From the Echo Press archives, 1997: Douglas County population tops 30,000

This week in history in Douglas County.

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Rachel Barduson
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This Week in 1997 – 25 years ago: Rural Cellular Corporation (RCC) will be the honored recipient of the 13th annual Business and Industrial Appreciation Day Award. RCC, headquartered in Alexandria, provides wireless telecommunication services to customers in selected markets located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Maine. In 1998 RCC will also increase its services to include Personal Communications Services or PCS, the next generation of wireless communications services.

1947, 75 years ago: 1,584 pupils are enrolled at the Alexandria schools as the beginning of the school year bell rings. Every room in both buildings is filled to capacity, bringing the largest enrollment in the history of the city.

Impressive ceremonies marked the laying of the cornerstone of St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church of Lake Reno. The cornerstone of the future church building was laid and blessed by Most Rev. Bishop Bartholomew, co-adjustor of St. Cloud. Father Kroll is Pastor of the church.

1972, 50 years ago: Robert E. Hayes of Alexandria 3M and vice-president of the Alex Tech Booster Club welcomed 911 first-year students and 316 returning second-year students at the school’s orientation program. This is an all-time record enrollment in the institute’s 11-year history with the school receiving 2,950 applications for this school year. The Alexandria AVTI offers 32 courses of instruction and has 220 Douglas County students.

St. Mary’s School in Alexandria opened its school year with 166 students. The school has a staff of six teachers, a principal and three aides. The school has classes for children in rades 1-6 who may ride the District 206 buses.


Area farmers will have a chance for a free airplane trip to Farmfest USA thanks to a local implement firm and Douglas County banks. Twenty-five farmers will get to go, five a day for five days. To be eligible, farmers should clip the entry blanks from the Classy Canary and deposit in area sponsors.

1997, 25 years ago: Douglas County’s courthouse renovation project is going to take about three years instead of seven, but it’s still going to cost about $2.1 million, according to County Coordinator Colleen Schultz. Plans call for the renovation of 12,000 square feet of existing courthouse space.

Douglas County has passed the 30,000 mark in population numbers. In total, over the past four years (1993-1996), Douglas County has seen growth of nearly 4.7%, or, in actual numbers, an estimated 1,383 people.

2012, 10 years ago: Runestone Electric Association (REA) broke ground to mark the start of construction on its new headquarters facility at the Operations Center south of Alexandria on Highway 29. Plans call for adding about 14,000 square feet of new office, remodeling about 4,000 square feet of existing space and adding a small garage for light vehicles now stored downtown. REA serves more than 13,600 customers in the rural areas of Douglas, Pope, Grant, Stevens, Otter Tail, Stearns and Todd counties.

Just for fun, 1972 – 50 years ago: Farmfest is the huge international farming exposition near Vernon Center, 20 miles south of Mankato, Minnesota. In addition to events, there will be more than 300 companies from all over the world with more than 400 displays on 65 acres of land. Countries represented include Sweden, Canada, the United States, Japan and Germany. Total site size for Farmfest is 1,400 acres. Entertainers include Bob Hope, the Charlie Pride Show, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Frank Fontaine.

Sports Trivia, 1997 – 25 years ago: Tom Lehman, who will be involved in building the new golf course here in Alexandria, has reportedly committed to being a consultant on a golf course being built by Dave Heinen Sr. near Sauk Centre. Plans are to open the course in summer 1999.

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

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This week in history in Douglas County.
The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
This week in history in Douglas County.