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Top 5 News Stories of 2017

(From left) Lincoln, Dennis, Emerson, Harrison and Danielle Massie were vacationing in Two Harbors when a wind blew Lincoln well off shore in Burlington Bay. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Massie)1 / 4
Two Harbors High School student Kate Thomasen swam out into Burlington Bay in August to help a 9-year-old boy back to shore. (Photo courtesy of Dan Thomasen)2 / 4
Shown is the climbing rock dubbed Eleanor exposed after the demolition of the old Spur gas station in Silver Bay. The rock is used as part of the new North Shore Adventure Park business. (News-Chronicle file photo)3 / 4
Pierre the Voyageur, who sits along Highway 61 outside of Two Harbors, had his arm break off in March due to high winds. Gusts in Two Harbors reached 49 mph. (News-Chronicle photo by Adelle Whitefoot)4 / 4

1. Pierre the Voyageur loses arm

Pierre the Voyageur greets everyone traveling north on Highway 61 as they enter Two Harbors, but on March 7, the 20-foot tall, 57-year-old statue lost its right arm and canoe paddle to a gust of wind.

Waves crashed on the shore of Lake Superior as wind gusts reached 49 mph in Two Harbors that day. It took some time to get his arm repaired, but by the end of June, Pierre — also known as the "pantsless voyageur" — was as good as new.

Two of the new wayfinding signs on Seventh Avenue in Two Harbors were also damaged and signs were blown off businesses. The National Weather Service reported a peak wind gust of 66 mph at the Grand Marais harbor, 62 mph winds at the Silver Bay Marina and 65 mph winds in Knife River.

2. Two Harbors teen rescues boy in Burlington Bay

Dennis and Danielle Massie had been bringing their kids to Two Harbors for eight years, but this year the trip took a dangerous turn while their son Lincoln was playing in Burlington Bay on Aug. 7.

The Massies were camping at the Burlington Bay Campground with some friends from their home in Maple Grove when they went to play on the beach for a few hours that afternoon. Lincoln, 9, took the family's smaller float out into the water to play without a life jacket. While Danielle was distracted looking after 4-year-old Harrison, the wind pushed Lincoln and his float at least 100 yards into Burlington Bay.

Luckily, Two Harbors native Kate Thomasen had decided to go with a friend down to the beach because it was such a nice day. Thomasen, a member of the Two Harbors High School swim team and a lifeguard during the summer, saw Danielle's growing concern and offered to swim out and help Lincoln back to shore.

Thomasen said part of her training for the swim team requires her to swim thousands of yards at practice, so the 150 yards to get Lincoln wasn't a big deal. Still, Thomasen has never had to rescue someone in the Two Harbors High School pool, much less a person floating in the sometimes choppy water of Burlington Bay.

3. Two Harbors man experiences medical emergency

Police believe the driver of a vehicle that hit a utility pole Nov. 25 in Two Harbors experienced a medical emergency before the accident.

Terrance Gerard, 63, of Two Harbors was found dead in his vehicle after he hit a utility pole in the alley north of the 1600 block of Eighth Avenue in the Segog neighborhood.

According to the Two Harbors Police Department, they believe Gerard experienced a medical emergency that caused the vehicle to hit a utility pole. The call came in at 2:16 p.m.

Upon arrival the officers noticed Gerard was slumped over in the driver's seat and had no pulse.

According to Gerard's obituary, he was a mechanic for several businesses and later became self-employed. He also enjoyed going to breakfast at Judy's Cafe for his morning coffee and "was a wonderful listener who was supportive of his friends."

Gerard is survived by his daughter, three grandchildren, his companion of 42 years, Theressa Bredow, and her two children.

4. Entrepreneur opens adventure park in Silver Bay

Silver Bay resident Phil Huston opened the North Shore Adventure Park in Aug. 5 at the site of the old Spur Gas Station on the corner of Highway 61 and Outer Drive in Silver Bay. Though Huston has much more ambitious ideas for the park, it currently offers rock climbing for all ages and has experience staff on hand to help coach and encourage those who want to try climbing Eleanor the Cliff.

Huston presented his idea about the adventure park to the Silver Bay City Council in February, when he approached them about buying a 3-acre tract of land behind the property for the purpose of building an adventure center and park. Huston's larger scale plans include enclosing the current cliff, building a climbing tower in the shape of Minnesota and rope sporting activities.

5. Parent voices concern about movie shown in class

A Two Harbors parents spoke out at a Lake Superior School District Board of Education meeting Dec. 12 regarding concerns over a movie showed in class.

Laura Smith is a mother of five, four of whom attend Two Harbors High School. Her 11th-grade daughter brought home a permission slip to watch an R-rated movie in class for an assignment. The movie was the 1985 comedy-drama "The Breakfast Club." Though Smith appreciated the permission slip, she declined to allow her daughter to watch the movie, she said. She believes it is an inappropriate movie to show during class.

"When I found out this information, I was disappointed and saddened that the high school would allow a movie of this rating and content to be shown during the school day," she said. "Specifically, this movie has several instances of profanity, sexual comments, talk of payment for sex and rape, and a lengthy drug-smoking scene.I have reviewed the student handbook and see that profanity, sexual references and drug use are not tolerated in the high school, so I'm confused then why a movie depicting these activities is being shown in school."

Smith said she hopes her concerns will lead to an open dialogue about what type or content of media is permitted to be shown in school.

Superintendent Bill Crandall told Smith and the board that there would be an investigation by the THHS principals to obtain more information on the matter.