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From the Echo Press archives, 1997: Blizzard lands Alexandria on national TV

This week in history in Douglas County.

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This Week in 1997 – 25 years ago: It’s a new year, there are new commissioners, and there will be a “new” way of opening the Douglas County Board of Commissioners regular meetings. Starting with the first meeting, the commissioners decided to stand, face the United States flag, and say the Pledge of Allegiance. A few years ago every community meeting opened with the pledge. These days it’s rarely heard in public forums. Commissioner Jack Reznecheck, the board’s new chairperson, said it was former Commissioner Bev Bales’ suggestion for the board before she ended her term last year.

1897 – 125 years ago: Sen. Knute Nelson has been confined to his rooms much of the time in the past few days with a severe attack of the “grippe” (today it’s more commonly called the flu, short for influenza). He was forced to leave the Senate and take to his bed for treatment.

1972, 50 years ago: K & K Sports on 123 Third Ave. E. in Alexandria was welcomed by the Alexandria Scrollers, the official welcoming body of the Alexandria Area Chamber of Commerce. The two owners of K & K Sports are Larry and Norm Kvitek.

The Community State Bank will open its doors for business in about 30 days. The bank received its final approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) last week, culminating a three-year effort to establish a new bank here in Alexandria. The application for charter was filed in 1969.

The flu bug is running rampant in Alexandria. Local doctors report so many cases they have suggested that hospitals (Douglas County North and South) restrict visitors to just the immediate family. Both hospitals are complying with the request.

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1997, 25 years ago: A relentless snowstorm buried Douglas County in 21 inches of snow over the weekend. The “Blizzard of ‘97” began with a light rain on Friday night which turned the roads icy. The snow began later and residents were amazed at what they woke up to. The storm created plenty of hardships—collapsed roofs, downed power lines and stranded motorists. Saturday night the freeway was closed from Sauk Centre to Alexandria until 2 p.m. Sunday. Alexandria’s motels (there are about a dozen in the city) were chock-full of weary but relieved travelers. The City of Alexandria declared a snow emergency Saturday afternoon, effective until Tuesday. It was only the second time the city has taken such action in the 11 years that Truman Hanson has been street commissioner.

2012, 10 years ago: The Minnesota Department of Health distributed $11.3 million in Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grants among 18 communities. Douglas, Grant, Stevens, Pope and Traverse counties will share the $399,155 grant. SHIP grants are part of a nationwide effort to reduce chronic disease by focusing on tobacco use and healthy living practices.

Just For Fun, 1997 – 25 years ago: The Blizzard of ‘97” put Alexandria in the national spotlight as one of the hardest hit in the Midwest. Dispatchers from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department provided descriptions to the Weather Channel, and footage shot by local television stations appeared on state and national newscasts.

Sports Trivia, 1972 – 50 years ago: The North Central Sno-Jet racing team of John Atkinson, Lee Foshaug, Kim Elmer, Louie Beurman, and Stub Burgau have brought over 50 trophies back to Alexandria in just three weeks of racing competition. Last weekend, the North Central Sno-Jet Team took seven firsts in races around the state. Racing at North Central Sno-Jet began when the corporation was founded in 1968. Stub Burgau is the only original member on the current racing team. The Sno-Jet team races strictly modified engines.

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

Related Topics: HISTORYDOUGLAS COUNTY
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