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Frozen in time: Beavers' shocking run to the NCAA semifinals heads list of top stories of 2009 in Bemidji area

Among the many fans who greeted the Bemidji State men's hockey team upon its return from the Frozen Four was Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann, right. The Beavers' historic run to the NCAA semifinals brought much attention to the university and the city in 2009. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren1 / 4
Construction of the Enbridge Energy pipline began in late August, bringing hundreds of workers to the Bemidji area. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper2 / 4
Bemidji State President Jon Quistgaard, left, Athletic Director Rick Goeb and men's hockey coach Tom Serratore were all smiles in June when it was announced the Beavers will join the WCHA in 2010-11. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren3 / 4
Red Lake Nation Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. leads the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the Seven Clans Casino on state Highway 89 earlier this month. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren4 / 4

The past year provided the seesaw of a long, drawn-out contest for the U.S. Senate seat finally won by Al Franken, the optimism of the Bemidji Regional Event Center groundbreaking and the entry of Bemidji State University into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

The excitement of BSU men's hockey peaked in April when the team qualified to compete in the NCAA Frozen Four. Suddenly, people around the country, and around the world for that matter, were talking about Bemidji, a town not many outside Minnesota had heard of before.

Here's a look at some of the top stories of the year:


-Oshki Manidoo (New Spirit) Center for troubled youth completed renovations of the old Episcopal Community Services Gilfillan Center and began taking referrals. The White Earth Band of Ojibwe created a culturally specific set of services for troubled American Indian youth, as well as for non-Indian youngsters.

-Greg Liedl of Bemidji, transportation coordinator for the Bemidji School District, was named 2008 Transportation Administrator of the Year by the Minnesota Association of Pupil Transportation.

-Bemidji State University applied for membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

-Northern Dental Access Center opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The center is designed to provide dental care for people on public assistance, such as Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare.

-DFLers celebrated as Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States.

-Enbridge Energy received approval from the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission to set up temporary pipeline construction headquarters on 38 acres of land along U.S. Highway 2 east of Bemidji High School.

-Members of the new tax-levying local government, the Bemidji Regional Airport Authority, were sworn in.

-Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann and Bemidji State University President Jon Quistgaard together signed the lease for the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

-Ainsworth Lumber Co. announced permanent closure of oriented strand board plants in Bemidji and Cook, Minn.

-Jim Carrington, Bemidji Pioneer sports editor, marked his 50th year with the newspaper.


-Beltrami County Road19/Lavinia Road project received the Minnesota County Engineers Association award for 2008 rural road project of the year for restoring wetlands and the tranquility of the neighborhood.

-Trish Quistgaard of Bemidji received the Minnesota School Psychologists Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

-Beltrami County graduated the first class from DWI Court, a program to help people become sober and reduce repeat DWI offenses. DWI Court is a collaboration of prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, probation officers and chemical dependency services.

-The U.S. Speedskating National Marathon Championships and the North American Speedskating Championships were held on the 1-kilometer groomed oval on Lake Bemidji.

-Mahnomen County Deputy Christopher Dewey, 26, was shot and severely injured during a standoff at a Mahnomen residence.


-Patricia Rosenbrock of Bemidji, a Bemidji State University professor emeritus, was inducted into the Northwest Minnesota Women's Hall of Fame.

-The Bemidji City Council approved bids for construction of the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

-Beltrami County Board voted for nonrenewal of a contract with Northern Lakes Clinic, a methadone treatment center.

-Hubbard County Sheriff Gary Mills resigned because of ill health.

-Bemidji High School Vocalmotive and La Voce Ballo show choirs ended their seasons by winning grand championships in their respective categories at the Totino-Grace High School Show Choir Spectacular.

-Former Bemidji City Councilor Ralph Zachman died.

-Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Governor's Health Cabinet named Bemidji a Governor's Fit City.


-The official groundbreaking for the Bemidji Regional Event Center marked the beginning of construction.

-Andy Wells of Bemidji, president and owner of Wells Technology, was named U.S. Small Business Administration Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year for 2009.

-The Blackduck School Board approved a four-day school week to begin in September. The shorter school week was expected to result in financial savings.

-A Bemidji family - Julie Quanrud, Ric Meixell and their children, Emily and Jack - discovered that their Portuguese water dog, Ruby, is half-sister to the Obamas' First Dog Bo.

-The city of Bemidji tore down the old Minnesota Department of Transportation building on Paul Bunyan Drive South.

-Beau Braun of Bemidji was recognized as the Inspire By Example Youth Volunteer of the Year.

-The Bemidji Lions Club celebrated its 70th anniversary of service.

-The Paul Bunyan Playhouse honored Helen Gill as the 2009 Star in the Street for her many years of support for the organization.

-Bemidji Pioneer Political Editor Brad Swenson was honored with the Graven Award for excellence in the journalism profession, and the Pioneer was honored with the Hage Award for excellence in coverage of breaking news about public affairs.


-Tom Johnson of Bemidji saved a Leader, Minn., woman from her burning house. He saw the fire as he was riding by on his motorcycle.

-Actor/director Greg Gasman was honored as the 2009 Bemidji Friend of the Arts.

-Bemidji State University won the Minnesota Campus Energy Challenge, a competition among seven higher education institutions to make the largest reduction in energy consumption during February.

-Barbara Bridges, professor of professional education at Bemidji State University, was named Minnesota Higher Art Educator of the Year and the Minnesota Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Educators Association.

-Bemidji's Diamond Point Park earned an Award of Excellence from the Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association.

-The Bemidji High School Class of 2009 graduated 320 students.

-The Beltrami County District Court was equipped with new technology to help people with hearing impairments better hear and participate in courtroom activities.


-The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board approved plans presented by Ours to Serve House of Hospitality to build a new homeless shelter.

-SITE Design Group, the company that built the world's first skate park in Kettering, Ohio, was hired to create Bemidji's skate park in City Park.

-Gov. Tim Pawlenty unalloted $2.65 billion from state spending in an attempt to balance Minnesota's budget. The unallotment included $300 million from cities and counties.

-Lake Bemidji State Park Manager Paul Mork retired after 22 years.

-The last of the Benedictine sisters to serve at Red Lake's St. Mary's Mission left for other duties. The Benedictine sisters had a 121-year history of service at Red Lake.

-Bemidji State University's bid to join the Western Collegiate Hockey Association was accepted.


-After months of recounts and court hearings, Democrat Al Franken was declared the winner of the election for U.S. Senate over incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

-Bemidji's population increased to an estimated 13,541 people.

-Daniel Kurt Vernier, 27, the accomplice to the man accused of shooting Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dewey, pleaded guilty failure to render assistance. The guilty plea was the result of an agreement by prosecutors to drop 16 other charges.

-Federal stimulus dollars allowed for reconstruction of Irvine Avenue Northwest and U.S. Highway 2 near Wilton.

-In a campaign initiated by Bemidji's Shared Vision organization, many local businesses adopted Ojibwe greetings and other signage to make area American Indians feel more welcome.

-Area Republicans were shocked when former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced her resignation as governor of Alaska.

-With the retirement of North Country Health Services CEO and President Jim Hanko, NCHS hired Paul Hanson for the health care leadership position.

-Bemidji High School student Marcus Wax, a member of the BHS Speech Team, qualified to compete in the National Forensic Tournament in Birmingham, Ala.

-Tove Dahl, dean of Skogfjorden at Concordia Language Villages, was knighted by the government of Norway.

-Two men died in a Blackduck Lake boating accident.

-Bemidji School District had to borrow $9 million to cover a delay in state aid under Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget balancing unallotment.


-Reconstruction of the Lake Bemidji West Shore Trail began.

-The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board approved raising height limits on the Lake Bemidji south shore to 80 feet.

-Con Beaulieu laid the first brick for Bemidji Regional Event Center.

-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed the permit to approve the expansion of the Enbridge Energy Corp. pipeline. Construction began late in the month.

-Brian Stefanich was named the new Bemidji High School principal, Drew Hildenbrand was named the new Bemidji Middle School principal and Tami Wesely was named principal of Bemidji Alternative Education.

-The Grace Lake Watershed Homeowners Association was honored with the Star Lake designation for conservation and preservation efforts.


-Trish Quistgaard was named Bemidji Education Association Teacher of the Year, Sandy Raddatz was named BEA Support Professional of the Year and Andy Allen was named BEA Lay Educator of the Year.

-North Country Health Services opened Trillium Memory Care, a facility for people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

-Bemidji Regional Airport received a federal grant of nearly $6 million for reconstruction of the terminal.

-A driver struck and killed a young cougar on Carr Lake Road Southwest confirming the presence of the animals in the area.

-Because of ill health, Bill Lawrence published the last edition of his newspaper, Native American Press/Ojibwe News after 21 years.


-Bemidji State University rededicated Sattgast Hall after renovations were completed.

-Bemidji State University reported a 6 percent enrollment increase over fall 2008.

-Dan Bahr, manager of Bemidji's municipal liquor stores, retired after nearly 40 years.

-Bemidji State University President Jon Quistgaard announced that he will retire in summer 2010.


-Doug Coutlee of the Civil Air Patrol Northland Composite Squadron received the Billy Mitchell Award, CAP's highest honor, from Lt. Col. Keith Bischoff, commander for Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Walker, Grand Rapids and Duluth.

-Bob LeBarron was hired as the Bemidji Regional Event Center executive director.

-The Bemidji Theatre, remodeled and enlarged in the old Amigo Theater on U.S. Highway 2 West, opened with the blockbuster vampire movie, "New Moon."

-The United Way of Bemidji Area campaigned raised $406,703.

-Stuff a Truck brought in a record 16,560 pounds of food and $9,965 in cash donations.

-The Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area opened a new teen center.


-North Country Health Services opened WindSong catered senior living apartments at WoodsEdge, the Anne Street complex that also connects Neilson Place and Trillium memory care housing. WindSong offers 80 apartments and a range of care options.

-A mysterious photo captured by a game trail camera led to the announcement of a Bigfoot citing in the woods north of Remer.

-Red Lake Nation Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. and other tribal officials cut the ribbon on the new Seven Clans Casino on state Highway 89 south of the village of Red Lake.

EA three-day snow event during the Christmas holiday made travel difficult for many planning to visit friends and relatives.

EBemidji Fire Chief Dick Sathers retired after 33 years with the Bemidji Fire Department.