A look back - 2021 year in review

From Staff Reports

From new businesses opening, to retirements, to the return of events after a year of COVID-19 shut-downs, here is a look at the headlines that dominated the front page of the Montevideo-American News in 2021.


A Change of Command Ceremony was held at the 1-151 Field Artillery Batallion at the Montevideo TACC. Lieutenant Colonel Troy J. Fink, the previous Batallion Commander, relinquished command of the 1-151 Field Artillery to Lieutenant Colonel Brian K. Douty.

Nathan Molde was named 2020 Montevideo Firefighter of the Year.

Former Montevideo graduate Jody Norstedt was named 020 North Dakota Sportscaster of the Year.


Superintendent Luther Heller announced his retirement after serving the Montevideo School District for 12 years.

Melody Lanes Family Entertainment Center reopened after COVID-19 restrictions and renovations.


The new Montevideo Pubic Works building was completed at a cost of around $3.5 million.

The City of Montevideo handed out2020 Development awards to Paula Rochelau and Stacy Olson for 2020 Best New Commercial Development award; Gail and Bruce Johnson for 2020 Best New Residential Development Award; Matt and Norm VanGorp for 2020 Best Residential Renovation Award.

CCM Health encouraged residents to get on a vaccination waiting list. By March 1st, the waiting list had 560 individuals. 


A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Thunder Hawk Apartments building.

It was announced that the Montevideo Veterans Home project architect's plans were officially approved and contractors were in place to begin the project after years of effort.

U.S. Senator Klobuchar speaks on the importance of the community's support to the successful campaign for the Veteran's Home.


Wildwood Montessori School announced plans to move into a new facility over the summer, allowing for an expansion from being able to serve 13 children to being able to serve 42 children.

The Montevideo Lions Club held a celebration in honor of their 75th year of service in the community. The Montevideo club signed its charter on April 1, 1946, with 65 members.

Local artist Jammie Niemeyer presented the introduction to her year-long project titled “Eye on Growth” at the Hollywood Theatre. The project was the result of a grant through the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council in Marshall that provided the funds as a part of their Artist Equity Grants.

81 -year-old Cruz Ornales participated in his 12th  and final Hunger Walk this year during Fiesta Days to help raise funds to fight hunger locally.


CCM Health’s Community Garden was planted for the season with the help of volunteers at a planting party. Additionally, CCM Health’s Wellness Center celebrated its first anniversary. 

A Minnesota author published a book based in the Montevideo/Watson area. Donna Lovitz published the third book in her “heartbeat trilogy” based in the local area, titled “Only a Heartbeat Away”.

Thunder Hawk Care, the Montevideo Community Education’s daycare program, was awarded the District’s Friends of Education Award. The Thunder Hawk Care program has been in existence since 1996 and currently employs 46 staff members.

The Montevideo City Council held their first fully in-person meeting for the first time in over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAPA Auto Parts store returned to Montevideo under the ownership of STAR Group LLC, opening on Black Oak Avenue.

The 75th Annual Fiesta Days celebration was held in Montevideo. Among the activities throughout the week was a Hunger Walk. Cruz Ornales, who had raised funds in the Hunger Walk every year since 2010 walked for the last time, as at 81, he was ready to retire.

The Thunder Hawks Trap Team went to state, where Mikail Erickson placed first in Junior Varsity Division, while Avery Koenen and Francis O’Malley traveled to State for Track.

Heritage Hill hosted their 40th Annual Heritage Days Threshing Show.

Tegan Marty is crowned 2022 Fiesta Days Queen.


After the 2020 cancellation of Independence Day celebrations, activities resumed in celebration of the holiday in Maynard with the annual fireworks show.

MJT & Associates Financial Advisory Group acquired and merged with Rekow Management.

Dustin Shourds was named Region 8 Director for the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

The City of Milan completed a list of Age-Friendly Communities projects with the construction of a gazebo in the downtown area.

JC Discount Store opened in downtown Montevideo. The store is owned by Armando Castenada, former owner of el Paraiso Latino. 

Montevideo High School graduate Abby Olson traveled to Brazil with the USA D-3 Women’s Basketball team.

James “Jimmy” O’Malley played his retirement game in the Special Olympics of Minnesota summer tournament. 

Much of Greater Minnesota dealt with a severe drought. Because of that, the CIty Council encouraged community members to limit non-essential outdoor water use. 

Doug Broich, of Montevideo, was awarded the James M. Roche Spirit of Volunteerism Award from the National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). 

The Twin Cities & Western Railroad Company celebrated 30 years of service.

A meeting was held in Montevideo to present the details of the final plans for construction of the Montevideo Veterans Home.

The Chippewa County Fair was held for the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all 2020 festivities.

Merriams Midway Rides returned to the fair again this year. The company has provided the rides and games for the fair for the last five years.
Minnwest Bank's Grill team cooked up meals for the 4-H Café.


Air quality alerts were issued locally after smoke from Canadian Wildfires left a heavy layer of smog in the air. 

The Minnesota DNR announced new hunting regulations, including a reintroduction of a special Teal Hunting season that had not been held since 2013.

Scott Dubbeldee, General Manager of Farmer’s Co-op Elevator Company retired after 28 years.

Montevideo hosted the State Junior Legion Tournament for the second time.

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office announced a new way to obtain Burn Permits online in order to help make the process of obtaining the permits more efficient and accessible.

The annual Yellow Medicine/Chippewa County Relay for Life event was held in person in Montevideo.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Montevideo Veterans Home. After years of effort, the day was a cause for celebration with attendance by area Veterans, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, State Senator Andrew Lange, State Representative Tim Miller, MDVA Commissioner Larry Henke, MDVA Deputy Commissioner Douglas Hughes, Montevideo Veterans Home Committee members including Committee Chair Marv Garbe, and many more. 

Chanhassen firefighter Doug Foote walks through downtown Montevideo on his 200-mile route.


Sixteen-year-old Montevideo High School student Sam Ripley opened Sam’s Pumpkin Patch for its first season as a fall family destination on his family farm. The venue offered a variety of games, activities, refreshments and, of course, pumpkins for sale. 

The Lee Mar Equestrian Team traveled to North Branch to participate in the State Equestrian Special Olympics.

The United Methodist Church of Montevideo celebrated its 150th anniversary with a day of worship and festivities. 

The CEE-IV Drug and Gang Task Force warned the public of a dangerous new synthetic drug circulating the local area that looked like Fentanyl but was much more deadly.

The 17th Annual Horse Power Event was held at the Swensson Museum, hosted by the Chippewa County Historical Society. 

A firefighter walking across the state made a stop in Montevideo. Chanhassen Firefighter Doug Foote walked across the state to raise awareness for the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative that works to assist firefighters suffering physical and mental health issues because of their work.

The first annual Welcoming Week celebration event was held in Montevideo. Welcoming Week is celebrated nationally in small communities to enhance the message of belonging. The Montevideo event was sponsored by the Southwest Initiative Foundation.

Construction on the Montevideo Veterans Home project officially began. 

Montevideo Millenium Theater opened their meeting room addition to the public.

A meeting was held to discuss the issue of homelessness in the community. The meeting was initiated by Pastor Don McKee of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, who is also a member of the St. Martin’s Board that helps to provide emergency assistance to those in need.

Alli Sachariason and Alyssa Sachs look on as Lana Rongstad is crowned Homecoming Queen.
The senior class celebrates their win of the new "spirit stick". The class gets to claim the prize until next year's Homecoming game.


A large group gathered in Montevideo to discuss an initiative to build on to a system of trails that would connect the trails in Montevideo and Granite Falls.

The Meander Art Crawl was held in person for the first time after the COVID-19 Pandemic.

A meeting was held to present plans for a reroute of Highway 67 that runs through Upper Sioux Agency State Park, after a two-year study showed movement below the surface of the ground that indicated a slope failure.

Lifted Nutrition's new owners, Ashley Thompson, Brent Schlangen, and Emily Hunt took over the downtown Montevideo Herbalife product-based beverage shop.


Trick-or-Treat Street returned to downtown after having been moved to the Millennium Theater parking lot in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Vishay Manufacturing opened in Montevideo, offering a number of new jobs to the community. 

Montevideo Middle School was recognized as one of the top 30 elementary schools in Minnesota.

Southwest Minnesota Arts Council hosted an Arty Party in Montevideo to introduce their services to the community, and gather local artists for a networking opportunity. 

Parkview Towers celebrated its 50th anniversary. 

The first annual Montevideo Mayor’s Gala was held to raise funds for Larson Park.

Construction began on Highway 7’s Cenex station to renovate the property.

Sam Ripley, owner of Sam's Pumpkin Patch, gives barrel train rides around the farm on his opening weekend.


The Yellowstone Trail Alliance met with a planning consultant to begin work on a Master Plan to revitalize the trail with an eye on enhancing tourism.

It was announced that the Montevideo-American News, along with other Gannett-owned weekly newspapers in the area were sold to CherryRoad Media.

Talking Waters earned two medals at the Minnesota Craft Brewer Guild’s Brewers Cup for their locally crafted brews.

St. Paul Lutheran’s congregation bakes over 4,000 cookies for their first annual Cookie Walk.

Visitors to the Horse Power Show enjoyed horse drawn carriage rides.