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City to get new snow-fighting equipment

During the council meeting, Alexandria Mayor Dan Ness (right) presented Steve Pederson with a plaque of appreciation for receiving the 2012 Facing Race Ambassador Award from The St. Paul Foundation.

The day before Tuesday's big snowstorm hit, a timely topic popped up at the Alexandria City Council: A request for snowplow equipment.

"Do you think you could get it hooked up by Wednesday?" joked Alexandria Mayor Dan Ness to Bryan Bjorgaard, public works coordinator.

The equipment, which the council voted 5-0 to purchase for $87,478, should come in handy next winter.

Bjorgaard requested it to help plow the new streets that came into the city through the "phase four" annexation agreement with Alexandria Township on January 1.

The newly annexed area will add 13 to 15 miles of road for the city to maintain, according to Bjorgaard.

The equipment is more than a plow. It includes a dump body, front panel, sides, fenders, tailgate, understructure, cab shield, hoist, pump, hydraulic controls, light system, sander and other gear.

The equipment also offers a new way of dealing with slippery spots. It includes a new system that allows the operator to activate the salt mixture before it hits the ground, making it stick better to the roads, Bjorgaard said.

The city received two quotes for the equipment and approved the one from Towmaster, Inc. of Litchfield. The other quote was about $9,000 cheaper but didn't meet specifications and didn't include sales tax.


Another purchase the council considered Monday is for new restrooms at Dean Melton/Fillmore Park.

Park Superintendent Bill Thoennes told the council that the restrooms, built in 1966, are in bad shape. The structure is rusting, leaks and the sewer system has to be "Roto-Rootered" three or four times a summer.

The building has other flaws as well - no lighting, no lockable stalls in the men's room and it isn't handicap accessible, said Thoennes.

Thoennes estimated it would cost about $85,000 to replace the restrooms. The project would demolish the existing structure.

Council member Virgil Batesole said the building is every bit as bad as Thoennes described but he said the city doesn't have the money during this "critical time of its budget" to replace restrooms. He said he'd rather pay the few hundred dollars to keep the sewer lines clear or put portable toilets at the park.

Batesole's motion to delay taking action on the project until June failed when no one seconded it.

The council voted 4-1 to call for bids on the architectural services part of the project.


In other action not previously reported:

• Alexandria Mayor Dan Ness presented Steve Pederson with a plaque of appreciation for receiving the 2012 Facing Race Ambassador Award from The St. Paul Foundation. Pederson serves on the executive administration team of Diversity Resource Action Alliance (DRAA) and is a member of the city of Alexandria's Cultural Inclusiveness Committee. As an adoptive parent of African American children living in rural Minnesota, Pederson wants to help increase awareness about acceptance and tolerance of diversity, the mayor said. In addition to the award, a donation of $10,000 will be made to DRAA in Pederson's honor.

• The council approved a request from Mike Bartholomeo and George Odio, organizers of the second annual Harvest Duathlon. It will begin with a kids' race from 5 to 9 p.m. at Discovery Middle School (DMS) on August 31. The duathlon - a 2.5 mile run, a 13-mile bike race and a 2.3-mile run - will take place on September 1, starting at noon at DMS. Last year, 113 people participated and this year, organizers are limiting it to the first 200 applicants.

• The council was informed that the Douglas County Local Advisory on Children and Adult Mental Health will hold a walk on May 17. It will begin at the Big Ole statue at 2 p.m. and end at City Hall. Organizers hope to raise awareness and break the stigma surrounding mental illness.

• The council approved a conditional use permit for BI Properties, allowing group quarters for up to four unrelated people at 1006 Jefferson Street.

• The council approved a request from Jodi Vangsness to split property at the old SAVE store location at 310 34th Avenue West. The retail space is being sold - details were not disclosed - and the existing fuel pumps and canopy that are on the site will be split off from the property. More than 1,200 people use the pay-at-the-pump gas station and the station will remain open, said City Planner Mike Weber.

• The city's comprehensive plan is gaining attention, Weber told the council. The website,, has received 2,021 hits and 210 people have completed the survey. The city hopes to have 2,000 surveys completed by this fall.

• The council, at Weber's recommendation, has decided not to participate in a flood insurance program offered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A resident requested the city to do so last fall in order for those seeking flood insurance to receive a subsidy. Weber said he looked into the idea and found that it would require the city to add extensive regulations citywide. Weber added that residents would still be able to purchase private flood insurance but without the public rate subsidy.

• The council approved an engineering agreement to look at possible drainage solutions for Whispering Oaks, a new 106-acre area that came into the city through the "phase four" annexation agreement with Alexandria Township. The cost of the study is $17,500.

• The council approved an agreement to transfer future maintenance of certain roads with Douglas County. The agreement formalizes part of a transportation plan between the city, county and state that was approved last March. A total of 7.8 miles of road will transfer from the county to the city, and 2.2 miles will transfer from the city to the county, leaving the city with 5.6 miles more of road. This will result in the city receiving $129,000 more in municipal state aid funds, according to City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven. The county has agreed to overlay County Road 44 from County Road 22 to County 42 and then transfer the road to the city. After sections of County Road 70 (South L'Homme Dieu Drive) become state-aid routes, the county agreed to provide a $680,000 lump sum payment to the city for future reclaim and overlay work. The county agreed to overlay and construct turn lanes on the north and south portions of County Road 106 before transferring it to the city. The county agreed to reconstruct the bridge on County Road 111 (Geneva Road) at the Geneva/L'Homme Dieu channel before transferring it to the city. After County Road 111 is designated as a state-aid route, the county agreed to provide a $100,000 lump sum to the city for future reclaim and overlay work. The county agreed to designate 3rd Avenue from County Road 22 to Broadway as County Road 82. The county agreed to designate 34th Avenue from Highway 29 to the CP Railroad and McKay Avenue, from near 9th Avenue to Highway 27, as County Road 46. After the county releases all those road sections, the city will designate the sections as additions to the city's municipal state aid system and approve the county's action.

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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