COVID-19 vaccines were offered during a vaccination event held Saturday, Dec. 19 at St. Joseph’s hospital campus.

Happy New Year, 2021! Here are the top 10 news stories of 2020, compiled into one package, selected by the staff of the Chaska Herald.

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1. COVID-19

One that perhaps goes without saying, the pandemic affected just about every family, business and school this year throughout the world. From face masks to lockdowns to case increases, most everyone has felt the brunt of COVID-19 this year.

By mid-December 2020, Carver County saw over 6,000 cases, including nearly 30 deaths and over 200 hospitalizations, according to county data.


A protester speaks to a crowd at a Chaska march and rally in late May 2020.

2. George Floyd response

Following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, communities around the world rallied together in response. Chaska was one of them, organizing a solidarity march and items drive, calling for police conversations and coming together at Marnita's Table events. 

“I just think we’re in a really cool moment of change and the only way to continue to do that is to continue to be conscious," Councilor McKayla Hatfield said at a Chaska City Council meeting.

I Voted

A masked voter leaves her polling place after waiting in line for hours, a trademark of unprecedented early voting in the 2020 presidential election.

3. An election like no other

The year 2020 brought new Democratic president-elect Joe Biden, as much of eastern Carver County trended bluer for president.

Unprecedented early and registered voters, long lines, and a high turnout marked this election season.

"We've never had anything remotely like this," Carver County Elections Supervisor Kendra Olson told the newspaper in the fall.

Ryan Seibert

New Chaska Police Chief Ryan Seibert was sworn in amid the COVID-19 pandemic in early April, shaking Chaska Mayor Mark Windschitl’s “hand” from a safe distance.

4. New leaders

Several new leaders arrived in the community in 2020, including: Chaska Police Chief Ryan Seibert, School District 112 Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams, and SouthWest Metro Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darren Noble.

Previous roles included Robbinsdale Police captain, assistant superintendent in North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale, and director of Career Services at Crown College, respectively.

Road work

Crews worked on the Highway 41/169 interchange in September before its opening.

5. Road reopening

September brought new life to the U.S. Highway 169 and State Highway 41/County Road 78 by way of an interchange, better serving the 80,000 vehicles a day traveling through.

After nearly two years, crews finished up construction on the diverging diamond interchange with several weeks of lingering cleanup. Those driving on Highway 41, which now goes under the Highway 169 bridge, will wait for less time to get to the other side of Highway 169 with the change.

Hammers home

The 150-year-old Hammers home, once a saloon, was torn down as construction began on new homes in the area.

6. Coming home

Construction began at Chaska's incoming Del Webb community, Pinnacle, intended for adults 55 and older. The 268 detached homes are replacing the now-demolished Hammers farmstead.

The historic Hammers farm house was originally intended to be restored and used for shorter-term rentals. However, Chaska resident Kiersten Case was unable to secure financing due to the pandemic.

"I'm super devastated," Case told the newspaper in the fall, though added she understood developers needed to move forward.

The Loop

An illustration of The Loop at Chaska, slated to open in summer 2022.

7. The Loop breaks ground

A $2.4 million project, Chaska Par 30 is being reworked into The Loop at Chaska, an accessible golf course that passed 5-0 in the City Council in September.

The course broke ground in October and was scheduled to open summer 2022.

“I’m just excited to see groups of people who you might not expect to see playing together and be enjoying themselves,” said Susan Neuville, incoming chair at Learning Links of Chaska (soon to be renamed Barrier Free Golf).

Raghu Birru

Sri Saibaba Mandir’s vice president, Raghu Birru, performs a daily service inside the new temple.

8. More places of worship

Laketown Township's Sri Saibaba Mandir moved to a new two-story 10,000,000-square-foot building just west of Chaska last winter after a spike in followers.

“I hope to see it be a good place for people to come and experience some peace," Ravin Gnanasambandam told the newspaper in January.

Less than a mile down the road, Westbrook Community Church broke ground in September at their first permanent location: a 13,000-square-foot church at the southwest corner of Engler Boulevard and Jonathan Carver Parkway, to open by summer 2021.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking coach Tim Vossberg walks through the area's new mountain biking trail, which opened in June.

9. New bike paths

Hawks Ridge, a four-mile network of mountain biking trails in Chaska and Chanhassen, began construction in 2017 and wrapped up in the summer. The trailhead lies at the southeast corner of Audubon Road and Pioneer Trail.

The trails occupy about 45 acres of land and cost about $3,000.

Another new mountain biking trail now sits in the Carver Park Reserve in Victoria, featuring about 10 miles of trails.


Emerald ash borer (EAB) made its way to Carver County this year, posing a threat to all area ash trees.

10. EAB confirmed

Carver County entered the list of quarantined counties to ward off emerald ash borer (EAB) by limiting firewood transfer. EAB spreads quickly and inevitably kills off populations of ash trees, similar to Dutch elm disease's impact in the 1970s. Twenty-four other Minnesota counties were also on the list at the time of confirmed infestation in the fall. 

“It’s a severe threat to not just our yard trees, our landscape trees, but to our forests as well,” said Danielle DaVito, state plant health regulatory specialist.