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News from the week of April 5, 2000 Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880


Firefighter's life is often alarming

Veteran firemen retire from Tracy Fire Dept.

Don Jacob still remembers the 1983 fire that destroyed the Tracy Lanes. How could he forget?

“I was coming out the front door and the roof was coming down.”

Was he scared?

“Oh, I wasn't really in any danger,” Jacob insists. And then he laughs—the earthy, gravel-voiced side-splitter that's his trademark. You can't tell whether he's serious or putting you on.

No, he says, he is serious. He explains that he knew the support beams were about to collapse from the sounds of the fire. After awhile, you can tell the difference.”

Experience sometimes comes in handy on the Tracy Fire Department. But recently the department lost three of its most experienced men. Jacob—who joined the department the same year the Tracy Tornado tore through town—retired last month after 32 years on the force. Duane DeSmet retired in February after a tenure of 22 years on the department. In December, Ric Stefanick retired after 18 years as a fireman.

Principal recovering from heart attack

• John Rokke looks for 100% recovery, thanks to prompt assistance

John Rokke considers himself a lucky man.

The Tracy Area High School Principal suffered a heart attack last Wednesday. Fortunately, when stricken he was in a Marshall medical clinic. Emergency medical help was immediate. Doctors and nurses not only saved his life, Rokke said, but also staved off any permanent damage to his heart.

“I feel very fortunate,” Rokke said Tuesday morning from his home. “It (the heart attack) could have happened on my way to Marshall and I wouldn't be here today.”

Rokke, 51, was transferred from Marshall to McKennen Hospital in Sioux Falls Wednesday afternoon. Surgery was performed Friday to open up two arteries that were more than 95% blocked. The school administrator returned home on Saturday, where he continues to recover. He is under doctor's orders to stay at home for one to two weeks of rest.

League of their own?

Pitch made for high school girls' T-M softball program

Is a Panther girls' softball team on the horizon for Tracy Area High School?

Maybe, maybe not.

The Tracy-Milroy/Balaton athletic advisory committee has recommended that girls' softball be added as a high school sport beginning next spring. The Tracy Board of Education discussed the recommendation last week, but asked for more information before making a decision.

The estimated first-year cost for a grades 7-12 girls softball program are $15,000 to $20,000, according to Activities Director Bill Tauer. The cost for subsequent years is calculated at $7,000 to $8,000. The first year cost is higher, because of the need to purchase uniforms and equipment.

Tauer said that the consideration of girls' softball was prompted by inquiries from some of the Balaton High School girls who have expressed an interest in attending TAHS next year. Balaton has a girls' softball program. (In February, the Balaton Board of Education approved an agreement to tuition its grades 9-12 students to the Marshall and Tracy school districts beginning next fall).

17 SW Minnesota mayors have `brainstorming' session in Tracy

Seventeen Southwest Minnesota mayors gathered in Tracy Thursday to discuss how the region's communities can work together to solve common problems.

Tracy Mayor Claire Hannasch organized the gathering, held at the Mediterranean banquet room.

The mayors of Marshall, Vesta, Tyler, Lakefield, Jackson, Comfrey, Ruthton, Cottonwood, Pipestone, Storden, Currie, Magnolia, Sanborn, Minneota, Windom, Russell, Wilder, and Tracy attended. A city clerk represented Ruthton. City administrators and managers accompanied some mayors.

“I thought it went very, very well,” said Hannasch. “I was very pleased with the participation. It was kind of a brainstorming session to discuss what are our problems, how do we solve them, and how do we work together.”

International faces

The global economy and the ever-shrinking world took on a fresh perspective for Tracy people last week. The Tracy AFS Chapter, Tracy Public Schools and the University of Minnesota International Center joined forces to stage "International Day" at Tracy Area High School. Students spoke to school groups and put on displays at International Day. About 30 foreign-born people were present at the International Fair.

Instead of `geeks,' Goltz discovers really cool guys' at Boys' State

Jeremy Goltz wasn't sure whether he wanted to attend the American Legion-sponsored “Boys' State” last June.

“I didn't really know what it was. I thought it was maybe something that only a bunch of geeks went to.”

Instead, the Tracy Area High School senior said he “had a blast.” The only negative comment Goltz could muster about Boys' State was that he wished it had been two weeks instead just one.

Boys' State is a hands-on experience in model government. Students are organized into self-governing “towns” that conduct elections and discuss policy. Students listen to outside speakers and plan programs. Time is also set aside for entertainment and recreation.

Instead of “geeks,” Goltz said that he met “some pretty cool guys.” He still keeps in contact with some of the friends he made last summer.

The son of Rose and Lynn Goltz of Tracy especially liked the afternoon sports activities. Each afternoon, boys could choose from among basketball, volleyball, softball and tennis.