From the Echo Press archives, 1971: Boosters trying to buy Runestone farm

This week in history in Douglas County.

This week in 1966, 25 years ago: Sparks from a cutting torch apparently caused a fire that quickly swept through the recycling plant of Northern Waste Systems in Alexandria. The sparks ignited a nearby bale of recyclable envelopes outside of the building. A strong wind fanned that fire to other material and the contents inside the building then burst into flames. No one was injured. The fire destroyed a recycling baler, bales of cardboard and paper, and gutted the 8,000 sq. ft. portion of the building, totaling an estimated $500,000 in damages.

1971, 50 years ago: The Alexandria Flight Service Station, under the direction of supervisor Jerry Smith, was presented with the Regional Air Traffic Facility Award, which cites superior operating efficiency in the facility and in the provision of air traffic services. The presentation was made by the Great Lakes Regional Director Lyle Brown.

”Runestone Boosters” in Kensington are trying to raise $1,000 to tie the ends together on their plan to purchase the Arthur Ohman farm, the place where the Runestone was found in 1898. Arthur Ohman is the son of Olaf Ohman, who found the stone. The Boosters plan to purchase the 103-acre homestead and turn it into a state park. Fundraising drives have started before, but never completely succeeded because of the inability to agree upon a price for the farm or not enough money. Most of the funds from these drives are still in the bank at Kensington, some $3,200.

1996, 25 years ago: New signal lights will be installed this summer at two busy intersections: Hwy 29 South and Dakota Street (near Wal-Mart and Target), and Hwy 27 East and McKay Avenue. In addition, the signal lights at Hwy 29 South and 30th Avenue (entrance to the Viking Plaza) will be realigned as part of a redesign project. Workers will straighten the awkward angle motorists have to make when turning onto the avenue. MnDOT also plans to install signal lights at the south ramps of I-94. This is state project and does not involve local funds.

The old wooden stockade fence at the Runestone Museum’s Fort Alexandria was pulled down to prepare for a new look – a wrought iron fence with a turn-of-the-century appearance, making it more visually enticing for visitors and residents. Fort Alexandria, the outdoor portion of the museum, contains an old school house, church, hardware store and other buildings.


2011, 10 years ago: Alexandria native Mary Jo Perino continues to leave her mark on the journalism field as she became the first female ever elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association National Board. Perino, the daughter of John and Sandy Perino, graduated from the University of Missouri and is currently working for WLEX-TV, the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky, where she serves as the station’s main sports anchor.

Just for fun – 1971 50 years ago: The Alexandria Garden Club, which can now boast a membership of 45 women, had a beautiful day as they, for the fourth consecutive year, planted flowers to help beautify the city of Alexandria. Co-chairs Ramona Divine and Lucille Swenson arranged for planting to be done at Runestone Park, at the Chamber of Commerce, and at the Viking statue with money for the purchase of plants earned by the Garden Club plant sale.

Sports trivia 1971 – 50 years ago: From “Time Out!” with Dennis Johnson: “Head Cardinal football coach Ed Christopherson saw Mike Steidl in the annual Gopher maroon and white spring football game. "He made six or seven solo tackles from his middle line backer position for the Maroon team," Ed reported. Minneapolis Tribune columnist Dick Cullum also had words of praise for Steidl, who topped all of that off by coming home and leading his Miltona baseball team to victory with the game winning home run.”

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

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