1995: Parkers Prairie explosion damage at $1.3 million

This week in history in Douglas County.

Rachel Barduson
Rachel Barduson

1920, 100 years ago: The new Echo building is going up quite nicely. The walls are now completed and the concrete floor for the second floor is poured. The roof will be on in a few days.

There will be a big picnic in Holmes City in June under the auspices of the Holmes City Creamery Association. Several prominent guest speakers have been invited to attend.

1970, 50 years ago: Harold Hall, president of Alexandria Developers, Inc., announced that Fingerhut Manufacturing Company is starting work at once on a new 30,000 sq. ft. building to be located just south of the building presently occupied by this company near the Viking Motel. The new building is expected to cost $225,000 and will be owned and financed by Fingerhut.

The First National Bank of Alexandria and about thirty dignitaries held a ground-breaking ceremony at its new banking site on the corner of 7th and Broadway. History was being both relived and made at this special and happy occasion with such pioneers of the Alexandria area as Maynard Wedum, Pat Robards, Jim LeRoy, Otto Tessmer, Bob Chan and Frank Danielson in attendance.

Area residents have an opportunity to meander through some of the latest mobile homes available as Northland Homes of Alexandria is holding a pre-opening sale. The new firm is located on Highway 29 South.


1995, 25 years ago: The latest estimates of the Parkers Prairie gas explosion of April 2 put the damage at $1.3 million. The fire department sustained the most damage. The estimated cost of repair or replacement was set at $850,000; $490,000 for equipment and another $360,000 for the building. Six commercial properties and two firms sustained at least $337,000 in damage. At least 30 other buildings and businesses suffered losses ranging from broken glass to sufficient structural damage to interruption of business.

The Country Kitchen restaurant located at Hwy 29 and I-94, Alexandria, recently unveiled a new interior and exterior design featuring timeless, turn-of-the-century, country-style elements. The theme incorporates the company’s fresh hunter green, white and rose-red color scheme into the new signage and design.

2010, 10 years ago: The Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced its 2010 construction program of 283 projects around the state. One of the biggest projects in the region will take place in Douglas County – resurfacing State Highway 55 from the west Douglas County Line near Hoffman all the way to State Highway 28 in Glenwood, an $8.13 million project. The work involves mill and bituminous overlay. Crews will also replace the bridge over the Chippewa River.

In a report just released by the Minnesota and Greater Alexandria Area Association of Realtors, sales figures are showing consistent improvement over 2008 and 2009. Closed transactions as reported by the group's MLS are up 24.3% in the first quarter of 2010 when compared to the same time frame in 2009.

Just for fun – 1970 - 50 years ago: With the unusual mixture of dirt and snow, Norman Nelson, Alexandria Lumber Company, and Maynard Wedum, Alexandria Hardware, delivered to Les Gaugert, president of the First National Bank in Alexandria, handfuls of earth in token of the occasion of groundbreaking for the new bank.

Sports trivia 1970 – 50 years ago: Over 300 people attended the Annual Villard Sports Banquet honoring all Villard sports participants from the grade level and up. Highlight of the evening was guest speaker Jerry Kindall from the University of Minnesota. As a Minnesota Gopher, Kindall lettered in baseball and basketball. He was selected to the All-American baseball team when he was a member of the 1956 NCAA diamond champs under Dick Siebert. Jerry has played 8 years of pro baseball with the Cubs, Indians and Twins.
Rachel Barduson of Alexandria is a regular contributing columnist to the Echo Press Opinion page.

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