It’s the end of the year as we know it

A look back into 2013 

By Megan Hopps

SUN PRESS Newspapers


Editor’s Note: The year 2013 was filled with many headlines and changes throughout the year. The list of top headlines wasn’t easy to pick. Factors considered included the scope and impact of an event on the community. Here’s a rundown of some of the top headlines for Champlin and Dayton in 2013.

The year 2013 was a busy year for Champlin and Dayton. The following is a summary of what happened in 2013.

Champlin entered 2013 with numerous road repair and construction project plans underway.

Champlin evaluated a street reconstruction (reclaim) project consisting of the local streets of: Kentucky Avenue, Louisiana Avenue, Nevada Avenue, Oregon Avenue, 111th Avenue, 112th Avenue, 113th Avenue located south of 114th Avenue and north of 110th Avenue between Quebec Avenue and Jersey Avenue. The project included cul-de-sac streets and stub streets in this area.

The new face of the Champlin City Council took shape in January as three individuals were given the oath of office. City Clerk Roberta Colotti delivered the oath first to Mayor ArMand Nelson, who previously served as a council member. Bruce Miller was sworn in to represent Champlin’s Ward 3 and Kara Terry was sworn in to represent Ward 4.

The Dayton City Council also swore in their new Mayor and two new council members at their meeting. New council members Eric Lucero and Scott Salonek join new Mayor Tim McNeil, who formerly served on the city council.

A criminal complaint was filed against Dayton Police Chief Richard Pietrzak for alleged violation of state law relating to driver and vehicle services data. The complaint alleged Pietrzak accessed restricted criminal justice data in the driver and vehicle services twice during 2012, in May and October.

Pietrzak served a nearly two-month paid administrative leave from Jan. 1 to Feb. 25, 2013 followed by an oral reprimand from the city council for unprofessional conduct.

The investigation into the death of a 4-month-old baby from Champlin occurring in February was ruled a homicide. According the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Madyson Lanae Johnson suffered blunt force craniocerebral injury causing her death shortly after 11 a.m. Feb. 20. She died at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

Champlin Police responded to the medical emergency call at 6308 112th Avenue North, in Champlin just before 6 p.m. on Feb. 16, where Madyson was discovered injured. She was transported by ambulance to Minnesota Children’s Hospital. Madyson’s twin sister was also present when the police responded to the initial call. Police have removed her from the home and placed her in protective custody by Child Protective Services. No other children were living at the home.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and a handful of law enforcement leaders met with President Barack Obama at the White House late in January to discuss mental illness and gun violence. Sheriff Stanek began the meeting in by expressing concerns that he has raised in recent weeks in Minnesota.

“Gun control alone will not solve the complex problem of guns and extreme violence,” said Sheriff Stanek during the discussion with President Obama. “We have an access problem. Individuals with severe mental illness should never have access to guns.”

Two individuals were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery of the Wendy’s restaurant located at 11406 Marketplace Drive in Champlin.

At 11:18 p.m. on Friday, April 26, Champlin police responded to multiple reports of an armed robbery in progress at Wendy’s. Witnesses described two men with handguns robbing the business. Arriving officers saw two suspects running from the scene matching witness descriptions.

Champlin officers chased down and captured Omar Stephon Fulford, 21, of Champlin. A handgun and cash were also recovered. The second suspect, Jermain Maurice Green, 18, of Champlin, escaped initial pursuit. However, he was subsequently arrested on Sunday, April 28 at 2:20 a.m. by the Minneapolis Police at 1038 Knox Ave. North, in Minneapolis. No one was physically injured during the robbery.

Champlin Brooklyn Park Academy’s Destination Imagination team participated in the state tournament at Champlin Park High School on April 20 of this year. The team built a structure weighing less than 1.25 ounces that held over 500 pounds. The team advanced to the U.S./Global competition.

The former treasurer of the Oxbow Creek Elementary PTO was charged with stealing nearly $55,000 in funds from the organization. Melissa O’Brien, a 31-year-old Champlin mother of three who attend Oxbow Creek, was charged with one count of theft by swindle for the funds that disappeared from the account between October and December 2012.

Joy Berg and Heather Kycek organized a support group for birth moms, mothers who have given their babies up for adoption. Berg, 35, and Kycek, 36, are “birth moms” who placed children for adoption years ago. Kycek and Berg hope their support group and advocacy for birth moms could change their rights when it comes to adoption.

The Champlin City Council settled on proceeding with preparation of plans and specifications for construction of a roundabout after reviewing their options for realignment of the intersection at West River Road and Hayden Lake Road. The intersection alignment project was precipitated by a desire to slow down traffic in the area, to improve safety and to encourage drivers to utilize Highway 169 for trips in the area rather than West River Road.

A 4-alarm fire broke out in Dayton drawing crews from a dozen fire departments. Eyewitness reports say the fire was ablaze around 3 p.m. May 3, on Dayton resident Adrian Dahlheimer’s property on North Diamond Lake Road, just north of Zanzibar Lane. No injuries were reported.

The Dayton City Council unanimously voted to discharge City Administrator Samantha Orduno during a special meeting called Friday, May 31. Her employment termination was effective immediately. The announcement came after the council closed the special meeting pursuant to MN Statute 13D.05, subdivision 3(b).

With former City Administrator Samantha Orduno’s exit at the end of May, Dayton City Council immediately began the search for an interim city administrator. After reviewing candidate selections provided by the League of Minnesota Cities, the council interviewed and agreed to hire Bob Derus to fill the role. They conducted the interview June 5 and made it official at the Tuesday, June 11 council meeting.

Marylin McKeehen’s retired after a 30-year teaching and administrative career. She may not have realized it then, but when McKeehen — the woman, the leader and the champion of Champlin Brooklyn Park Academy — welcomed back students for the 2012-2013 school year, it was the last time she would do so as their principal. The energetic, dedicated principal of this magnet school of distinction retired in June.

The historic turn of midnight uncorked celebration. Wedding gatherings on the eve of Aug. 1 anticipated the legalization of same-sex marriage in Minnesota. After the stroke of 12, Minnesota numbered among 13 states where same-sex couples can legally marry.

But a few Dayton residents were not happy about the bill passing and voiced their concerns at the capitol. The crowds were unevenly balanced with more wearing the orange shirts, the attire of those carrying the “I support the freedom to marry” message. Two brothers from Dayton held their “It takes a man and woman” placards as supporters mostly representing Minnesota for Marriage. Sergy Aponchik was reluctant to reveal his name as he protested publicly.

“I’m trying to protect the family, and to protect the family, it takes a man and a woman,” he said. Sergy’s brother Paul was called out on his “Don’t erase mom and dads” sign by a defender of the gay marriage legislation. “I’m not depriving anyone of their rights; I just believe children should have a mom and a dad,” Paul said.

For the first time in seven years, Anoka-Hennepin District 11 students scored above the state proficiency at every level and every subject in the recently-released Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) test results. Double-digit gains in science and math at the secondary level indicate an especially favorable achievement.

“We are thrilled with the results,” said Superintendent Dennis Carlson.

This fall, 40 juniors at Champlin Park High School were taken under the wing of a coach with College Possible who guided them through the process.

College Possible is a nationally recognized nonprofit making college admission and success possible for low-income students.

The Champlin City Council approved a resolution requesting funding from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) to help pay for a $1.1 million Hwy. 169 interchange improvement project. The interchange is at Dayton Road/Miller Road. The city requested $702,000 from MNDOT through its Cooperative Agreement Program, or 68 percent of the total project costs. The remaining share was allocated from tax increment financing (TIF) funds and Municipal State Aid (MSA) funds.

The Dayton City Council approved the amended preliminary plat and final planned unit development agreement for the River Hill Farms development Tuesday, Sept. 24. A total of 204 single family homes are to be built within the next four years on 169 acres just north of Diamond Lake Road and south of Dayton River Road. 116 lots are designed for empty nester households providing single level living along with maintained yards and driveways. The project contains open space for parks and wetlands. Abundant site amenities include a grand entrance to the area at Diamond Lake Road with extensive landscaping. The plan also includes park and natural open space areas and provides screening along the length of Dayton River Road. The revised plat proposed an underpass to connect River Hills to the Mississippi River and Cloquet Overlook Park. The builders goal throughout the project is to incorporate the land’s natural topography within the development and to preserve the site’s wetlands and natural areas. The builders also have plans to incorporate a new park on site and trails throughout the development. The proposed project strives to preserve more trees on the site and includes lots of natural screening between homes and along streets to preserve the city’s rural feel. This is the city’s largest development approved in Dayton’s history.

Kevin Anderson and Tony Heinz shared their musical talents during the City of Dayton’s Heritage Day celebration. During Heritage Day, Susan McLean Park was named. “Hopefully today and all of the tomorrows going forward, it will not only be about what Susan did with her life, but (what) the people she touched and loved the most will do because of her life,” Durant said. “This is where Susan learned to go with the current when you could and go against it when you had to.”

Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Transportation MnDOT announced Thursday, Nov. 14, that 10 highway construction projects will receive funding through the state’s new $300 million Corridors of Commerce program.

Included on the list is adding a lane on Interstate 94 between Rogers and St. Michael, a long-sought after goal by the I-94 Coalition of freeway corridor cities in the northwest metro, including Maple Grove, Dayton, Rogers, St. Michael, Albertville, Monticello and others. The preliminary cost for this project is between $35 million and $46 million.

The final 2-mile stretch of Highway 610 received funding in November. This last segment of roadway will connect Highway 610 where it ends at County Road 81 to Interstate 94 in Maple Grove. Construction is set to start this year.

With the Minnesota health insurance exchange passing the Senate and now on its way to the governor’s desk to become law, the Senate can focus on its second top priority, all-day kindergarten.

-Compiled by Megan Hopps