by Cori Hilsgen
(This is Part 1 of a two-part series.)
Changes and growth continued for St. Joseph in 2014. New traffic lights were installed, an Army Reserve Center was built, the College of St. Benedict’s north entrance received a new face lift with more sustainable landscaping, the Park Terrace area saw replacement of water/sewer lines and storm sewer and, after 140 years, air conditioning was installed in the Church of St. Joseph.
Mary Dana Hinton became the new president at CSB and the St. Cloud School District’s Early Childhood programs relocated to the old Kennedy building, newly renamed Colts Academy, after a fire destroyed the Roosevelt Education Center in St. Cloud.
Finken Water Cos. relocated to St. Joseph. Other businesses such as Sisters and Co. and the Artisan Naan Bakery opened and the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Sacred Heart Chapel.
Area volunteers pulled together for events such as the Joe Town Table meal, Fare for All food program, Summer Lunch and Learn program and more.
Twenty-five years later, area residents remembered and still sought answers to the tragic abduction of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling.
The St. Joseph City Council decided not to move forward with a new government center after citizens signed a petition against the planned building, and a splash-pad coalition was formed to try to bring a splash pad to the city.
Here is a look back at what else happened:
2014 began with some frigid 50- to 60-degree-below-zero wind chills. The National Weather Service issued early warnings about the dangerously cold-air outbreak and issued warnings which covered 20 states.
Local musicians Dave Cofell and Adam Hammer performed at the Local Roots concert at the Paramount Theater in St. Cloud. Also performing with them were bass player and Local Blend owner Jeff Engholm, Bennett Velline and Harper’s Chord.
The St. Benedict’s Monastery archives department got reorganized after its June flood and water damage. Cleanup and restoration involved many helping hands.
A Joe Town Table community meal was held at the American Legion in St. Joseph. Organizers hoped it would bring people in the area together so they could work to accomplish productive goals.
A regional sales-tax brainstorming meeting was held for the six greater St. Cloud area cities to help plan for the extension of the half-cent sales-tax referendum.
All Saints Academy students donated 132 shoeboxes to Place of Hope for its children’s Christmas event.
The Rural Stearns Faith in Action and the Great River Area Faith in Action program directors shared how the programs operated and the many services available to area residents to help them remain independent in their homes for a longer period of time.
The Diocese of St. Cloud released a list of 33 names of clergy accused of sexual-abuse charges.
Local BMX racing mentor Cheryl Post, 53, died of cancer after battling stage 4 melanoma for the past year. Post’s daughter, Alise, is a professional racer and a U.S. Olympian who competed in the 2012 Olympics held in London.
A fire destroyed about two-thirds of the St. John’s University paint-shop building. A sign on the building stated it was on the National Register of Historic Places.
St. John’s Prep Team 1 was the champion at the central Minnesota Knowledge Bowl invitational in EdenValley-Watkins. The meet included 52 teams that competed in varsity and junior-varsity divisions.
A documentary about Larry Tillemans and the Holocaust was shown at St. Cloud State University. Tillemans was a U.S. Army typist during the Nuremburg War Crimes trials which took place in Nuremburg, Germany after World War II ended in 1945.
The first Joe Town Table meal hosted by Central Minnesota Catholic Worker, Resurrection Lutheran Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church and others was a success. Even though it was cold and windy, more than 84 people attended the meal organized to create a more vibrant and healthy community and to offer support to people who need it.
Local fifth- and sixth-grade students were among the more than 720 students from 30 area school districts who attended the eighth annual Science Rocks day at St. Cloud State University.
Area school districts closed schools again because of bitterly cold, snowy and windy weather. It was the fourth time this winter that area schools closed.
College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University political science professor Jim Read filed his candidacy for the U.S. House in Minnesota’s sixth congressional district. He planned to run for the seat held by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Stillwater) who was retiring.
ASA students displayed their knowledge with 44 science-fair projects in Heritage Hall.
St. Joseph Police Chief Joel Klein and police officer Matt Johnson assisted with the birth of baby Neely Erickson in her father’s Dodge Ram truck during a morning with temperatures at 11-degrees-below zero in St. Joseph.
Ken Hiemenz served the St. Joseph Rod and Gun Club for 40 years, many of them as the club president.
Lenora Hilsgen turned 95. Hilsgen is a resident at Arlington Assisted Living in St. Joseph.
ASA teachers began teaching science, technology, engineering and math to boost skills for future jobs.
MaryBeth Munden again willingly agreed to plunge into ice-cold water for the Special Olympics Minnesota. Munden is the dispatcher for the St. Joseph Police Department.
The St. Joseph police department was one of nine law enforcement agencies that was awarded a Stalker mobile-traffic radar unit for participating in the Toward Zero Deaths enforcement effort that took place during the 2013 Labor Day Mobilization. The device was provided by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
Kennedy sixth-grade student Andrew Theisen won the district spelling bee held at St. Cloud North Junior High School.
The 16th annual Stuck in Motion bike race for United Cerebral Palsy of Central Minnesota met its fundraising goal of $23,000. Ninety people, divided into teams of 10, participated in the event held at the gym at St. Cloud Whitney Senior Center.
More than 250 people, including 24 children, attended the Living in the Avon Hills conference held Feb. 1 at St. John’s University. Local presenters included Diane Hansgen, Steve Heymans, Dr. David Kroska and his wife Susan Kroska, Peggy Roske and Steve Saupe.
Local Blend owners Jeff and Stacie Engholm were honored with the annual 2013 Food Safety Award by the Stearns County Board of Commissioners. St. Mary’s Catholic School in Melrose was honored with the 2013 food-safety award in the schools category.
Jodi Rajkowski supported a proposed work-zone bill that would ban cell-phone use by drivers at roadway work zones and decrease the speed limit by such zones. Rajkowski’s husband, Ron, was killed while working at a construction site several years ago.
CSB president MaryAnn Baenninger accepted a position as president of Drew University in New Jersey. Baenninger announced last October that she would step down from her position at CSB June 30; her new position starts July 21.
Students from Kennedy Community School helped choose a new name for the old Kennedy School building. Upon school board approval, the building will be called Colts’ Academy.
The City Council voted against a special-use permit for refacing of an existing static billboard sign on Old Highway 52 because of non-conforming use.
The area received eight more inches of snowfall, followed by more frigid temperatures. The snow caused dangerous road conditions for two days.
Actress Geena Davis spoke about gender equality to an audience of more than 500 people at the College of St. Benedict. Davis spoke as one of a series of speakers for The Renaissance Series, established by CSB President MaryAnn Baenninger in 2006.
The Fare for All food program, created to make fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable, had a grand opening March 17 at the Resurrection Lutheran Church. Local residents Mary Plafcan and Amanda Roles chaired the committee that helped bring the program to the area.
The St. Stephen River Runners snowmobile club held a Community Day on March 8 at Trobec’s Bar, to show off their new 200 model Tucker grooming machine. They also raffled off a Polaris snowmobile.
A team of Kennedy Community School students took second place at the U.S. Academic Triathlon meet held Feb. 1 at Kennedy. The meet included five teams of seventh- and eighth-grade students from the area.
Br. Paul-Vincent Niebauer’s parents, Caroline and Walter Niebauer, gifted St. John’s Preparatory School with $100,000 for an endowed scholarship.
Work continued on the CapX 2020 high-voltage transmission system on Stearns CR 2 between St. Joseph and Cold Spring. The project is expected to be completed in 2015.
The Kennedy Colts Honor Choir participated at the 13th annual LEAF Night of the Stars concerts on Feb. 21 and 22. This was the first year Kennedy performed in the program.
The CSB dance team placed first in the Open Class Pom Division at the 2014 Universal Dance Association’s College Cheerleading Championships held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. The final six teams were separated by less than a point.
The First Fare for All food program, held at the Resurrection Lutheran Church, was a huge success. Volunteers sold 387 packages of produce and meat offered at 40 percent less than grocery-store prices.
The St. Joseph’s Farmers’ Market held its second-to-last indoor Winter Market at Resurrection Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall. About 10 vendors set up and offered a variety of produce and more.
The annual St. Joseph Rod and Gun Club birdhouse-building event had a very good turnout. People of all ages put together 87 wren houses, 86 bluebird houses and 25 wood-duck houses.
The St. Joseph Meat Market won eight awards at the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors’ annual convention held March 13-15 at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.
Mary Hinton was chosen as the 15th president for the College of St. Benedict. Hinton planned to begin her new position July 1.
Attorney Kimberly Stommes was crowned Mrs. Minnesota and will go on to compete for the title of Mrs. International in July in Jacksonville, Fla. Stommes attended Kennedy Elementary School and Sartell High School.
Many local area residents gathered at St. John’s Outdoor University to help with annual maple-syrup tapping of trees and for the March 29 festival. More than 1,100 people attended the festival. Residents also toured the Stearns County Kraemer Lake-Wildwood County Park to learn about the syrup-making process.
City residents circulated a petition calling for a citywide referendum on whether or not to build a new St. Joseph Government Center, as planned by the city council. As of April 8, there were 377 signatures on the petition, with a goal of obtaining 700 signatures.
Almost 500 people attended the second annual St. Joseph Community Showcase on April 5 at the Kennedy Community School gym. At least 33 booths were set up to share information.
Students at Kennedy Community School started a new organics recycling program on March 20. They are taking all organic material and rerouting it to a composting facility, away from a landfill.
Gene Borgert prepared for his April 22 flight to Washington, D.C. He and his son will accompany about 100 other Minnesota veterans on an Honor Flight. This program flies veterans to Washington, D.C. to allow them to tour the capital and see the monuments which honor all of the nation’s veterans.
Copies of a petition asking the city to place the question of construction of a government center on the Nov. 20 ballot could be signed at Sal’s Bar and Grill or by contacting Irene Reber. The city had planned to build a $4.5-million government center to replace the current city hall/police building.
Rosie Court shared how she got hooked on local history after a visit with Darol and Ellie Studer at the St. Joseph Historical Society’s museum. She also shared stories of some of her many adventures.
St. John’s Prep High School juniors Sarah Schrup of St. Joseph and Gabrielle Kolb of St. Cloud, along with the SJP She’s the First Chapter, hosted a 5K run/walk on April 26 at the St. John’s Outdoor University. The program works to educate girls in developing countries.
More than 15 soldiers walked a 12-hour trek to honor fallen soldiers and to raise awareness about veteran suicide.
All Saints Academy students celebrated National Nutritional Awareness week March 24-28 by assisting food-service coordinator Mary Kay Pelkey with serving fresh fruits and vegetables during lunch.
About 160 people attended a public meeting April 29 at the St. Joseph Community Fire Hall to discuss controversial plans for a new government-center plan. Many present opposed the center with an estimated cost of $4.5 million.
The St. John’s Prep Knowledge Bowl Team competed against more than 40 other teams to win the State Knowledge Bowl Meet held April 11 at Cragun’s Resort by Brainerd.
Finken Water Cos. moved to the industrial-park area in St. Joseph. The business moved into the former Essilor/DBL Labs building.
Kennedy principal Dr. Judy Nagel was hired to remain the principal for the 2014-15 school year.
Twenty-five students received Dollars for Scholars scholarships of $250 each for post-secondary education May 7 during an awards banquet at the St. Joseph Community Fire Hall.
A Joe Town Summer Lunch and Learn program meeting was scheduled for May 19 in Heritage Hall at the St. Joseph Catholic Church. The program is for youth 18 and younger.
The St. Joseph City Council voted 4-1 at its May 15 meeting to reject a low bid of $4.2 million for a new government center. That bid had come in about $300,000 under the estimated cost of the planned center.
The St. Joseph citywide garage sale May 16-17 included a youth group mission fundraiser at Resurrection Lutheran Church. The fundraiser was for two mission trips, one to Bemidji and one to Anchorage, Alaska.
Emily Jensen, a coach who lives in St. Joseph, announced her candidacy for the seat in Minnesota House District 12A, which is served by Jeff Howe (R-Rockville).
All Saints Academy hosted a Spring Showcase on May 15 to give parents and other visitors a chance to see how students have been spending their time at school. Projects included a Festival of Nations, Google Drive presentations of Minnesota, state projects, planet presentations, writing projects and planting of garden containers. Preschoolers had their second annual Preschool Picassos gallery exhibit at the Satellite Gallery in the Millstream Shops on Minnesota Street.
Families and veterans honored their departed heroes on Memorial Day at the old cemetery in St. Joseph.
Assistant principal Michelle Hanson is hired for Kennedy Community School for the 2014-15 school year.
The 15th annual Caramel Roll Ride was held June 14 on the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail. Money raised provides for promotion of the trail.
Mary Bruno, letterpress printmaker and owner of Bruno Press, taught Kennedy Community School third-grade students the art of print-making through an artist-in-residency program.
Pat Forte shared his faith experience fighting thymic carcinoid cancer as he spoke to members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Sartell High School. Due to his illness, Forte was on a leave of absence from teaching at Kennedy.
St. John’s Prep students received several awards from the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Musical Theatre Program for their production of Grease.
Kennedy Community School second-grade student Cody Adams and others used skills learned in their classroom to help build a recess football field.
Kennedy Community School sixth-grade students completed a Minnesota Native American Cultures and Traditions artist-in-residency program.
The third annual Lady Slipper Nature Ride on the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail was held on June 21 in conjunction with Avon’s Spunktacular Days.
Dominic Ballou, 10, is raising funds to build a play area, barbeque area, community garden and bus shelter in a low-income apartment complex. He has started his own non-profit called Kids 4 a Safe Place to Play.
Pastor Jerome Tupa reported that a monstrance, hand bells and a microphone were stolen from the Catholic church in St. Joseph.
Jim Kuebelbeck was chosen as grand marshal of this year’s July 4 parade. He has been an active charter member for the past 50 years.
The new water tower got a painting and maintenance facelift.
The St. Joseph Police Department hired a new part-time police office, Eric Brutger, to fill a vacant position. Brutger was hired on an as-needed basis to provide continuous coverage and to fill in for vacations and/or special events.
For more Year in Review, please see next week’s issue.