2013 affected different people in different ways in Dodge Center, but probably bringing nobody more smiles than to Craig Anderson, John Schreiber and Bob Kelly.
They had waited many long years for a completely remodeled auditorium for their concerts and plays and many other expanded facilities.
"The 'new' Performing Arts Center that came with the final phase of the building project was barely done in time for our March concert," Anderson said. "We had one rehearsal the day before the concert. We love it now. We can hear just as well in the back as in the front."
Schreiber had expected to produce the fall play in a remodeled auditorium, but it didn't happen. The one act play came and went. Still no remodeled auditorium.
So when it was time for the spring musical, "Charlie Brown," he could hardly believe that he was doing the play in a brand new 400 seat auditorium with amazing acoustics. It was an extraordinary improvement.
He, like Anderson, sings the song of the better acoustics. He also appreciates the larger front space of the stage and the accessible changing rooms for the kids.
"And the new band and choir rooms make a big difference to all of us," he said.
Bob Kelly, the superintendent of Triton schools, enjoyed hosting an open house in the fall so that he could show people around - to see the large kindergarten and preschool rooms, the elementary art room which means the art teacher doesn't have to take her supplies from room to room on a cart, a top of the line fitness center for students and adults, a wrestling room, a new gym for the middle school; new, larger rooms for shop classes, more lunchroom space and those new band and choir rooms, new shops and agriculture rooms - as well as the auditorium.
Kelly retired as of December 31, after 14 years as the superintendent at Triton. In his final letter to the people of the school district, he thanked them for their support.
"I would like everyone to know that none of the improvements could have happened without the support the public provided in the voting booth," he wrote.
He gave them the good news that their taxes would be going down and ended his letter with an Irish blessing, "May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of His hand."
The school board announced the hiring of Brett Joyce as the new Superintendent of Schools as of January 1. He has been the high school principal for 15 years.
"I can't wait!" he said. "I am very optimistic about the opportunities in the years ahead."
Dodge Center people have had reason to smile this year as they watched the progress of two new building projects.
The former Finnes' Family Restaurant on Main Street is being remodeled into the Pure Country Family Dining cafe and will be open for business any day now.
Casey's General Store is under construction across Highway 34 from the Subway and is scheduled to open about January 23.
A memorial to veterans is under construction south of the swimming pool on Highway 34. An impressive large eagle was added a few days ago.
The American Legion is selling pavers and benches in memory of the veterans and as fund raisers for the project.
Gary Trelstad, city council member, reported that the city is planning to reconstruct Main Street next summer. He added that the city bought a small grass rig that will be used for grass fires and emergency calls.
"We bought a new ambulance that didn't cost the city a dime," he said. "It is self supporting."
He reported that the council voted to leave the tax levee flat.
"That should make the citizens smile and thank us," he said.
Josh Jorgenson is the new council member, replacing Matt Dickie, who moved out of town.
The city bought the former Budget Mart building recently.
Lucas Etcheson, a senior at Triton, drew balloons and cheers at a recent wrestling meet after he won his one hundredth match at 195 pounds. He placed fourth at the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Meet last spring and hopes to do even better this year. He and Mackenzie Robinson were the 2013 Triton Homecoming king and queen.
A packed house gathered to celebrate with Wayne and Missy Adreon and their five children the completion of their new Habitat for Humanity home in northwest Dodge Center. Ground was broken for the house in the snow last spring and the house was also dedicated in the midst of snow. Many volunteer hands working throughout the summer and fall had made the house an amazing reality.
"Thrivent, who gave a very generous grant, and many other members of the community worked together to make this happen," Carin Minelli, a member of the steering committee, said.
Pastor Michael Jones began his work at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the early summer.
"I love my work in Dodge Center and my wife and son are happy here," he said.
2013 was a tough year for farmers.
Bruce Schmoll began planting corn on May 16, but didn't finish until the first week in June. Rain drowned out some of his fields later on.
"I didn't get the last corn picked until right before Thanksgiving, so we were fortunate to have a long growing season," he said. "Drying corn was an issue for some farmers and LP was expensive."
Students at Triton Middle School raised over $3000 in a suicide prevention project during a Color Dash last spring. Middle schoolers gave $1500 to the Lions Club for Santa Anonymous. Elementary students raised money for cancer patients. High school students collected over 2000 pounds of food for the County Food Shelf during October.
The Chamber of Commerce organized a community wide Christmas celebration, which they are planning to repeat next year, and which included a lighted Christmas tree downtown, a number of other activities added to the visit of Santa Claus.
As 2014 began, the bitter cold set unwelcome records and the people looked forward to spring.