20 YEARS AGO: NEWS FROM THE ISSUE OF JULY 26, 2001

Living just four blocks away from a park is a blessing for any parent of a young child. But unitl recently, that blessing was more of an inconvenience for Barb Polzin. When she brought her young son, Joseph, to the Darwin Park, Polzin was always on edge. The decades-old park equipment, most of it installed when Darwin still had a school, seemed unsafe to her. It was children like Joseph Polzin — and parents like his mother — that a group of dedicated volunteers had in mind four years ago when they started their plan to build a new playground on the old school site. Late last week, that effort came to fruition as Mayor Orlin Cervin, surrounded by three members of the playground committee, cut the ribbon on a new playground facility on land that used to be a school tennis court. “We’re hoping to add young families in Darwin and this is a place where kids can come to have fun,” said Kim Johnson, a member of the playground committee. Johnson said that when she and her family moved to Darwin four years ago, her first thoughts were that the town needed a better playground. Her constant concern about a new playground landed her on a committee with three other playground supports — Patty Burdick, Karen Huhn and Chris Hansen. They approached the Darwin City Council for additional funding and also received large donations from the Farmers State Bank, Darwin Lions Club, Darwin Rod and Gun Club, Bonniwell Electric and Hansen Hardware.

The Litchfield School District will experience a $307,000 overall decrease in its budget for next year, despite a 2.5 percent increase in state funding. The budget shortfall is the result of decreased enrollment. “The district last year with 2,049 students, but ended the school year last year with 2,025 students. The number of students is expected to fall in the next few years. The district hired six new teachers this year compared to 17 the preceding year.

The third time was the charm for Litchfield’s Tannia Woods and Amy Pollock. Bowling in their third state tournament together, the duo bowled a series of 1,055 to win the high series second doubles division at the Women’s State Bowling Tourney. “We just bowl for fun,” Pollock said. “We both got kids and kinda bowl to get out of the house.” Woods had a series of 212, 201, 164, while Pollock had games of 138, 151 and 189.

50 YEARS AGO: NEWS FROM THE ISSUE OF JULY 28, 1971

Gate signals will be installed at the infamous Sibley Avenue crossing within a year if a recently handed down order from the state public service commission is implemented. In an order dated July 20, the Public Service Commission ruled that “the Burlington Northern shall within one year of the date of this order install Minnesota standard automatic electric highway grade crossing short arm gate signals at the cross.” The directive stipulated that the cost of the installation shall be borne by Minnesota Department of Highways and the Burlington Northern on such a basis as they agree on. City Clerk Roy Ross, at the direction of the council, had back on March 4 petitioned the Public Service Commission to investigate the crossing.

The recurring dispute between Meeker County Sheriff John Rogers and the Meeker County Board boiled over again at a special meeting Wednesday. In the wake of the meeting, Duane Kopesky, deputy sheriff, terminated his employment with the county. Whether Kopesky quit or was fired was unclear at press time. While there has been pretty general admiration for Sheriff Rogers’, law enforcement efforts since taking over the office there has been some criticism of his administrative ability. “If every county department was operated with as little concern for the budget as is the sheriff’s department, the county’s financial situation would be in chaos,” County Auditor Don Herzog said. Exclusive of salaries, the sheriff’s department had used up 87 percent of its 1971 budget by July 1, Herzog said.

A 50-year-old Minneapolis man who threw himself in front of a moving car on a rural road east of Litchfield Monday apparently has no broken bones as a result of the incident and is a patient at the hospital here. The driver of the car, a Burnsville man, swerved to avoid a collision, but the right fender of his car struck the victim. Two other motorists witnessed the incident and confirmed that the victim had walked right into the path of the car.

Gail Schwandt, Jackie Soder and Debbie Judd will represent Meeker County in the state 4-H Dress Revue at the State Fair late in August after winning top honors in the county 4-H Dress Revue at the junior high Friday night. Upwards of 300 spectators watched some 100 4-H’ers from all parts of the county model their best needlework creations.

Sixty people from Augustana Homes were transported by bus to see the Watercade parade.

75 YEARS AGO: NEWS FROM THE ISSUE OF JULY 25, 1946

Open house will be held on Sunday, July 28, in honor of Gunder Sundahl’s 100th birthday. Mr. Sundahl was born in Trondholm, Norway, on July 28, 1846. He came to the United States in 1870. his trip from Norway to his new home land was quite difficult. Because of uncertain conditions which existed at the time between France and Germany, the trip took over a month. Mr. Sundahl is a farmer at heart. He came to Meeker County from Houston County and quickly became a successful farmer. He farmed his own farm until 1906, at which time he purchased a home in Litchfield. In 1878, Mr. Sundahl married Christina Olson, daughter of Andrew Olson, who was killed by Indians at Acton where he farmed. Mr. Sundahl will welcome 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren to his birthday party. Mrs. Sundahl passed away in 1914.

One hundred and twenty-five people attended the annual Acton Farm Bureau picnic Saturday at the Mrs. Peter and Oscar Engan home. All participated in a program of sports and contests. Mrs. Vernon Brown and Doris Olson were in charge of children’s recreation. Mrs. Chester Stenberg, Mrs. Henry Grotte, Oscar Engan, and Mrs. Kenneth Christenson were in charge of adult fun. The executive committee served refreshments at the close of a delightful and enjoyable afternoon.

Litchfield shortstop Gene Fitterer continued his outstanding work at shortstop for the Litchfield team despite a 3-2 loss to Winsted in a hard-fought game Sunday. Fitterer handled six chances at shortstop without an error, making it 35 chances in a row which he has handled without an error.

The Litchfield Airport is adding a new runway, bringing the total to three full-lenghth strips. The new addition will run northwest and southeast. The other two landing strips are east-west and north-south. This new landing strip will allow landing and takeoff in winds from any direction. New runway lights are also being added to the field.

Although its game was postponed, East Minnebelle of the City Softball League remained in first place with five straight wins as the teams finished the first half of the season. Friction was stirred up Tuesday night when the city council refused to turn on the lights for a scheduled game between East Minniebelle and the school until the sum of $80 was paid the city for installing the lights. However, play was resumed the following night.

106 YEARS AGO: NEWS FROM THE ISSUE OF JULY 28, 1906

Mrs. Peter Nohner sued Simon Ditch for shooting her dog last fall. The case was tried Tuesday at Eden Valley, and she was awarded $35 for the loss of the dog.

A cablegram received Wednesday direct from Rome announces the death there of Frank McIntyre, who was last month elected superintendent of schools at St. Cloud. Mr. McIntyre and Miss Mary Crozier were married at Monticello on July 7 and were on their honeymoon when the bridegroom was stricken with typhoid fever. His body will be brought home for burial. Mr. McIntyre was a native of Manannah and was about 35 years of age. He had finished a long and successful term as superintendent of Glenwood schools. His wife had taught for many years in Minnesota and for a long time was in the schools at Anoka. He was well-known in all educational circles in the state and was a man of high character and standing in his profession.

Mrs. Fred Schultz, resident in the town of Harvey, met with a serious accident on Tuesday afternoon. Mrs. Schultz was atop a load of hay engaged in moving the same into the barn when the hay carrier fell, striking her in the head and causing a deep gash, also causing a concussion of the brain. Dr. Chapman was called and dressed the wound. At last report, she was resting easily and the doctor has hopes for her ultimate recovery.

Did you ever see a free show that did not have some kind of collection attached to it?

The little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D.B. Lasher, resident near Cosmos, was quite severely bitten by the family dog on Monday afternoon, the head and face being lacerated. The little one attempted to play with the dog while it was eating and angered the animal, which turned on the girl. A dozen or more stitches were required in dressing the injuries.

The lake dwellers on Thursday of this week tendered Dr. J.W. Robertson a campfire in honor of his birthday. The evening was spent listening to a number of musical selections rendered by the ladies from the Lakeview cottages and the Robertson brothers. A cake with 1,000 candles, followed by appropriate poem by Mrs. Upham was all it should be after enjoying refreshments. The guests departed wishing Dr. Robertson many more happy birthdays.