RCC expansion details

Thumbs Up: More details are emerging about the expansion at the Runestone Community Center. It’s an exciting $10 million project with lots of potential of not only improving the existing facility but in drawing tournaments, dry-floor events and more out-of-town visitors that all add up to a huge economic impact. Plans call for an 84,100-square-foot addition to the existing RCC and include a third ice arena, additional storage, meeting rooms, a new entry, team rooms, restrooms, offices, figure skating support space and accessory parking. The newspaper has been covering the project as it goes through all the hoops. The next phase is zoning approval. The Alexandria Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on Monday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Alexandria City Hall to consider the city’s conditional use application for the project. Notice of the hearing has been mailed to all property owners within 350 feet of the RCC grounds. The public is invited to attend. Any questions or comments should be addressed to Mike Weber, City Planner, at (320) 759-3626 or mweber@alexandriamn.city.

Lots of trash/picker-uppers

Thumbs Down/Up: A reader sent us an email, saying that when she returned to the Douglas County Fair on Sunday, the day after the fair closed, to pick up an item she purchased, she was stunned by the amount of trash that was there. “Is it possible to take advantage of the Pope Douglas County Waste Management compostable dinnerware?” she asked. “That would reduce the garbage tremendously. In addition, how about composting the food waste, napkins, paper products as well. Maybe the Douglas County Fair Board can make this happen.” In the meantime, we give a big thumbs up to all the fair workers who put in the hours to take care of the garbage and keep the fair tidy during its annual run.

Cheesy, greedy ploy

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Thumbs Down: If you get an email asking you or your organization to buy a plaque for appearing in an Echo Press story, delete it. The Connecticut company goes by the name of “That’s Great News” and it’s trying to cash in on what it says is your “claim to fame.” For a completely overpriced $199, the company will sell you a cheesy “Lucinda” plaque that contains a clipping of the Echo Press story. The company’s tactics are not only greedy but illegal. We checked with Mark Anfinson, attorney with the Minnesota Newspaper Association, and he was blunt: “This company is clearly violating both your copyright in the content of the newspaper, and your right to control the commercial use of your trade name (the Echo Press),” Anfinson said. “I’ve had a lot of experience with them and similar outfits – they show up periodically in all corners of the state.” Instead of giving this company your hard-earned money, find a worthy, local cause to support instead.

Insights into bias

Thumbs Up: Here’s an event that’s not in our area but could be worth the trip. St. Cloud State University is hosting the “The Bias Inside Us” Aug. 21-Sept. 19. It’s a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution that’s designed to raise awareness about the social science and psychology of implicit bias, the impact of this bias and what people can do about it. The exhibit is taking place at the Atwood Gallery in the Atwood Memorial Center. Groups who would like to make a reservation to view the exhibit can contact Special Events Manager Aryn Wright aryn.wright@stcloudstate.edu or 320-308-4827. Through compelling images, hands-on interactives and powerful testimonials and videos, the exhibition unpacks and demystifies the concept of bias. It features six sections: Introduction; The Science of Bias; Bias in Real Life; Serious Consequences – Bias is All Around Us; #RetrainYourBrain; and Personal Reflection.

Remembering American troops

Thumbs Up: In their own unique ways, Douglas County residents are showing their grief and support for the 13 U.S. military members who were killed in the terrorist attack at the Kabul airport on Aug. 26. At Copper Trail Brewing Company in Alexandria, a customer ordered 13 craft beers the day after the attack and set them on a table, adding a "RESERVED" placard with a typed note, "For the 13." Another example: 10-year-old Breck Hjelle of Alexandria, who deeply cares about U.S. military personnel, heard adults talking about Afghanistan and American citizens and created a memorial on his bedroom dresser to honor those who fight for our freedom, according to his mother, Jessie Hjelle, who commented about it on Facebook. After Breck showed others what he made, he went to bed but before long, he appeared in the living room with huge tears and loud sobbing that broke his mother’s heart. "The tears were for his fellow Americans and our soldiers," Jessie said. "He’s 10 years old. His heart is so huge and so tender. His patriotism is intense. Would you honor my boy’s heart and join us in prayer for these people and this nation?"

A tribute to the 13 soldiers killed in Kabul was set up at Copper Trail Brewing company the day after the terrorist attack. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)
A tribute to the 13 soldiers killed in Kabul was set up at Copper Trail Brewing company the day after the terrorist attack. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)

Ten-year-old Breck Hjelle set up a memorial on his dresser to honor American soldiers in Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Ten-year-old Breck Hjelle set up a memorial on his dresser to honor American soldiers in Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)

If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to aedenloff@echopress.com or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.