Letter: What has happened to Albert Lea?

Published 9:05 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I have seen hard times for the city where I grew up and was knee-high to a grasshopper. I graduated in 1967 from ALHS. Many of us celebrated our 50th graduation reunion. I just wondered what happened to Albert Lea. I am placing no blame on anybody.

When I was growing up at 409 Sheridan St., I saw great potential in Albert Lea. Although Wilson & Co. put out odors, my next-door neighbor, my dad’s boss, Ollie Goodmanson, said that was the smell of money. At one time, there were three shifts a day (24 hours) grinding beef, sheep and hogs into hamburgers, sausages, steaks and other things that carnivores like me like to eat. My father, Richard Paul Christenson, worked for that company for almost 50 years.

I had an uncle that I loved, Dick Davies Sr. He was a very successful real estate agent. He told me that because of the intersection of Interstate 35 and Interstate 90, Albert Lea had the potential to grow to 70,000 people by 1970. He said it was up to the industrial leaders and city and county management. It did not happen.

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Albert Lea seems to be unable to break that population barrier of 20,000 people. As the Big Nine sports cities were at my time in Albert Lea, we were in the middle population-wise. Cities like Rochester, Mankato, Austin and Winona were comfortably in the lead at attracting new people and increasing good growth and population.

Now, we are left behind. Cities that were not as populous as Albert Lea have surpassed us. Cities like Faribault, Northfield and Owatonna have surpassed the 20,000 population. This leaves Albert Lea and Red Wing in the dust.

If I had any money, I would invest in my hometown. The destruction of the meatpacking plant and the decision of the Mayo Clinic to transfer services to Austin is killing my hometown.

Please, I don’t want to be the person to be assigned to turning out the lights in Albert Lea.

Mayor and city, please respond to me. Right now I am very perplexed and have no ideas. Inquiries can be mailed to Mark S. Christenson, 580 Huset Parkway NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421; or emailed to marsteson@q.com.

Mark Christenson

Columbia Heights