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2013 Year in Review - Part I
By Compiled by Jill Meier
Challenger editor

December 26. 2013 10:03AM
2013. It was a year similar to those we’ve lived before. But despite many similarities, 2013 in the Brandon Valley area was a year of celebration, one of tragedy and triumph, progress and achievement.

We said goodbye to two longtime middle school principals. We cheered on a Brandon native as he made his step onto a Broadway theater stage. We recognized those who volunteered their time to worthy causes and raised hundreds, even thousands of dollars for those same worthy causes. We welcomed new businesses and celebrated the milestone anniversaries of others. We cheered our Brandon Valley Lynx sports teams all the way to a variety of state tournaments and survived a late spring storm that pelted the area with ice and snow.

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.

This week, the Challenger recaps many of the happenings through the first six months of 2013.
Brandon Health Mart Pharmacy simplified the taking of prescribed medications for customers who take a variety of pills. Pharmacist Tom Wullstein began pre-packaging medications with the use of Dispill, a patented multi-dose packaging system that is customized for each client.
Although building permits totaled $11.6 million in Brandon in 2012, Brandon Building Inspector Dave Swier is optimistic that 2013 will bring bigger numbers.
“A chamber membership is much like a gym membership. You can write your check every year, but it doesn’t do a lot of good unless you get involved.”
That’s the theory John Small pledged to build his year on as the 2013 president of the Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.
Brandon City Clerk Bonnie Nelson concluded an 11-year career in that position when she retired this month. Prior to working for the city, Nelson also served 11 years on the Brandon City Council.
At their first meeting of 2013, the Brandon City Council hired the golf course consulting services of AS Enterprises at a cost of $1,500 per month. The contract is not to exceed 21 months.
Valley Springs City Commissioners are hoping to learn what their residents want for their city and why the town’s population has leveled off. And so they’re turning to the South Eastern Council of Governments (SECOG), a planning and development district that serves the southeastern region of the state, to help answer those questions.
Valley Springs’ last comprehensive plan – which has a 20-year shelf life – was done 16 years ago in 1997.
Carl Brakke and Jo Hausman brought CrazyCarl’s BBQ to a storefront in Brandon. The Brandon duo began operating out of Brandon 1st Stop.
Wind chills reaching 35 degrees below zero cancelled classes at Brandon Valley schools on Jan. 31. The call was made simply for the safety of students and staff. The missed day of school was made up on April 26, the only snow day built into the 2012-13 calendar.

A public hearing was scheduled to explain proposed changes to the city’s subdivision ordinance regarding park fee charges. Dave Swier, city building inspector, said there’s been a long-time need to increase the fees assessed to developers/builders. “We knew a long time ago that the park fee we were collecting was not enough money to do what we want to do,” he said.

Brandon Valley senior Mason Bender extended is win streak to 34-0 by securing three victories en route to winning the 170-pound Eastern South Dakota Conference title.

Brandon Valley Middle School Principal Dan Pansch and Assistant Principal Randall Hill announced they will each conclude their 30-plus year careers with the district at the end of the 2012-13 school year. Combined, the two have 69 years of service to the district.

Sidewalks and signage would give Valley Springs children a safer route to their school buses and to school, and a city commissioner is hoping $130,000 through a federal program will pay for such improvements.

Commissioner Tami Jansma is behind a push for Valley Springs to acquire a Safe Routes to School reimbursement.

In one of their best showings at the Region 2A meet in a number of seasons, the Lynx finished second to Sioux Falls Washington, and will send 10 wrestlers to the Class A State meet. Making the trip to Watertown are Conner Rowbotham (113 pounds), Adam Presler (126), Mason Bender (170) – all Region 2A champions – and Jackson Pletten 120), Wyatt Winter (152), Gab Langner (182), Andrew Sorensen (195), Brandon Burkhart (220) and Erik Ode (285).

Mindy Hansen filed the lone petition for the Ward 2 chair on the Brandon City Council, while Brian Staeffler will be reappointed to the Valley Springs City Commission.
Hansen, who completes her first four-year term, was the only person to file a petition for election to the Council. Staeffler did not file for re-election to the Valley Springs City Commission, however, he was reappointed to the position for another five-year term.
Jo Larsen of Valley Springs is spearheading a drive to create a community park on the vacant lot between the Valley Springs City Hall and post office buildings. Larsen’s plans call for murals on the building walls, flower gardens, benches and walkways.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect season for one Lynx wrestler, Mason Bender. The 2013 senior capped off his high school career as the Class A State Tournament by winning the 170-pound title and improving his unblemished season mark to 40-0.

In addition to Bender’s title win, the Lynx, who sent 10 to the state tourney, placed five on the awards stand en route to finishing 12th as a team. Other placewinners were Adam Presler (126, fifth), Wyatt Winter (152, sixth), Andrew Sorensen (195, seventh), Grant Dougherty (145, eighth

The Lady Lynx club bowling team came close to repeating their state title win, but in the end it would be Sioux Falls Washington who would take home the hardware.
Brandon Valley was led by senior Caitlin Hammond and junior Emily Steinhouse, who rolled 514 and 512 series, respectively.
Brad Thorson was named principal of Brandon Valley Middle School beginning in July. He succeeds Dan Pansch, who retired from the district after 35 years of service.
A group of 24 individuals were appointed to the Facilities Review Committee. The group was tasked with determining future facility needs in the Brandon Valley School District.

There’s a senior class at Brandon Valley High that knows no other ending to a sports season than through the state tournament. So it should come as no surprise that the Lynx boys are heading to the Class AA State Tournament next week. They made their point loud and clear before an electrified hometown crowd in the Lynx gym, where they solidly defeated the visiting Lincoln Patriots, 71-43.

A rural Valley Springs home was destroyed in a fire after a propane heater set blaze to the garage, according to Don Johnson, the Valley Springs fire department chief.
Nobody was injured in the blaze at 26298 484th Ave. Johnson said three people – Pamela Boheman, a 23-year-old son, and a 6-year-old daughter – were in the home at the time when they smelled smoke. Boheman’s husband, Chad, was not home at the time.

After 27 years with the district, operations manager Todd Williams announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

A 4.9-acre parcel of land that’s been home to Judy and the late Les Schroeder since their wedding day in 1968 will be developed into 13 single-home lots over the next few years. Smith Development Co. owner Brady Smith, 23, has purchased the Brandon landmark, “Little Ponderosa,” at 904 S. Sioux Blvd., from Judy Schroeder, and plans to begin the first of two development phases as soon as weather allows this spring. Eight of the 13 lots will be developed in the first phase, along with the creation of East Ponderosa Circle cul de sac, which will line up with East Ponderosa Drive on Sioux Boulevard.

Mark Schlekeway stepped into his role as associate principal at Brandon Valley High School. He succeeds Brad Thorson, who took on principal duties at Brandon Valley Middle School.

Brandon Valley senior standout Chase Marso capped off his prep basketball career as the recipient of the “Spirit of Su” award. The award is presented annually by the South Dakota High School Activities Association to young athletes who exemplify SuAnne Big Crow’s life and achievements.

It was an all-ESD finale in the Class AA boys basketball tournament, as the Lynx knocked off Roosevelt and Huron to play for the state title against Pierre, with the Governors coming out as the 50-39 victors.

Seventh grade math teacher Nick Skibsted was named associate principal at Brandon Valley Middle School. He succeeded Randy Hill.

An early morning break-in at Verizon Wireless in Brandon was probably connected to a string of similar burglaries in Watertown and Mitchell. Sgt. Wayne Ellingson with the Brandon Police said 27 smartphones, valued at $15,000 were taken in the early morning hours of March 24.
Brandon Valley Assembly of God worshipped in its new sanctuary for the first time during Easter week. The 150- by 90-foot structure more than doubles the capacity of its former sanctuary, with seating for about 500.

Three Rivers Post 4726 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Brandon celebrated its 50th year. The Post name was derived from the three waterways – the Big Sioux River, Split Rock Creek and Beaver Creek – which all converge just south of Brandon. A 50th anniversary banquet commemorated the milestone.

An unusual spring storm walloped the area beginning with rain that developed into ice, and was followed by heavy snow and strong winds. The multitude of weather conditions combined for a spring storm that left some in the dark and cold for days.

A Canada-based manufacturer purchased the 150,000 square-foot Brandon building planned as a wind tower manufacturing plant from owners who never ended up using it. The new owner, Marmen Inc., who promotes itself as the largest wind tower manufacturer in North America, plans to hire 200 people at the new plant with operations scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Lisa and Mike Hokenstad opened the doors to Brandon’s very first frozen yogurt store, -10 Below Frozen Yogurt, at 1224 E. Holly Blvd. The Hokenstads say they’re filling a niche that Brandon did not have.

Luverne Truck Equipment celebrated its 50th year in business with state and local business and political leaders as well as customers and current and prior employees in attendance. Luverne Truck opened in 1963 in neighboring Luverne, Minn., and relocated to the Brandon Industrial Park in 1985. Today, the company employs nearly 200.

Brandon native Cody Strand, 23, got his first big break in show business, when he landed the role as the Elder Arnold Cunningham in “The Book of Mormon,” one of the biggest shows no on indefinite tour throughout the United States and Canada. Strand began touring with the show in early December, and was on tour in Canada when the Challenger caught up with him.

In late May, Strand was brought back to Broadway to play the role on the stage of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

Math teacher Allen Hogie was named the 2013 Brandon Valley Teacher of the Year.

Mark Fonder took ownership of the Double D Saloon May 1. Fonder, who also owns 212 The Boiling Point in Brandon and Krav’n in Sioux Falls, said he purchased the business to stage more events at the Main Avenue establishment than he’s able to do at 212.

Incumbent Renee Ullom and newcomer Cary Schroeder were the only to submit petitions for nomination for election to the Brandon Valley Board of Education. They both started their three-year terms in July.

The Lynx boy’s track and field team repeated as Eastern South Dakota Conference champs for the second year in a row.

The City of Valley Springs gained a new mayor when Commissioner Carl Moss was appointed to fill the vacancy, which was created by the passing of longtime Mayor Neal Scadden in late April.

The $190,000 state-of-the-art video board was unveiled at Brandon Valley’s spring graduation ceremonies. The video board was an endeavor of the Brandon Valley Board of Education and participating business sponsors.

The 243-member class of Brandon Valley High School seniors was the largest to graduate from the district in its 50-year history.

For the first time in eight seasons, Brandon Valley’s club baseball team earned a berth to the state tournament. The Lynx got the job done by ousting Sioux Falls Lincoln by the 10-run rule, followed up by a tight 1-0 victory over Yankton to take Region 1A title and advance to the state show.

Plans for a $14.8 million upgrade to the city’s Aspen Park were revealed in late May, with a bond referendum to follow later in the year. The park proposal would become one of the most heated topics discussed in the months leading up to the vote.
Brandon Valley captured its third second place state finish over three sports seasons in the 2012-13 school year. On June 1 at Sioux Falls Stadium, the No. 2-seeded Lynx club baseball team held on to defeated O’Gorman 4-3 to advance to the finals against Sioux Falls Roosevelt. For the third time this season, the Rough Riders and pitcher Connor Grove proved to be the better team in the disappointing 4-2 loss.

Four members of Brandon Valley’s track and field team climbed to the top of the awards stand at the 2013 Class AA State Meet. Senior Matt VandeBerg capped off his prep career with repeat titles in both the long and triple jumps. Junior Cam Holmes not only set a new school record for the second time this season, but established a new Class AA State Meet record as well in the 400-meter dash. Lady Lynx Allie Koehn finally got her turn at the top of the awards stand for her title-winning discus throw.
Finally, Hailey Murray, the first Lady Lynx to place at the state meet in the pole vault, posted a school record and seventh place state ranking with her vault of 9-9.

Three Brandon landowners are working in cooperation to turn approximately 200 acres into 600 lots on the city’s east side. Landowners Tom Howey, Tony Bosch and Jack Robbins have been working with city planners for about a year, and are optimistic that sewer work can begin this summer. The 200-acre development also includes 20 acres purchased by the Brandon Valley School District for a future school building.

E.B. Carda opened a new salon, Love That Look, on East Cedar Street.

A safer commute to Valley Springs Elementary is on its way. The City of Valley Springs has been awarded a $131,000 Safe Routes to School grant from the South Dakota Department of Transportation. The money will be used install flashing yellow beacons at the intersection of Valley Drive and Broadway Avenue.

A 24-member committee determined the next facility need for the Brandon Valley School District is an intermediate school, which would house grades five and six. The committee determined the best location for the school is directly west of Robert Bennis Elementary, where the district already owns land. The current middle school campus was also considered, but the space would constitute a two-story building.

The Brandon community closed out the first half of 2013 by hosting Automania, which was relocated from downtown Sioux Falls to Brandon. The event was expected to draw thousands to the city for the one-day car show event.

The 243-member class of 2013 was the largest to graduate from Brandon Valley High School. Challenger file photo

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