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In the Know: Alexandria -- a city of civility

What a great year I had as president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities! It was an honor, pleasure and privilege to represent this group that represents the very specific needs of rural Minnesota cities through members voting a slate of issues and legislative lobbying to see that these issues are brought to the attention of our legislators.

I finished the year as president of the CGMC last week as I attended the conference in Fergus Falls and handed the presidency over to Dave Smiglewski of Granite Falls. I will stay on the board as past president and be placed on the League of Minnesota Cities Board to represent rural cities and our needs this year. I left the conference with some great reflections and lots of good information I would like to share.

My favorite take away from the year of meeting with mayors, council members, legislators and administrators from across the state is how well respected and well-known we, as a city, are. Most everyone knows about Alexandria — where we are and how great we are — and that's a fact! People across the state view us as a wonderful, friendly place. Knowing that our quality of life is next to none and our manufacturing and tourism industries are thriving because our economic development, city, county, schools and hospital all work together to make this community a great place to be.

Our keynote address was given by Bob Kill, the CEO of Enterprise Minnesota about the state of manufacturing. Mr. Kill knows every manufacturer past and present in Alexandria, as well as past and present presidents of Alexandria Technical and Community College and our school superintendents. He couldn't have been more complimentary about our town and how he personally has observed how hard our people work together to get things done. People in all these areas work together for the good of our community and the businesses here. They engage in long-term thinking or the "big think" for our community.

We listened to a panel of three from the Minnesota Capitol Press Corp: Brian Bakst from Minnesota Public Radio, Lori Sturdevant from the Star Tribune and Bill Werner from Minnesota News Network. The general feeling there was that the Legislature will continue to be more and more polarized and what we can all do is to keep talking to our legislators. Again, we are fortunate to have people in those posts that are easily accessible.

A fair amount of time was spent discussing the state budget. The Capitol Press Corp weighed in, predictions from both parties and what analysts think will happen were considered. Naturally, depending on what happens in the governor's election and what continues to happen at the federal level it is hard to predict. Locally, we are working hard on the 2018 city budget and trying to come up with a new way to present the budget to make it easier to understand where taxpayer money comes from and where it goes. We will keep you posted as we make progress on that.

Last, but not least let me just say that one of the best things about our city is how nice, decent and kind we are — it's not Minnesota nice — it's the way we come together to have fun and camaraderie at our festivals and activities. I was fortunate enough to attend the 3M 50th anniversary this last Saturday and get an impressive tour of that facility that has quietly produced its products and employed people for 50 years right here on Broadway! The other wonderful thing is the way we come together when one of our own is in need and we rally around and help them or their family. The Isaac Gorham fundraiser was an amazing show of support — there are many others. Not all cities have this civility. We are fortunate indeed. Yes, there has been some erosion of trust locally — that's unfortunate. But we are Alexandria — we move forward with dignity and grace. We are a community that will continue to grow and thrive, thanks to all of you!

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

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