This week in 1971, 50 years ago: The Alexandria Developers were presented with the “Town Alive” award by the Rural Development of the Minnesota Department of Economic Development. The award, one of about 20 such awards presented in the past few years, states, in part, “The Alexandria Developers made the decision some years ago to pledge the full resources of your community behind industrial development. Because of this, Alexandria is unique in that it has the only aircraft manufacturing plant in the state.”

1971, 50 years ago: A Saturday fire did $10,000 damage to locker rooms, hand ball courts and equipment room at Central Junior High in Alexandria. It apparently started in or near the equipment room and the burning of rubber wrestling mats and other athletic equipment created a thick smoke which spread into the gymnasium. The fire and the alarm sent about 100 students outside, dressed in as little as gym shorts. School resumed on Monday and the possibility that the fire was caused by arson is under investigation.

Roy VanderHaar, general manager of Tentelino Enterprises, announced that the firm will be constructing a new twin theater. Tentative plans are for the theater to be at the Viking Plaza shopping center. Plans call for an opening in mid-summer and the Andria Theatre in downtown Alexandria will remain open.

1996, 25 years ago: Alexandria Technical College is one of the largest technical colleges in Greater Minnesota. It enrolled 1,630 students in the fall of 1995. It offers 35 programs/majors resulting in an Associate in Applied Science degree, a diploma or a certificate. The placement rate for programs related to manufacturing industry averages around 89%.

The area code for much of the Douglas County area will change from 612 to 320 on March 17. The new area code, which covers most of central Minnesota, is needed because phone numbers were being “used up” by the explosion in new communications technology – cell phones, fax machines, multiple lines, and so forth.

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The latest quarterly Employment Outlook Survey of employers in Alexandria reveals that 63% plan to add workers during the April, May, June period, while 3% expect to cut back. The other 34% anticipate no change.

2011, 10 years ago: The Alexandria Polar Bear Plunge event in front of Arrowwood Resort on Lake Darling raised $48,500 for Special Olympics America. The temperature at the time was 20 degrees, but with the winds gusting at 18 miles per hour, it felt like 4 degrees.

Allan Jergenson, Sergeant 1st Class with the Army National Guard, is retiring after 21 years of service to his country. Jergenson trained in Norway and Germany and served in Kosovo. He is the son of Carol and Tyrone Jergenson of Alexandria.

Just for fun 1971 – 50 years ago: The “twin theater” concept for Tentelino Enterprises will allow the showing of two pictures at the same time, one in a 250-seat theater and one in a 450-seat theater. The new theater will be “super-deluxe” with the latest models of theater seats and new concepts in expanded leg room. The projection room will be fully automated with the latest sound equipment installed.

Sports trivia 1971 – 50 years ago: In Dennis Johnson’s "Time Out!" sports column: “For the first time in Minnesota high school basketball history, the state title tournament is set up in a two-class system. The 69 largest schools in the state are pitted against each other and the remaining schools will play off as in the past. The larger schools are in the AA Class and are also divided into eight regions with the winner of each region advancing to the state. The smaller schools are in the Class A division.

Rachel Barduson of Alexandria is a regular contributing columnist to the Echo Press Opinion page.