Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: Views by the Echo Press
Body cam openness
Thumbs Up: It's good to see the city of Alexandria digging into the issue of body cameras for police officers and asking for the public's input for developing policies. Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels updated the city council about the issue at an informal work session last week. The police department has been looking into the latest technology, types of plans — including a free one-year trial from one company — budget and staff impacts, a timetable and more. Throughout the discussion, Wyffels stressed that body cams isn't just a police chief decision. It needs to involve the city council, mayor, city attorney, police officers and the general public. Several key decisions have to be made — when body cams should be activated, where they can and can't be used, how to handle requests from the public (and media) for body cam footage and more. Wyffels acknowledged that there's a potential downside to having the public or council "micromanaging" police department policy, but in this instance, being transparent and open is the top priority. "We're in this together," Wyffels said.
Stop sign runners
Thumbs Down: Here's an all-too-common complaint in Alexandria: Drivers who do not pay attention to stop signs. Earlier this week, a woman came into our office who was still angry after seeing a driver blow through the stop sign at Menard's. "It's just inexcusable," she said. And this time, cell phones or texting wasn't to blame. "She wasn't talking on the phone or anything," the somean said. "Her head didn't even move when she ran right through the stop sign."
Thumbs Down: After reading a letter to the editor about a rough, hazardous sidewalk in Alexandria, a resident brought up another concern — sidewalks with heaves and broken pieces and those obstructed by branches and low-hanging shrubbery. "One has to play 'duck and dodge' to walk around some parts of town," the resident said.
Garden needs bench
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: This is more of a suggestion than a thumbs. An Alexandria resident likes the beautiful flower garden at Noonan Park near Lake Street but he's disappointed there's no place to sit and take in the view. "There should be benches there so people can enjoy it," he said.
Tree removal skills
Thumbs Up: An Alexandria resident was impressed with how Larry Steidl's Tree Service responded after a recent thunderstorm knocked down trees and branches in her yard. "These guys are crazy skillful and watching them is pretty amazing," she said. "We are lucky to have these guys around to turn a bad day into a better good day."
Tractor ride fun
Thumbs Up: The Pioneer Power Club, a vintage tractor club based in Douglas County, celebrated its 25th birthday in style on Saturday, July 15, with a 36-mile tractor ride for the public and tractor lovers alike. The club's organizing committee deserves a thumbs up for planning a beautiful route around the lakes. Several homeowners added to the celebration by waving and showing their appreciation to the tractor drivers. Old tractors, stretched out nine miles long, looked like new. "We also send a thank you to the fellows from all around the area that joined in the tractor ride to help celebrate our 25th anniversary," said member Ron Stoen.
Grocery store hero
Thumbs Up: When a customer at Elden's Fresh Foods in Alexandria arrived home, he discovered that he'd left a big bag of groceries at the store — a bag filled with about $20 worth of carefully selected purchases. When he returned, he searched the self-checkout aisle where he'd bought the food but nothing was there. Luckily, a long-time bagger at the store named Brian came to the rescue and helped in the search. The bag was found in the store's customer service office. Brian — and whoever found the bag and turned it in — deserve a thumbs up for saving the day.