Year in Review: 2018’s Top Stories in the Northwest Metro
Wayzata High School Ties to Super Bowl Halftime Show
2018 began with the eyes of the world focused on Minnesota, as the Twin Cities played host to Super Bowl LII.
During the halftime show, 400 people from local dance teams joined Justin Timberlake on the U.S. Bank Stadium field.
A former Wayzata High School student helped produce and choreograph the show, and Wayzata’s longtime dance coach helped select the dancers.
“This was the biggest scale I’ve ever done,” said Leslie Swiggum, Wayzata’s dance team coach. “I was involved in the last Super Bowl here in Minnesota as well.”
Plymouth Connection to the Winter Olympics
Speaking of sports, the northwest metro was well-represented at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Plymouth natives Kelly Pannek and Dani Cameranesi won gold medals for the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team, and in the process, they became role models for a new generation of young women.
“Yeah that’s something we definitely talked about as a team a lot, is just being people young girls can all look to,” Pannek said.
But for all the excitement about sports, there was an equal amount of chagrin over the weather.
According to New Hope Weather Watcher Steve Reckers, the northwest metro received 88.6 inches of snow last winter, which broke the annual snowfall record.
Making matters worse, an April snowstorm dumped nearly 19 inches of snow on the area.
It was the third largest snowstorm ever for the area, dating back to the 1950s.
Stalemate at the State Capitol
One month later, the 2018 legislative session came to a close. The biggest news was that the major output of this year’s legislative session was vetoed.
DFL Governor Mark Dayton followed through on his promise to veto the tax bill, along with the nearly 1,000 page supplemental budget bill drawn up by the Republican-controlled legislature.
Yet while state lawmakers differed over dollars and philosophies, local cities took matters into their own hands regarding tobacco.
Tobacco 21 Ordinances
In July, a new ordinance went into effect in Plymouth that raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.
In November, the Brooklyn Center City Council followed suit, becoming the 16th city in Minnesota to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco.
That wasn’t the only thing to happen in November. Election Day brought a wave of change to the northwest metro.
Election Day Shakeup
In Plymouth, Mayor Kelli Slavik decided not to run for re-election, after serving the city for 20 years.
Voters elected Council Member Jeff Wosje to take her place as mayor.
In Brooklyn Center, voters elected Mike Elliott to be the new mayor. Elliott defeated Tim Willson, who had held the position since 2007.
Elliott will be the city’s first mayor of Liberian descent.
Brooklyn Center voters also sent Samantha Vang to the state legislature. She becomes the first Hmong-American to serve that district at the State Capitol.
At the federal level, voters decided to move on from Republican Erik Paulsen, who had served the 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House since 2009.
Taking over that seat is Democrat Dean Phillips.
Brooklyn Park Police Announce Mental Health Initiative
Meanwhile, in December the Brooklyn Park Police Department announced a pilot program with Hennepin County that will embed a mental health professional into the police department.
If an officer responds to a mental health call, then later that week, a detective and the mental health professional will follow up with the person who was in crisis.
The hope is that this intervention will reduce the burden on the courts, the jail, the hospitals, and ultimately, the taxpayers.
“We’re looking to hopefully reduce those costs to the taxpayers as well,” said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen. “And then lastly, just get the people the help that they need.”