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2012: The year in review
By Compiled by Jill Meier
Challenger editor

January 04. 2013 9:27AM
2012. It was a year similar to those we’ve lived before. But despite many similarities, 2012 in the Brandon Valley area was a year of celebration, one of tragedy and triumph, progress and achievement. We said goodbye to a longtime political figure. We cheered on a Brandon native as he sang his to the top 24 of a popular reality show. We recognized those who volunteered their time to worthy causes and raised hundreds, even thousands of dollars for those same worthy causes. We witnessed new business openings and existing business expansions. We celebrated milestones – the 90th birthday of Valley Springs Elementary and the 30th season of the Mighty Corson Art Players.

All of these events and more – including our everyday lives – are what shaped Brandon, Valley Springs and the surrounding area to what it is today.
* * * * *
• Brandon Building Inspector Dave Swier predicted a good year for building permits in 2012. In 2011, permits totaled $20.6 million, up from $12 million in 2010.

“I think people are feeling better about the economy,” he said.

• Hoover’s Martial Arts doubled its space with a move from Redwood Boulevard to the west side of the Sunshine Foods complex. The school’s new digs include an expanded workout area and pro area.

• Former South Dakota Governor Bill Janklow died Jan. 12, 2012 of brain cancer at age 72. Janklow held that office for a record 16 years. He went on to win a seat in U.S. Congress in 2002, but that office would be short lived when he ran a stop sign south of Flandreau and killed motorcyclist Randy Scott. He quit Congress after his conviction, spent 100 days in jail and said the harm he had done to Scott and his family was his one regret.

• Creighton Fraker, a 2011 graduate of Brandon Valley, was featured on the popular television show “American Idol.” The 28-year-old received rave reviews from celebrity judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson at his initial audition. Fraker made it into the top 24 and was eliminated when he didn’t make it into the show’s top 13.

• Theresa Otten opened her home-based business, Theresa’s Doggie Day Spa, in Valley Springs.

• Trevor Koehn purchased Bruce Knutson’s business, Knutson Collision Repair, located in the Brandon Industrial Park, and renamed the business, Auto Body Specialists.

• Last fall, Brandon residents and its City Council said they opposed having railroad switchyards moved to the west side of the city. The site is still one of three options being considered to relocate the switchyards out of downtown Sioux Falls.

Brandon residents, along with city officials, attended meetings to voice their opposition to the idea.

“To me, the ‘no build’ option is the way we should be going. It has the least impact,” Brandon resident Erik Forman said.

• Incumbents Roger Brooks and Blaine Jones retained their positions on the Brandon City Council, while Valley Springs incumbent Doug Hansen will face challenger Tami Jansma in the April 10 election.

• The Mighty Corson Art Players are celebrating their 30th year by revisiting a show they first produced in 1983. “You Can’t Take It With You” was MCAP’s second show and was the community group’s choice to open its 30th season.

• Catherine and Heath Harding opened Lynx Martial Arts & Fitness, LLC on March 25 with partners Amy Bullis and Alex Zuke.

• A longtime supporter of the Brandon Area Food Pantry can no longer associate with the community service agency or its director for two years. Judge Pat Reipel ordered Mike Moorlach, 81, of Brandon, to stay 500 feet away from Linda Weber, executive director of the BAFP for two years. The restraining order stemmed from two separate incidents in which Moorlach is accused of verbally and physically assaulting Weber.

• A Brandon goat farmer who reportedly molested three young boys on multiple occasions between 2005-2011 “groomed” his victims and built up trust with the boys’ parents, police say. Ruben Peter Padilla, 66, was indicted on seven counts of sexual contact with a child younger than 16 and one count of sexual contact with a victim incapable of consent for a series of sexual interactions with three boys. Padilla was placed in jail on a $250,000 cash-only bond.

• South Dakota will expand its circle of football champions in 2013 by creating a seventh classification for the state’s largest high schools. The eight schools with the biggest enrollment will compete in the new Class 11AAA starting in fall 2013 under a change approved by the South Dakota High School Activities Association. Brandon Valley’s enrollment places the Lynx in the top tier.

Supporters of the change said it would bring more balance and fairness to football, while critics said it would water down the significance of a championship.

• A small delegation of Brandon leaders made one last bid to bring the state’s next VA nursing home to the city. The group met with VA and state officials in Pierre and came away with positive feedback from the decision-makers. Brandon is one of four communities on the eastern side of the state that is making a bid for the VA nursing home. Also hoping to land it are Brookings, Yankton and Aberdeen.

• After 13 years at Valley Springs Farmers Elevator, the last four as manager, Brian Fick is leaving to pursue family full time. Mike Christensen, who previously managed a gain elevator in Little Rock, Iowa, was hired as Fick’s replacement.

• The Brandon City Council unanimously approved a $1.8 million overhaul of Aspen Boulevard from Nicholas Avenue to Fifth Avenue. The council awarded the project to Metro Construction, Inc., of Sioux Falls.

• Brandon Valley school board members said they were swayed by overwhelming parent and teacher support of all day, every day kindergarten, which is why they approved the program for all four of the district’s elementary schools, starting in fall 2012.

• Valley Springs voters chose Tami Jansma 88-29 over incumbent Doug Hansen for a five-year city commission seat in the April 10 election.

• The price of a city-issued retail (on sale) liquor license is likely going up. The Brandon City Council opened discussion on the increasing the license from its current fee of $8,800.

• Brandon Valley High School’s parking lot received a $1.2 million upgrade this summer. The improvements included new asphalt, lighting and landscaping.

• Brady Olson, a middle school geography and reading teacher, was named Brandon Valley’s 2012 Teacher of the Year.

• Missing a record enrollment by one student, the Brandon Valley High School Class of 2011 will send 220 graduates across the stage at commencement exercises.

• A series of fires – suspected as arson – at Big Sioux Recreation Area in Brandon have been investigated by the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office and were next turned over to the State’s Attorney’s office for review. In the past six to eight weeks, the Split Rock Volunteer Fire Department has been called to the state-owned rec area on six separate occasions, according to department chief Monte Albertson. Several acres of land, trees and archery targets were scorched.

• A $75,000 Safe Routes to School grant has created some discord in the city. Some Brandon homeowners who live adjacent to the proposed route voiced their opposition to plan.

The Mad Tatter, a tattoo shop, opened for business at 308 E. Holly Blvd., by artist Scott Wentler his stepfather Stuart Oines. It’s the second tattoo business now operating in Brandon.

• McHardy Park was the site of Brandon Bike Night, an event created in part with the Argus Leader Tour de Kota, which stayed a night in the city.

• The clucking of chickens won’t be heard in the city limits of Brandon. The Brandon City Council decided not to pursue action on a request that would allow chickens to be raised in city limits.

“I’ll be the first to say mayor, I just can’t support it because Brandon doesn’t need chickens,” Alderman Blaine Jones said. “ … We already have problems with dogs, we don’t want to have problems with clucking chickens.”

• Rebekah Scott Designs was named the “Home–Based Business Champion of the Year” by the Small Business Administration.

• The price of a city-issued retail (on sale) liquor license in Brandon was increased from $8,785 to $125,000. Alderman Bob Bruning said the licenses have a higher market value than the current rate, which equates to $1 per resident.

• Kevin Karli concluded a 37-year career with Alliance Communications.

• Alderwoman Jo Hausman spearheaded the “Beautify Brandon” campaign, which resulted in 35 flower planters along Splitrock and Aspen boulevards this year. The planters also doubled as holiday decorations when greenery, bows and lighting were added. Hausman solicited donations from Brandon businesses and residents to fund the endeavor.

• A 640-square-foot addition to Casey’s General Store in Brandon added another dining option to the city. The convenience store now offers deli sandwiches, an expanded coffee bar and other new amenities.

• A 150-fot by 90-foot addition now underway at Brandon Valley Assembly of God will better accommodate the growing congregation. The $1 million-plus addition has nearly doubled the size of the current church building. It includes a sanctuary, reception area, adult study room, separate infant and toddler day care rooms, restrooms, janitorial storage and a mechanical room.

• A Brandon business that closed its doors in October 2011 has reopened in Valley Springs. Hello Gorgeous owner Suzy King is leasing space previously occupied by Valley Barber.

• Bethany Home – Brandon welcomed its first residents in August. The 58-bed home features private rooms, each with its own bathroom complete with shower and in-floor heat. The nursing home, which is the town’s first, was built at a cost of about $10 million.

• A Brandon mom, Krista Coughlin, organized a food allergy support group, which meets monthly at Risen Savior Catholic Church.

• A Sioux Falls tax company, 1st Choice Taxi, began serving Brandon in August.

• Brian Oldenkamp of Sheldon, Iowa, opened an auto detailing businss, Oldenkamp Detailing, at 308 E. Dogwood.

• After more than 18 months of petitioning for an on-sale liquor license, Spitrock 1st Stop owner Ann Evangelisto was disappointed when the Brandon City Council denied her application. Evangelisto had applied for the license at its former cost of $8,785 but the council did not act on it, as they were in the process of raising the license fee to $125,000.

The reason councilors gave Evangelisto for denying the license is that her business wouldn’t make a big enough impact to the city’s economy.

• First-day projections indicated 140 new students are attending Brandon Valley Schools this year, increasing the district enrollment to 3,555.

• A new law to ban texting while driving in the city limits of Brandon won’t be going on the books. On the advice of Police Chief Dave Kull, the Brandon City Council opted not to implement a new law. Kull said the city essentially has a law on the books: careless driving.

• Automania, which bills itself as “one of the largest displays of muscle cars, sports cars, Vorvettes, hot rods, imports and classics exhibited in the Midwest,” is coming to Brandon June 28, 2013. The event has outgrown downtown Sioux Falls, according to event founder Bill Nelson. Nelson said Brandon has space for growth. The event draws from 1,300 to 1,500 cars and 70,000 to 80,000 visitors. It will be staged on Holly Boulevard from Sioux to Splitrock.

• Due to the new federally mandated school lunch guidelines, students across the country and at Brandon Valley are going hungry. That’s the message Congresswoman Kristi Noem heard from constituents. Noem visited Brandon Valley and other school districts across the state to hear firsthand how the guidelines are negatively affecting school lunch programs.

• A husband-wife team has opened the newest optometry clinic in Brandon, Jones Family Eye Care, in Splitrock Square.

• A North Dakota native, Dr. Matt Krivarcha, opened Today’s Family Dentistry in the Eagle Creek strip mall located along Holly Boulevard.

• The price to golf at Brandon’s Municipal Golf Course in 2013 was increased 5 percent by the Brandon City Council. Early bird discount programs will also be phased out in the coming years.
• Skateboard enthusiasts in Brandon will have to find a new place to hone their skills. That’s the result of the city vacating its location on Brandon Valley High School property this fall so the school district can convert the space into a practice field for the band program.

Relocation cost estimates are in the $100,000 range, according to City Administrator Bryan Read.

• Pastor Scott Hackler is now the lead pastor at Brandon Lutheran Church. He comes to Brandon from Gurnee, Ill., where he was serving before the call came.

• Brandon has begun advertising for a city engineer-planner to help guide the city as it continues to grow. The City Council has approved a job description for the newly-created position.

• The Brandon Valley Athletic Booster Club proposed to place a video board in the high school’s indoor activity center. The Boosters pledged $30,000 to the project and will seek sponsors for the six-figure priced mechanism.

• Brandon will spend $23,000 to help figure out the best way to provide clean water to residents as the city grows. Stockwell Engineers got the bid to do the study.

• A&A Express in Brandon has been sold to a Wisconsin company, but CEO Larry Anderson said that is the only thing that will change with the firm he started here in 1987. The current staff will continue to run the company. Road Runner Transportation Systems Inc., purchased A&A Express in November for a total enterprise value of approximately $24 million, plus an earn-out capped at $2.5 million.

• The City of Brandon accepted a $50,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant that will put toward the purchase of 11 acres of land for the expansion of Aspen Park.

• The City of Brandon is venturing into the world of advertising. Council members agreed to allow an area advertising agency to sell ads that will be placed on the exterior of the city’s two transit buses. It’s unknown how much revenue will be generated.

• A Pizza Hut carryout and delivery opened its doors Dec. 13 at 101 N. Splitrock Blvd.

• Brandon Valley has decided to stay at the highest level of competition when it comes to high school football for the next two seasons. The school board unanimously voted to play in Class 11AAA when the state goes to seven classes in 2013. The decision came on the recommendation of administrators and overwhelming support from players, coaches and district patrons.

“When you read the letter and emails we got or were on the ‘Supe’s On’ blog, it was eight or nine to one in favor of staying AAA,” said Superintendent Dave Pappone.





CreightonFraker caught up with his high school choir director Terry Gullickson at a July concert for his Brandon fans. Challenger file photo



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