Herald top picks from 2010

Published 7:59 am Friday, December 31, 2010

*See Sunday’s edition for the top 5 Daily Herald picks from 2010

10. Hormel strike

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While the 25th anniversary of the P-9 union strike against Hormel didn’t cause people to once again hit the street in protest, it did serve as a solemn reminder of the events that are thought by many to have had a lasting impact on the community.

The P-9 union and Hormel saw regional attention during the anniversary, with Austin featured on a three-part Minnesota Public Radio speical on how the community has changed since the strike.

The Daily Herald’s special section dedicated to the strike gained attention from many within the community who had strong feelings about the historic event. The section dedicated to the strike included stories focusing on what it was like for reporter Lee Bonorden to cover the strike. Feedback was also given by former Mower County Sheriff Wayne Goodnature, P-9 union members and the creators of the documentary on the strike, American Dream.

9. 2010 sees one of snowiest seasons on record

December snowfall total of 31.4 inches in Austin fell just short of the 36.5 inch record in 2000.

But that didn’t mean Austinites didn’t feel like they were living in one of the snowiest winters ever.

On Friday, Dec. 10, Austin residents braced for what forecasters were predicting to be a blizzard that would land itself in the history books. They were right.

By Monday morning, Austin had been hit with 12.5 inches of snow, on top of the 3 inches that had been dumped on the area early that month.

The storm crept into the area Friday night, shutting down interstates and causing hazardous driving conditions throughout the area.

Just as Austin residents began to dig themselves out, another storm system hit the area, producing 5 inches of additional snow.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

The area was hit again over the winter holiday, with another three inches of snow accumulating on the ground.

8. Clennon calls for recount in Austin mayoral race

Marian Clennon, who lost by 1,699 voted to Mayor Tom Stiehm, requested a recount of three voting precincts on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Clennon said she requested the recount because she wanted “to make sure the ballots are counted the way the people intended them to be counted.”

The hand recount produced the same results as election night, securing Stiehm in his mayoral seat for two more years.

When Clennon called Stiehm to congratulate him after the recount, Stiehm said he told her he hoped to start fresh with each other and put aside their differences for the sake of the city.

Clennon said she felt “at peace” after the recount, knowing she would never wonder “what if.”

7. Alleged affairs lead to police chief’s retirement

A co-worker’s allegation that former police chief Paul Philipp pursued several extramarital affairs while clocked in at work over the course of three years — and that he misused public funds in doing so — led to the chief’s sudden and unexpected retirement in January 2009.

Judy Boorman, Philipp’s former secretary, filed an internal complaint in January that alleged the then-chief used a city vehicle, as well as city landline and cellular telephones, to carry out affairs from late 2000 through 2003. Boorman retired in September 2009 after 22 years with the Austin Police Department.

Philipp said in an e-mailed statement that he made “mistakes” in his personal life. However, the former chief said his “poor judgment” never affected his job performance, and he had stated previously that he retired after the complaint was filed “to spare the Austin police force additional controversy that may be divisive.”

6. School board removes Curt Rude

Controversy surrounded Curt Rude earlier this year, as the former public school board member was ousted in March after an independent arbitrator found a defamation lawsuit he filed against former superintendent Candace Raskin and the school district was a conflict of interest and proper cause to remove him. The drama kept coming as the school board asked for applications for community members and after narrowing down candidates and a lengthy interview process, no decision could be reached.

Superintendent David Krenz was appointed to recommend a board member in August and David Ruzek, a former board member ,was approved and appointed during the board’s September meeting. Ruzek will serve the remainder of Rude’s term, which expires at the end of next year.

“Hopefully it helps move things forward,” Ruzek said after he was sworn in.