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On an overcast Tuesday, a small bit of color arrived in the home of Bill MacDonald, where the former Air Force mechanic crew chief is enduring the final stages of Parkinson's disease. It was a May Day basket presented by high school senior Raylinn Garrett. She had made the basket herself, and filled it with a handmade card, tissue-paper flowers and wrapped caramels and peppermints. "Do you want me to open a candy for you?" asked Garrett. MacDonald was one of 14 hospice patients Garrett visited on May 1, delivering bright baskets and conversation.
As Newton Earl hung from a helicopter door, spraying the jungle with machine gun fire, he didn't think about dying. He thought about the job he had to do. Below him in Vietnam's Mekong River Delta, two Navy boats were trapped in a muddy canal, one boat disabled and the other nearly so, both taking sniper fire that was getting stronger. Twelve American lives were on the line. It was May 3, 1969, and Earl, a 21-year-old Eagle Bend graduate, had willingly volunteered for the dangerous position of door gunner for the Navy Seawolf helicopter unit.
Music will blow through Alexandria streets again each Thursday evening as Concerts on the Courthouse Lawn begins another season on May 24. It is the 10th season if you count its first, short stint at Fort Alexandria, or the ninth if you only count the courthouse, said Chuck Wencl, program director of the Red Willow Arts Coalition, which organizes the concerts.
Before I started working at the Echo Press, I didn't know much about Alexandria. I live in Otter Tail County, so Fergus Falls was where I shopped, doctored and had my hair cut. Well, it's been a year now and I've enjoyed getting to know this place. Cities each have their own flavor, their own culture, and while I'm not an old hand here by any means, I thought I'd share some observations about Alexandria. Wanna hear 'em? Here goes.
From outside the agricultural world, the late planting season might seem a daunting one to area farmers. But some local growers say it's really not that bad. Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers President Russ Elliott said he is actually two days ahead of where he was last year at this time. "I think we'll be able to get everything in," said Elliott, who farms near Evansville. "It's just started to go good now. We're being selective about which fields we go in. ... There's still frost coming out of the ground."
'The Accidental Survivor' A New York City businessman will recount his experience on 9/11 during The Unity Foundation's monthly Faith @ Work Lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, May 18, at the Broadway Ballroom, 115 30th Ave. E., in Alexandria. Jerry Molnar, who calls himself "The Accidental Survivor," will speak about loss, leadership and life after Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists flew two airplanes into the World Trade Center towers. Molnar will talk about his battle with alcohol, loss of his business and two close encounters with acts of terrorism.
After an invasive weed seed found its way into conservation seed mixes, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is warning landowners to be cautious when buying seed, especially for conservation plantings. In 2016 and 2017, the highly invasive weed Palmer amaranth was introduced through conservation seed mixes, the department said. Native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, it can grow up to 10 feet tall and overwhelm corn and soybean crops. It is also resistant to many herbicides.
Douglas County was the state's No. 2 dispenser of addictive prescription painkillers in 2016, but through recent actions taken by Douglas County Hospital to dramatically reduce those prescriptions, that may be changing. In March 2018, doctors in the hospital system prescribed 180,000 fewer opioid pills than they had in September 2017, according to a community opioid task force presentation Tuesday, May 1, to former Congressman Tim Walz.
Minnesota's pollution chief said he agrees, at least in concept, with allowing Alexandria's sewer district to take a new approach in cleaning the algae-coated Lake Winona, a move that could save the district $14 million. During an interview this past week with the Echo Press, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine praised the Alexandria Lake Area Sanitary District's efforts to clean the water it discharges into Lake Winona. "That puts them in a good place to be a candidate for this kind of flexibility," Stine said.
If you're a fan of Elon Musk, electric cars or just saving money on fuel, take note: There's a Tesla Model X in town. Owners Adam and Lisa Gustafson bought the mid-sized SUV-style electric vehicle for its safety rating and eco-friendly energy consumption, and they'll bring it to an event promoting electrical vehicles on Saturday, May 5, at Alexandria Technical and Community College.