An effort to reduce the use and abuse of underage consumption of alcohol and drugs continues to make a difference in the community.

That’s according to Katie Strickler, coordinator of the Healthy Voices Healthy Choices Coalition, which is in its third year of a five-year grant program through Horizon Public Health.

At the Alexandria City Council’s Monday night meeting, Strickler updated council members on the coalition’s latest activities and its partnership with Alexandria School District 206.

The coalition’s work can be seen through billboards and other marketing materials throughout the area.

In addition to fighting underage use of alcohol, the coalition recently added e-cigarette prevention to its workload, Strickler said.

Strickler listed other activities the coalition is involved in:

  • Developing an alcohol prevention curriculum that will start this fall and focus on instilling life skills.

  • Producing more than 500 “conversation starter” kits that help youth communicate with parents and other adults.

  • Launching a “We Care” campaign that will demonstrate how much adults in the community care about youth. Business leaders, for example, will greet students as they walk into the high school.

  • Supporting two student groups — Cardinal Club and Vibe, which offer peer-to-peer support and promoting positive behaviors.

City to make pitch for RCC expansion

Alexandria will make a presentation to the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee to support an expansion of the Runestone Community Center.

The meeting will take place Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the Fergus Falls Community and Technical College. City staff will put together a presentation and is seeking input from the council.

As it did for the 2018 bonding bill, the city is working with local legislators and the state budget department to try to get matching funds for the project, which would add a third sheet of ice at the RCC.

The city is requesting $4.4 million from the state to help pay for the $8.8 million expansion. Private funds, raised by groups that use the facility, would cover about half of the remaining amount and the city would provide between $2 million and $2.5 million, most likely through tax abatement bonds.

According to city leaders, a third sheet of ice would help meet a surging demand for ice and dry floor activities in the past 10 to 15 years. It would allow the city to host more hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, curling events and dry floor uses such as trade shows, concerts, graduations and home shows.

Security agreement for schools

The council approved a security services agreement with Alexandria School District 206 to provide two three-quarters-time police resource officers at both Discovery Middle School and Alexandria Area High School.

The officers will be at the schools six hours per day from Sept. 3 to June 2.

A similar agreement has been in place since the 2015-2016 school year.

The new agreement makes only minor clarifications.

The school district will pay $109,924 for the officers in 2019-2020 — a decrease from the 2018-2019 amount of $115,147. The amount is lower because the officers are different this year and have different wages and benefits.

Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson (second from right) was honored by League of Minnesota Cities officials, including (from left) General Counsel Pat Beety, Deputy Director Luke Fischer, and the League's Insurance Trust Administrator Dan Greensweig. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)
Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson (second from right) was honored by League of Minnesota Cities officials, including (from left) General Counsel Pat Beety, Deputy Director Luke Fischer, and the League's Insurance Trust Administrator Dan Greensweig. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)

Mayor Carlson honored

Mayor Sara Carlon was recognized for her years of service on the League of Minnesota Cities Board of Directors.

The League represents 833 cities in the state that range in size from Berry, population 13, to Minneapolis. It offers city officials training, conferences, research and human resources advice. It also partners with cities on insurance coverage.

Carlson served on the League’s board as a representative of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, attended monthly meetings and offered a valuable perspective for the League’s work in the Legislature, according to League Deputy Director Luke Fischer.

“She made sure our legislative policies were on point,” said Fischer. “Over the last couple of years, our work would not have been as good as it was without Sara.”

New vehicles authorized

The council approved bids for two trucks and a skid loader that will be used by its public works department:

  • A 2020 Ford F350 from Nelson Auto Sales of Fergus Falls for $34,687 through a state bidding program. The truck will replace a 1988 Chevrolet half-ton truck.

  • A 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 cab/chassis with a nine-foot aluminum dump box with a Tommy Lift tailgate system through Marthaler Chevrolet of Glenwood for $47,262. This will replace a 1996 Chevy one-ton, two-wheel drive unit with a three-yard dump box.

  • A Gehl Skid Steer loader for $20,600, with trade, from Villard Implement. This will replace a 2008 loader.

All of the items were in public work’s 2019 equipment budget.

In another vehicle-related action, the council authorized the city’s building department to purchase a new pickup truck from Nelson Auto for $27,657, with trade.