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City of Shakopee to replace downtown electronic message board

The city of Shakopee is replacing the electronic message board along Highway 101 in downtown Shakopee.

The downtown sign is used to advertise current events happening in the area. A new Daktronics message board will be placed in the same location.

The Shakopee City Council approved a contract with Indigo Signs for $31,033.15 plus $5,000 in contingency at its Nov. 16 meeting.

According to the mayor and councilors, the city has received numerous complaints about the current downtown sign not being legible enough. This sign was installed around four years ago.

Michael Kerski, the city’s planning and development director, said new technology created in recent years would fix the legibility issue and make the replacement sign easier to read.

The new Daktronics downtown sign will have 8mm pixels, more than twice the amount of the current sign. Smaller pixels on the new sign make content easier to read and allow for better graphics overall.

Councilor Angelica Contreras said in the meeting that this upgrade should be made to improve upon outdated technology.

“It’s a great project. It’s something we need … if something’s outdated, you always upgrade it,” Contreras said.

With the current message board, the staff has to visit the sign when it’s programmed to see what the message looks like in person and ensure its appearance is correct. The new Daktronics board can be programmed from a cell phone in real time and real appearance so messages can be updated efficiently without traveling to the sign every time.

Another upgrade to the sign is the addition of a built-in emergency messaging feature. This feature allows for local emergency alerts to automatically run on the message board.

Using this alert system, the city can choose the times, frequency and level of involvement for these emergency messages to be displayed.

Emergency alerts range anywhere from Amber and Silver alerts to weather alerts pulled from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service and the Emergency Alert System.

Mayor Bill Mars said the replacement sign can provide important information to Shakopee residents.

“People are noticing that sign, and the amount of information that we can put on there is great,” Mars said.

Councilor Matt Lehman added that having this information displayed on Highway 101 benefits the entire community.

“I think the information that this sign can be capable of putting out on 101 is a community-wide benefit,” Lehman said.

The downtown sign is the only city-owned digital sign besides a smaller one displayed at the Shakopee Community Center. The city hopes to move the current downtown sign to the community center as less traffic and slower driving speeds would make the sign easier to read at this location instead of along the highway.

The City Council decided the project would be funded from Federal Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds.

Mars said the coronavirus recovery funds would make sense in going toward the message board project.

“As far as the funding, I think this is a perfect place for the COVID funding,” Mars said. “It’s a one-time thing that helps the viability of our community and downtown.”

According to Kerski, the city is still waiting for a schedule from the contractor regarding when the current sign will be removed and when the replacement one will be installed.


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What the holiday season looks like at Shutterfly’s Shakopee facility

With the holiday season here, Shutterfly’s Shakopee facility is beginning work on holiday orders from all around the country.

Shari Dugstad, site director at the Shakopee facility, said holiday orders usually start coming the week of Thanksgiving and kick off a holiday season peak that lasts throughout December.

“It’s all about our consumers and what we’re doing for them to make sure that we can fill all of their orders in time for the holiday season,” Dugstad said.

PREPARING FOR HOLIDAYS

According to Dugstad, the facility begins preparing for the holidays in October.

The facility increases its staffing around this time of year so orders can be filled in time. Dugstad said the team aims to triple its normal staff during this peak. She adds that the facility has reached around 70% of this staffing goal.

Staff also ensures ahead of peak season that all equipment is working properly. Presses, binding tools, automated shipping equipment and other items are evaluated to make sure the facility can handle the increased volume of orders.

While the other three Shutterfly facilities around the country handle holiday cards, the facility in Shakopee focuses on creating photo books and other personalized gift items.

Dugstad said this preparation is important since some items can only be created at Shutterfly’s Shakopee facility, like personalized cutting boards and wine glasses.

“Because of the variety of gifting products we have, we have different types of equipment that support this personalization,” Dugstad said.

Gifting orders are a large part of Shutterfly’s work. Erica Jostedt, Shutterfly’s director of corporate communications, said the company completes about nine million gifting orders around the holiday season, with around two million of those being ornaments.

WORKING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC

Throughout the pandemic, the Shakopee facility has found ways to overcome the possibility of distribution and shipping delays.

Dugstad said the facility’s procurement team does lots of pre-planning to ensure that materials are on site in anticipation of fulfilling orders.

The team also keeps regular communication with all carriers so everyone involved is aware of the expected volume and can efficiently prepare to ship items.

The pandemic has exacerbated staffing issues around the country for many companies like Shutterfly. Dugstad said the Shakopee facility receives help from its internal resources and external staffing partners to overcome staffing shortages while keeping everyone safe.

“Our highest priority is looking at the safety and wellbeing of our team and knowing we’ve navigated through all the changes during the pandemic,” Dugstad said.

She said staff at the facility have been able to minimize exposure overall by following all federal, state and local mandates during the pandemic.

While the Shakopee facility has a busy month ahead, Dugstad said she and the rest of the staff are looking forward to fulfilling all orders that come their way during the holidays.

“I really love what we do for our consumers and the gifts that we give to people that just bring so much joy,” Dugstad said. “Making an impact on people’s holidays … really just makes it all exciting and wonderful.”


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