2008 Year in Review

So 2008 probably wasn't the best year ever. Foreclosures, layoffs and stock market crashes have changed how many view their community and their world. Despite the lows of the year, however, residents have shown resilience and generosity as recent...


So 2008 probably wasn't the best year ever. Foreclosures, layoffs and stock market crashes have changed how many view their community and their world. Despite the lows of the year, however, residents have shown resilience and generosity as recently evidenced by our online poll showing 66 percent still making charitable contributions this holiday season and 4 more percent that might still do so. And that and all the other notable news and accomplishments mark the unwavering spirit of this community no matter how tough the times.

The year 2008 in Carlton County began with the birth of Natalie Ann King, daughter of Stephanie Bond and Kris King at 8:14 a.m. on January 1.

Twenty-year Carlton County Commissioner Ted Pihlman was elected chair of the Carlton County Board for the year.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials shot and killed a 300-pound male nuisance black bear under a residential deck on Chestnut Street in Cloquet.

For the third time, an appeal by convicted killer Donald Blom was denied by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Blom was convicted in the 1999 kidnapping and killing of 19-year-old Moose Lake convenience store clerk Katie Poirier, a case that sparked new sex offender laws in Minnesota.


Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Chairwoman Karen Diver retained her position after the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee dismissed three allegations against her in a Dec. 28 petition.

Cloquet's reputation as the place for polar exploration emergency medical training continued with trainee Thorleif Tobias Thorleifsson (Toby), from Oslo, Norway. Cloquet firefighters prepared Thorleiffson for the spring 2008 Ellesmere Expedition with Will Steger.

Lois Smith of Carlton pleaded guilty in Carlton County Court to one felony count of negligently starting a grease fire that destroyed a large apartment building in Carlton and left 13 people homeless, including Smith. In February, she was sentenced to pay restitution, enter an alcohol treatment program and spend three years on probation.

Also in February, Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton put out the welcome mat at their new 250-room, 12-story hotel tower. The city of Carlton erected a new tower of its own - a water tower, standing at 181 feet tall and holding up to 300,651 gallons of water which serves the Carlton, Thomson and Jay Cooke areas.

Michael Howard Bale, a 48-year-old inmate who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a staff member at the Moose Lake State Prison in 2005, received a life prison sentence in Carlton County District Court.

The majority of Cloquet City Council members voted to support restoring the sand-bottom swimming pond, even though the Minnesota Department of Health was against it.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College opened a new business incubator center to help students and community members launch and operate small businesses.

And a rural Carlton couple, Bill and Ruth Sharratt, welcomed the rare event of having one of their beef cows deliver triplets.


In March, Cloquet Middle School eighth-grader Tyler Goebel, 14, earned the right to represent this region at the Minnesota State Spelling Bee in St. Cloud.

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team became the Section 7AA champions with a 3-2 win against Anoka in March. The team lost both of their games in the state hockey tournament despite playing well.

A Twin Cities teenager was charged in connection with a drive-by shooting at a house on the Fond du Lac Reservation. Three other teens were arrested in the incident which left the house riddled with bullets. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Cloquet sophomore Ben Scheuer and his partner came out the winners during the final episode of the Discovery Kids television reality show, "Endurance: Fiji."

Sandford "Skip'' Harvey McColley, a 54-year-old Cloquet man, was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison after being found guilty of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl.

After five years as president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, the trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) voted not to renew the contract of Donald Day and instead let it run out in June.

Also in March, George Clooney and Renee Zellweger appeared in Duluth to promote the film "Leatherheads," based on the story of the Duluth Eskimos football team - and its star player, Ernie Nevers - who spent his younger years in the Moose Lake-Willow River area.

Fresh on the heels of the George Clooney and Renee Zellweger appearance, Cloquet played host to the first Northland screening of another film with local ties - "Older Than America" by artist Georgina Lightning in April. It was filmed on the Fond du Lac Reservation and around Carlton County and tells the story of how the American Indian boarding school experience of the late 1800s and 1900s has influenced subsequent generations of the Native American culture.


The state of Minnesota also approved $741,750 in Small Cities Development Grant (SCDG) funding for Carlton County - an amount large enough to rehabilitate a minimum of 16 owner-occupied houses, 10 commercial properties and 10 rental units.

Luis Mark Hogan pleaded guilty to unintentional second-degree murder in St. Louis County District Court in March for killing local Iraq war soldier Adam Sheda. Hogan will serve a 121?2-year prison term under sentencing guidelines.

Members of the Carlton County Board gave Wold Architects and Engineers of St. Paul a unanimous go-ahead to enter into the schematic design phase of a plan for a new Carlton County Human Services facility.

Brother and sister Steve Schafter and Linda (Schafter) Jarvis wrapped up the family legacy of the past 59 years and retired, closing Schafter's Jewelry in Cloquet.

Esko High School graduate Joanna Burns was honored with the Medical Student of the Year Award from the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) for her exemplary contributions to family medicine.

The Encore Performing Arts Center, operated by the County Seat Theater Company, opened their doors in a new Cloquet location with the play, "Sweet Charity."

In May, 13 months after a fire raged through their store and lumberyard, the Cloquet Home Center hosted a grand opening in their new digs in the Cloquet Business Park on Highway 33.

Senator Norm Coleman visited Cloquet City Hall and talked with about 50 people about the issues surrounding health care and small businesses.

A new state law was passed allowing for a transfer of land at Jay Cooke State Park in Carlton County, as the site of a proposed new state veterans' cemetery.

Administrators at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College introduced new coaches to lead the first men's and women's basketball teams in school history.

The Old Calvary Cemetery, located above Pinehurst Park in Cloquet, was vandalized in the first of several similar acts. Vandals toppled headstones and caused thousands of dollars in damage. Two juveniles were arrested and charged in connection with the incidents.

In Barnum, students will get a little more elbow room at school thanks to a referendum that passed 306-160 in late May. Voters approved a $1.9 million referendum to pay for an 8,000-square-foot addition.

The new casino facility at Black Bear Casino Resort, with 2,000 slot machines and three eateries, among other amenities, opened just in time for Memorial Day weekend and two months ahead of schedule.

Judge Gerald Maher dismissed a conciliation court case brought by Jeffery Ely of Cloquet against Daniel Munthe, whose 13-pound miniature pinscher, Fester, was killed in January. Ely was driving his 1997 Honda when he hit and killed the dog, then sued the dog's owners for damages. The story made's top 20 most peculiar stories of 2008.

Tone Coughlin brought the Duluth Classic Stage Race and hundreds of cyclists back to Cloquet and Wrenshall over the Memorial Day weekend for the second year.

"I believe this is the direction of the future," stated Carlton County Commissioner Ted Pihlman after county board members unanimously supported the formation of a County Economic Development Authority (EDA). The new county EDA has primary authority to bond for and build government buildings, own land and put economic development deals together.

Cloquet's pond supporters found success as the Minnesota Senate passed an amendment introduced by legislators Tony Lourey and Bill Hilty, giving Cloquet city officials the green light to repair the sand-bottom pond originally built more than 30 years ago.

The city of Thomson celebrated their new city hall building on Dalles Avenue on June 1. The same day, a "Great Minnesota Picnic" celebrated the 150th birthday of Minnesota at Jay Cooke State Park.

The one-year anniversary of the local smoke-free law was also commemorated at an event at Cloquet's Southgate Bowl.

At the Carlton County Historical Society, an exhibition titled "Frank Lloyd Wright in Cloquet," opened to mark the 50th anniversary of the Frank Lloyd Wright gas station in Cloquet.

Due to recent problems and aging equipment, the Cloquet Parks Commission took the recommendation made by city councilors to close down the skateboard park on Avenue D, at least temporarily.

Karen Diver was the top vote-getter in June's general election on the Fond du Lac Reservation, securing the title of tribal chairwoman outright and earning the right to move on to a full four-year term in office.

With matching funds from Carlton County, the city of Carlton, Scanlon and Cloquet, the way was nearly paved for the first phase of connecting Cloquet to the Willard Munger State Trail. Master Sgt. Wayne Kettelhut of Cloquet was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with Valor for his heroism under fire after he led six other soldiers in defending a compound under surprise attack in Iraq two years ago.

The Carlton County Farmers Market marked its 25th year of operation.

Three people were arrested and charged in July with federal methamphetamine-related charges and other crimes after an incident involving a high-speed chase in the Moose Lake area.

Three-year-old Tyler James Skagerberg drowned in a swimming pool in the yard of his family's Wrenshall home.

Kristine Cohn, United States Department of Education Secretary's regional representative discussed issues such as reading comprehension during her visit with students and staff at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

Cloquet resident Bradley E. Johnson was among three people killed when the floatplane they were in crashed in Alaska.

A motion to approve tax increment financing (TIF) for a new housing development across from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College died during a Cloquet City Council meeting. Cloquet School Board members unanimously awarded a $51,339 contract to National Playground Compliance Group for installing new play structures and creating a safer play environment at Washington Elementary.

"Offering a farm fresh alternative to stale cinema," the Free Range Film Festival of rural Wrenshall held its fifth year of showing quality independent films inside a historic barn.

Esko resident Christopher Hammer, 34, was killed in a one vehicle rollover near the Buffalo House Restaurant and Bar in Proctor. A second passenger, Scott A. Sertich, also of Cloquet, was treated for injuries at a Duluth hospital. The driver, Cloquet resident Jerry J. Jubie, has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide and several other counts.

In August, a community celebration was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the R.W. Lindholm Service Station in Cloquet, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The event featured classic cars, food from Gordy's Hi-Hat and the day was declared "Frank Lloyd Wright in Cloquet Day" by Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren.

Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet also held a series of events to mark its 50th anniversary.

In a special election, Mary Sue Northrup was voted to be the new district representative for District 3-Brookston on the Fond du Lac Tribal Council. Northrup defeated opponent Anna Waite by a vote of 93 to 81.

A Cloquet man, Steven Ross Shotley, and a Moose Lake woman, Jessi Marie Lees, were arrested on felony charges of attempted second-degree murder in a stabbing in Moose Lake. A third woman, Daisy Nell Hopson-Johnson was later arrested. Lees was later sentenced after a plea agreement was reached. The other two cases remain open.

Primary elections were held in September as the community geared up for the Nov. 4 General Election. Cloquet and Perch Lake Fire/EMS departments moved closer to consolidation when Cloquet City Council members unanimously approved a joint powers agreement between the city and township.

Carlton's historic water tower was dismantled.

Successful bowhunting in nearby communities, as well as interest from area residents, prompted Cloquet City Council members to consider a bowhunting season in the city.

Moose Lake was the 24th and final stop in a week-long Minnesota "Heartland For Change," tour supporting Democratic Senator and then Presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

October rolled around with fewer diesel fumes pervading and polluting the noses of students on the Fond du Lac Reservation. Eighteen older buses in the FDL fleet were fitted with federally approved filters and catalyst mufflers that can reduce engine emissions.

With Interim President Larry Anderson at the helm, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College formally began the process of laying out a "road map for the future," through a series of eight focus groups held to create a plan that will guide the direction of the college over the next three to five years.

A home at Evergreen Cottages in Cloquet was struck by a vehicle, causing considerable damage to the structure and contents of their living room and narrowly missing a resident.

Fire destroyed the Carlton KOA campground building.

Cloquet Middle School students started a recycling program.

A farm/industrial accident in Eagle Township resulted in the death of 43-year-old Eugene Dale Richards of Cromwell.

Cloquet City Council members approved a bid to begin work on restoring the Pinehurst Pond - with a tentative completion date of July 3, 2009.

An environmental study was completed on the proposed Superior Crossing retail complex at the intersection of Highway 33 and Interstate 35.

Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler was named as one of three finalists to fill a vacated position on the Sixth Judicial District trial court bench in Duluth.

Esko christened their new business park alongside Interstate-35.

In November, Catholic elementary school Queen of Peace in Cloquet announced it was closing, but school officials have since been working on a plan to keep it open.

General Elections were held, with the majority of Carlton County voting for Barack Obama for U.S. President. They also voted for candidates in numerous county, city and townships.

After initially approving it, Cloquet School Board members rejected the sale of general obligation bonds to help finance the district's post employment benefits by a 3-3 vote. They denied it a second time in December as well.

It was also announced that millions of holiday lights at Bentleyville in rural Cloquet would be dark this winter as the Northland's largest holiday lighting display takes a one-year hiatus to "make next year bigger and better," according to Nathan Bentley, who puts together the 3-acre display.

Bergquist Imports in Cloquet celebrated its 60th anniversary - putting a little bit of Scandinavia in every home in America.

In December, Cloquet resident Cody Allen Goranson, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of felony dissemination of pornography and one count of felony possession of pornographic pictoral representations of minors as part of a plea agreement.

"Santa" slept at the Churchill Elementary playground one night to raise funds and collect donations for the school and Salvation Army.

Cloquet Natural Foods undertook a major solar energy addition - with 36 solar panels, enough to generate 7.4 kilowatts of energy, it's among the largest commercial solar power ventures in either Carlton or St. Louis county.

Warren Barry, a 31-year-old Carlton man, is facing charges after he allegedly fled a routine traffic stop, dragging a Carlton County Sheriff's deputy 40 feet before leading other officers on a high-speed chase that ended with his pit bull biting several officers.

A new felony DWI program in Carlton County, which takes a holistic approach instead of simply sending offenders to sit in jail, is working to turn lives around - one offender at a time.

Twin Cities film producer Doug Hajicek began shooting a reality cable television pilot of life at Black Bear Casino Resort and hopes it will land on cable channel A&E as a series by next year.

Carlton County lost nearly $600,000 in state aid when Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty drained the state's budget reserve and chopped away at state payments to local governments, colleges, human services providers and state agencies in balancing the state budget.

Finally, Cloquet High School students started a newspaper with a first teaser issue distributed before winter break.

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