Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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Although west central Minnesota was hit with another winter storm Thursday, the construction season is bumping along in Douglas County. County Engineer/Public Works Director Dave Robley updated county commissioners on planned road construction in 2013. Some funds have carried over from last year, putting the county in a positive position.
A Minnesota soybean is tipping the global import/export business in our favor. Six years ago, Alexandria resident and former farmer, Craig Damstrom fostered an idea to develop a cash crop in the area - not the legume itself, but its seed. Damstrom said the U.S., Argentina and Brazil export soybeans, which adds a much needed north and south exchange in addition to the usual east to west from China. Soy seeds are in high demand in South Korea since China has been exporting less and consuming more of its own product, Damstrom explained.
How much should Lakes Area Recreation pay Douglas County for space inside the Services Center? The question caused a split vote and mixed opinions at the March 26 Douglas County commissioners meeting. Negotiations between Douglas County commissioners and the Lakes Area Recreation (LAR) board of directors on a new lease began about a year ago.
As the morning fog lifted, smoke saturated the midday air on Easter Eve. Roman soldiers prepared to take a sizzling steak break during the annual Guarding of the Tomb reenactment at Zion Lutheran Church on 3rd Avenue in Alexandria. Clarence Rasmussen manned the kettle grill, flipping and serving the crew's chow. Equipped with knives, the men were ready to eat, much like the Romans may have in the past. Ritualistically, soldiers wore moose-hide pelts, which have been used since the beginning of Zion's production 17 years ago.
Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said the state is catching up with technology. A $10,000 grant from the state of Minnesota is going to help Douglas County prepare for the future. Public safety answering points are converting to the Next Generation 911 (NG911) high speed voice and data network for routing and delivering emergency calls. The $10,000 granted to Douglas County will pay for equipment needed to get the NG911 project started. Wolbersen said texting and e-mail communications are anticipated with new 911 systems.
Aquatic hitchhikers will be facing a muscled up watercraft inspection force in Douglas County this summer. Douglas County Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush plans to hire eight watercraft inspectors to patrol area lakes. In 2012, five inspectors, two level one and three level two, were part of the pilot program paid for by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant. This year there will be four of each level. Commissioners accepted a $32,750 cost reimbursable grant and approved hiring eight inspectors.
Asking for help is frustrating, especially when you aren't speaking the same language - literally. Douglas County Social Services recognizes this hurdle with a limited English proficiency component added to the 2013 Civil Rights Compliance Plan. Social Services Director Mike Woods said the plan includes the second language section in preparation for upcoming years. The plan will be assessed annually to determine the unique language needs within the county.
A lot of questionable decisions were made in the 1960s. Was introducing the antibacterial agent triclosan one of them? The antimicrobial ingredient was first used decades ago in Dial soap and pesticides. It can now be found in personal care products, housewares and toys. Triclosan has also found its way into Lake Winona in Alexandria. Earlier in March, Governor Mark Dayton signed an executive order requiring state agencies to cease buying cleaning products that contain triclosan by June. Johnson and Johnson will be phasing the chemical out of its products by 2015.
Fashion fans were rocked and shocked at the second annual Construction Couture runway show in Alexandria on Thursday. It started like something out of Oz and ended with everybody awed. Dorothy, the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow were there. Big Ole and Elvis starred as well. But it was the final performance that really popped. Performance? Wait, isn't this a fashion show? A fashion show like no other.
The local food shelf in Alexandria began humbly in the attic of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church 30 years ago. As years passed, need grew so great that a new building was built on Lake Street. During the month of March, residents have an opportunity to feed that growing need doubly. The 2013 Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign is well under way. Contributions to the more than 300 food shelves across the state are matched $1 for each $1 or pound of food donated.