Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, Amy’s first job was at KSAX-TV working as an anchor and reporter. From 2003-2010, Amy worked as an editor and reporter for the Pope County Tribune and Starbuck Times newspapers. During her journalism career, Amy earned writing and photography awards from the Associated Press, Minnesota Newspaper Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Amy and her husband, Brandon, live in Alexandria and together write “He Sez, She Sez,” a humor column in the local women’s magazine, Chicz.
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If you think it's been a loooooong winter, try being a gardener. With snowflakes falling well into April, it's hard to believe spring will ever arrive and this latest blast of snow on Thursday is just insulting. Actually, it's painful. I need to get into my gardens to heal this aching urge. Seriously. My green thumb is fading back to a dull pale pink. Gak! My new patio set is hiding under a big, ugly blue tarp with a snow shovel holding it down. Sigh... My garden ponds are lifeless under that smothering blanket of snow.
Soon enough, people will be biking, running and walking along the Central Lakes Trail, which runs through the heart of Osakis. There are nice spots along the trail to take a break and rest a spell and now, there's an opportunity to learn a little, too. Osakis is one of 10 communities along the trail that has been staked with new "You Are Here" signage. Last November, a new sign was placed near the trailhead in downtown Osakis.
The Osakis community will once again be served by a local grocery store. Last week, Heath and Cindy Peterson of Frazee signed a purchase agreement to buy the former Jim's Home Quality Foods store in Osakis. "Cindy and I are really excited about this," Heath said last week at the store. "The people in town have been absolutely fabulous.
Kurt Sieve of Alexandria has spent the last 42 years flipping pancakes, clearing tables, hiring servers, ordering food, managing staff and keeping Traveler's Inn bustling year after year, right alongside his brother, Jon. "The people of Alexandria have been so dear and loyal to us. It's been an amazing career," Kurt said. "We want people reading this article to know it's going to continue to be run as a Sieve restaurant, probably well into the future.
Last Wednesday, Osakis Public School was a gathering spot for iconic people of the past and present. Osakis fourth graders used costume and props to transform themselves into notable people, everyone from Cleopatra to Teddy Roosevelt, as part of the seventh annual Wax Museum event. The students were "in character" while the public toured the museum set up in the school gym. The museum tourists had to push a button in front of the students to activate each famous person's story.
Locally, Interstate 94 is the main target for state road work this year. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) recently announced its 2013 construction program for the state.
Heidi Hansen and Marcia Benson are in the music making business. The women are composers and recently started a business selling their piano music. "We'd like to sell more music and actually make money at it," Hansen said. "And go down in history with other famous composers," Benson laughed. They'll be the first to admit: Hansen is the realist and Benson is the dreamer. The women have been composing together for four years.
SmartBoards replaced blackboards, could textbooks be next? During last week's Osakis School Board meeting, teachers demonstrated the feasibility of iPads replacing textbooks and becoming an everyday classroom tool. "As you know, technology [use] is increasing," Osakis Superintendent John Peterka told the school board.
A new safe way to dispose of unused prescription medication has been launched locally. On Wednesday, Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels unveiled the department's new prescription drop box. The large locked metal bin is located in the police department lobby and can be accessed during business hours. During a news conference, Wyffels explained, "Citizens in our community can get rid of prescription drugs that are lying leftover in their medicine cabinet, rather than flushing them down the toilet.
By securing a new interest rate on one of its future debt accounts, Alexandria District 206 School Board has saved taxpayers about $500,000. During Monday night's school board meeting, the board approved "Refunding of 2008 Debt Issuance" to cover the district's future debt service of $6.3 million. The new interest rate approved came in at 3.19 percent, compared to the old interest rate of 6.87 percent. The actual net savings to taxpayers is $507,446 over the life of the bond. School District 206 Business Director Trevor Peterson said, "By refunding these bonds, it's the same concept as hom