Brainerd Medical Center has turned a few heads with an expansion project at the center's location on South Sixth Street.
Many of the evergreens and trees that bordered the parking area are gone.
Curt Nielsen, BMC director, said Friday that the center's definite plans are to expand the patient parking lot, nearly doubling its size.
That project should be completed within the next six weeks. And Nielsen said within the next two months a significant number of trees will be replanted surrounding the entire area, including trees within the middle of the parking lot.
Nielsen said crowded parking has been an issue for some time.
And Nielsen said while it is the city of Brainerd's decision, he is optimistic that BMC patients will be able to exit the parking lot to the south to use the Buffalo Hills Lane stop light to reenter South Sixth Street or Business Highway 371.
Left turns from the BMC parking lot to South Sixth Street has posed a challenge.
Nielsen said the expanded patient parking was an effort to accommodate current traffic and in anticipation of expanding the BMC building. But Nielsen said building expansion decisions have not been finalized.
The Research and Statistics Office at the Minnesota Department of Economic Security reported that growth in total wages and salaries in Minnesota put the state at the number 10 spot in the nation when measuring per capita income.
The state also reported on a 2001 state job vacancy survey. There were 124,000 estimated job vacancies in the fourth quarter of 2000. The vast majority, 71 percent, of those openings were located in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Healthcare support, personal care and service, sales and related and food preparation jobs had the highest vacancy rates statewide.
The 10 occupancies with the most vacancies were retail salespeople; cashier; nursing aides, orderlies and attendants; food preparation workers; assemblers and fabricators; customer service representative; waiters and waitresses; registered nurses; stock clerks and order fillers; and janitors and cleaners.
In a nod for education, 76 percent of all job vacancies required a high school diploma or more and 27 percent required a post secondary degree or certificate.
The median wage was $9 per hour. A quarter of total vacancies offered wages of at lest $12 per hour.
For Spam lovers or just former Austin residents now living in the Brainerd area, the big news is that Hormel Foods will open the 16,500 square-foot Spam museum in downtown Austin on Sept. 15-16. Gov. Ventura will have a live radio broadcast from the museum. Bands and national and local celebrities are also part of the planned celebration.
The one-billionth can of Spam was sold in 1959. Since Spam was introduced in 1937, nearly six billion cans were produced.
The museum features a rendition of British humor with Monty Python's classic three-minute Spam skit.
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