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Terry Dalluge, her mother Grace Christensen and sister Kim Stich were making their way to Herberger's in the Viking Plaza Mall Tuesday when they learned it had closed earlier than they expected. "We were coming down to get the last-minute deals," said Dalluge, who lives near Battle Lake. "That's sad." The closing of the store on Sunday, Aug. 26, which traces its roots to Osakis, marked the end of an era. Herberger's had sold clothes and household goods since 1977 in the Viking Plaza Mall. Before that, it had operated on Broadway in downtown Alexandria.
Laura Urban, president of Alexandria Technical and Community College, will retire at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Urban informed the school system chancellor's office and the college's staff members last week before announcing her decision publicly on Thursday, Aug. 24, at the Rotary Club meeting in Alexandria. "I love being here at the school," she said. "This is a great place to work. We have a wonderful faculty and staff." Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Tara Bitzan called Urban "a great asset" to the college and the community.
(Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series about rising numbers of children removed from their homes in Douglas County. The first part (Friday, Aug. 17 Echo) examined how those numbers more than doubled following news coverage of the death of a 4-year-old Pope County boy at the hands of his father's girlfriend.) The rising numbers of children removed from their homes has challenged social workers to find homes for them, especially for teenagers and infants.
When Carole Meyer took the microphone after receiving the 2018 Outstanding Senior Citizen Award for women at the Douglas County Fair, she made one thing clear. "This is not about me," said Meyer, 76, adding that she was accepting the award on behalf of the organizations she cares about: West Central Communities Action, Junior Achievement, the Douglas County Historical Society and the Alexandria United Methodist Church.
Recently I met some travelers from Columbia. They were women in their 20s and instantly they swept me up into that vibe I once knew, that friendly openness that marks the merry band of global travelers. Meeting them brought me back to a time of suitcases and unwashed socks, of passports and currency exchange offices and train schedules, of sunlight at new angles and mornings tinged with the excitement of new sights. It's been many years since I've been in another country.
(Editor's Note: This is the first of a two-part series on foster care in Douglas County.) The number of children removed from their parents is at the highest it's been in at least five years in Douglas County, and that is partly because of the 2013 murder in Starbuck of a 4-year-old boy named Eric Dean. "We do a lot more assessments than we used to," said Laurie Bonds, the Douglas County Social Services director. "Even now when people are upset they mention that case."
Alexandria's Inclusion Network, the Douglas County Car Care Program and The United Way of Douglas & Pope Counties were among 18 regional organizations to receive the first-ever Community Change Makers Grant awards from West Central Initiative. The Inclusion Network received $3,750 to follow up on a 2007 study that looked at diversity in Alexandria. Its new study will include all of Douglas County.
As the noontime sun beat down on the blacktop, five guys worked on a ride called the Dragon Wagon, hauling pieces of track off a trailer. Across the way, three young women scrubbed a food trailer on hands and knees, getting windows and cabinets sparkling clean. Meanwhile, 4-H'ers hauled a steady stream of projects into the 4-H Building, speaking to judges about their paintings, photos, a dog house, a feeder for Nigerian dwarf goats, Lego projects, and a robot made from tin cans and a funnel.
Alomere Health has had to forfeit $242,000 in federal payments this year — much of that because of infections affecting very few of its patients. In June, hospital officials learned they were ranked in the bottom quartile of hospitals around the country when it came to patients developing urinary tract infections caused by catheters. Federal health privacy laws prevent them from releasing exactly how many patients developed these infections, but Medicare rankings indicate just one or two affected patients could have triggered the penalty.
An adobe-style building that provided a haven for military veterans since World War II in Miltona is closing down. The VFW was down to 15 members and its income from raffle tickets and fees had also fallen substantially, said quartermaster Roger Schwartz. "We don't have any money," he said. "Nobody comes to the meetings anymore. Young guys don't want to come."