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The Superior Telegram's 2021 Year in Review

Our reporting is possible thanks to our subscribers. We thank you for your support in 2021 and wish you all the best in 2022 and beyond!

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Clockwise from top left Superior forwards Carson Gotelaere (9) and forward Carter Pettit (17) celebrate Gotelaere's goal on Lakeland in the second period Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, during Wisconsin state semifinals at Spooner Civic Center in Spooner; Bull rider Wyatt McGee of Benson, Minnesota, watches the Great Northern Classic Rodeo on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Superior from one of the bucking shoots at the end of the arena; Dillion Krisik, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Superior from Red Cliff, performs a dance during the Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at the Maawanji’idiwin — “The Place Where We Come Together” Medicine Wheel on the UWS campus Monday, Oct. 11, 2021; Beth Sundby, of Duluth, looks at clothing as she shops at Kindred Stone & Co. at 1122 Belknap St. in Superior on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Tyler Schank, Clint Austin and Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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Scrolling the archives to put this roundup together, all the stories our journalists covered over the past year was a bit overwhelming.

While we would love to, we can't recap every single one. Instead, we broke out some of the big stories into categories and recapped them below.

COVID-19

Superior was at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic with the University of Wisconsin-Superior serving as a free community testing site and a vaccination clinic later in the year.

Local nursing facilities like Harmony House did their best to keep residents connected with their families during the pandemic's darkest days .

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Gracelynn Noland, 6, and her grandmother, Janet Noland, hold hands and touch foreheads through a plastic cover as they say goodbye Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, after their visit in a garage at Harmony House in Superior. Janet's son and Gracelynn's father, Matt, said they haven't seen each other in five months. Their last visit was about 10 minutes in length due to low temperatures. Tyler Schank / Duluth News Tribune
Tyler Schank

As the pandemic sticks with us into the new year, many stories will, as well.

The situation has exacerbated labor shortages that existed before the pandemic, including for employees at the Douglas County Jail .

The Solon Springs School District had to move to distance learning in November after cases spiked.

Local hospital officials say they and their staffs are taxed and urged community members to get vaccinated.

Crimes that made headlines

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd held the attention of people around the world.

Closer to home, the trial of Robert Lee Bennett III, who is accused of killing his mother, was postponed so Bennett could receive a competency evaluation .

Cody Lee Walker-Nelson faces numerous charges related to a six-hour standoff in Duluth on Oct. 1. He faces additional charges in Douglas County for allegedly trying to rob a drive-thru bank teller at gunpoint, driving the wrong way on the Bong Bridge and stealing firearms from a Superior residence.

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Since the remains of a St. Paul man were found in cement-weighted buckets near Grand Portage in July, two Douglas County men have been charged in connection with Richard Balsimo Jr.'s death . Robert Thomas West, of South Range, has been charged with party to mutilating a corpse, harboring or aiding a felon and possession of a firearm by a felon in Douglas County. He faces similar charges in Cook County, Minnesota. Jacob Colt Johnson, of Superior, faces a second-degree murder charge in Cook County.

Entrepreneurship flourishes

Despite the challenges of opening a business during a pandemic or moving an existing business to a new location, many people did just that.

From boutiques and restaurants to bars and retail stores, business owners decided to move, expand or open up shop in Douglas County .

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Terry Johnson stands outside of Ride or Die Pizzeria at 1623 Broadway St. in Superior Thursday, July 15, 2021. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Interchange work begins

Construction on the $343 million Twin Ports Interchange Project became more of a reality to folks on the Wisconsin side of the bridge this fall when ramps carrying traffic from Interstate 535 to Superior and U.S. Highway 53 to Piedmont / Miller Hill Mall started to close.

Traffic has been rerouted to the Bong Bridge, but drivers are still taking the Blatnik Bridge and exiting at Garfield Avenue when their patience allows. One-lane traffic combined with the Bentleyville rush made that option less than ideal as of late.

As demolition wraps up, construction will ramp up, with the first ramps set to reopen in late fall 2022.

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Layers of roadways seen at Twin Ports Interchange reconstruction project Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, in Duluth. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
CLINT AUSTIN

People unite

Many annual events returned in 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Fourth of July parade and the Duluth Superior Pride Parade .

The Superior boys hockey team made it to the state title game , and several local athletes advanced to the state wrestling, track and field and cross-country meets, respectively.

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The Stitchery owner and seamstress Megan Alanen works on pinning the collar to the top of an antique wedding dress at her shop Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Superior. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

We also covered some interesting folks like Superior seamstress Megan Alanen, who rebuilt an heirloom wedding dress for a Duluth bride ; Northwestern alumnus Ron Maki, who donated $100,000 to the Tiger athletic department ; the first Veterans Day ceremony at Brule's Price of War Memorial ; Superior native Toby Heytens, who was confirmed to the federal judiciary ; and the departure of longtime Faith United Methodist Church pastors Joel and Barb Certa-Werner .

Our reporting on all of these stories is possible thanks to our subscribers. We thank you for your support in 2021 and wish you all the best in 2022 and beyond.

Feel free to reach out to us at any time with story ideas or feedback. Editor Jen Zettel-Vandenhouten is at jzvandenhouten@duluthnews.com or 218-720-4102.

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