Hope, despair marked 2010 in Carlton County
In the year 2010, Carlton County news ran the gamut from economic expansion to extreme snowfall, and from Dem-Con to "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." While the county saw more than its share of crime, it also saw the last-minute rescue of the Sentence to Serve program that puts non-violent offenders to work in service to the county. Throughout the year, Carlton County continued to make headlines. Here are some of the major events of 2010.
In January, the first baby of the New Year in Carlton County was Sloan Sophia Olean, daughter of Melissa and Shawn Olean. Sloan was born was born at Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake on Jan. 2 and weighed 9 pounds 12 ounces. The first baby born at Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet was Cayden Troy Smith, born on Jan. 8 at 3:14 a.m. Cayden, the son of Chelsey Hemsworth and Troy Smith, weighed in at 5 pounds, 1.6 ounces.
The city of Carlton announced its intention to annex Twin Lakes Township. A series of ongoing informational meetings was set up to inform residents about the process.
Kenneth Belcourt of Cloquet was sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old.
Michael John Laveau, an off-duty employee of the Carlton County Sheriff's Department, was charged with gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation, misdemeanor fourth-degree DWI and fourth-degree DWI-.08 or more within two hours following a one-car rollover that injured a passenger in his car on Oct. 18, 2009.
February saw the retirement of Nick, the only certified arson dog in the state of Minnesota, from the Cloquet Area Fire District on his 13th birthday.
Cloquet resident and dog breeder/groomer Beth Collins was named the top show groomer in the nation.
Carlton County established a new system of "sentencing circles" to supplement the criminal justice system. Focusing primarily on juvenile offenders, the system aims to encourage victims, offenders and the community in repairing the harm caused by a crime in order to create a stronger community.
In March, Zachary Scott Moehrke of Carlton was sentenced to three years in prison for his involvement in the armed robbery of a Mahtowa convenience store. His accomplice, 19-year-old Barnum resident Cameron Angell, was sentenced to one year at Northeast Regional Corrections Center and three years of probation after he pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree aggravated robbery as part of a plea agreement.
The Carlton/St. Louis County Sentence to Serve program received word from the Minnesota Department of Corrections that the program was slated to be shut down June 30 as the result of budget cuts.
Police seized 927 high-grade marijuana plants and 22 pounds of processed marijuana with an established street value of $1 million following a series of raids that stretched over 48 hours in Fredenberg Township, Proctor, Cloquet and Barnum. Several suspects were charged in the incidents.
In April, the Carlton/St. Louis County Sentence to Serve program received a last-minute reprieve after Arrowhead Regional Corrections agreed to provide financial support from their reserve funds to help keep the program afloat for another year.
Some 51 percent of voters in the Carlton School District struck down a referendum vote that would have extended the district's current excess levy. A second vote to also increase that levy automatically failed to pass since the first was voted down.
May welcomed Food Network star Guy Fieri to Cloquet as he filmed an episode at Gordy's Hi-Hat for "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives."
The city of Carlton announced it was cutting the position of full-time fire chief as a cost-saving measure.
In June, a Shakopee man and his two sons, ages 11 and 8, were rescued from the rocks where they were stranded on the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park.
Authorities apprehended four inmates of the Minnesota Sexual Offenders Program (MSOP) in Moose Lake as they attempted to escape the facility.
Engineer Bill Keegan told Cloquet city councilors that Dem-Con/Shamrock companies would like to significantly expand a Cloquet landfill site (south of Interstate 35, between Highway 45 and 14th Street in Cloquet) currently owned by Ulland Brothers. Instead of the current permitted 332,000 cubic yards of demolition waste, Dem-Con stated it was planning to ask the state and the city for a permit to accept up to 3.5 million cubic yards of waste.
The episode of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" filmed at Gordy's Hi-Hat in Cloquet was aired on national television in July. To thank diners for their nominations and support, Gordy's owner Dan Lundquist held a "Premiere Party," with the local episode shown on a big screen television in the parking lot of the popular Sunnyside restaurant.
The Fond du Lac Reservation opened a new 24-unit supportive housing development that will provide supportive services for residents and help provide much-needed housing on the reservation.
Jerod Thompson was charged with attempted second-degree murder in relation to a late-night shooting incident that took place outside the River Inn in Scanlon.
Reynaldo Hain Jr. and Clarence Lozoya were sentenced for first-degree aggravated robbery after assaulting a police informant during a drug deal, with the intent to commit robbery. Both were sentenced to four years in prison, much of which was stayed, and granted supervised probation.
Carlton County authorities informed the public that homeless Level III sex offender Dustin Kenneth Lee Nelson would be moving into the vicinity surrounding Moose Lake. Nelson later changed his mind and moved into a rural area adjacent to the bike trail in rural Barnum.
August marked the ground breaking of a new 2,000-square-foot visitor center at Jay Cooke State Park. The new center, slated to open in 2011, is being built adjacent to the River Inn Visitor Center (which will also be remodeled) and will include a registration area, larger park store and ADA-compliant restrooms.
A ground breaking was also held for a new 40,000-square-foot Carlton County Community Services Center in downtown Cloquet. The building will replace the outdated Public Health and Human Services buildings and will house county offices for social services, public health, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinic, child services, the work force center, income maintenance, veterans' services and motor vehicles. It is expected to be completed by
Blackhoof residents Jim and Chanelle Laitinen and their three children were involved in a rollover accident while on a family trip outside of Portland, Ore. Jim and Chanelle sustained critical injuries, and one of their children was hospitalized as well.
Carlton School Board members approved three mandated plans to help bring the district out of Statutory Operating Debt (SOD). The plans were sent on to the state and later approved.
Carlton native April Oles, her 13-month-old daughter and unborn child were fatally shot by the children's father and Iraq War veteran Matthew Magdzas.
Community Memorial Hospital of Cloquet announced plans for a $25 million expansion that will add nearly 80,000 square feet to the facility and increase the current campus size by more than 50 percent. The addition will expand patient care areas, provide dedicated areas to house a specialty clinic and dialysis program and include 18 new patient care areas, three birthing rooms and four patient intensive care rooms.
The community of Scanlon voted to join Cloquet and Perch Lake as part of the Cloquet Area Fire District. Scanlon previously had an all-volunteer department.
Tiago Antonio Gilbert, 19, of the Twin Cities area, was sentenced in Carlton County Court for his role in a gang-related drug sale that took place on the Fond du Lac Reservation.
In September, Dem-Con/Shamrock companies, which had previously announced its desire to purchase the current Ulland Brothers landfill site and ultimately expand it in size from 332,000 to just over 3.5 million cubic yards, requested a change in landfill type from a Class I Demolition landfill to an Industrial landfill. Later in the month, after two hours of discussion and intense pressure from neighbors opposing the proposed industrial landfill in Cloquet's Hilltop neighborhood, the official vote by members of the Cloquet City Council was 4-3 against approving the requested conditional use permit
A 2010 Carlton High School graduate who was attending Winona State University died from injuries sustained in an apparently accidental fall. The body of Jasper Youngren, 18, was found approximately five hours after friends in Winona, Minn., reported him missing.
A consolidated school servicing the southern area of St. Louis County Independent School District 2142 (of which AlBrook is a part) began the early stages of development on land along County Road 47 (Swan Lake Road), about a quarter mile outside of Alborn. The new school facility is slated for completion in time for the fall 2011 school year. Voters in the district narrowly passed the $78 million school bond referendum last winter that called for the closure of four existing schools - AlBrook, Cotton, Cook and Orr - and the construction and equipping of two new schools - one to serve the Alborn-Brookston-Cotton-Meadowlands area and one to serve the Cook and Orr areas - as well as the remodeling and renovation of the Cherry, Babbitt and Tower-Soudan schools.
As October got under way, the Cloquet City Council voted unanimously to reconsider a landfill conditional use permit in light of additional information provided by the applicant, Dem-Con/Shamrock companies, as well as the proposed new conditions.
Garfield School observed the 100th year since it was first formally opened in the community of Cloquet.
The first big snowfall of the year happened Oct. 27. The Duluth airport reported seven inches of snow accumulation and all Duluth area schools closed for the day. Cloquet, however, came in at closer to three inches and children attended school, on time and in winter boots.
At the beginning of November, the Cloquet City Council bumped the landfill discussion from their agenda after neighbors served the city, the MPCA and Dem-Con/Shamrock companies with a petition requesting an environmental assessment worksheet.
Voters finally came through for the embattled Carlton School District at the Nov. 3 general election, with nearly 60 percent voting in favor of a new operating levy, with the final (unofficial) vote tally coming in at 1,240 in favor of the levy, 850 against.
On the other side of the coin, a proposed Moose Lake School District referendum failed by a vote of 678 to 609. Independent School District 97 had asked voters to approve an operating referendum that represented an increase of $150 per pupil. The district's existing referendum of $250 per pupil is due to expire in 2012, and the board proposed the amount be increased to $400 per pupil.
Henry Yakima Thinelk, 24, was sentenced in Carlton County Court for his role in the sale of crack cocaine on the Fond du Lac Reservation last June. Judge Dale Wolf sentenced Thinelk to 102 days in jail, three years' probation and several follow-up conditions, as well as a fine of $500, after Thinelk pleaded guilty to one felony count of third-degree sale of a narcotic.
On Nov. 15, students at Queen of Peace School in Cloquet began classes in their newly refurbished space. The $2 million renovation took place after the upper two floors of the school were deemed unsafe due to a cracked support beam in the roof. Classes were held in the remodeled basement area of the building until the renovation project was completed.
In December, residents of Erickson Acres in Cloquet got an early Christmas present from area law enforcement, when a team of officers from four different agencies busted a suspected drug house. Felony drug possession charges were filed against five defendants in the case.
Cloquet city councilors voted down a resolution to approve a conditional use permit for Dem-Con/Shamrock companies of Shakopee to operate an industrial landfill by a vote of 4-3. That same day the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved a new operating permit for the landfill and denied the citizens' petition to require an environmental assessment worksheet.
The Carlton Self-Serve station was targeted by vandals twice in one weekend, with total damage estimates of $75,000. Four area young people were later arrested and charged in the incidents, including one part-time employee of the business.
Former Minnesota Supreme Court Judge Lawrence Yetka of Cloquet retired after several years volunteering his time to serve as a county judge. County Commissioner Gordon Aanerud also stepped down after 19 years representing District 4 on the board.