Nearly 100 Minnesota National Guard soldiers from the Alexandria-based Battery C, 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery will have a deployment ceremony Sunday morning before heading to the U.S. Central Command region in the Middle East.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the unit deployment ceremony at the armory in Alexandria will be limited to elected officials, Minnesota National Guard leadership and media members.

But the ceremony will be streamed live on the Minnesota National Guard’s Facebook page starting at 11:30 a.m., Sunday.

Anyone wishing to wave goodbye to soldiers when buses leave Alexandria the next morning is invited to line Broadway Street in Alexandria from W. Fifth Avenue to Interstate 94 starting at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

The Alexandria unit is joining up with about 250 Iowa soldiers to form the 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The soldiers will defend U.S. and Allied positions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

Reid Forgrave

ELK RIVER

County offers relief to small businesses

Sherburne County is creating a fund to provide temporary financial relief to local small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Onetime grants of up to $30,000 are available to local businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Businesses must show they were directly hurt by the pandemic.

The money may be used for rent, payroll or other operational costs, but not the purchase of machinery or land, moving expenses or property taxes.

Applicants can apply through Aug. 31. To learn more, visit bit.ly/2DptHYA.

Reid Forgrave

Owatonna

Owatonna instructor lauded for gun safety

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources named an Owatonna man its firearms safety instructor of the year.

Dave Olson has helped more than 1,200 people earn firearms safety certification since 1966. In 1991, he testified at the Legislature in favor of a law that required firearms safety certification before purchasing a hunting license in Minnesota.

“Not only has Dave spent a lifetime helping people in the Owatonna area be safe around firearms, but his contribution to making hunting safer throughout the state can’t be overstated,” said Chad Davis, a conservation officer stationed in Owatonna.

REID FORGRAVE