It's been an eventful year in Granite Falls and Clarkfield. For proof one need look no further than the A/T's list of Top 10 Stories of 2012.
1) Fagen Fighters WII Museum:
The Fagen Fighters WII Museum is a sight to behold. From the warbird collection to educational videos that run on touch screen displays, everything about the WWII museum is top notch with a "wow factor." The venue will serve to teach the younger generations about the "Greatest Generation" but will also serve as a major tourist draw for perhaps generations to come. And better yet is the promise that "this is just the beginning," foreshadowing even more great museum developments in the future.
2) Minnesota Falls Dam:
If not the top story, the removal of the Minnesota Falls Dam is at the very least the most emotionally charged. After private and public attempts to salvage the century old structure failed, Xcel Energy has begun the removal process of the dam. State and non-profit environmental organizations believe that the action will improve recreational fishing and river-craft opportunities while many others are still skeptical that a drop in river levels will hurt local aesthetics.
3) H.A. Hagg purchased:
Much like Minn. Falls Dam taps into the nostalgia of GF residents, the H.A. Hagg building holds a special place in the heart of many in the Clarkfield community. A Missouri property investor purchased the building for just over $6,000 and has begun to make investments into the former school in hopes of finding tenants that will make the structure profitable. The sale also impacts the YME as the district had come to view the building mostly as a liability in terms of upkeep and potential removal expense.
4) Granite leaders pass on:
Community leaders (from L-to-R) Gary Kubly, Elroy Burgeson and Dick Wambeke all died in 2012. Kubly was a pastor and long-time Senator for the area; Burgeson served as dean of the local technical college and helped start both the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) and the community celebration known today as Western Fest; while Wambeke was a long-time GF councilman, YM Co. Commissioner and YM Co. Family Service Director. All were beloved role-models who made major contributions to the area community.
5) Pedestrian Bridge rehab is fully funded :
With perhaps Granite Falls most iconic structure feeling the wear and tear of time and the occasional major flood, the GF City Council managed to obtain approximately $525,000 from the state and $525,000 from the federal government to fully fund a rehabilitation of the bridge that will help ensure that the walking bridge is in place for many years to come. The rehab is expected to begin and be completed next year.
6)Health and Safety Lawsuit: A lawsuit has dogged YME's roughly $10 million Health and Safety improvement project since the start, but it was only this past year that a judge ruled that approx. $2.5 million of the project fell outside a state program. YME has challenged the ruling.
7) Riverview Apts. sold... finally: It took a few years and three auctions but the Riverview Apts. was finally sold to a family-run business out of Oregon.
8) YMC Government Center: In Dec. YM Co. purchased the Fagen Engineering buidling in downtown GF for $450,000 to serve as a government center.
9) Downtown changes: In GF, two new businesses and the ongoing impact of the K.K. Berge Building has brought life to downtown, while in Clarkfield the demolition of the Roxy Theater paved the way for Hardware Hank's expansion.
10) Both principals replaced: Both YME and BRE principals in Karen Norell and Jodi Kennedy departed in '12 bringing a relatively rare change to the leadership in both schools. The good news is that both replacements Michael Meihak and Melissa Hesch, respectively, have been well received.
Honorable Mention: Upper Sioux Community receives $1M grant for wastewater treatment plant, state redistricting, GF looking to building nursing home, Prentice St. Flood mitigation complete, Clarkfield potential police changes, GF water plant nears completion, a very dry spring.