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You might think a historical society is a moldering old place, full of dusty books and artifacts. Unthink that right now. The Douglas County Historical Society is hopping with scarecrows. There's Hot Rod Betty, grinning at passing cars on Nokomis from her wheelchair, while B. Gladah Retired proffers a fistful of sunflowers and Ole the Viking wields a shield. At the end, a pink-cheeked pumpkinista moons them all.
After an overnight stay in the hospital, Don Larsen arrived home to the sound of drills and saws. On both sides of his rural Douglas County home, a small crew was making improvements intended to help Larsen, 87, stay in his home longer. They were putting in a platform and wheelchair ramp by his front door while in back, they were rebuilding the sagging deck where Larsen feeds birds.
A nonprofit agency that hooks people up with jobs and job training has seen some changes over its 50 years. Rural MN CEP, short for Concentrated Employment Program, first paid people to work for local governments and schools, said Daniel Wenner, the agency's executive director. It was 1968, four years after President Johnson launched the "War on Poverty." At the time, about 19 percent of Americans were considered poor.
Making baby quilts earned five local Girl Scouts the highest honor that scouts in grades 4-5 can achieve. Brooke Fisher, Lillyana Gylsen, Katelyn Henning, Jolianna Tung and Amaya Waldorf of Troop 349 made the quilts for Life Connections of Alexandria, a nonprofit organization that supports families with newborns.
The city of Alexandria has signed onto a plan to create a pedestrian underpass for Woodland School, over one council member's objections. At its meeting Monday, the Alexandria City Council agreed to join Douglas County and the Alexandria School District in creating the underpass where children could safely cross County Highway 46 to and from school. Council member Robert Kuhlman said he was concerned that the underpass could hide drug dealers. "I'm more in favor of a bridge," he said.
In danger of not being able to pay its utilities for the end of 2018, the Evansville Art Center is launching a concert fundraiser in an attempt to shore up its finances. It is hosting the Harvest Moon Music Fest 2018 on Sunday, Oct. 14, featuring more than five hours of local musicians delivering folk, original, country, bluegrass and rock 'n roll music.
For 28 years, Richard "Sonny" Osterberg presided over his red brick grill at the Fireside Steakhouse, cooking steaks and chicken dinners while customers watched and chatted with him. "Some of the best steaks ever," recalled County Commissioner Charlie Meyer, who had his groom's dinner there nearly 40 years ago. "He would stand there and grill them. His was one of the first places you'd ever seen where the chef would stand in front of the customers with the grill."
An Alexandria man is among seven former service members who will be inducted into the Minnesota National Guard Court of Honor during a ceremony at Camp Ripley on Sunday, Oct. 7. First Sgt. Ronald H. Jacobson enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard as an infantryman on May 14, 1964, and served for 41 years. That included 30 years with the Alexandria unit, serving in virtually every company position, and he was the first sergeant in Alexandria for more than 10 years.
The Douglas County Car Care Program, a nonprofit that provides low-income people with vehicles and vehicle repair, will soon be under new leadership. Founder Cliff Korkowski will retire as executive director in December, and Kris Chisholm, who oversees fundraising and special events for the United Way, will take his place. "Kris is a great fit for the mission of the Douglas County Car Care Program," said board chairman Terry Quist. "He's passionate about his work and passionate for working with people in need."
Alexandria police officers are expected to start wearing body cameras starting in December. On Monday evening, the Alexandria City Council approved a deal for equipment and software. The council unanimously agreed to a five-year contract with Arizona-based Axon Enterprise, Inc., formerly Taser International, to supply its 19 police officers and all squad cars with cameras and technology that would allow cameras to begin rolling the instant an officer draws a gun or Taser. Officers also have the capacity to turn them on without pulling a weapon.