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Regional composting site in the mix

Residents in Douglas County may soon have a new way of getting rid of food waste.

Instead of ending up in the garbage, incinerated and hauled to a landfill, the food would be recycled.

At its Monday meeting, the Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting a regional organics composting facility.

Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management is applying for a grant through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for the project, and is also seeking regional support from Grant, Stevens and Ottertail counties.

The initial grant request is for $250,000. Pope/Douglas plans to seek additional funds to cover the costs of building the site.

A location for the facility has not been determined yet, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz. He said it would likely be located in a rural, centralized area — not in the city limits.

The goal of the composting facility is to encourage residents to recycle food wastes. Right now, a large amount of food waste — 38 percent of the total waste stream — goes into the Pope/Douglas' waste-to-energy plant, which decreases the incinerator's ability to generate steam. Diverting the food waste to a composting site would help the plant operate more efficiently.

The new composting site, referred to as the "Glacial Hills Regional Facility," would address several problems, according to Pope/Douglas officials:

• The closest organics composting facility is 60 to 200 miles away from the counties that are partnering in the project.

• Tri-County Organics in St. Cloud doesn't have the capacity to adequately meet regional demands.

• A regional site would create a long-term and local solution for organics recycling.

• The project would create two permanent full-time jobs and four construction jobs.

• It would support local recycling programs and generate a regional interest in recycling organics.

• The project dovetails with other food recovery efforts; it won't compete with food sources that are diverted toward feeding hungry people.

Street projects bid

The council accepted a "very good bid" of $642,303 for the 2018 local street improvement projects, according to city leaders.

The low bid was submitted by Mark Lee Excavating. With engineering, the total cost is $767,064 — well below the city's estimate of $849,706.

The bidding was very tight; the three bids submitted were just $2,000 apart.

The following streets will receive overlays: Royal Drive, Royal Court, Will-O-Bee Lane, Darling Place, Darling Avenue, Irvine Place, Lakepark Place, Lakepark Avenue, Elmwood Drive, Carlson Drive, Nevada Street (portion), Seventh Avenue (portion) and Eighth Avenue.

Also, Basswood Lane and Glacier Avenue in the Geneva Crest neighborhood will undergo street reclamation.

In related action, the council approved the second part of an engineering agreement for the Geneva Crest reclaim project. The cost is the same as the first part of the engineering agreement, $24,219, based on a total project cost of $317,535.

It includes staking, construction observation and drawings.

Parks and trails funding

The council is requesting the Legislature to provide more money for parks and trails in the state.

It approved a resolution that supports $2.5 million in general obligation bonds this year for the Outdoor Recreation Grant Program and the Local Trails Connections Grant Program.

It also supported a recommendation from the Legislative Citizens Commission for Minnesota Resources to dedicate $2 million from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund be dedicated to those grant programs.

City Administrator Marty Schultz said that the city has applied for the trails grant program in the past and it may apply for grants to help develop the southeast watershed trail in the future.

Special events

Organizers for the annual Memorial Day Parade in Alexandria received a special event permit to have the parade on Monday, May 28, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Broadway.

The parade will begin at Ninth Avenue and continue north on Broadway to Agnes Boulevard before ending at the Kinkead Cemetery.

The parade is organized by the local chapters of the Vietnam Veterans of America, VFW, the Marine Corps League and American Legion.

The event also requires a parade permit approved by the Minnesota Department of Transportation since it takes place on a state highway.

The council also issued a special event permit for the Alexandria Lakes Area Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday, Oct. 6, at Big Ole Central Park. This is a first-time event.

The walk will begin and end at the park and use the Central Lakes Trail.

It's sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association of Minnesota and North Dakota.

Clerk honored

At the beginning of Monday's meeting, Mayor Sara Carlson and the council honored Finance Clerk Kathy Summer, who recently earned the prestigious designation of Minnesota Master Municipal Clerk.

City Administrator Marty Schultz said the accomplishment recognizes Summer's professional competency in the execution of her duties and takes many hours of continuing education to attain.

Summer will be honored at the Minnesota Clerks and Finance Officers Association conference on March 21.

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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