Weather, retirements, deaths dominate news in 1997

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 12/30/97.

With year fast coming to an end, and the new year starting tomorrow, the Press took a look back into old issues of the Paynesville Press to recap some of the newsworthy events of 1997.


Snow and more snow was what area residents experienced at the start of 1997. Due to the heavy snowfalls in December and early January, a number of barn and shed roofs throughout the area were damaged.

Due to the heavy winter snowfalls, many Paynesville area residents were affected by flood waters in the spring from rising lake levels, creeks and rivers. The North Fork Crow River washed out a portion of a road in Roseville Township in early April.

In late June, severe thunderstorms hit the Paynesville area, uprooting and toppling large trees and blowing roofs off buildings.


A Belgrade man was in jail Sept. 3 after he killed Allen Bloomquist, 38, Hawick, and wounded Jolynn Bloomquist, 30, at their rural Hawick home. Brad Hagen, 36, Belgrade, fled the scene and had officials from Kandiyohi, Meeker, Stearns, and Pope counties searching for him all night. He was found at the home of his brother in Belgrade, who had called the police to come pick him up.

On Oct. 15, what started out as a peaceful evening to watch their son play football in St. Cloud, turned into tragedy for a Spicer couple. DNR officer Gary Westby, 51, Spicer, was killed in a two-car accident and three other people were injured after his 1990 Chevrolet van collided with a Paynesville Police car. The police car was in pursuit of a vehicle driven by John Carl Anderson, 35, Paynesville. The incident started as a routine traffic stop for Paynesville Police Officer Joe Schmitz. Anderson is still being held in Stearns County Jail awaiting a court hearing.

Local government

In September, the local airport was reinstated to the state airport system. Now that the airport is considered a ďplanning airportĒ the city is eligible for funding reimbursements from the state.

Voters in the Paynesville Area School District approved the 10-year excess levy for $488,389 per year when they went to the polls on Nov. 4. A total of 856 voters cast ballots approving the levy. Of the total, only $128,511 will be raised locally.

Highway 23

SRF Consulting presented two by-pass alternatives to the Highway 23 Steering Committee in January as part of a year-long corridor study. The steering committee has been working to expand Highway 23 into a four-lane highway from St. Cloud to Willmar. In the Paynesville area, two alternatives dealt with by-passes around town, a north route and a south route.


In August, the Paynesville Area Health Care System purchased the Lakeview Medical Center from Dr. Dreyling. He announced plans to retire on Oct. 1 after 30 years as a physician in the Paynesville area.

In August, Dr. Randy Nelson, an internist, joined the staff at the PAHCS, replacing Dr. Aulick who had announced plans to retire in September. Dr. Ernie Aulick retired Oct.1 from his medical practice, after 40 years of practice.

In addition to his retirement, his wife, Ruth Aulick, announced her retirement as the director of the Paynesville Community Service Center which she founded 32 years ago. In November, Julie Knutson assumed the duties as the new director of the service center.


On Easter Monday, the Grace United Methodist Church emptied their sanctuary and started a major renovation project, one which wasnít completed until July.

The Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds celebrated their 75th anniversary in June. The Assembly Grounds was founded around the old-time ďcamp meetingsĒ held each summer.

The Salem Church, the brick country church north of Paynesville, celebrated its 100th birthday in August. Former members held a program to help raise funds to restore the 100-year old structure. In December, the church held an old-fashioned Christmas programat which they were able to ring the old bell in the steeple at the beginning of the program.


From milk cans and making butter in the horse and buggy age to feed and fertilizer in the computer age, the St. Martin Co-op celebrated their 100th birthday on Sept. 27. The co-op was started in 1897 under the name of Sauk Valley Creamery. In 1979, the co-op dropped creamery from the name and took on the name St. Martin Co-op.

Alco opened the doors on its new Paynesville store, along Highway 23 on the west edge of Paynesville, on Nov. 4 with a ribbon cutting. The 22,000-square foot building is a general merchandise store utilizing the discount store format.

Lake shore and river preservation were big concerns in 1997 for area residents. The Koronis Lake Association and the Rice Lake Association have been working hand-in-hand with the North Fork Crow River Watershed District (NFCRWD) to ensure cleaner lakes and rivers.

Conservation practices being implemented by farmers and lake home owners are helping in the effort to clean up the North Fork Crow River, Rice Lake and Lake Koronis.

Another study by the NFCRWD found 10 out of 29 feed lots within the immediate watershed may have been contributing excessive concentrations of phosphorus, sediment and chemical oxygen demand to the lakes. Last summer, several area farmers, with the help of the watershed district and Farm Service Agency, took action to clean up their feed lots which are located near the river.

Return to Archives