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Biplanes and bicycles: Two big events coming to Alexandria

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Big events are rolling and winging into Alexandria.

An Old-Fashioned Barnstormers Tour at the airport, as well as MS TRAM, a bicycle race to raise funds in the fight against multiple sclerosis, were both approved at Monday night's Alexandria City Council meeting.

The American Barnstormers Tour is making Alexandria its final stop in a seven-city, four-state Midwest tour on July 3-5.

The free event will feature as many as 20 historically restored vintage aircraft from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s on display and in the air.

The public can come and go as they choose, according to Todd Roth, manager of the Alexandria Airport. The city's airport commission agreed to allow the event, he explained.

Roth added he is working on getting vintage tractors from the same time period, along with old cars, motorcycles, boats and a fire truck.

Weather permitting, all of the aircraft and vehicles will be on display from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Concessions will be available.

The barnstorming pilots, dressed in costumes from their plane's era, plan to do at least one "parade of flight" on each of the three days. They may also fly over the Lake Carlos boat parade on July 4.

Air rides will also be offered for $60 per passenger.

For more information, visit the website,

The 21st annual MS TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota) will take place at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on July 25, 26 and 30. Alexandria is the first and last stop on the six-day bicycle tour coordinated by the Minnesota chapter of the National MS Society.

About 1,000 bicyclists are expected to participate. They'll ride through Alexandria, Little Falls, Pequot Lakes, Wadena and Fergus Falls before finishing back in Alexandria.

Besides raising money to fight MS, the event should generate economic impact for Alexandria, according to Sara Stadtherr, lodging bureau coordinator with Alexandria Hotel and Hospitality (AHH).

She told the council that in 2009, participants spent an average of $41 in each host city, which could mean up to $50,000 for Alexandria.

About 500 tents will be set up inside the Douglas County Fairgrounds for the participants. Other visitors will stay at local hotels and other accommodations in the area, Stadtherr said.

The bicyclists will exit the fairgrounds between 5 and 8 a.m. on July 26 and are expected to return between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on July 30.

AHH will pay for Alexandria police offers to help direct traffic at the stoplight of the main entrance of the fairgrounds when the bicyclists depart.

"We want to show our support to all of our cycling visitors that we have their safety top of mind at all times," Stadtherr wrote in a letter to the council.

Stadtherr said she's been communicating with representatives of the fairgrounds, the Runestone Community Center and the Viking Speedway to make sure things go smoothly with the event.

The council agreed to allow the fairgrounds to be used for the MS TRAM and for the AHH to pay the police department to assist with traffic control.

Bids called to build

police station

In other action, the council:

•Agreed to call for bids to build a new police station.

A brief presentation showing the floor plan and exterior look of the building was presented before the council unanimously voted to proceed with the bidding process.

Council member Sara Carlson noted that the council studied all the design plans in detail at a previous work session.

The site preparation work along 3rd Avenue West is nearing completion, according to Paul Ringdahl with Ringdahl Architects, and it's time for the next phase - building the facility.

So far, the project is on budget and on schedule, according to ORB Management, the construction management company.

Council member Cindy Bigger noted that local companies have already contacted her about bidding on the project.

ORB Management is breaking the project down into many small pieces to give local companies more opportunities to bid.

Bids are expected to be considered next month. The project should be completed in 11 to 12 months.

Actor with local roots

gets his own day

•Proclaimed July 23, 2010 as "John Hawkes Day" in Alexandria.

Hawkes, a movie and television actor with more than 100 screen credits, was born in Alexandria in 1959. His name then was John Perkins and he is the son of Pat Perkins of Alexandria.

Hawkes graduated from Jefferson High School and embarked on a career that's brought him wide acclaim as an actor and musician. He appears in A Perfect Storm, American Gangster, Deadwood and his latest film, Winter's Bone.

He's received several awards, including the special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival Camera d'Or Award, a breakout performance award at the 2004 Sedona Film Festival and a special jury prize at the 2003 Deep Ellum Film Festival.

Hawkes is returning to Alexandria to visit relatives and friends and will introduce the showing of Winter's Bone at a July 23 event co-sponsored by Midway Cinema 9 and the Alexandria Area Arts Association.

Heart Walk set

for June 26

•Approved the local chapter of the American Heart Association's request to have its "Heart Walk" on June 26 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Participants will walk from Voyager Elementary School to the Runestone Museum.

Bid accepted for

Elm Street work

•Accepted a low bid of $99,660 from Delzer Construction of Fergus Falls to make improvements on Elm Street between 11th and 12th Avenue.

The bid was slightly higher than the city's estimate of $93,000.

The work includes paving the street and installing water mains and sidewalks.

The cost of the sidewalks, about $20,000, will be split between the city and the property owners in the area.

Alexandria Lakes Area Sanitary District is paying the sewer portion of the project.

The remaining cost will be split between the city and Alexandria Light and Power.

The total cost to the city amounts to about $38,000, according to City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven.

WCI seeks $8,000

from city

•Referred a request to support the West Central Initiative (WCI) to its budget committee.

WCI asked the city to contribute $8,000 to WCI programs and services in 2011.

The city's past commitments have totaled $106,000 over the years.

WCI, now in its 24th year, was established by the McKnight Foundation and provides a range of services in the nine-county region, said Tom McSparron with WCI.

Even in the "uncertainties" of the past two years, WCI's membership has grown, its leadership remains focused and its staff remains strong, McSparron said.

He said the WCI's impact from its loans and programs is significant and listed a few examples. An early childhood dental program is helping families throughout the region. The WCI helped secure financing for two brothers to expand a poultry processing plant that now provides 40 jobs. Federal grants were leveraged to develop industrial parks. WCI's technical and leadership programs continue to provide local companies with the expertise and skills they need to thrive.

McSparron thanked the council for its support of WCI in the past and added that the McKnight Foundation will again match any money the city provides.

Airport awaits

new windows

•Approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Commerce to replace all 29 windows in the Alexandria Airport's arrival/departure building.

The $26,200 grant will cover about 74 percent of the total estimated cost of $35,532. The city will pick up the rest.

The funds come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as economic stimulus funds.



for home repair help

•Adopted guidelines to help homeowners repair their residential buildings through the Small Cities Development Program.

The Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) prepared the guidelines for the program, which is targeting older homes in the east side of the city.

The program will cover 100 percent of the home repair expenses to households with incomes that are 50 percent or below the county median income ($29,450 for a family of four); 90 percent for those with incomes between 51 and 65 percent of the median; and 80 percent for those with incomes between 66 and 80 percent of the median.

The maximum loan amount is set at $18,000.

Right of way map

approved for

Darling Drive

•Approved the right-of-way plat for a waterline project on Darling Drive.

The action was recommended by the city attorney's office and will identify the parcels that will be part of the project so they can be appraised.

Loan, appointments, Broadway plan,


•Agreed to subordinate a City Housing Assistance Program loan for a homeowner in "The Trails" subdivision.

The property owner is refinancing his existing $7,500 loan with Bremer Bank.

•Appointed Scott Allen to the city's economic development board. He'll replace long-time Ward 3 member Don Lorsung, who recently resigned from the board.

•Re-appointed council member Cindy Bigger to the city's HRA board. It's a five-year term.

•Was informed that Active Living Douglas County will present a program, "Envisioning a Redesigned Broadway," on Monday, June 28 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Broadway Ballroom. Council members were encouraged to attend.

•Approved the following licenses: heating - Environ Con, Inc. and Elbow Lake Plumbing and Heating; tattoo - Nicole Annette Ed (doing business as Sheer Ink in a home at 217 Viking Place); fireworks - Tools and More (to sell fireworks at 1111 Highway 29 North); charitable gambling - Alexandria Lions Club (to conduct bingo at the Douglas County Fair, August 19-22).

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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