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Morris in 2013: What happened around here? (Part I)

On Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 11 inches of snow fell in the Morris area. Morris Public Works Director Jim Ditbenner said city plow operators spent 27 hours clearing snow over three days.

The first six months of 2013 brought a record-breaking snow storm and a major thunder storm, a new head football coach at Morris Area High School and visits from both of Minnesota's U.S. senators. Here's our first look back at the year that was. 


County government had a bit of a switch-up going into 2013. During the last meeting of 2012, Jason Dingman was sworn in as Stevens County Sheriff. The Stevens County Board of Commissioners also said farewell to two long-time commissioners, Larry Sayre and Paul Watzke, who had served since 2001 and 2005 respectively. Newly-elected commissioners Donny Wohlers and Bob Kopitzke were sworn in the next week.

Bill Rickmeyer of Morris was awarded the 2012 Thomas B. McRoberts Human Rights Award after being nominated by a group from Zion Lutheran Church. Rickmeyer was recognized for his work with West Central Homes, the Stevens County DAC, Meals on Wheels, the VFW and Orphan Grain Train.

Matthew Bretz, son of Julia Conroy and Joshua Bretz of Hancock, was the first baby of 2013 at Stevens Community Medical Center. Matthew arrived on Monday, Jan. 14 at 7:58 a.m.

Stevens County Auditor-Treasurer Neil Wiese filed a civil suit against Stevens County, arguing that the board of commissioners set his salary and the budget for his office in an “arbitrary, capricious, oppressive” manner with “unreasonable disregard” for his performance and the responsibilities and duties of his office.

Wayne Lemmerman of Alberta was named the 2012 Fair Person of the Year for District 7 at the Minnesota Federation of County Fairs convention. The Stevens County Fair website was also named the best fair website in Minnesota.

The Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta boys’ basketball team celebrated a winning streak of seven games. At this point in the season, the boys were 12-2 just over the halfway point of the season.

Ross Tiegs was named the Morris Police Department Officer of the Year at the department’s annual banquet. Officer Anita Liebl and Officer Shane Nelson received the department’s Life Saving Award for their CPR efforts that revived an individual who was in full cardiac arrest.


Seniors Katie Holzheimer and Tom Holland were selected to represent Morris Area in the Minnesota State High School League Triple ‘A’ program. This program recognizes high school students who excel in the arts, athletics and in the classroom.

Mary Holmberg received the 2013 Breaking Barriers Award at the 27th annual Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day. Holmberg has coached the Tiger softball team since starting the program in 1980, racking up 482 wins and taking the Tigers to six state tournaments. Holmberg also served as the district’s athletic director for 17 years, helping start both the girls’ swimming and diving and girls’ hockey programs. In June, Homberg was inducted into the Minnesota Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. 

The Morris area spent the second week of February digging out from a record-setting snow storm on Feb. 10. The West Central Research and Outreach Center recorded 11 total inches of snow on Feb. 10. Morris Public Works Director Jim Ditbenner said city plow operators spent 27 hours clearing snow over three days.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar made a stop in Morris for a tour of Superior Industries on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Klobuchar’s stop was part of a two day “Exporting Minnesota” tour to discuss her efforts to open up new export markets for Minnesota businesses.

Kevin Pope was named head football coach, taking over for Jerry Witt, who held the position for nearly 30 years.


Bus driver Clarence Lanus was the first local resident recognized by Pay it Forward, Stevens County, a program designed to reward individuals who make life better for others in our community. Lanus was nominated by Alexis Lhotka, a third grader at St. Mary’s School.

Tiger wrestlers Dillian Johnson and Connor Metzger punched their tickets to the state wrestling tournament. Johnson captured the 138-pound title and Metzger fought off a true second challenger at the Section 3AA tournament. A week later, Metzger finished fifth in his weight category.

A weekend barn fire in Darnen Township at the property of Lowell Moser and Loren Schmidgall killed approximately 1,800 hogs and caused nearly $700,000 in property damage.

The Morris City Council approved a $1.6 million improvement project for Morris’ west side that included west Ninth, 10th and 11th Streets between Pacific Avenue and Park Avenue, as well as Idaho Avenue and Nevada Avenue between Ninth Street and Park Avenue.


University of Minnesota, Morris junior (and 2010 graduate of Hancock High School) Brendon Foss had tapes of some of his game highlights sent to the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. A representative from the Cowboys also came to Morris to get Foss’ measurements, give him the Wonderlic test, take is 40-yard dash time and fill out paperwork, officially making him an NFL prospect.

The Morris Area and Cyrus School Board officially voted to consolidate beginning on July 1, 2013.

Morris Area High School student Kaylee Brandt was named Secondary Ambassador of the Year with the national BPA program.

Jen Lund, director of the Morris Campus Police, competed in the Boston Marathon. Lund was traveling with several friends from the Morris area including Lisa Harris, Alissa Nagel, Sharon Martin and Nikki Raths. No one from Morris was injured in the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.


The Morris Area Chamber of Commerce and the Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission moved into new digs at 215 Atlantic Avenue.

Morris Area High School senior Brooke Wente was elected to serve as State FFA Secretary for 2013 – 2014. In the role, Wente will spend the next year promoting agriculture, education, and the FFA across Minnesota. Morris Area FFA instructor Natasha Mortenson was also inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame.

U.S. Senator Al Franken praised the University of Minnesota, Morris for its inclusiveness and community during his commencement address at the university’s 50th graduation ceremony.

The Stevens County Board of Commissioners approved a new single-sort recycling program for the county. In the summer, residents of the city’s in Stevens County received a 64-gallon recycling container that could be used to hold all types of recyclable materials.

Eugene Zumhofe of Cyrus was charged with 12 counts of criminal sexual conduct in Kandiyohi County District Court. According to the criminal complaint, Zumhofe started having sex with the victim when she was 15 years old. The abuse is alleged to have continued until 2011.


Three members of the Tiger track track and field team made it to the state meet. Marcus Cannon placed seventh in the 110-meter hurdles, MaKenzie Smith placed 12th in the 1600-meter run and eighth in the in the 3200-meter run. Katie Holzheimer competed in the 100-meter dash preliminaries and placed fifth in her heat, just missing the cut-off time.

About 1,300 people visited Superior Industries on June 13 for a community open house celebrating 40 years in business.

Annie Wulf of Hancock was recognized as the 2013 Morris Area Dale Carnegie Community Award winner.

Five Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta students shot varsity at the first ever Minnesota State High Clay Target League state tournament. Shooters included Zach Giese, Bo Olson, Reed Kannegiesser, Mike Rausch and Mitch DeBuhr.  

Strong winds and heavy rain whipped through the area on Thursday, June 20, downing trees and causing flash flooding in some areas. The West Central Research and Outreach Center recorded 5.6 inches of rain during the storm. Some homeowners in Morris had water back up into their basements because of issues with sump pumps, a power outage and outdated city infrastructure.

Morris Police Chief Jim Beauregard submitted his resignation to the Morris City Council after 12 years as Morris’ chief of police. Beauregard told the council he was offered an opportunity to work part-time on traffic safety for the state of Minnesota.