Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, May 20

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: tornado response, Volunteer of the Year, Memorial Day traditions, inattentive driving

Firefighters Thumbs 2828.jpg
Alexandria firefighters work to remove a tree that crashed on top of a house on Donna Drive in norhwest Alexandria on the night a tornado touched down.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Kindness, rapid response during tornado

Thumbs Up: They say there’s a silver lining to every cloud. In Douglas County last Thursday, May 11, that silver lining shined bright even after fierce straight-line winds and a tornado caused significant damage throughout the county (and fortunately, no serious injuries). We’ve heard many stories of neighbors helping neighbors, of businesses and volunteers lending a hand, of churches providing shelter from the storm, and other acts of kindness and support. Here’s just a sliver of examples: More than 140 volunteers used skid loaders, trucks and four-wheelers to help Luther Crest Bible Camp with storm clean-up after more than 40 trees were toppled in the main area of the camp. Also, Remco Industries, a commercial and industrial equipment supplier near Alexandria, gave all of its employees a day off to go and help others with the clean-up and recovery. Also, Jasken Property Improvements in Alexandria put a message on its Facebook page that it was donating any services that people may need that were not covered by insurance. “We have equipment to help clean up after this horrible storm,” the company said. Haul ‘N Junk also donated its services over the weekend for free. “We know our services will be minimal compared to the damages done but we are willing to help our community in any way we can,” the company said. We know there are dozens and dozens of other supportive deeds that were made and none of them expected anything in return except that rewarding feeling of helping others through the storm. And we are so fortunate to have top-notch law enforcement personnel that responded to more than 40 calls of service that night, ranging from property damage and blocked roads to electrical fires and power outages. Hard-working electrical crews from Runestone Electric Association, ALP Utilities and Otter Tail Power worked through the weekend to restore electricity. Firefighters responded to wherever they were needed to remove trees from roads and roofs. The recovery is still on-going and there’s still a lot of work to be done but Douglas County showed once again that it is a resilient, kind and caring community.

Food Shelf and Echo Press

Thumbs Up: Vicki Bump, a volunteer at the Outreach Food Shelf, was selected as the Echo Press Volunteer of the Year. She’ll receive a $100 gift certificate from Elden’s Fresh Foods. Bump sent us a note expressing her gratitude. “Thank you, the community, so much for choosing me as Volunteer of the Year. The Outreach Food Shelf is sponsoring its 40th anniversary this year and I am so fortunate to volunteer there for the past 16 years. Our community is very blessed to have a place for people to come to receive food. No one in Douglas County should go hungry. Thumbs up to the Outreach Food Shelf and the Echo Press for sponsoring the Volunteer of the Year program.”

Memorial Day traditions return

Thumbs Up: Memorial Day parades honoring area veterans are a tradition in the community. Pancake breakfasts on Memorial Day are a tradition at First Congregational UCC in Alexandria. This year, residents can enjoy both. First Congregational Church is located a block off Broadway at 721 7th Ave. West, the corner of 7th and Elm Street. There is handicapped access on the east side and the inside is completely handicapped accessible. It enables people to enjoy both the parade and a holiday meal. Serving is from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The menu is pancakes, sausage, juice, coffee and milk. The timing is set so that the public can come before or after the parade and services at the cemetery.

Inattentive drivers and speeding

Thumbs Down: Let’s not have a farming related crash this spring. There will be a lot of large, slow-moving farm equipment on the roads and the Minnesota Department of Transportation is urging motorists to be aware. Crash data shows there were 374 crashes involving farm equipment in Minnesota since 2019, resulting in eight deaths and 133 injuries. Inattentive driving and speed were the biggest contributing factors in those crashes. Motorists should slow down and use caution when approaching farm equipment; watch for debris dropped by farm equipment; wait for a safe place to pass; and drive with headlights on at all times. Farm equipment operators should use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible; use slow-moving vehicle emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 mph; consider using a follow vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night.

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

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