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IN THE KNOW: The word for 2018: Engage

Alexandria firefighters include (back row, left to right) Nick Koos, Mark Erickson, Josh Jacobson, Karl Seanger, Danny Sieve, Joe Kuperus, Shawn Olson, Robb Solyntjes, Chris Johnson, Tom Partington, Joe Waldorf, Nathan Borden, Mark Sagedahl, Cory Hodgson, Dan Hodgson, Jeff Karrow; (front row) Scott Gronholz, Chris Eddy, Eric Bjerke, QJ Warrey, Pat Solyntjes, Aaron Zollner, Matt Lanoue, Mark Bergerson, Jason Schmidt and Bill Thoennes.

Happy 2018! I feel so privileged to be the first person to write the "In the Know" column for 2018 for this area! We are going to have a great year in the city and I am eager to tell you about it!

Each year I choose a word of the year for the council and the city — some words of the past have been: civility, respect, teamwork, energize and optimism. They set the tone for the year and the work we have ahead of us. I will let you in on the word I will present to the council on the first meeting on Jan. 8. The word is engage — I will asked council and staff to use this word and this year to be engaged in what we are doing in the city and to be engaged in our surroundings.

Of course, if we start with politics, it is going to be midterm elections and so we will be hearing about that continually. Now it may seem that we get bombarded by the news and you sometimes feel like you want to shut that off. Nonetheless, a good way to get involved is to run for an office, get on a committee or be informed and ask questions of your elected officials. We will have elections at the city, county, state and federal level so be part of it all. Don't say: I don't want to hear about or be a part of it. Get out there and be present — you really can make a difference. You may find you really have a talent for it, as well. Feel free to call us at the city and tell us what is on your mind — we want to hear from you and we have a few projects that absolutely need your input!

The city of Alexandria has new financial software that we will be implementing this year. The staff will be hard at work in all the aspects of learning and customizing this software to make our finances in all departments work more smoothly for the internal and external workings of our city government.

We also have approved doing another comprehensive plan — that is a big deal and a lot of work. This is an area where everyone can participate. We need ideas from everyone! We look at long-range thoughtful planning on land use, development, community facilities planning and transportation planning. Look for more information down the road. Check the city's website and Facebook pages for more information.

We will also look at a few smaller but significant projects in our city. One along 18 Avenue by Alexandria Technical and Community College and the Douglas County Hospital to make traffic flow easier and smoother.

Let's start 2018 by thanking our firefighters for their service to all our communities — my people for this column are the Alexandria firefighters. The AFD has won numerous awards and keeps giving back to the Alexandria and surrounding communities that they protect and serve. As always, safety is a major concern for all the citizens of our area and we continue to keep that in the forefront of what we do on a day-to-day basis. Our firefighters are out there in this cold fighting fires of all types, assisting police whenever necessary and volunteering their time and energy to keep us safe. Let's thank them!

Wishing everyone a great and engaged 2018!

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Sara Carlson is the mayor of Alexandria. "In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.