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West Central Initiative, an organization that works to strengthen the economy in nine west-central Minnesota counties, has turned its attention recently to the region's retail picture. At webinars in Morris and other cities it has been delivering a simple message: Small-town retail is not dead, it's just changing. "We were finding the negative narration that small town retail is dying," said Jill Amundson, an associate planner with WCI. "I want to emphasize that that is not true."
Another indication that the holiday season is upon us is coming in the form of the 20th annual Canadian Pacific's Holiday Train, which once again will be appearing in Alexandria. The train runs through seven U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, supplying free half-hour musical performances while raising money for local food banks. In fact, Vicki Bump, executive director of Douglas County Outreach Food Shelf, says that the money raised from the Holiday Train's appearance here is the food shelf's largest single-day fundraiser.
A new production from the Church Basement Ladies, playwright/storyteller Kevin Kling, dance and romantic comedy productions, and a concert series featuring the return of Six Appeal and tributes to Glen Campbell and Neil Diamond will all be part of the 59th season at Theatre L'Homme Dieu. Executive Director Nicole Mulder revealed its 2019 theater and concert series lineup Tuesday night at a season announcement party at Garden Bar on 6th in Alexandria.
Having presidential candidates on a ballot draws substantially more people to the polls on an election day than does a non-presidential ballot. Tuesday's election fit into the latter category, but for a variety of reasons, it was attracting a healthy voter turnout. "It's been much more than we get for a non-presidential year," Brandon city clerk Deb Grommesh said just before 5 p.m., with three of the heavier voting hours still to come. "We're not quite at 50 percent, and nobody is off work yet."
There are fewer physicians per capita in west-central Minnesota than the state average, they are older and closer to leaving their jobs, and more likely to provide care that otherwise would be handled by a specialist. Those were among the findings presented by a Minnesota Department of Health researcher at a rural health listening session Tuesday at Alomere Health in Alexandria. The session, the fifth and final to be held across the state, was intended to gather information on health care issues facing rural areas. Mental health
Priscilla Reineke has been named as one of the 2018 Stand up for Outstanding Friends Members by the Minnesota Association of Library Friends. Reineke, who has been a member of the Douglas County Friends of the Library for 24 years, was presented with the award by Douglas County Library Director Dawn Dailey at a board meeting Oct. 3 in Alexandria. Reineke has served on the board for nearly 12 years, and is the first winner from Douglas County, Dailey said.
Following two years when official enrollment in the Alexandria Area School District rose a combined 4.6 percent, the Oct. 1 figures reported to the state showed a slight decrease. Trevor Peterson, director of business services for the district, informed the school board at its monthly meeting Monday night that enrollment fell by 23 students, to 4,143. That represents a 0.5 percent decrease. That comes on the heels of increases of 70 students in 2016 and 113 students last year, and Peterson said in light of that, it wasn't a surprise that enrollment dipped this year.
Alexandria has been singled out as the state's Retail Community of the Year. The city was presented with the award Tuesday in St. Louis Park by the Minnesota Retailers Association, beating out dozens of other applicants from across the state as part of the 2018 Minnesota's Retail Champions program. "We were thrilled," said Pam Botker of Creative Touch Botique, who is president of the Alexandria Downtown Merchants Association. She accepted the award along with Tara Bitzan, executive director of the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.
Runestone Area Education District in Alexandria is among 90 Minnesota school districts to be awarded school safety grants to be used for security and violence prevention improvements. The Runestone district, which works with the Alexandria, Osakis, Brandon-Evansville, Minnewaska and Parkers Prairie public school districts, is home to the Runestone Regional Learning Center, an alternative school that allows students to complete their high school education.
Three area schools are among the fortunate few to be awarded school safety grants from the state of Minnesota. Alexandria, Parkers Prairie and West Central Area school districts were three of just 90 public school districts or charter schools to receive grants from a pool of $25 million. The state Department of Education received 1,187 applications in all, with requests totalling $255.5 million, or more than 10 times what was awarded.