From the Echo Press archives, 1997: Viking Towers completes massive renovation

This week in history in Douglas County.

Picture of Rachel Barduson
Rachel Barduson

This Week in 1997 – 25 years ago: Coni McKay of West Union, Iowa has been hired as the new executive director of the Alexandria Area Lakes Chamber of Commerce and will begin her job on Aug. 11. While working with the West Union Chamber of Commerce, McKay has been a student at the University of Northern Iowa, majoring in business administration, minoring in Asian studies and completing a tourism certificate program. McKay has also completed the first year of Institute for Organizational Management in Colorado, a six-year program for chamber executives.

1972, 50 years ago: A director has been hired and work is now underway for a vocational secondary center which may be providing vocational classes for high school students by the fall of 1973. The project is a joint venture of the Alexandria, Evansville and Villard school districts, which will, with their combined resources, be expanding the amount of vocational education available to students in high school. To be called the Runestone Vocational Center, the center is under the direction of Don Bluhm, a former instructor in the distributive education department of the Alexandria Area Vocational Institute.

Dennis Lehto, adult farm management instructor serving the Evansville and Ashby public schools, has been selected president-elect of the Minnesota Vocational Agriculture Instructors Association. The association is a professional organization devoted to the furtherance and development of agricultural education, which helps young men and adults train for careers in the broad field of agriculture, which employs 30-40% of the nation’s workforce. The association consists of about 500 agricultural teachers employed by secondary schools, area technical schools, and junior colleges in the State of Minnesota.

1997, 25 years ago: A massive seven-year renovation of Viking Towers was recently completed. The remodeling started with replacing the roof and continued down throughout the 105-apartment complex. Improvements included new windows, air conditioning, additional telephone jacks, new cupboards and sinks, raised toilet seats, new appliances, carpeting, painting, updated corridors, updated elevators, enhanced emergency communication equipment, improved lighting, new fire safety features, improved mechanical systems and more.

Unemployment in Douglas County hit an all-time low of 2.5% in May. That was lower than the state rate (3.3%) and about half the national rate (4.8%). According to Bob Parkin, manager of Job Service in Alexandria, there are several factors that contribute to the bright outlook in employment: a varied local economy, a widespread commercial and residential building boom, and a steady growth in both jobs and population.


2012, 10 years ago: Motorists will encounter lane closures on Broadway/Highway 29 while crews mill and resurface the roadway, reconstruct pedestrian ramps and install detection loops at signalized intersections, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Construction crews will maintain access to all businesses during the $2 million project, which encompasses about three miles.

Ecumen Bethany Community in Alexandria has completed a $3 million renovation and expansion project to enhance short-term rehabilitation services and introduce memory care.

Just for fun, 1972 – 50 years ago: At the Sunset Drive-In: “Trinity is still my Name” with second feature, “C.C. and Company,” with Joe Namath as C.C. Ryder and Ann-Margret “as his girl loving, brawling and bustin’ it up.”

Sports Trivia, 1972 – 50 years ago: Several hundred people were in attendance in the third annual Appaloosa Horse Show held in the Arrowwood Arena. The colorful event drew over 300 entries from many parts of the state. Many exhibitors informed show chairman, Harvey Mickelson, that they were already making plans to attend again next year.

1997 – 25 years ago: Steep trails and gobs of miserable mud made for a grueling “Runestone Ramble” mountain bike race at Andes Tower Hills ski area near Holmes City. About 40 bikers in different categories did laps that totaled 6.7 sweaty, muddy miles.

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

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