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City buys two new police cars

Two new police cars will soon be rolling into Alexandria.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council agreed to purchase two new police squad cars for $20,728 each from Juettner Motors in Alexandria.

Two other quotes were received, including one from the state, but Juettner's was the lowest.

Police Chief Rick Wyffels made the request, noting that his department didn't purchase any squad cars last year because of the city's economic situation.

The 2010 Ford Crown Victorias will replace two existing squad cars that both have more than 100,000 city miles. The used cars will be sold via EBay.

The new squad units will be painted black and white. The department has only one white and blue car remaining, the chief said.

The department has planned and budgeted for the purchases, which will come out of the department's capital improvement fund, according to Wyffels.

Bus service says it's 'better than Greyhound'

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

•Listened to a presentation about Jefferson Lines, a Minneapolis-based bus service that offers scheduled passenger and package delivery services as well as group travel packages.

Kevin John, regional manager, said the company is trying to make people more aware of its services.

"We're what Greyhound used to be - but better," John said.

The company stops in Alexandria at the Pipeline Travel Plaza, 3181 Evergreen Lane and maintains an Alexandria agency at Car Quest Auto Parts at 308 3rd Avenue East.

As part of its regional services, Jefferson Lines offers two daily round trip schedules to Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Airport and plans to add a third run in a month or two, John said.

Several other regional routes are also available.

Jefferson Lines operates in 13 Midwestern states and Manitoba and its safety record ranks in the top 1 percent in the U.S., according to John.

Bicycle races approved

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

•Approved plans for "The Great Alexandria Bike Race" set for July 17-18.

A road race on Saturday will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning on County Road 22 near the Central Lakes Trail, continuing to County Road 12 near Garfield, and then traveling on County Roads 58, 7 and 5, before connecting back to County roads 12 and 22.

This is the same route that was used last year, noted organizer George Odio. Racers will register by Big Ole Central Park and stage near Alexandria Extrusion.

A circuit race on Sunday is scheduled to take place in downtown Alexandria from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., using Broadway and Hawthorne Streets between 6th and 9th Avenue.

The race used this route back in the early 1990s, using the U.S. Bank lot as a staging area, Odio said.

Two northbound lanes on Broadway would be closed to accommodate the racers but traffic could still move through in the other lanes. Barricades and cones would be set up, Odio explained.

The city voted 4-1 to allow the downtown route on the condition that the police department and the Minnesota Department of Transportation must also approve the plan. Cindy Bigger voted against it.

Barricades allowed for marching band practices

•Authorized supporters of the Jefferson High School Marching Band to temporarily barricade portions of city streets while the band is practicing.

Starting in mid-May, the band typically practices on Jefferson Street between 12th and 22nd Avenue and will occasionally turn onto 18th Avenue and head east toward Nokomis Street.

Most of the practices start at 4 or 6 p.m. and last from one to three and a half hours.

In the past few years, students and volunteers have nearly been hit by uncooperative drivers who insist on driving on Jefferson Street through the students' practices, according to the Band Boosters.

A few drivers have also become upset, questioning the boosters' authority to shut down a city street. The police have been called to settle the disputes, according to Chief Wyffels.

Because of those concerns, the boosters thought it would be a good idea to notify the city of their plans this year.

The council authorized the boosters to man the barricades as long as they coordinated their activities with the police department.

Police department pursues 'Safe and Sober' funding

•Agreed to enter into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to seek a "Safe and Sober" grant of $18,500 to the Alexandria Police Department.

The program, which typically targets speeding, seat belt use and drunk driving, runs from October 1, 2010 through September 30,2011.

No parking allowed along Geneva Road

•Agreed to install "no parking" signs along Geneva Road from McKay Avenue to Birch Avenue.

The council took the action in order to receive federal funds for an improvement project on Geneva Road. The project will add a bicycle lane so that's why the parking restrictions are needed.

New financial management policies approved

•Approved new financial management policies for the city.

The 29-page document sets in writing many policies the city has been following over the years, according to City Administrator Jim Taddei.

It covers a variety of fiscal matters - investments, debt, capital improvement programs, revenue, budgetary and financial controls, external audits, risk management and forfeited funds.

Odds and ends

•Was informed that the city's street department hauled away 42 truckloads of junk during the city's annual free Metal Pick Up Day last month.

•Issued the following licenses: temporary liquor - Alexandria Area Arts Association to serve alcohol on June 4; peddlers - The Country Stop (located at Dairy Queen South and TireMaxx); fireworks - Walmart; charitable gambling - Knute Nelson to sell raffles for an August 11 event and Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce to sell raffles for an August 11 event at the Runestone Museum.

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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