Year in Review 2021 | News – White Bear Press – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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As each year comes to an end, it is a tradition of The White Bear Press to look back at some of the most memorable stories of the year. 

Although we would all like to “get back to normal,” the COVID-19 pandemic persists. School board meetings continue to draw a crowd. New leaders will be installed in schools and city councils. Debates about mass transit have played out in letters to the editor. Proposed road projects, trails, and housing developments continue to make headlines.

This holiday season, one can see local shops and restaurants bustling once again, community events attracting families, and theater productions and art exhibits drawing spectators. 

We hope you enjoy this retrospective issue. The staff at the Press wish all of our readers a happy and healthy New Year!


• A couple that wished to remain anonymous donated more than $250,000 for a new program that helps both restaurant owners and residents impacted by the pandemic. More Than Meals will provide up to 2,000 restaurant-prepared meals each week for up to three months. “The idea is to pay it forward and help local businesses survive the winter,” said Sharon Hanifl-Lee, who helped direct the program’s launch.

• It was a historic day as 180 residents and employees at Cerenity Senior Care rolled up their sleeves to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

• The winter high school sports season, twice delayed by COVID-19 restrictions, will launch with most participants wearing masks, few spectators allowed, and shorter seasons.

• White Bear Lake resident Jon Kirschoffer and his son, BJ, designed a GPS transmitter that can stick to Polar Bear fur.

• After eight years, the lake level lawsuit appears to be over. The district court order that followed a 2017 bench decision between the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the White Bear Lake Restoration Association (WBLRA) will stand. “The burden is on the DNR to follow the lay,” said Dick Allyn, attorney on WBLRA’s legal team. “The precedent in this case is important for how they will manage other water appropriation permits that are allegedly affecting lake and river levels.”

• White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson will appoint members to an advisory task force to help guide a new initiative, the “Welcoming & Inclusive Community Initiative.”

• Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak with the schedule for phasing into in-person learning. After Feb. 1, district elementary schools will hold full in-person learning five days a week. Grades 6-12 will continue distance learning for the time being.

• A new group in Vadnais Heights encourages residents to “Buy Nothing.” The Buy Nothing Project started as a way for neighbors to share and exchange items without money exchanging hands.


• The next stop for the Rush Line Bus Rapid Transit project is release of an environmental assessment, followed by a public comment period later this summer.

• A new public safety building is on the horizon in White Bear Lake. A remodeled building will provide indoor parking for police vehicles, a second story over the adjoining fire station to accommodate the department’s new ladder truck, and provide sleeping quarters for personnel on call 24/7.

• For their 50th wedding anniversary, friends and family of John and Peggy Parenteau organized a “Fly-by Shouting Parade” where participants were encouraged to shout greetings and tossed their well wishes on Frisbees and paper airplanes.

• Every day at 1 p.m., good friends Jim Sobieski and James Erickson gather near a propane-fueled fire to talk politics, philosophy, and family in the front yard of Sobieski’s Mahtomedi home.

• Mahtomedi High School has won the Minnesota State Real World Design Chal

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