homepage logo

2016: Year in review

By Staff | Dec 30, 2016

As we look forward to 2017, here are some of what made headlines in 2016.


Firefighters respond to a house fire at 624 5th St. SE. No injuries were reported but a dog was killed in the fire.

Five people were arrested on drug, theft of property charges after a vehicle chase ended in county.

After receiving results of a salary study done by Galen Cariveau of Cariveau Workforce Services, the Board of County Commissioners voted to adjust salaries based on 95 percent of market rates. The board voted to place a cap on adjustments at $5,000 for the year. The board also revisits the study in the case of corrections officers at the Heart of America Correctional & Treatment Center.

The Rugby City Council revisits snow removal policies.

The Board of County Commissioners meets with board members of organized townships. There are currently 14 organized townships in Pierce County.

Joanie Bruggeman, Dosch family win awards from the Northern Lights Trail Blazers- a snowmobile club- fun run and supper.

A site south of Rugby is selected by the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center and the Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute as a potential site for a borehole test drill. The $35 million project would’ve determined suitability for nuclear waste storage, geothermal energy applications, minerals and other uses.

Rugby Broadcasters owner Lila Harstad purchases permits for 95.3 FM KKWZ, Rugby’s first FM radio station.

Discussions on a feasibility study to bring natural gas to Rugby begin.

Will Griffin becomes the new chief of the Rugby Volunteer Fire Department.

A transition of power: Shane Fosness and Chuck Longie become dual service managers at Gooseneck Implement in Rugby. Dave Bednarz, who previously held the service manager position, shifts his role to customer service.

Sandra Wolf is promoted to Market Manager at the Ramsey National Bank Rugby office.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s office arrests Matthew Gibney, 44, Minot, on probation violations and drug charges.

County Commissioners Duane Johnston and Dave Migler attend a State Board of University & School Trust Lands meeting on the proposed borehole test.


The Rugby City Council tables a feasibility study on natural gas.

The Board of County Commissioners place a temporary moratorium on deep drilling – with the exception of water wells – in the county until more information is received on the proposed borehole test project.

Rugby is named as a city to host a gubernatorial candidate debate.

Rugby resident and former coach Pete Murtaugh is inducted into the North Dakota Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Rugby High School’s girls basketball team wins its second straight title at the District 11 Tournament. The team goes on to win the Region 6 Tournament, and advances to the State Class B Tournament-where they take eighth.

Rugby High School wrestlers Joey Berg, Riley Zachmeier, Spencer Koehmstedt, Kaden Jaeger and Dylan Grove compete at the state tournament. Of the five, Zachmeier takes second, losing to New Salem-Almont’s Tayt Wolding by 6-2 decision in the championship round.

Wolford’s Hannah Walsh sets a new state International Air Pistol record-hitting 340 out of 400 targets – and competes in the National Junior Olympics.

Area resident Mike Ostrem places eighth in an auctioneer competition.

The Rugby Job Development Authority board votes to partially fund the natural gas feasibility study, with the city and Pierce County funding as well.

The proposed borehole test project gets public meetings.

Five rest stops in the state-one of them near Pleasant Lake-are announced as expected to close by May 1 in the wake of state budget woes.

Students at Ely Elementary School hold a “Jump Rope for Heart” event, sponsored by the American Heart Association.


County commissioners vote to deny permission to drill boreholes in county.

Dr. Hubert Seiler announces he will retire from the Heart of America Medical Center later in the year.

The Rugby Police Department investigates break-ins in RV’s belonging to Rugby Homes that are along U.S. Highway 2.

The Rugby train depot is expected to lose its Amtrak ticket agent on June 1.

The Rugby City Council votes to go forward with the natural gas feasibility study.

N.D. Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler visits Wolford School.

Rugby is listed as one of several towns in the state to lose National Guard units in August 2017.


Rugby City Auditor Elizabeth Heisey wins leadership award during at a League of Cities workshop.

Pierce County sees an estimated 1 percent drop in population from the 2010 census.

Bennie Mygland is injured in a single vehicle crash.

HACTC Administrator Mike Graner informs the Board of County Commissioners that the facility incurred a $117,000 deficit in February.

Land values increase in county.

Jacob Solberg, Rugby, is arrested on charges of gross sexual imposition.

The Victor Buchta Estate donates $250,000 to the Prairie Village Museum.


The Geographical Center Monument near Highway 2, across from Rancho Grande Mexican Restaurant and Anytime Fitness, gets a facelift.

Rugby to get new restaurant, Big Pauly’s, in former Pizza Hut location. Pizza Hut closed in September 2015.

Sustainable agriculture author John Ikerd speaks in Rugby on corporate farming. In June residents vote on a corporate farming law.

Area firefighters train on equipment brought to Rugby by Williston firefighters.

The North Dakota Community Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary with several statewide social events, including one in Rugby.


Rugby High School’s baseball team are regional champions.

Senior Ryan Michels caps track career by being state champion in high jump.

Wagon, truck crash kills Rugby resident Brad Cichos, injures four others.

Disc golf begins at Ellery Park.

County commissioners approve land valuations from Vanguard Appraisals.

Pierce County Relay for Life raises over $58,000 at its event in Rugby.

KKWZ airs for the first time on June 6.

The Rugby City Council approves a payment in lieu of tax request for Gooseneck Implement, who later moves to its new location on Highway 2 east.

RHS cheerleaders Elizabeth Skjelver, Aimee York and Hannah Hoffert head to CheerHawaii.

Ground-breaking is held on the new Rugby location of First International Bank.

Tim Bartsch, Sr., elected to Ward 3, Sue Steinke elected to Ward 4 on the Rugby City Council. They replace Jim Hoffert and Terry Wentz, who chose not to seek reelection. Randy Fossum later joins the council, filling a seat in Ward 2 vacated by Bednarz.


Heisey announces resignation from auditor post, citing family and economic reasons.

JDA Executive Director Joseph T. Pelt takes leave of absence.

Preliminary results of the natural gas feasibility study are discussed. Forty-eight responses are received.

The American Legion holds Legacy Run in Rugby.

Lakeview Mennonite Church has 100th anniversary.

Rev. Elaine Sveet joins First Lutheran Church pastorship.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office receives the N.D. Highway Patrol’s Colonel’s Award for Excellence.

Area law enforcement arrests Phoenix Washington, 22, Lansing, Mich., at the Rugby train depot on drug charges.

The JDA grants the Friends of the Lyric first right of refusal should sale offers be made on the Lyric Theater.

Street repair projects, funded by city sales tax, take place.

North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp stops in Rugby for a roundtable with local business leaders.


HAMC announces the construction of a new cancer care center.

North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer stops in Rugby for “Coffee with Cramer”.

North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven holds a roundtable in Rugby.

An EF2 tornado touches town near Wolford, Pierce County hit by damaging hail.

Four men are arrested in connection with a vehicle fire three miles east of Rugby.

Connor Klein, family go on Disney cruise thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


Little Flower School, Rugby High School see enrollment bumps, surrounding area schools see decreases.

Former Rugby resident Arnold Esterby dies of West Nile virus.

City, county, school budgets get hearings. The city and school are expected to increase property tax levies.

County, Lake Region District Health Unit at odds on the latter’s budget requests.

Geographical Center Day a huge success

Randi Heisler is named to the state’s Make-A-Wish board, shaves head at a childhood cancer awareness event in Las Vegas.


Jennifer Stewart is hired as the city of Rugby’s new auditor.

Graner informs the Board of County Commissioners that HACTC is showing profit.

A candidate, measures open house is held in Rugby.

Rugby loses geographical center trademark to Hanson’s Bar in Robinson.

Bethany, Wolford Lutheran Church name Rev. Barb Haugerud as pastor.

HAMC nets $1.47 million in operating losses in fiscal year 2016.

Lions Clubs hold their state convention in Rugby.


In September, HACTC sees a late-season deficit of over $5,000.

Northside Lounge opens on Main Avenue in Rugby.

The Prairie Village Museum undergoes renovation efforts.

A change of location is proposed for Rugby’s Municipal Court.

Village Arts supports art programs for elementary students and residents at HAMC’s long-term care center.

RHS students compete in mentor group “fights” against hunger by constructing baskets for the Pierce County Food Pantry.


Winter storms blanket area.

Jay’s Automotive, K&H Car Wash open for business.

City of Rugby’s credit rating downgraded from “A+” to “A” due to reserves, other economic factors.

Rugby Public School District no. 5 Board of Education sees a $30,000 decrease in funding.

Former area resident Jeanne (Heilman) Crain named CEO of Bremer Financial Corporation.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page