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IN THE KNOW: Get engaged in your community

Andy Mellgren

Engage is my word for the year and this is the perfect time for us to "get engaged!" With the nicer weather we will be outside doing our spring clean up and getting our homes and lawns back in order. Remember metal pick up day is April 24.

It is also the perfect time to get engaged with your community! There will an election in 2018 at the national, state and local levels. As informed citizens we can make good decisions and get involved. If you live in the city, consider running for a council seat — Wards 1, 2 and 4 are up for election. Douglas County also has three districts up for election, Districts 2, 4 and 5. We need good, concerned citizens at the city, county, and state level. With a primary election you need to file by May — so think about yourself or someone you know who would be interested and like to get involved.

As the city unfolds into spring, streets get swept and flowers start to come out. We, at the City, begin our budget process and continue our strategic plan. This year the council approved the comprehensive plan update. This is an update on our land use and we will take a good look at all land use for our future. We will need input and comments from you in planning that potential use — so look for meeting dates on our website or in the newspaper.

The legislative season is in full swing and just as we lobby our legislators to do what is best for our city — you also have input with them as well. Do not forget to call or email your legislators and tell them your opinions. In fact, let all your elected officials know you opinions on what is happening in your area.

Other interesting items at the city include: working with the Agricultural Committee to do a paving project and work on the Fairgrounds Master Plan, supporting an organic composting site with several entities and Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management, legislative action days for lobbying our legislators, continued forward progress on our strategic plan, a new financial software program and a new hire of a Finance Accountant, talking about a new exit off the freeway and looking at new restrooms down at Big Ole park. Also, the Board of Review and Adjustment is April 18 if you wish to discuss your tax statements.

This construction season will start soon — there is one major project on Agnes Blvd so make sure and watch the updates if you travel in that direction.

On a personal note, Ron and I welcomed our third grandchild to this world last week and it is more than thrilling to see new life begin. Cecilia, is doing great — and is absolutely beautiful! Spring will be extra special this year — as we will also welcome our fourth grandchild in May!

Meet city's liquor operations manager

Our person of the week is Andy Mellgren, our liquor operations manager. Here is what Andy says about himself, his involvement in the area and his family:

My family consists of my amazing wife, Tracy, remarkable daughter, Marissa, who attends Discovery Middle School, and spectacular twin boys, Reed and Ethan, who attend Voyager Elementary. We've been living here proudly for nearly four years.

I am engaged in the community through my involvement with Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, Downtown Merchants Association, Healthy Voices Healthy Choices Coalition and Sertoma Club.

I am also currently working with Alex Tech Marketing and Business program. There are some very bright and talented students!

Opportunities to travel have afforded me the ability to pick up nuggets of knowledge over the years by visiting, actively learning and sampling at wineries, breweries and distilleries across the U.S. and abroad.

As a wine, beer and spirits educator, I have extensive experience training and educating beginners to professionals within the industry as well as conducting private in-home trainings and tastings.

Southwest Minnesota State University is where I received my bachelor's degree as well as my master's degree. Go Mustangs!

Prior to moving to Alexandria, I was the director of training and development for a chain of liquor stores. Preceding that, I worked for Hyatt and Holiday Inn hotel companies and I was also in sales having worked for specialty wines and spirits companies.

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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.