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IN THE KNOW: 2016 - Alexandria continues to move ahead

As we welcomed 2016 into the city of Alexandria, I wondered where the last year had gone. … We were just talking about the Broadway reconstruction project and now we are talking about how well this year went on the newly-reconstructed project. Businesses had good seasons downtown and have certainly enjoyed the seasons changing from beautiful flower baskets and people enjoying the benches to twinkling lights and Christmas parades.

The next construction project will be out at the 94 interchange with the bridge project and it will start as soon as weather permits. It will slow down traffic in that area and I will keep you posted on that in subsequent articles.

I have chosen the word respect for the word of the year for the city this year and will present that at the council meeting on the 11th of January. It is my hope that if we as mayor and council treat each other with respect, treat our staff with respect, and treat all of our constituents with respect and every day, every one of us treat each other with kindness and respect that in return everyone will pay that forward and our city will be a better place for everyone.

If we give everyone their due regard for their feelings, wishes and rights and politely agree or disagree, it will be a much better year in Alexandria and in our country. It is an election year and it looks like our country could use a dose of respect in the political campaign and we have hardly begun. We have quite a year ahead of us in that regard I am sure.

We have finished out strategic plan at the city and are very proud of it! All staff and council now will spend lots of time in 2016 working on areas of that and perfecting it. We also have a mission and a vision that we can articulate.

They are as follows: Our Mission: To be a progressive regional center defined by purposeful growth and community partnerships. Our Vision is: Alexandria is committed to efficient and effective delivery of quality services and strategic investments that improve the quality of life for all its citizens and visitors and the sustainable management of city resources. We will get that online on the city’s website so that you can take a look at the many areas that fall under the plan.

Also, new and the person of my article this time is our new fire chief – Jeff Karrow. He is also starting this week!

With the announcement of our Fire Marshal Dennis Stark retiring this March (more about that coming up later, too), it gave the city council an opportunity to take a look at the position of the fire chief as a paid position combined with the fire marshal position; weighing the pros and cons of this very important position in our community.

This was not a decision made quickly or lightly. After meeting with the entire Alexandria Fire Department and individual meetings with various leadership roles within the department, and the League of Minnesota Cities Trust Advisory, the council decided to move ahead, interview and hire lifelong Alexandria resident, Jeff Karrow.

I was one of nine people on the interview committee and I have to say two things about Jeff’s interview that have stuck with me a few months after the interview. First, he had a spiral bound resume; he really wanted the job and went the extra mile. Impressive! Second, when asked why he wanted the job and why he was qualified for the job, he could have started with the fact that he was the current chief and had been for the past six years or that he had 22 years experience on the Alexandria Fire Department. He could have detailed his trainings and certifications. But, he started off by saying, “Honestly, I think I was born to do this job!” He went on to talk about Alexandria Fire Department and his role there in great well-thought-out detail.

If you get a chance, stop by or call the Alexandria Fire Department and give him your best regards. We are thrilled to have him on board and very proud of him and all the Alexandria Fire Department. They all do a wonderful job!

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“In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.