Looking back at 2018 in the north suburbs

file photos Roseville Area High School students walked out of class March 14 to protest gun violence in schools and to hold moments of silence for the 17 killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting a month prior.

The new Bell Museum, complete with its 16-foot-tall wooly mammoth, opened July 13.

Seen here in 2009, PJW Automotive owner Pat Whelan called it quits Oct. 31 after nearly four decades of servicing cars off Old Highway 8 in New Brighton.

Mixed media artist Bob Murphy showed photos from his hometown’s past Sept. 22 in his “A Roseville Story” presentation at the Roseville Library.

A month after 17 people were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students at Roseville Area High School staged a walkout on March 14 to protest gun violence.

Led by the school group Students Against Gun Violence, hundreds of students walked off school property at 10 a.m. to hold moments of silence for those killed.

Then-sophomore Emma Ford helped organize the event.

“I don’t want to feel scared going to school each morning,” said Ford as students filed back into school that chilly morning. “If we don’t stand up for ourselves, who will?”

Students from New Brighton’s Irondale High School joined an estimated 800,000 young people in Washington, D.C., on March 24 for the March for Our Lives, rallying for stricter gun laws.

An Irondale alumni group raised more than $4,000 to fund the small group’s trip to the U.S. Capitol, where then-senior Ian Mills held a sign that read, “Graduations not funerals.”


Tobacco regs, and a saga drags on

With the goal of protecting young people from tobacco-related disease, the Shoreview and Falcon Heights city councils voted to raise the age at which people can purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in their cities to 21. They did so on May 7 and May 9, respectively.

The two communities were part of a growing trend amongst Minnesota cities in upping the age. Supporters of making the change, part of the Tobacco 21 campaign, argue it makes it harder for underage students to access addictive products by effectively taking them out of schools.

More north suburban cities followed suit, with Roseville passing an age increase ordinance in June — it became the 11th city in the state to do so — followed by Lauderdale later in the year. The Arden Hills City Council held a November public hearing on Tobacco 21, and could discuss the matter further this month.

The owner of the former Lowry Grove mobile home park in St. Anthony sued the city Aug. 20 in federal court, alleging city officials misled him about potential redevelopment of the park while using him to clear former residents from the property.

The 15-acre site was sold in April 2016 for development and the federal lawsuit was only the latest twist in a multi-lawsuit, unresolved saga that displaced hundreds of people. City residents and the St. Anthony City Council initially balked at the development’s planned density; construction plans are currently on hold.

New faces and places

Longtime Little Canada City Administrator Joel Hanson said goodbye to the city he’d helped guide for 28 years on June 22. Seeking “one more challenge,” Hanson took over the following Monday as South St. Paul’s city administrator. 

Chris Heineman, the former Northfield director of community planning and development, took over Little Canada’s city administrator post on Sept. 10.

The $79 million Bell Museum opened its doors in Falcon Heights on July 13. The natural history museum and planetarium is 60 percent larger than its former Minneapolis location and features a new 16-foot-tall wooly mammoth among its previously displayed attractions.


New times, old times

Mounds View Public Schools rang in the 2018-2019 school year with district-wide new start times, pushing middle schoolers’ wake-up calls earlier, while giving high schoolers a bit more time to snooze. Some elementary start times were pushed to after 9 a.m.

“Kids at the high school level just need more sleep,” said Chippewa Middle School Principal Rob Reetz speaking about a month after the time changes took effect, regarding research that shows it benefits teens.

High school kids gave the change decent reviews, though at least one Island Lake Elementary parent was decidedly more skeptical.

“We’re dealing with it,” she said, noting her early-rising kids were stressed by the newly elongated school day. “I do love the school. We don’t like [the late start time].”

On Sept. 22 Arts Roseville hosted mixed media artist Bob Murphy’s presentation called “A Roseville Story” at the Roseville Library, and on Oct. 31, PJW Automotive in New Brighton closed its doors.

“We weren’t finding the right people to do what we needed to do,” said owner Pat Whelan, who ran the auto shop off Old Highway 8 for 38 years.


Election surprises

Area residents voted, both early and on Election Day, Nov. 6. The two most notable wins and losses came outside the numerous city council races where incumbents ran the table.

In the first competitive race for Ramsey County Sheriff since 2010, former four-term Sheriff Bob Fletcher topped incumbent Jack Serier.

And in a House district that had seen razor-thin margins of victory for the past two election cycles, DFLer Kelly Moller beat incumbent Republican Rep. Randy Jessup by 3,000 votes in District 42A, helping the Democratic Farmer Labor Party take control of the House.


—Mike Munzenrider

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