It’s hard to believe that we have Labor Day behind us and the kids are back at school — where did the summer go? On behalf of the city council and all the city departments, we hope your summer was enjoyable!

Summer in the city was eventful and we had gorgeous weather for the most part, lots of action and activities. The tourist season went extremely well. We had lots of people come and visit our area and as usual, we were not only a great, fun area but, a welcoming and gracious host area as well. We can be proud that we showcase our region so well. As we notice that the summer traffic eases, the next round of tourists will come for the fall activities.

Lifesaving equipment tested

One activity the fire department invited the council to was a dinner with them at the fire station and then off to Budget Auto to try out new extrication tools. The firefighters actually ripped apart about 16 cars and tried out four different companies’ equipment. They will come to the council after discussion and reviewing their notes and ask for the equipment. The council members and I enjoyed being a part of that process. There is a set of equipment, most would know as the “Jaws of Life,” that now has a battery operated version that’s much lighter and easier to operate.

Budget work

We worked all spring and through the summer on our budget, meeting with departments and entities, and we will present it at our Sept. 23 meeting. The budget is the most important thing that we do in the city. Please come and listen to our ideas. We serve coffee and cookies, the council chamber door is open and you can come and go as you please. We would love to have you involved in your government — we value your input!

Serum family donation

At our last meeting, we accepted a donation from the Dale Serum family. They are donating an electronic message board at Knute Nelson Memorial Park. Dale Serum served as the community recreation director for the city of Alexandria before becoming the activities director at Jefferson High School and was a long-time supporter of baseball. The city would like to express our gratitude to the family for this generous donation.

Communications coordinator

My person of the article is Sara Stadtherr, our communications coordinator. The need was clear in 2016 that City Hall really wanted to be able to reach out to the residents and business owners but didn’t have the staff or expertise to do so. It was also very important to local elected officials and staff to open up avenues of concern or interest to be reported or conveyed to city staff. The creation of the position was a win-win solution for two-way communication to become at the top of priorities for the city.

Sara Stadtherr
Sara Stadtherr

In July 2016, Stadtherr was hired for this position. She has made strides in working with the community in getting them more knowledge of what is happening within their local government. One of the efforts created recently is the “Coffee with the Council.” The listening sessions are held monthly and offer a way for citizens and business owners to stop in to City Hall and talk with a city council member. This is a great, casual way for anyone to attend and chat. Information on when those sessions occur are on the city’s Facebook page:

This position has also taken on the work of the city’s public information officer. The PIO assists emergency management crews in getting the most accurate and correct information out as quickly as possible. While we all hope never to have emergency situations in our city, it is good to know the team is prepared.

The creation of a new website became a reality as well in 2018. If you haven’t checked out this website, you will find a way to report a concern, a pothole or a nuisance easily and at your fingertips 24/7. Minutes, notices and city regulations are also posted there and easily accessed. The addition of a new website has really opened up the way people can connect with City Hall. Feel free to reach out to us through there anytime:

Our world is constantly changing and we are happy to have a communications coordinator who helps keep our digital work updated and is active in listening to our community. The work of collaboration, partnerships and enhancing every resident’s experience in Alexandria is always at the top of mind. This work will continue to make that easier for all.

We are also coming up with a new, collaborative promotion that will not cost taxpayers dollars, maybe nickels, and will be a great community project. Stay tuned! Have a great fall!

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Sara Carlson is the mayor of Alexandria. “In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.