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Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

To Albert Lea school district graduates.

Though graduation looked a little different than you may have planned, we hope all of the Albert Lea school district graduates are proud to have concluded their high school careers. Graduating high school after 13 years of hard work and dedication is no small feat.

The Albert Lea Area Learning Center held its graduation Thursday night, and Albert Lea High School held its graduation in two groups on Friday. 

It has been a challenging five months since life essentially changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these students endured a senior year unlike any other class.

We hope they take the lessons learned from the last few months with them as they move forward to the next chapter in their lives. We encourage them to use the resiliency and the dedication they had in finishing school to accomplish great things.

And as always, whether they are going far away or will be staying home and utilizing Riverland Community College or other local employment opportunities, we remind them that the community would love to have them stay here and welcomes them with open arms.

 

To the modified COVID-19 grant relief fund to help local small businesses.

We are proud to see the work the city of Albert Lea, Freeborn County and Albert Lea Economic Development Agency accomplished after coming together to find relief for local small businesses hurt by COVID-19.

Together, and with funds from the federal CARES Act, the program now has $800,000 to give to small businesses with up to 35 employees in Freeborn County who experienced at least 20% losses in revenue because of the pandemic.

Grant amounts that will be awarded to eligible businesses range from $4,500 to $52,500.

We encourage businesses that have not taken advantage of this opportunity to do so.

The fund was made to help businesses affected by stay-at-home orders and will give preference to businesses that have not received federal or state COVID-19 relief funds. Businesses, however, that did receive these funds but have not received enough to meet their needs are still encouraged to apply.

To access the guidelines and application, visit www.growalbertlea.com/covid19relief/ or request documents via email to contact@growalbertlea.com. ALEDA can be reached by phone at 373-3930.

 

To the third attempt at reaching an agreement on the bonding bill without success.

We were disappointed to hear the special session ended this week without an agreement again on the state’s bonding bill. 

A bonding bill in previous years has been used to help stimulate the economy, and after everything that has happened in the last five months, it has never been more important.

Albert Lea projects vying for funding in the bill include the flood mitigation project for East Main Street, the completion of the Blazing Star Trail and the dredging of Fountain Lake.

The timing of all of these projects is critical.

If funds are not obtained through a bonding bill this year, the flood mitigation part of the East Main Street reconstruction — which involves raising the roadway two feet in the lowest area — would not be able to take place when the road is under construction through the Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2022.

Albert Lea Public Works Director Steven Jahnke said to do that part of the project down the road would likely make it much more difficult and costly than if it were done as part of the planned project in 2022. 

The Blazing Star Trail project and dredging project also have deadlines looming.

With new legislation completed on police accountability in the most recent special session, we cannot stress enough how important it is for legislators to now involve both the majority and minority parties in both bodies to come up with a compromise on this bill.

Much is at stake for Albert Lea — and the rest of the state in its passage. Though we know it is unlikely for our area to get all of its projects included, we hope that at least a few will be to boost this area and to bring an end to what have been many years in the making.