As we turn the page from one decade to another, we decided to take a quick look back at the previous decade. Since 2019 has already been reviewed in the last two issues of the Herald, following are summaries of just a few of the top stories from the first nine years of the decade.
Top Stories in 2010
• Coborn’s Grocery Store, the largest retail center in the history of BP, opened its doors at 1010 East Enterprise Drive at 6:00 a.m. on Nov. 17. Construction of the 38,000-square-foot facility started in June. Coborn’s planned to employ about 120 full- and part-time associates in BP. The complex also featured a fuel station and convenience store, pharmacy, liquor store, and Express Medical Clinic operated by Queen of Peace Hospital.
• After half a century in business, H.E. Westerman Lumber Company announced it was closing its doors in BP, as well as in Montgomery and Lonsdale.
Also closing were BP Super Stop and Wash, Duets, Belle Video, Jimmy’s CRC, and BP Motel.
Huber’s SuperValu was sold to Village Market Foods of Prior Lake, which began operations in BP on May 12.
Matt Saxe, who had been in the auto dealership business in Wisconsin for a number of years, purchased BP Chevrolet/Buick from a group of partners that included local operator Joe Itman.
• In the Nov. general election, Tim Lies was elected mayor of BP; Paul Chard, Michael Pingalore and Scott Schneider were elected to the city council. Republican Kelby Woodard did what no other BP resident had accomplished in the past 72 years. He won the local seat for MN House of Representatives, defeating incumbent David Bly, DFL-Northfield.
• The BP City Council selected Tom Stolee to be the city’s next police chief. Stolee had been a BP police officer from 1992 to 2002 and replaced Kansas native David Lanning, who was fired in December 2009 after about a year on the job.
• The biggest snowfall to bury BP in nearly two decades took place Dec. 10-11. Left behind were 20 inches of snow and mammoth drifts. Add to that several additional snowfalls in Nov. and Dec. and some three feet had fallen here before the start of winter.
• On June 12 at Hamline University in St. Paul, the BPHS girls 4x400-meter relay team - freshman Haley Fogarty, sophomore Celeste Borchardt, junior Alex Hartman, and senior Katie Read - won the school’s first state track and field championship in any event since Jeff Siegle had won the boys’ pole vault almost three decades ago.
Top Stories in 2011
• The new business center near Coborn’s Superstore attracted some of the biggest names nationally in their respective industries, including McDonald’s, Great Clips and Verizon Wireless. Domino’s Pizza announced it would soon be the fourth tenant.
Other business arrivals in BP in 2011 included Stuff for Sale, Appliance Repair Incorporated, Behavior Health Service, the Jonas Center, Reynolds Custom Hearing, and Reclaimed Woodworks and Lumber.
• For the first time in a century, BP was without a grocery store north of Hwy. 169. After less than 15 months of doing business at 301 South Meridian Street at what had been Huber’s SuperValu, Village Market Foods closed on July 23.
• BP’s inaugural Scenic Byway Half-Marathon and 5K races took place on Saturday, Oct. 8. About 500 runners participated with almost an equal number of participants in each race.
• The BP City Council on Dec. 19 approved Cambria’s request for a conditional use permit to allow the operation of a product sample box assembly plant at 835 East Enterprise Drive. Cambria already occupied two of BP’s largest manufacturing facilities, the former Excelsior-Henderson and Norwesco buildngs, and planned to ultimately employ 135 people in BP.
• In the individual state wresting tournament, Scott West’s Michael Kroells and Gabe Fogarty captured the 215- and 135-pound state Class 2A championships, respectively. Kroells had no losses all season and Fogarty had just one.
Top Stories in 2012
• Soaking rains in May that amounted to 11.42 inches returned June 11-18 when an additional 7.15 inches fell in BP. On Tuesday morning, June 19, a strong windstorm, reported to be in excess of 80 mph, did considerable damage homes. Amidst the wreckage was Chris Schmeckpeper’s and his mother Shirley’s mobile home at 602 West Forest Street, where a large tree fell on its roof, squashing a portion of the structure from top to bottom. About 50 large trees were down in BP and multiple residential power lines were damaged. No injuries were reported.
• In the Nov. general election, with a record 3,313 people (96.03 percent of the city’s registered voters) casting their ballots at the BP Government Center, Mayor Tim Lies was defeated by City Council Member Mike Pingalore. Elected to the city council were Cary Coop and Gary Trost. Commissioner Joe Wagner of Sand Creek Township held off a fierce challenge from BP native Jerry Kucera to win re-election and another term on the Scott County Board. In the presidential election, Mitt Romney received over 56 percent of the vote in BP with 1,850 votes to 1,337 for Barack Obama.
• The Bake Shop, which had been owned and operated by Mark and Jami Kruschke since 2001, closed June 30.
Among other business closings were Mystic Journey, Lecy Chiropractic and Stuff for Sale.
New businesses included H&R Block at BP Commons, Memories and Milestones Academy (day care) in the former Westerman Lumber building, BP Transmission and Auto in the former Belle Auto building, and RT Garage in the former Keup Motors building.
• For the first time in over three decades, the BP School District had an opening for a junior/senior high school principal. Lowell Hoffman retired and was replaced by David Kreft, who two years after he had left BP for a principal’s position in Springfield, was headed back for the same job. Meanwhile, Kim DeWitte replaced Bill Adams as principal at Chatfield Elementary School.
Top Stories in 2013
• The BP City Council did not renew City Administrator David Murphy’s contract which expired on Dec. 31, after his almost ten years of employment with the city. The action was taken to enable the city “to move quickly in a more progressive, efficient and effective manner.” Finance Director Dawn Meyer was appointed interim city administrator until a replacement for Murphy could be hired.
• Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church and School in BP held a ground-breaking ceremony for its new parish life center on Aug. 4. OLP planned to construct an 11,335-square-foot addition on the southeast side of the existing church. The addition was to be used as a gathering space, more offices and six classrooms. Estimated total cost of the project was $1.8 million.
• BP’s newest business addition opened Aug. 1 in the extensively remodeled former office and warehouse area adjacent to the BP County Store at 820 E. Main St. and was renamed as Genesis Town and Country, which included the Hardware Hank brand and image.
Another notable business addition in BP included Main Street Donut and Deli in the former Duets building downtown, which the owners of Broadway Market in downtown Jordan, Tim and Linda Heng, purchased.
Also, Legacy, offering a variety of health shakes and other wellness food and programs, opened at 106 N. Meridian St.
The motel on Hwy. 169 was purchased by Neil and Tina Bhakta of Eden Prairie; they changed its name from FairBridge Inn and Suites to HomeTown Inn and Suites.
• The weather of 2013 played havoc on a lot of lives, ranging from high school spring sports participants to farmers and gardeners. With 12.5 inches of snow in March and 12.75 inches of rain in the first half of April, BPHS’s spring sport teams were getting benched by Mother Nature. The MRC eventually decided to play all of its conference baseball and softball games as doubleheaders to help make up for lost time. In the late summer, some farmers’ crops were deteriorating as one of the most extensive heat waves in Minnesota history raged. That fall the price of corn and soybeans went up as less supply created a bigger demand.
Top Stories in 2014
• Flooded basements and crop fields, landslides, downed trees, and washed out roads affected the BP area after major rain events in May and June. With a total of almost two feet of rain, the first six months of the year were believed to be the wettest in the Twin Cities region since 1871. Numerous BP homes experienced flooded basements, especially south of Hwy. 169. Dozens of Blakeley residents, the hardest hit community, had to be evacuated from their homes after mudslides forced almost all the roads in and out of the community to be closed for days, weeks, even months.
• Finally, eleven months after the release of David Murphy as the city administrator, the BP City Council appointed Holly Kreft, who had been Belle Plaine’s community development director from early-2001 to mid-2006 before taking a similar job in Victoria. Kreft never applied for the BP opening but was contacted by the city.
• The BP City Council authorized the expenditure for the city engineering firm to continue pursuing potential funding sources from the state for the proposed construction of an overpass near the Hwy. 169/Cty. Rd. 3/Meridian St. intersection in BP.
• In the Nov. general election, a total of 1,879 people (or 53.34 percent of the city’s registered voters) cast ballots at the BP Government Center. Incumbents Paul Chard and Scott Schneider were both re-elected to the city council, as well as Mayor Mike Pingalore, who had no challengers. Kevin Studnicka of BP was re-elected as Scott County Sheriff. Even though BP voters sided with the Republican candidates in all state and U.S. races, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and U. S. Senator Al Franken (D) were easily re-elected. Absent from the ballot that year was Republic Rep. Kelby Woodard of BP, who moved to Dallas, Texas to help start a new Catholic high school. Fellow Republican Bob Vogel of Elko New Market won the election to replace Woodard in District 20A.
Top Stories in 2015
A portion of a two-inch water sprinkler pipe above the third-floor ceiling at Cardinal Ridge Apartments in BP failed on Feb. 6, damaging about half of the building’s 35 units and forcing the evacuation of 36 residents. All tenants had to be relocated and it was months before they could return to their homes.
• Carver County Sheriff’s deputies found Earl A. Olander, 90, dead in his home on April 11, his hands bound and his house at 16885 Homestead Rd. in San Francisco Township pillaged. A month later, recovered U.S. Savings Bonds helped police identify and arrest two men who allegedly killed Olander - Edison Celin-Dominguez Benitez of Richfield and Reinol Godines Vergara of St. Paul.
• Two BPHS sports teams won state team championships in 2015. In June, the girls track and field team, fueled by a pair of first place finishes, won the Class 1A title at Hamline University in St. Paul. The 4x800-meter relay team of Emily Berger, Alissa Schultz, Haley Leger, and Janessa Meuleners outraced the rest of the 16-team field, and Jenna Gatz successfully defended her state Class 1A championship in the 400-meter dash. In November, the BPHS volleyball team brought home the program’s first state championship. Kaylee Hentges, Dakotah Poitra, Mariena Hayden, and Danielle Taylor were named to the state Class 2A all-tournament team.
• After more than two decades of operation in BP, Valley View Golf Course, owned by LeRoy and Connie Chard, did not open for the 2015 season.
Also after many years of business of BP, Dale and Lori Otto closed their Otto Drug Store at 617 E. Main St.
In November, Rainbow Child Care Discovery Center relocated from adjacent 613 E. Main St. to the vacant building next door, and Angie Gorman was operating Angie’s Infant and Toddler Day Care at the former Rainbow Discovery location.
Southwest Eye Care opened in the BP Commons complex just south of Hwy. 169, and BP Eyecare Center opened at 168 Commerce Drive, just across from the street from Veterans Park.
Later in the year, Jon Schuette closed his BP Auto lot at the intersection of West Raven and S. Meridian streets, which he had sold to Stier Transportation.
• BP Public Works employee Jerry Connolly was found dead Aug. 5 at the city’s wastewater treatment plant on Union Trail (Cty. Rd. 6). Investigators concluded he drowned in an oxidation ditch in the center of the facility grounds, just northeast of the building.
• Superintendent Kelly Smith resigned, after leading BP’s public schools for 11 years, to accept a job as a client representative with Springsted Inc. On Aug. 13, the BP School Board elected Stillwater School District Assistant Superintendent Ryan Laager as Smith’s replacement.
• The summer of 2015 was good for growing crops with timely rains and moderate temperatures. Farmers anticipated corn harvests of 230 bushels per acre, a yield well above previous years. Soybean yields were reportedly in the 50-65 bushels per acre range.
• A big project expected to bring substantial change to BP was given a major boost on Sept. 21 when the city council awarded the bid for the construction of the Enterprise Drive overpass and extension project to S.M. Hentges and Sons of Jordan at the low bid of $3,179,966.84, which was more than $1.2 below the city engineer’s construction estimate. On Oct. 19, a ground-breaking ceremony was held.
Top Stories in 2016
• According to the Metropolitan Council, the population in BP was growing slowly but surely. In the last formal count of residents by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010, BP was home to 6,661 people living in 2,362 households. As of May 2016, the population in BP was 6,901 residents.
• The Enterprise Drive overpass opened following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 27. Afterwards, it took the MN Dept. of Transportation just six days to close the left-turn lanes from Hwy. 169 to Cty. Rd. 3/Meridian St. After another nine days, a ground-breaking ceremony was held to mark the start of construction of a nearly $20 million medical clinic, wellness center and senior housing campus with 55 units at the northwest corner of the intersection of Hwy. 169 and Cty. Rd. 3/Meridian St. by officials from Ridgeview Medical Center, The Lutheran Home Association and the City of BP. Excavation for what would be one of the biggest building projects in BP history got underway Aug. 15.
• After operating Steffen’s Hardware in downtown BP since the 1970s, Jim Steffen, whose father, William, had started the business in 1955, announced a retirement sale starting on May 26. His building went up for sale for $179,000.
Meanwhile, Otto Pries put the cork on the Little Brown Jug liquor store in BP, which he had opened in 1975 at Commerce Drive E.
• After less than two years on the job, BP City Administrator Holly Kreft resigned in May to accept a position (her dream job) with a private foundation in Victoria. Following a summer-long search, the city council hired a former U.S. Army officer of more than a dozen years and current Tracy City Administrator Mike Votca, 39, to be BP’s next city administrator.
• In the Nov. general election, Mike Pingalore’s bid for a third two-year term as mayor was blocked by a large contingent of supporters for Chris Meyer in what was a near record election turnout for BP. Elected to the BP City Council were Ben Stier and Theresa McDaniel, along with incumbent Cary Coop, all serving with Paul Chard whose seat was not up for election in ‘16. Voters in BP and the surrounding area backed Donald Trump, a Republican, over Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, by a 2-to-1 margin. Yet Clinton carried Minnesota and won the national popular vote by some 2 1/2 million votes, but Trump won where it counted most - the electoral vote.
Top Stories in 2017
• The fate of ‘Joe,’ a memorial in BP’s Veterans Memorial Park dedicated to those who served in the armed forces and died for their country, dominated the news and community conversations in 2017. ‘Joe’ was a display of a soldier kneeling before a Latin cross created by Joe Gregory and placed next to the Veterans Memorial Stone. In early-January, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) notified the City of BP that it wanted the city to remove what the group deemed a religious symbol from a city park in order to comply with separation of church and state laws. In mid-January, the BP City Council decided to remove ‘Joe’ from the memorial rather than risk being sued by FFRF. Unhappy with that decision, Terry Buegsens, the son-in-law of Joe Gregory, and a group of others made 500 wooden crosses which were distributed throughout the community. In early-February, the BP City Council voted 3-2 to pursue a limited public forum which allowed the “legal” return of the cross to Vets Park, as one of five displays (religious or not) honoring military veterans. In March, the City of BP received an application from a Massachusetts-based organization called Reason Alliance, Ltd. to place a monument in the limited public forum area of Vets Park. In early-April, ‘Joe’ was returned to the park. In May, the City of BP approved an application from The Satanic Temple to place their monument in the park. In early-June, Fr. Brian Lynch of Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church asked the BP City Council to reject the plans of The Satanic Temple, but the council felt it couldn’t subjectively decide which groups may or may not place monuments in the park. In mid-July, the BP City Council eliminated the limited public forum in Vets Park after a Christian group called “America Needs Fatima” and those supporting the rights of non-Christians and Satanists held peaceful gatherings in the park. In mid-October, the City of BP received a letter from The Satanic Temple demanding $35,000 in damages plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for violating their First Amendment rights, breaking a contract, and eliminating the limited public forum in BP’s Veterans Memorial Park with little notice. In late-November, the BP’s city attorney sent a letter to The Satanic Temple justifying the city’s decision to eliminate a limited public forum area and declining their demand for damages.
• After operating her own embroidery business for 18 years, Deb Koepp closed Deb’s Embroidery at 118 Meridian St. in late-April, following the city-wide garage sales.
In early-July, the Siemon family’s association with the farm implement dealership came to an end. Marty Siemon had started the business in the mid-1960s and his son, Terry Siemon, was the last member of the family to own at least a portion of the dealership formally acquired by Kibble Equipment.
The Lutheran Home Association reached an agreement to sell its Home to Home Thrift Store on S. Market Ave. in BP. The store closed in mid-November.
• Ryan Dungey, 27, who spent much of his youth in BP, retired from motocross and supercross motorcycle racing in mid-May after the season’s final race in Las Vegas, as a four-time supercross and three-time motocross champion.
• For the sixth time in 17-plus years, the City of BP was looking for a new city administrator after Mike Votka submitted his resignation in mid-June. Eventually, Dawn Meyer secured the position.
• Three new school board members - Matt Lenz, Karl Keup and Amanda Gregory - were elected by seven percent of the BP School District’s registered voters on Nov. 7, to replace Dan Gardner, Dan Giesen and Joe Vandermark who did not seek reelection. Lenz, Keup and Gregory joined Tracy O’Brien, with three years of experience on the board, and Terry Kahle, who was initially elected in Nov. of 2016. A sixth school board member, Diane Skelley, resigned to accept a custodial position with the school district. Dan Gardner was chosen by the board to fill Skelley’s vacancy.
Top Stories in 2018
• The major newsworthy story of 2018 was the proposed community center intended to draw more people to the community and create increased traffic in BP that could ultimately lead to residential and commercial growth. In January, Superintendent Ryan Laager encouraged school district residents to support building a two-level facility with four basketball courts, a six-lane track, indoor and outdoor pools, etc. on land owned by the school district across W. Commerce Dr. from Oak Crest Elementary School for $33 million. In mid-March, the BP City Council approved a 21-year agreement (by a 3-2 vote) to participate in the aquatics component of the proposed community center, by contributing $250,000 annually towards its operation and staffing. In early-April, dozens of BP residents attended a meeting hosted by a newly-formed community group, Citizens for the Full Truth, who used the Facebook page “BP Schools Not Pools” to express their concerns about the proposed community center. Also, the MN Commissioner of Education gave the proposed community center an unfavorable review with concerns about how it would benefit students as well as its economic feasibility. On the May 8th election day, voters in the BP School District rejected the proposal for a new community center by a huge margin - 2,146 to 622 - with about 48 percent of registered voters participating in the referendum. Also, in the special school board election, Terry Morrison was elected to fill the seat vacated by Diane Skelley.
• In late-June, artist Lana Beck created a mural overlooking BP’s downtown plaza on the corner of Main and Meridian streets. The mural features a stone-arch bridge over Robert Creek as the creek winds its way south to north through the “beautiful prairie” to the MN River. A ribbon-cutting event on Sept. 4 signaled the official opening of the plaza, celebrating the culmination of a year’s work to transform the empty lot, since a fire in October 2005 destroyed the building.
• In local sports action, Jaylen Struck-Schmitz, a BPHS sophomore, won a state championship in the 300-meter hurdles on June 9 at the state track meet at Hamline University in St. Paul, with a personal best time of 44.24 seconds; the girls track team finished in fifth place.
Saby Sengupta, developer of Tatiana Fields, officially opened the new cricket complex on ten acres east of Oak Crest Elementary School in BP on July 7.
The Gray Tigers, BP’s senior baseball team, finished the season with their first AA State Championship since 1977, with excellent pitching and defense.
After more than 40 years, the Skelley family of BP decided to cut the line on the popular river fishin’ contest because the cost of operating the tournament in August and the amount of time and money it took to put on the event were no longer justifiable.
• In the Nov. general election, Renee LeMieux and Paul Chard were elected to four-year terms on the BP City Council, and Mayor Chris Meyer was re-elected unopposed. In the Scott County Sheriff’s race, Luke Hennen edged out Jason Arras. Even though Republican candidates attracted the most votes in BP, the following Democrats were elected to their respective offices: Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, U.S. Senators; Angie Craig, U.S. Representative from District 2; Tim Walz, MN Governor; Steve Simon, MN Secretary of State; Julie Blaha, MN State Auditor; and Keith Ellison, MN Attorney General.