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Top stories of 2012

Fri, Dec 28th, 2012
Posted in All Features

Outside the courthouse, residents protested frac mining in Fillmore County. Photo by Karen Reisner

As 2012 draws to a close, it is normal to look back on the year and all that has happened. The Fillmore County Journal has covered hundred of stories; from government happenings to new businesses, to interesting people, as well as happy stories, controversies, and shocking events.

Frac mining

The topic that was most talked about, written about, and argued about was the frac mining debate. Letters to the editor came in throughout the year, and it was discussed at city council and county board meetings. Emotions ran high as protestors held up signs at meeting locations showing their disapproval or concern, trying to get local government to impose restrictions and do more studies. Citizens wondered how frac mining would affect their town. Would it have a negative impact on tourism? Would the heavy truck traffic ruin the streets? And what about the environmental impact? Many people felt there should be more studies done before allowing the mines, and that there should be limits and regulations. Many others felt the mining would be perfectly safe, and good for the local economy, as it would create jobs. There was also hope that having mines locally would reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The most recent event was in St. Charles, where 906 residents signed a petition to keep a frac mine out of the edge of their town.



Rushford-Peterson Schools held a special election on December 19 asking taxpayers to approve a referendum for up to $15 million to build a new building for early childhood through fifth grade. The voters spoke, and their request was denied.

Proponents of the referendum stated that the current school is in bad shape, and it would be very costly to fix. They insisted the plan of building in phases would be less costly for taxpayers, and this was the only way to get a new building for the students. One argument was that the district had not asked for money for a new building for 43 years. Many voters who were against the referendum felt the tax burden would be too great on an already burdened community, still recovering from the flood in 2007.

After much discussion, special informational meetings, and many residents who were very passionate about their position on either side, the referendum did not pass.


It’s not often that an election has such heated issues, and divides people so drastically between “Yes” and “No.” The presidential race was also a hot button topic, as people argued over whether or not Barack Obama should be the President for another four years. Locally, the arguments were about constitutional amendments. One was to make marriage between a man and woman only, and the other was to require picture ID for every voter. On each side, emotions ran high, and in the end both of the amendments failed.

Local troops return home to loved ones

Two veterans were among the many that returned to Fillmore County from serving in the military overseas. Nick Skree of Rushford returned home to his wife Amber and their two young children, Carter and Kylie. He had been away from his family for 13 months. The separation was difficult for him and his family, and the return home was a major celebration. The same was true for Luke Laganiere of Fountain, who came home to his family, which included his girlfriend, who was expecting their first child.

Fundraiser for Jem Theatre a huge success

Harmony, along with many other communities in Fillmore County, pulled together to help a small, family-owned movie theatre stay in business. Jem Theatre, run by Michelle Haugerud of Harmony, was forced to switch to a digital projector in 2012, at a cost of around $75,000. The theatre received a lot of help from the community, as people showed up at a fundraiser held at Wheelers in Harmony in February and helped raise more than $15,000. This, along with other money raised and a loan from the bank, helped them purchase a digital projector and keep the movies going.

Security at Fillmore County Schools

After the tragic shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, many people were left wondering if their children were safe at their schools. This article covered several school districts in Fillmore County, and all of the security measures that each one of them has to protect their students. The subject weighed heavily on the minds of parents, as well as school administrators, who are doing all they can to assure parents of their child’s safety.

Equine Rescue

In early December, 55 horses, ponies, and donkeys were removed from a farm in southwest Fillmore County due to alleged neglect and cruelty. The Sheriff’s department and Animal Humane Society were involved in the rescue. Many of the animals were malnourished, and had untreated wounds and injuries. The animals were removed from the farm and taken to a place where they could be treated and find permanent homes. Law enforcement called it a case of “animal hoarding,” in which the owner had taken on too many animals and was unable to care for all of them. The owner had also been in the hospital for a while before the animals were taken.

Preston Overlook good for another 75 years

The Historic Preston Overlook, which was built in 1937-38, got a new look this year, thanks to funding provided by the Scenic Byways Grant. The amount awarded for the project was $787,516. Construction began in July and took three months to complete. The project included not only the restoration of the limestone walls and flagstone walk or plaza, but also the circular drive, new shrubs, trees and sod.

What Veterans Day means to veterans

Adam Knoepke of Preston and Jake Fournier of Lanesboro were interviewed and shared their thoughts on what the celebration of Veterans Day means to them. They both expressed the importance of honoring and remembering all of the people who have served in the military and fought for their country, in the past and in the future.

Monster Bash

This year was the first year of a large, very successful fundraiser for the Fillmore Central band program. Thanks to Lane Powell, band director, Jay Masters, and donated time and money from many people and businesses, a large haunted house was built at the Community Center in Harmony. Hundreds of people attended during the two weeks it was open, raising money for the band funds that will go to performance trips in 2012 and 2014.

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