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Published December 30, 2009, 11:48 PM

Red River flood tops headlines for 2009

Fargo made national news several times in 2009, with a historic flood, a journalist imprisoned in Iran and a homicide case that read like a movie plot.

By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, INFORUM

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the start of the new decade approaches, it’s only fitting to reflect on the one now coming to a close. A lot has happened since the dawn of the year 2000. Each day through the end of this year, we’ll take you on a trip down memory lane and will look at what stories were making headlines in the Fargo-Moorhead area this past decade.


Fargo made national news several times in 2009, with a historic flood, a journalist imprisoned in Iran and a homicide case that read like a movie plot.

In late March and early April, record flooding of the Red River shut down Fargo-Moorhead businesses and schools and prompted a call for volunteers. Area students who worked 24/7 to fill millions of sandbags were credited with saving the city.

Around the same time, former Fargo TV reporter Roxana Saberi captured attention around the world after she was arrested on espionage charges. She was released in May after 100 days.

Then, in October, Fargo dentist Philip Gattuso was found beaten to death in his home.

The investigation revealed an alleged murder-for-hire plot by Gattuso’s father-in-law.

And those were just a few of the big headlines for the Fargo-Moorhead area in 2009.

National media also came to North Dakota to report how the state was faring better than most during the economic downturn.

However, several area employers announced layoffs this past year, including DMI, Bobcat and Case New Holland.

The region also saw two prominent officials resign following controversies.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota CEO Mike Unhjem resigned in March amid criticism over a sales reward trip to the Grand Cayman Islands.

North Dakota State University President Joseph Chapman resigned in October amid backlash regarding cost overruns on the president’s house and his trip to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration.

Meanwhile, Minnesota lawmakers worked with a budget deficit, causing a strain on local cities and schools.

MeritCare merged with Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health.

Farmers harvested later than usual, thanks to spring flooding, a cool summer and a wet October.

There were some light moments in 2009, too.

Everyone had Big Dance fever for NDSU’s first trip to the NCAA tournament.

Brett Favre became a Viking, and his No. 4 jersey became a top seller.

“Twilight” fans lined up at the Century 10 Theater for midnight showings of “New Moon.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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