by Teamsters Local 320. An investigation report released in November found Taves guilty. While she reviewed and signed documents when called upon by acting supervisor Ryan Odden, Taves was absent from her board clerking duties from Sept. 13 to Dec. 12.

• A record crowd estimated at 540 participated in the Princess Warrior 5K Run, Walk, Roll, Stroll or Crawl in Wadena Sept. 30. The fundraiser for Leukemia was the wish of eight-year-old Jane Fiemeyer of Wadena before she died of the disease.

• District 2155 voters passed both ballot questions put to them in November. The first dealt with increasing the per-pupil operating levy of $513.20 to $862.29. The second provided $5.3 million in taxpayer money for upgrades at the Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School. The school board had previously voted to put $9.45 million into the WDC Elementary building.

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