Celeste Edenloff, a reporter for the Echo Press, has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from May of 1999 to February 2011, and is happy to be back and once again sharing the stories of the people in this community. Besides being a reporter, Celeste is a certified fitness instructor and enjoys teaching bootcamp classes through Snap Fitness. She also enjoys running and has participated in more than 170 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.
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During the 2017 boating season, 17 watercraft inspectors hired by Douglas County performed close to 10,000 inspections, including two inspections that kept boats with zebra mussels from entering a lake that had not been infested. Dave Rush, director of Land and Resource Management, highlighted those numbers Tuesday as he presented a brief overview for the Douglas County Board of Commissioners on the battle against aquatic invasive species.
The Brandon-Evansville School District is moving forward with its volunteer committees to look at facility needs and there's still time for the public to sign up to help. At the regular school board meeting Monday night, Superintendent Dean Yocum told school board members that as of last Thursday, Dec. 14, there were more than 50 people signed up for the three different committees.
There is a box outside the Lowry American Legion that may look like an ordinary mailbox, but there is nothing ordinary about it. It is an American flag drop box and it was put up in memory of Jerry Tvrdik, a member of the Legion who passed away July 4, 2016. Tvrdik, according to Lowry American Legion Commander Tom Hills, was believed to be the club's last living World War II veteran. After he passed away, Hills said Tvrdik's family donated money to the Legion in his honor.
The United Way office in downtown Alexandria looked like Santa's workshop earlier this week with nearly every nook and cranny filled with Christmas presents for children around the area. Each staff member's office was overflowing with presents, as was the front lobby, the conference room and the back room of the Hawthorne Street site. The presents were donated through the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties' Adopt-A-Family program.
As the judge read his verdict, the sounds of sobbing grew louder and louder in the small federal courtroom. With tears streaming down her face, Nancy Estrada exchanged a look of disbelief with her husband, Julio Estrada Escobar, as they learned that he is being deported back to his home country of Guatemala. At the end of the 45-minute verdict read by Immigration Judge Ryan Wood on Wednesday, Dec. 13, he said, "This was a difficult day and I made the best decision I could. I wish you the best."
Research has shown that if students can't see well, they have a more difficult time learning. In fact, educational experts say that 80 percent of learning is visual. That is why it is so important for students to have their vision checked on a yearly basis, according to Bob and Patti Dahlheimer, members of the Alexandria Evening Lions. And the Alexandria Evening Lions are doing their part to help. The club is now part of the Lions KidSight USA program and have screened nearly 1,000 elementary students in the Alexandria area.
It's that time of year again for the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train to roll through the area. The Holiday Train will be making its annual stop in Glenwood and Alexandria on Tuesday, Dec. 12. The train will be in Glenwood at 10 a.m. at the CP station, 20 15th St. NE and it will make its stop in Alexandria at 11:30 a.m. at the Eighth Avenue East railroad crossing by Hubbard Feed Mill at Eighth Avenue and Nokomis Street. Musical performers include Kelly Prescott, who also performed on the train last year, Terri Clark and Dallas Smith.
Jackie Notch and Connie Fields had the same vision — to transform the visiting area at the Douglas County Jail into something a little more child-friendly. However, neither of them knew at first that they were working toward the same goal. Notch, the Douglas County Jail administrator, recently read about a survey being conducted by the University of Minnesota about inmates who had minor children. "It was a big project and involved county jails and state prisons," said Notch, adding that Douglas County inmates took part in the survey.
It's time to get your jingle on. The 69th annual Jingle Bells Telethon will take place Saturday, Dec. 9, from 5 to 10 p.m., at the Lake Geneva Christian Center in Alexandria. Jingle Bells is organized by the Jingle Bells Foundation and the Alexandria Jaycees. Proceeds from the live telethon are used to purchase food and gifts for families in need. For those wondering if long-time co-host Joe Korkowski, news director at KXRA radio, will be able to fulfill his duties Saturday night, the wait is over.
The Brandon-Evansville School District is looking for volunteers to help decide how it is going to move forward with its facilities, with the possibility of another referendum in November. On Thursday evening, more than 125 community members gathered in the gymnasium of the Brandon School to listen to a presentation facilitated by Vaughn Dierks from Wold Architects and Engineers. Dierks explained that volunteers are needed for what he called "criteria committees" and there are three of them he proposed: