Prescription drug collection planned in A.L.

Published 10:08 pm Monday, November 8, 2010

The Drug Education Task Force, along with Freeborn County Partners in Prevention, will sponsor a prescription drug collection the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Albert Lea to give people the opportunity to safely dispose of unused medications.

During the Albert Lea City Council meeting Monday, Ann Austin, the Drug Education Task Force chairwoman, and Alice Englin with Freeborn County Partners in Prevention, explained how the idea for the collection came about.

Englin said 70 percent of the youth who are abusing prescription drugs are getting them from the homes of their family or friends.

Thus, one of the strategies that has been used in surrounding communities to counter this problem is a prescription take-back program.

Locally, this program would start as a one-day collection event — planned for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 27 — where people can drive through the city parking lot at the corner of Newton Avenue and College Street and drop off unused medications.

Austin said people should cross out their names on the prescription bottles but keep the labels of what the prescription drug is, so that the medication will be able to be sorted for proper disposal.

After the take-back day, the task force plans to create a disposal site at the Law Enforcement Center, where people can anonymously drop off unused prescription drugs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The groups are partnering with Randy Tuchtenhagen, director of Freeborn County Environmental Services, on the projects to make sure the medication is disposed of properly and does not end up in the waterways.

Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels voiced his support of the project and said law enforcement will attend.

A state contractor will handle disposal of the drugs.

Third Ward Councilor Ellen Kehr encouraged all residents in Albert Lea and the surrounding area to take advantage of the take-back day. She said it is an opportunity for people to get their unused prescriptions somewhere safe.

The council approved the use of the city parking lot for this year’s event.

Though a take-back day has only been planned for this year, there is a possibility one could be held in 2011 if the need arises.

In other action, the City Council:

• Voted 5-1 to authorize a contract with former City Manager Paul Sparks for consultant work during 2011 labor negotiations.

Sparks will be paid $65 an hour for up to 120 hours.

Second Ward Councilor Larry Baker said he did not support the action because he felt comfortable going into the negotiations with city staff.

Mayor Pro Tem Al “Minnow” Brooks said while he has total trust in city staff, he thinks bringing in Sparks will give a third party to bounce ideas off of.

• Had the first reading of an ordinance regarding public places in the city where alcohol can be served with a liquor license.

Generally, alcohol is prohibited in public places, except for at community events at the National Guard Armory, City Arena and the Freeborn County Fairgrounds where it is served by an entity with a liquor license.

The Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has recommended to expand this list to include Bancroft Bay Park, the cottage and new pavilion at Edgewater Park and Fountain Lake Park and gazebo.

The recommendation did not include any changes for individuals, only for community-type events. It will remain illegal to consume alcohol without a license in other locations within the city.

• Approved a purchase by the Albert Lea Public Library for two self-checkout units. Cost is estimated at about $24,000 for both.

Library Director Peggy Havener emphasized the new units will assist patrons who are in a hurry, and library staff will still be available to serve customers as well.

• Awarded the contract for re-roofing of the Albert Lea Airport hangar to Stock Roofing Company LLC. of Fridley for about $48,000.

The roof needs to be replaced after high winds Aug. 31.

Seven bids were submitted for the project, with the low bid coming from Stock Roofing.

The engineer’s estimate was $60,000.

• Voted to share the costs with Freeborn County for an agreement with Pictometry International Corp.

Pictometry creates orthogonal and oblique digital images of the earth using airborne platforms. The images could be used by engineering, inspection, police and firefighters.

The total cost is estimated at $54,500, to be broken down over three years. The cost is then proposed to be split in half with Freeborn County.

• Authorized an order for removal of the house at 405 W. College St.

The house has a large hole in the foundation, and is reportedly reasonably beyond repair.

City Clerk Shirley Slater-Schulte said the owner of the house, Wayne Becker, has agreed the city can remove the house. The cost of doing so will ultimately be assessed to the property.

A motion will also need to be made in Freeborn County District Court for a summary enforcement of the order.

• Voted to approve no parking and speed limit signs along a portion of Myers Road. The changes will come prior to the construction planned on the street.

There will be no parking on the west side of the road between 14th Street and the curve to accommodate the construction of a new five-foot concrete sidewalk along the west side of the street. The road will be constructed using a 20 mph curve instead of a 30 mph curve.

• Approved a notice to send to residents regarding a public hearing at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 discussing the proposed Alliant Energy electricity rate increase. The notice will be mailed out with the November utility bills.