The Spring of 1978 Continued

The process to create an independent recreation organization, and to transfer the school’s arena to that organization, continued at meetings held on June 28, 1978 in the Bovey City Hall clubroom.

The written attendance was not complete and does not line-up with the entities that voted on the final resolution, but this is the list:

1)  Bovey:  Bob VEKICH,  Becky MUOTKA, Ann MAGESTAD,

2)  Coleraine: John HUGHES, Bob GERMANDER,

3)  Cloverdale: Charlene SPEET, Jeanette STISH

4)  Greenway Township: Mildred MISHOVICH, Richard VAIL,

5)   LaPrairie: Bill CROMELL, Pat CROMELL


7)  Taconite: Curt JOHNSON, Beefy LAWSON, Mike CHAMBERLAIN, Steve HOEY,

8)  Trout Lake: John NORGARD

The minutes also document Lyle Hachey, Windy Anderson, Mason, and Joe Amato.  The final resolution of the first session was voted by representatives of Bovey, Coleraine, Greenway, LaPrairie, Lawrence Lake, Marble, and Nashwauk.  Apparently, representatives for Lawrence Township and Nashwauk Township had attended.  And apparently, representatives for Cloverdale, Taconite, and Trout Lake did not vote.  Absent from the business was Calumet, Grand Rapids Township, and Iron Range Township.

There were two sessions.  First was a meeting of  School District 316 Joint Recreation Board; then a meeting of the “new” Greenway Rec Board was called to order.  Here are the minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting were read; motion by Harley [Jensen], seconded by Bill Cromwell to approve them as read; motion carried.

Harley Jensen reported on the Keewatin softball team─Pengilly doesn’t want Keewatin playing on their field. It was decided to let Keewatin play on their home field. A protest was brought up concerning an Iron Range game which has been played on Keewatin’s field─the field was in very poor playing condition and the protestor felt the game should have been replayed. Moved by Harley Jensen and seconded by Mildred Miskovich to disallow the protest. Curt Johnson is to look over the field and report at the next meeting.

Discussion was held on a joint powers agreement to see if all of the communities were going to participate in the rec program. Of concern to the Greenway Township is the procedure for hiring coaches and whether or not the facilities in the local communities are to be used. Nonuse of these facilities would result in the kids not playing in their own neighborhood. Discussion was also held on the funding of the salaries of the coaches.

Concern was voiced as to whether or not Grand Rapids is going to go in on the new rec formation, and how to apply pressure to encourage them to enter. Trout Lake also questioned what their share would be on a per capita basis.

The deplorable conduct of the Taconite team was brought up. Obscene gestures, swearing, etc., were used in their game against Lawrence Township. Discussion was held to come up with a remedy for these problems. The question of whether or not the rec department should hire umpires for the baseball and softball games was discussed.

Discussion was held on how the new rec board would be formed. The legality of the school selling the arena to the new rec board for one dollar was brought up. The question of the new rec board applying for tax-exempt status was also brought up for consideration.

The question of how to go about the new program if all the entities didn’t come in was brought up. Windy Anderson encouraged everyone to be realistic about this new program when looking into it and possibly of looking to the legislature for help in funding in the future.

Lyle Hachey  he stated that the rec board director salary was too high for starting pay and should be looked at into again.

Harley Jensen moved on a resolution to transfer assets, liabilities and responsibilities to the new Greenway Rec. Association; Joel Amato seconded.  Voting ─Bovey, Coleraine, Marble, Greenway, Nashwauk,  Lawrence Lake, LaPrairie. Motion carried.


The meeting of the new Greenway rec board was called to order.

Present:  Coleraine, Bovey, Lawrence, Taconite, Greenway, Marble, Trout Lake, LaPrairie.

Absent:  Nashwauk, Calumet, Iron Range, Grand Rapids.

Bob Vekich was nominated president of the new Greenway rec board; seconded by Chamberlain. Nomination was declined. Discussion was held on whether or not we should elect officers at this meeting, and whether or not an officer had to be an elected member of a municipality. A motion was made by Mason to have a meeting on July 12th  at 7:00 pm on the new entity. Seconded by Harley [Jensen];  motion carried. Old officers are to keep their positions.

Joe Amato moved that something should be put in the local newspapers enlightening the public on the formation of the new rec association. Seconded by Mrs. Cromwell. Mrs. Cromwell is to write up a newsletter for the Grand Rapids Herald review and the Bovey Scenic Range News.

Harley Jensen moved to adjourn; seconded by Joe Amato.  Motion carried.


The next article will be July’s minutes from back in 1978 when GJRA was just developing.


The Spring of 1978

In the spring of 1978, the recreation board of the Greenway school district began the process to create an independent recreation organization and to transfer the school’s arena to that organization.   At that time in Minnesota, Rudy Perpich was governor, Irv Anderson was the area’s Representative, and Bob Lessard, Minnesota Senator.

A meeting of School District 316 Joint Recreation Board was held in the Bovey Middle School on Wednesday, May 24, 1978, at 7:00 pm.

This is the attendance list:

John HUGHES, Jean KARISH, Jim MASON, Ken SMITH, Jim ANDREWS, and Duane ORHN from Coleraine.

Bob VEKICH, Loren SOLBERG, Don ZUEHLKE, and Paul HECIMOVICH from Bovey.

Ronald TROUMBLY from Taconite.

Francis BENNETT from Iron Range Township.

Ed JOKINEN, John NORGARD, and Sanford NIX from Trout Lake Township.

Joe AMATO and George DIMICH from Lawrence Lake Township.

Mable JONES, Ralph GUENTZEL, John AIMONETTI, Lyle HACHEY, and Windy ANDERSON from Marble.

Jeannette STISH, Dawn SPEET, Ruth SEHNJOHA, and Tom LORENZ from Cloverdale Township.

Bill Cromell, and Pat Cromell from LaPrairie.

How many of those in attendance are still living?  And was “Windy” ANDERSON a typo or an unfortunate nickname?  Please add comments and/or spelling corrections in comments, or email

First, the Board squabbled about a recent officer election but the concerns were deemed irrelevant if a new organization was being formed.  Then, Mr. HUGHES, chairman of the fact-finding committee on the formation of the new Recreation Board, and assisted by Harley JENSEN [oops: not on the attendance list] gave a presentation.  They estimated a budget and recommended the organization be run by a  “5-man non-political board” with a recreation director accountable to them.

The minutes do not note any comments by the women in attendance about a “5-man” board, but there was discussion on the legality of a “non-political” board.  The term appears to denote a citizens board versus a board of elected city and town officials.

Next, the group discussed funding.  This motion, made by AMATO and seconded by Mrs. CROMELL, was passed: “Each representative go back to their town board and ask that $2.00 per capita be passed for funding for July 1st through December 31st”  The population in the district is approximately 8300,[]  so if it was approximately the same back in 1978, that would have amounted to $16,600.

Loren SOLBERG—who was the mayor of Bovey at the time—“brought up the point that the board could get three employees from CETA if they would guarantee hiring a CETA employee permanently after two years.  The Comprehensive Employment and Training Assistance program (CETA) operated from 1973 to 1982 as a federal program designed to assist economically disadvantaged, unemployed or underemployed persons.

Moving on, the group reviewed applications for coordinators of the baseball and softball programs.  There were four: Dawn SPEET, Ann MAGESTAD, Becky MUOTKA, and Marie ELIOFF.  MAGESTAD was hired for baseball (boys) and MUOTKA for softball (girls).  The board also passed that Warba be allowed in the league.

A controversy was dealt with prior to adjournment. Quote: “because of problems in the past, board members specified that Keewatin be allowed to enter the program if they played all their games in the #316 district; Nashwauk was be to allowed in with no restrictions”.  The motion passed with some opposition.

The next meeting to be continued…..

James “Chick” Berardo 1923 – 1969

JAMES BERARDO was memorialized when the West Range Arena was re-dedicated on December 30, 1977, and named Hodgins-Berardo Arena.  Berardo was a hockey star from Taconite, and manager of West Range Arena from 1963 until his death.

Greenway Yearbook '42

When Berardo was young, hockey teams were informal and not part of school sports programs.  High school hockey did not start until the mid-fifties.

In the 1942 Greenway high school yearbook, Berardo’s photo heading listed him for football. [yearbook at Coleraine Public Library]

Of course he played hockey coming from Taconite, the town that calls itself the “Home of Hockey Champions”.

Amateur adult, or senior, hockey teams organized into municipal hockey leagues, and  our area into an Arrowhead Hockey Association, and then onto a Minnesota state hockey association for adult teams.

Berardo  played locally with the Taconite Hornets, Hibbing Flyers and Hibbing Saints, and the Duluth Steelers. [Taconite Diamond Jubilee, Taconite, Minnesota, 1907-1982; available at Itasca Historical Society, Grand Rapids, MN]


Berado was a goalie and is in the photo center with the large H.  Please send in a note if you know the insignia on his uniform; it looks like L, H with an N in the middle, and T.


Berardo’s progression into a hockey career was interrupted by World War II, as were the national hockey associations. He enlisted in the USA Army on May 7, 1943 and was part of the China Burma India TheaterHe was discharged on March 26, 1946. []

After the war, Berardo was a player when the national and international hockey associations were reorganizing and trying to strengthen  the sport.  He played with the Eagle River Falcons in Wisconsin, a semi-pro team in a league that covered Wisconsin and Michigan.  The website, Wisconsin Hockey History, states:

“During the thirties and up until World War II Eagle River and Wausau consistently iced the strongest amateur teams in the state. Eagle River, a small community in northern Wisconsin and possessing at that time the only enclosed rink in the state, captured six consecutive state championships. The teams under the tutelage of Connie Pleban of Eveleth, Minnesota and composed chiefly of players from the Iron Range region of Minnesota, were probably the strongest amateur sextets to represent the state with the possible exception of the 1923 Milwaukee team of the USAHA and the strong Marquette University teams of the twenties.”1


What is the year of this photo? It was signed to his mother from James, and is displayed at the arena.  Was it before or after the war?

1 Pleban’s obituary stated he coached 1935 – 1942; did Berardo play with the team during his time ? []

According to website, Famous Why?, Berardo is famous for his career in the National Hockey League.  It states that he started his professional career in 1948 as a hockey player with the Boston Olympics team; the “Pics”.  He was age 25, height 5’7”, weight 175 lbs, and his position was goalie.

He also played on teams in Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan, probably part of the International Hockey League, and another step to professional hockey.

Berardo attended Hockey Training Camp in Detroit, Michigan, and may have played with the Detroit Red Wings.  Just being invited to the camp was a great opportunity as there were only six teams in the National Hockey League during his time.

Berardo, or Chick as he came to be called, married Laurie Schlader in the spring of 1963.  The arena was new, built in 1961, and an asset of the Greenway School District, #316.  He was hired as arena manager.

In 1964, Chick was instrumental in the success of the Minnesota Senior “A” Hockey Tournament held the last weekend in February.

1964 Manager BerardoArticle from Grand Rapids Herald- Review courtesy of Itasca Historical Society.

Unfortunately, the community lost Chick to an early death, at age 46, on December 12, 1969.  He was buried at Lakeview Cemetery, Coleraine, Minnesota.

Obitiuary Berardo







memorial-logoThe Hodgins-Berardo Arena, ballfields at the Greenway Sports Complex, many sports events, and scholarships, have been named in honor of past athletes or alumnus of Greenway Joint Recreation Association.

Memorials are outside on the grounds at both the arena and the sports complex.  Inside of the arena are showcases of plaques, awards, and trophies from the past fifty years.  But who were those people?  Who played on those teams and what were the circumstances?  And what projects did the donors recognition plaques contribute to ?  Just what is the history of Greenway Rec?

Each month, a history behind a name or event of Greenway Joint Recreation Association will be compiled by the webmaster based on newspaper research.  The community is invited to add personal  comments, memories, and photos.


Jimmy Hodgins 1910-1943

JAMES J. HODGINS was memorialized when the arena was renamed from West Range Arena to Hodgins-Berardo Arena in 1977.  Hodgins’ time was prior to any arena, but in his day, he was manager for baseball and hockey teams in Taconite.  His other occupations  were village clerk, confectionary storekeeper, and soldier.  He didn’t live long.  World War II came along, and at age 33, “Jimmy” was killed in the Battle of San Peitro, Italy.

This portrait of James Hodgins in uniform hangs in the Hodgins-Berardo Arena. The signature on the painting is Russ Rein…(illegible).

Jimmy was born December 28, 1910 to James S. Hodgins (b. 1863  in Michigan; d. 1917 in Coleraine, MN) and Anna Matheson (b. 1880 in Canada; d. 1964 in Taconite, MN).  His parents owned a hotel at Holman Village on the Mesabi Iron Range.  When he was age seven, his father died.  His mother was widowed with six children, including a 4 month old baby.

Mrs. Anne Hodgins lived with her family on Broadway Avenue in Taconite and had two boarders in 1920 (Federal census).  She married a couple years later Joseph E. Skorich (b. 1888 in Yugoslavia; d. 1964 in Taconite), and he adopted her children plus they had one child of their own.  The kids went to school in Taconite and attended Greenway High School.  James continued living with his parents as a young adult.  The 1940 census recorded that he owned a tavern.  He did not marry.

James enlisted in the war effort…it appears he did so in Texas…and was a private in the U.S Army’s 143rd Regiment of the 36th Division.  According to Wikipedia ( “The 36th Infantry Division, composed of the 141st, 142nd and 143rd Infantry Regiments, landed in North Africa, 13 April 1943, and trained at Arzew and Rabat. It was assigned to the VI Corps, Fifth Army, but attached to North African Theater of Operations U.S. Army (NATOUSA) for supply.

The division, under command of Major General Fred L. Walker, first saw action in the Italian Campaign on September 9, 1943, when it landed by sea at Paestum,  and fought in the Battle of Salerno against intense German opposition. The Germans launched counterattacks on September 12th  through the 14th , but the 36th repulsed them with the aid of air support and naval gunfire.  The platoon then advanced slowly, securing the area from Agropoli to Altavilla.  After a brief rest, the 36th returned to combat on November 15th.  It captured Mount Maggiore, Mount Lungo, and the village of San Pietro,  despite strong enemy positions and severe winter weather.

James died on December 15, 1943.  His mother was contacted by a friend, T Sgt. Grady Fowler, who said James “was hit by an artillery shell and was killed instantly…he met his death in the battle of San Pedro [sic], Italy, in which we lost most of our Company.  In fact, out of 900 men who fought this battle, only 180 came back.” [Itasca Iron News Vol 41, No 11, front page].


A documentary film, The Battle of San Pietro, was directed by John Huston.  Huston and his crew were attached to the U.S Army’s 143rd Regiment of the 36th Division. The film was released in 1945.   In 1991, The Battle of San Pietro was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. []

The following summer, continues the article in the Itasca Iron News previously cited, “[James’] burial was in one of our well-established American Military Cemeteries in the area in which he was serving, with Protestant burial services conducted at the grave by an Army Chaplain.  The cemetery is well cared for and under the immediate supervision of our military authorities.  A temporary marker with an appropriate inscription thereon has been erected, and the grave properly recorded.”

Almost four years later, Pvt. James Hodgins’ body was sent home.  This is the obituary published October 17, 1948 for the funeral service at Peterson Chapel in Coleraine, and burial at Lake View Cemetery [clipping courtesy of Itasca Historical Society]:


James Hodgins: son, brother, athlete, soldier.  Hodgins-Berardo Arena is a memorial to his service.

See the film here:

See photos of San Pietro today

Findagrave memorial here:  James J. Hodgins

Do you have a photo or memory about James Hodgins to share?  Post it in comments or send via email to