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IN THE KNOW: A wonderful, vibrant area

Fall officially arrived this week. We knew it was here anyway as the pumpkins appeared for sale across the city, the kids are back at school with homecoming just around the corner. The Vikings even won their home opener in the much anticipated new U.S. Bank Stadium against the Packers.

The grapes were stomped at the annual Grape Stomp at Carlos Creek Winery. We live in a wonderful and vibrant area and this event attracts more and more people each fall.

Fall also brings the close of the construction season as the orange signs slowly disappear and the road detours get turned back into freshly paved roads.

At our next Council meeting, we will have a public hearing and adopt a preliminary city budget. This is one of the most important things we do and we spend a great deal of time and energy on it as staff, council and mayor. This year the budget committee consisted of Councilperson Bobbie Osterberg, Marty Schultz, myself and as needed, Finance Director Jane Blade. We spent at least four hours a week starting in April and going through August dealing with just the budget. They are long meetings.

We first started looking at debt service and last year's actual and projections, and then moved on to interviews with department heads and other entities who would, as it were, want to ask the city for money. We made necessary cuts and reworked and presented the first draft of the budget to a special meeting of the full Council. We had two of those meetings, each lasting a couple of hours and are ready to present the preliminary budget.

This is just a synopsis of how much time setting a budget takes and the process. I bring it up to let you know how important this is as a process, procedure and what happens in the city. We have an $11 million budget and we do not take it lightly.

I want to make sure I give a big shout out to all our first responders, law enforcement, and fire departments that were on scene at the helicopter crash last weekend and continue to be such a vital part of all our safety and well-being.

I talked to Fire Chief Jeff Karrow and he was attending training as we spoke and has some very specialized training for law enforcement coming to Alexandria and then some for the Council and commissioners, as well. It was a weekend that left us all a little unnerved to say the least. However, we are working on ways to keep us safe and informed as communication is key in these situations.

My person to mention this column is the new communications coordinator, Sara Stadtherr.

Sara Stadtherr was raised in the area and is excited to become part of the city of Alexandria's team as the communications coordinator. This position was created to enhance the communication both from City Hall out to the residents and area as well as increase the ability of residents to easily communicate back to city staff. The goal is to continue to provide community alerts for street construction, ongoing projects and work that is done by all city departments.

Sara led the work of Explore Alexandria Tourism prior to coming to work with the city of Alexandria and she is excited to be an internal and external spokesperson for all the wonderful work done by all of the city's departments. She will be looking at increasing the collaboration and partnerships of local entities that already exist and enhance many relationships the city has with our diverse, strong employment populations and unique demographics.

Sara says she has the best job in the city because she gets to be the cheerleader for the city! She promotes all that is going on in the city. Feel free to contact her.

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