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Alexandria to fill vacancy left by police officer's death

The Alexandria Police Department will soon be getting a new patrol officer.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council ratified Mayor Dan Ness's decision authorizing Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels to hire an officer.

This will allow the department to fill the vacancy left when officer Pat Callaghan died in a snowmobile crash while he was off duty in January.

Because of budget concerns, the council had previously placed a moratorium on creating new city jobs, the mayor noted, but this action fills an existing vacancy.

"And you hate to say it's a replacement because you can't replace Patrick," the mayor said. "We are filling a vacancy."

Wyffels noted that when he started working for the department in 1987, there were 15 officers handling 4,439 calls. Today, there are 19 police officers responding to more than 17,000 calls, the chief said.

Even though the city is facing tough economic times, it will still need more officers in the future to keep the community safe, Wyffels said.

The chief expects the hiring process will take until May or June 1 to complete.

In other action not previously reported in Wednesday's newspaper, the council:

•Agreed to call for bids for anyone who is interested in moving the city's steel park department building along 3rd Avenue West.

The building is being moved to make way for a proposed new Alexandria Police Department facility.

The park department is relocating to a new building by the city's street garage. The move is expected to be complete by April 15, according to City Administrator Jim Taddei.

•Approved a final plat for the Knute Nelson Senior Living Addition east of Pioneer Road (County Road 106), across the road from the site of a proposed new high school.

The council had approved a preliminary plat in October 2008.

The plat was approved with the following conditions: connection to public utilities is required; title must be submitted to the city attorney's office; a developer's agreement must be executed before the plat is recorded that includes a schedule for the proposed public improvements as well as any cost-sharing or assessments; a park dedication fee must be paid that amounts to 10 percent of the undeveloped value of the land.

•Accepted a price quote from Backhaus Appraisals of Alexandria to help acquire easements for a waterline project in the South Darling Drive area as part of the phase 3, part 2 orderly annexation process.

The company agreed to do the appraisals for $85 per parcel, 51 parcels total.

•Was reminded that a city council work session is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, March 29 in the large conference room at city hall to discuss the proposed storm water management ordinance.

Work sessions are open to the public. No action may be taken.

•Proclaimed April 10-17, 2010 as "The Week of the Young Child" in Alexandria.

The proclamation encourages citizens to work to make a good investment in early childhood in Alexandria.

It notes that organizations that are working to improve early learning opportunities, including early literacy programs, can provide a foundation of learning for children.

•Issued an on-sale liquor license for the Alexandria Golf Club.

The fee was pro-rated for nine months and amounted to $3,375.

The golf club will have to apply for a Sunday liquor license as well, the council noted.

•Issued the following licenses: charitable gambling - Douglas County Historical Society to sell raffle tickets for a June 12 event at the Alexandria Airport; massage therapist - Rebecca Byrne, doing business as Lakes Area Biofeedback at 503 22nd Avenue East; temporary liquor - St. Mary's Catholic Church for a Sunday, September 19 event.

•Was informed that the Alexandria Airport building is on a short-list of projects that may receive federal funding for improvements. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has indicated that it might be able to provide matching funds as well.

•Was informed by Mayor Ness that City Administrator Jim Taddei recently received the title of "Minnesota Certified Municipal Clerk" from the Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers Association of Minnesota.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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