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When my friends contend that America is a Christian nation, my brow tends to get more furrowed than it already is. A Christian nation. What does that even mean? Now, I am a Christian. Fundamentally, I believe that Christ died and rose again on my behalf. There are times God has answered my prayers so swiftly that I am overcome with awe. I see the Bible not as an old, dead text, but as a living book full of wisdom and guidance for my life. So I am not writing here as a nonbeliever.
Voyager Elementary School has something many other public schools do not: a grandpa and a grandma. Most days, Grandma Lois Peterson and Grandpa Bob Foss can be found in the hallways working with school children. They help with numbers and reading comprehension and hand out friendly comments. "Hi, Grandma Lois," a cross-legged girl sings out as Peterson pushes her walker through the hall. "Hi, are you working hard on something?" Peterson inquires. "Reading," the girl says, in a tone that implies balls and chains.
It started with a smooth stone with a hole at the top. Patty Dusing's father picked it up and gave it to her. He told her she could put a chain through it and wear it as a necklace. "It's one of a kind, just like you," he told her. At the time, Dusing had no idea how important that stone would become.
If you're downtown much, you might notice young women posing for photos on sidewalks, wooden stairs, near electrical boxes, against brick walls. They're wearing ripped jeans with lace tops, or sweaters and leggings or flirty flowery tops, as someone aims a smart phone their way. While some are students experimenting with photography, others are models working with local stores. Modeling is big in Alexandria now. Downtown boutiques are increasingly turning to social media to boost sales, opening up opportunities for young women to get a taste of the modeling world.
Minnesotans can now, at a glance, figure out how their Internet speeds compare to neighbors and those around the state. Last week, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development launched the website www.checkspeedminnesota.com . Once users allow the state to ping their location, their download speeds are instantly mapped down to the street and block level. Internet connections are color coded by speed and range from a turtle-paced 0-9 Mbps, to a cheetah-like 1,000 Mbps or more.
Douglas County 4-H'ers brought home ribbons and honors in September after a state competition with their dogs and horses. Dogs Four area 4-H members brought their dogs to the Minnesota 4-H State Dog Show Sept. 22-23, competing against several hundred youths and dogs from across the state. They were tested on their skills and knowledge in agility, obedience, showmanship and rally, competing against their peers.
Pat Nelson and her daughters Michelle and Makenzie have opened their front door to holiday craft shoppers ever since the girls, now in their 30s, were in school. Michelle Wallace remembers when the house was so full of shoppers that she had to wait in line to get to a cupboard for a cereal bowl. Then there were extra waits for the cereal box and the milk. "It looked so goofy when I was holding a cereal bowl," she said. "Everyone's looking at you kind of funny because they're not sure if you live at the house."
The Douglas County Lakes Association has created a fund for lake water quality projects and is seeking to grow it through county funding, possible by a half-cent county sales tax. "We have all these vacationers up here and they should be paying their fair share for cleaning up the waters," said Jan Beliveau, lakes association president.
The Runestone Museum will soon add a penny press machine to its attractions, and is looking for lakes area students to create the designs. "We wanted to get the community involved in such an iconic undertaking," said museum director Amanda Seim. A penny press machine creates a keepsake, often from a historic site or other tourist attraction. Users pay a small fee and insert a penny, which the machine stretches into an oval and stamps with various designs.
Apparently young ghouls find Trunk or Treating pretty cool. Back in 2001, the first year kids could collect treats from car trunks at First Lutheran, a couple hundred trick-or-treaters showed up. Now, it's more like 2,000. "It was just kind of a way to give kids a safe environment," said administrative assistant Karen Brazel. "It's just grown. Every year it's grown and grown. I know more churches are trying to do it, too."