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Alexandria in running for prettiest places

Is Alexandria one of the prettiest painted places in America? It's in the running for the honor.

The Paint Quality Institute announced this week that Alexandria is among four Minnesota communities competing for the title, "Prettiest Painted Places in America." The institute's mission is to educate the public about quality paints and coatings.

The "thumbnail sketch" of the nomination for Alexandria noted: "Surrounded by lakes and resorts and rich with historic 'must see' sites, the town is replete with beautifully painted homes and buildings."

Other entries that were nominated include Hastings, Lowry Hill East and Stillwater.

Over the next few weeks, the four Minnesota communities will vie with nearly 200 nominees from other states for regional and national honors.

Judges with expertise in color selection, exterior painting, and home improvement will review the entries, conduct additional research and make selected site visits.

Finalists will be announced in late September, and the nation's 12 "Prettiest Painted Places" will be revealed in mid-October.

The Paint Quality Institute has conducted its competition twice before, most recently in 2000. Its purpose is to show how an attractive paint color scheme can enhance the curb appeal of a structure's exterior.

"We feel there is no better way to demonstrate the importance of exterior paint color than to focus on these beautiful real-world communities that take so much pride in their appearance," said Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert at the Paint Quality Institute.

"The places involved in our competition are a tremendous inspiration to us all, and by giving them recognition, we hope to instill in the public a better appreciation for the role exterior paint can play in protecting and enhancing the appearance of any home or building," she added.

A wide variety of "places" have been entered in the competition -- big city neighborhoods, tiny rural towns, historical districts, "Main Streets" and communities with exterior mural programs.

Nominees range from well-known places, such as Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Napa, California to hidden gems like Vashon-Maury Island, Washington and Bell Buckle, Tennessee, according to the institute.

Here are the descriptions of the other Minnesota communities Alexandria is competing against:

--Hastings. A river town known for its "front-porch hospitality," Hastings is steeped in history and proud of its preservation efforts, boasting three historic districts and designation as a Main Street town by the National Trust.

--Lowry Hill East. The one-time streetcar suburb of Minneapolis has rebounded from tough times in the 1960s, thanks to an ambitious revitalization effort that has transformed the area into one of the city's most attractive, characterized by beautifully restored single-family circa 1880-1920 homes that range in style from Queen Anne, to Colonial Revival to Prairie School.

--Stillwater. With colorful Victorian mansions built by lumber barons and a Main Street on the National Register of Historic Places, the vibrant community on the banks of the St. Croix river is considered the "Birthplace 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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