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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The State Fire Marshal's Office is continuing its investigation into what caused a house fire in Osakis on March 7. As of now, the cause of the fire is undetermined, according to Osakis Fire Chief Chad Mathews. The chief said he met with an investigator last week and it's unknown when a final determination will be released. At 11:28 a.m. on March 7, a fire was reported at 18 West Pike Street, the home of the Josh Kapaun family. When Osakis firefighters responded, smoke was rolling out of the house eaves and flames eventually shot out from an upstairs window.
Thursday's election of a new pope has drawn praise from the regional Catholic community. Jorge Bergoglio, 76, took the papal name Francis and became the 266th to hold the title of spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.
More information has been released about a head-on crash that was reported at 8:21 p.m. on Highway 29, about four miles north of Glenwood. One of the drivers was Hayley Blair, 19, of Glenwood, who was traveling with her mother, Kimberlie Blair 41, and father, Tait Blair, 41, also from Glenwood. The other driver was Richard Ostendorf of Pemberton, according to the State Patrol. Ostendorf and Kimberlie Blair both suffered serious injuries. Their current condition isn't known.
Just after 3:30 a.m. this morning, Alexandria firefighters responded to a barn fire at 5423 County Road 7 Southwest near Holmes City. Upon arrival, the barn was already burned to the ground and nearby trees and a woodpile were also on fire. The barn reportedly housed about 11 chickens, all of which are believed to have perished in the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office also responded to the fire call Monday morning.
Another blast of severe winter weather has hit the region. Area schools are closed today, Monday, March 18 due to blizzard conditions: Alexandria Dist 206, Osakis, Brandon, Evansville, Minnewaska Area Schools, Parkers Prairie, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, West Central Area and Morris-Cyrus. Alexandria Technical and Community College is also closed today. In addition, Interstate 94 is closed from Alexandria to Moorhead. Travel is not advised in the area. Locally, MnDOT reports driving conditions are difficult and just to the east, hazardous driving conditions are reported.
Roads are icy in the Alexandria area this morning. At 9:15 a.m., the State Patrol reported that Interstate 94 from Fergus Falls to Alexandria is open. Current driving conditions in parts of west central Minnesota remain difficult due to freezing rain and snow. Motorists should still use extreme caution when traveling. MnDOT is reporting difficult driving conditions in the area.
Proposed legislation moving through the state Legislature would require that students who qualify for reduced-price lunches be provided with lunch at school regardless of the status of their lunch account. The proposed legislation, moving through both House and Senate committees, prohibits school districts from denying "... lunch to a child eligible for a reduced-price school lunch who lacks sufficient funds to pay for lunch or has unpaid school lunch debts." If passed, the legislation would add approximately 61,500 students statewide to the free lunch program.
A sprinkler system at Douglas Machine helped stop a fire from spreading on Tuesday. Alexandria firefighters responded to the roof fire at about 1 p.m.
First came the rain, then the sleet and now, as of 5:30 p.m., it's still snowing... A winter storm warning remains in effect for the Alexandria area through midnight. Three to five inches of snow is in the forecast. All that heavy snow is piling up on top of sloppy puddles and wet roads and sidewalks. As the sleet turned to snow earlier this afternoon, several crashes were reported on area roads. Several crashes were reported on Interstate 94, but no serious injuries.