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Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

To the new Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Congratulations to new Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shari Jenson, who started in the position last week.

Jenson, who is formerly of Albert Lea, recently returned to the area from San Antonio, Texas.

She said she is excited to be in the new role and to be an advocate for area businesses.

We wish her well in her position and look forward to the new ideas she will bring to the community.

 

To new scams reported in the last week.

Area residents should be on the lookout after two new scams were reported this week.

In the first scam, victims are reportedly approached by individuals claiming that they lost their wallet or purse and needed gas money to get back home down South. The scammers then offered to sell a gold ring, gold chain or a watch for gas money.

Several victims were approached while they were pumping gas, though one was approached at Diamond Jo Casino. In two cases, the suspects were described as a Middle Eastern or Hispanic woman and a Hispanic man driving a gray or silver four-wheel drive sports utility vehicle.

Victims have paid $50 or more, including one individual who paid $400 for a fake Rolex watch and ring.

In the second scam, people are receiving fraudulent checks with the name of MercyOne North Iowa on them.

If you receive a similar check and have never been a patient, we encourage you not to deposit the check and to immediately report it to local authorities. You can also call MercyOne North Iowa’s billing department at 866-494-3001 – option 2, for verification.

Residents should stay alert as opportunities to scam residents are becoming more rampant.

 

To the approval of plans to distribute $841 million in federal COVID-19 aid to cities and counties in Minnesota.

After a delay in approving plans to distribute the state’s COVID-19 relief funds during last week’s special session, we were pleased to see Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday approve the agreement to do so.

The money will be able to be used by cities and counties to alleviate the unexpected spending that has risen from the pandemic and is expected to be distributed starting next week.

Freeborn County itself will receive almost $3.7 million, and Albert Lea will receive about $1.37 million, as calculated with a set of population-based formulas that lawmakers agreed upon during the session.

Walz also approved $12 million for food banks and food shelves that have seen a surge in demand since the pandemic hit the state. We hope this helps alleviate some of the burden for area food shelves as well.

 

To a multi-family housing development slated to go on a portion of the Blazing Star Landing property.

We are pleased to hear plans for a new multi-family housing development that is in the works for the southernmost portion of land on the Blazing Star Landing.

The project, through development firm Unique Opportunities LLC, initially calls for developing three acres of land into 48 units of multi-family housing with plans for two additional phases in the future with another 48 units per phase — for a total of 144 units on 12 acres.

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved setting up a tax increment financing district to support the new project, which captures the increase in new property taxes that comes because of the development and diverts them to help pay for development costs for a set number of years.

Albert Lea definitely needs new housing options, and setting up a TIF district is a good way to assist the developer without raising taxes on the rest of the community.

 

About Editorial Board

The Editorial Board of the Albert Lea Tribune comprises Scott Schmeltzer, Tim Engstrom and Sarah Stultz.

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