Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down | Echo Press

Thumbs Down: Extremely dry conditions made Douglas County a powder keg over the weekend of July 4, but some celebrants still carelessly proceeded to light fireworks that set off a flurry of fireworks. grass. On July 3, four grass fires were occurring almost simultaneously, prompting the Alexandria Fire Department to post a message on its Facebook page urging people to do their due diligence with the fireworks. They shouldn’t have had to do this, and the firefighters shouldn’t have had to make so many fire calls over the weekend when people knew full well how dry the conditions were and dangerous. Thankfully, a nice rain fell last Tuesday, but what happened in the fourth should remind us that ‘do not burn’ advice and red flag warnings are not intended for ‘other people’. They are for everyone.

Thumbs up: July is “Hiring a Veteran Month” – a good reminder for companies not to overlook Veterans when taking on roles on their teams. More than 300,000 US military veterans reside in Minnesota and more than half of them are of working age, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. Sadly, veterans returning from recent military deployments face higher unemployment and more challenges entering the civilian workforce and advancing their careers, DEED officials say. Yet veterans learn fast and have many invaluable skills, such as leadership, dedication and a strong work ethic, said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “Current and former members of the US military have a range of skills ranging from leadership, team building and problem solving to an in-depth knowledge of advanced technologies,” Grove said. “Employers have a lot to gain by hiring a veteran – and we owe it to the men and women who have served our country to connect them with great employment opportunities. Current and former US military personnel interested in learning more about the veteran employment services available to them, as well as employers interested in learning more about the benefits of hiring veterans, are encouraged to consult resources on

Thumbs up: With so many great fundraising events taking place, it’s easy for smaller efforts to get lost in the reshuffle, but they still deserve to be recognized. Consider the Belgian Waffle and Sausage Meal that took place on June 27. Sponsored by the Evening Lions Club of Alexandria and Marine Corps League Detachment 1409, the event raised approximately $ 1,300 and attracted over 215 people. Elden’s Fresh Foods was also a supporter and the Alexandria VFW provided the location. All proceeds will go to a good cause – the Toys for Kids program. The event has been around for four or five years. Watch for it next year and support the cause.

Thumbs up: Here’s something to celebrate: Minnesota has reached a goal set by President Biden and the Centers for Disease Control to vaccinate 70% of the state’s population 18 and over by July 4. CDC data shows 3,034,281 Minnesotans aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Minnesota is only the second state in the Midwest to meet the target, and it leads the Midwest as a percentage of the total fully immunized population (52%). The vaccine works. Cases are increasing at their slowest rate in the pandemic, and there are less than 100 Minnesotans hospitalized with COVID-19. In Douglas County, no new cases of COVID were reported in the past week (June 26-July 3). But we can do better. The county’s vaccination rate has been stuck at 58% since mid-June. There are many ways to get vaccinated: enter or book an appointment through the Vaccine Connector at one of the state’s COVID-19 Community Immunization Program sites: govt; call the appointment hotline at 833-431-2053; use the state’s vaccine locator map to find a vaccine supplier near you –; check appointments for vaccines using the vaccine search on; search for appointments by vaccine type (eg Pfizer); contact your primary health care provider or local pharmacy; and employers can also communicate with information about vaccination possibilities.

Thumbs up: In our “Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down June 25,” a local veteran questioned why there was no dedicated parking space in Alexandria for veterans. We have since learned that the Sanford Health Broadway Clinic has a place reserved for veterans.

Thumbs up: Local businesses deserve a big boost for helping their employees and the local community weather the pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program, for example, has had a significant impact on businesses in central Minnesota, including those in Alexandria. The Small Business Administration’s loan program has provided small businesses with the resources they need to maintain payroll, rehire employees who may have been made redundant, and cover applicable overhead costs. There were a multitude of ways that local businesses showed their spirit of “giving back”. The Gate City Bank in Alexandria, for example, has donated around $ 4,500 to community efforts over the past year, supporting many local organizations – Junior Achievement, West Central Hunters for Habitat, Parkers Prairie Prom, Alexandria Fire Department, Habitat for Humanity, Alexandria School District, Chain of Lakes Ducks Unlimited, Centraide, Outreach Food Shelf, and The Salvation Army.

If you have a suggestion for a thumbs up / thumbs down, email it to [email protected] or mail to Echo Press, PO Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

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