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Council breezes through first meeting of 2011

Al Edenloff | Echo Press Assistant City Attorney Tom Jacobson (left) administered the oath of office to Alexandria City Council members Dave Benson and Sara Carlson at the start of Monday's meeting. They were both re-elected in November. Virgil Batesole (right), the winner in the Ward 1 race, took his oath last week.1 / 2
This patch representing the Minnesota National Guard 34th infantry "Red Bulls" division may be part of a sign attached to 34th Avenue in Alexandria.2 / 2

The Alexandria City Council agreed to amend two revenue notes issued to St. Mary's Church totaling nearly $4 million.

This will allow the church to obtain a lower interest rate on the notes, which were used to remodel St. Mary's School.

The city initially assigned the loans to the bank about five years ago as security for the payment of the notes and no city funds are at stake.

This was just one of many actions the council took Monday night - its first meeting of the year.

The council breezed through other items, many of them reorganizational for 2011, and wrapped things up in about a half hour.

A good-sized crowd attended the meeting, which also featured the debut of newly elected Ward 1 council member, Virgil Batesole. He abstained from approving the December meeting minutes since he was not present and he voted against the December bills, saying that he had some unanswered questions.

Aside from those exceptions, the council approved other items on a 4-0 vote (council member Owen Miller was ill and unable to attend).

The council:

• Referred a request to designate 34th Avenue as 34th "Red Bulls" Avenue in honor of the Alexandria National Guard's 34th infantry division to the city's highway committee.

Local Vietnam War veterans Dennis Carstens and Joe Nemo requested the action.

Mayor Dan Ness said he looked into the request and noted that there could be a problem in renaming the road because of existing legal plats. He added, however, that a sign could still be placed below the 34th Avenue sign to honor the Red Bulls.

Carstens showed the council a patch with the Red Bulls' insignia that may be incorporated into the design.

At one time, Minnesota National Guard members were looked down upon as "weekend warriors," said Carstens. But Guard members have been deployed to active duty overseas repeatedly in recent years.

"It's time we recognize these young people that have been serving our country," Carstens said.

Mayor Ness said the city would work on giving the Red Bulls the recognition they deserve. The highway committee is expected to discuss it at its meeting next week.

• Approved a 2011 contract with Kevin Howie to provide staffing services for the public access channel, Alexandria Community Television (cable channel 7 on the Charter Communications system).

Howie, who received $5,000 for half of last year, will receive up to $10,000 this year ($20 per hour).

The city televises council meetings on the channel and School District 206 broadcasts school activities.

Batesole said that a formal agreement should be worked out between the city and school district about the city-owned television equipment that is being stored at the Discovery Middle School. The city's cable TV commission will look into it.

• Approved a request from Orange Cab to lower its rates and add an additional vehicle. The new rates are $3.50 for a minimum fare and $1.80 per mile. The senior rate is $1.50 per mile.

• Proclaimed February and March 2011 as the "Alexandria Area Community Read - I Love to Read Jon Hassler" months. Hassler is a Minnesota author.

• Designated the Echo Press as the city's official newspaper. As such, the newspaper will once again be publishing the city's legal and tax notices.

• Designated 20 financial institutions as city depositories for 2011.

• Changed the dates of two regular city council meetings in 2011 that fell on legal holidays. The October 10 meeting was changed to October 11 and the December 26 meeting was rescheduled to December 27.

• Approved gambling permits for Viking Sportsmen to sell raffle tickets at the Holiday Inn on March 31; the Knights of Columbus to sell raffle tickets at Broadway Ballroom on March 5; and Alexandria Area Youth Bowling to conduct bingo at Broadway Ballroom on April 20.

• Approved a temporary on-sale liquor license for the Alexandria Elks to serve alcohol on February 6 and February 27.

• Renewed the excavating contractor licenses for Anderson Excavating and Seph Construction.

• Renewed the heating contractor licenses for Anderson Excavating and Heating, and Countryside Heating and Air Conditioning.

• Approved massage licenses for Nadine Walz and Kayla Wharton.

• Renewed an on-sale beer license for Godfather's Pizza.

• Agreed to charge the owners of six parcels of land for clean-up costs.

The city cut grass and weeds or removed junk and rubbish on the parcels after the landowners failed to do so despite several warnings. The costs ranged from $215 to $1,249.

Ness noted that of the six parcels, four were owned by out-of-state mortgage companies.

• Designated elected and appointed officials that will be covered under Minnesota workers compensation if they are injured while working for the city.

The list includes the mayor, council and 19 city boards, commissions or committees.

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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