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News from the week of January 26, 2000


Questions loom as TAHS 2000-01 registration nears

With registration for next fall's classes just around the corner, school board members and administrators still have questions about curriculum and staffing.

The Feb. 15 registration process sometimes resembles a juggling act as students try to fit electives around core curriculum. Consideratons for the coming school year include:

• The possibility of including a TV production course in next year's offerings. A number of students have expressed an interest in the class which would be taught by Steve Jones. "Everywhere I go, other administrators ask me how we're coming with our TV station. They're really interested," noted High School Principal John Rokke.

Survey: Tracy incomes too high for favorable grant prospects

A grant-writing consultant had some good news and some bad news for Tracy City Council members Monday.

The good news is that the community survey conducted last summer generated a good response. The bad news ws that family incomes reported in the survey probably aren't low enough to quality Tracy for a Small Cities Grant.

The survey showed that 37% of Tracy households are falling in a "low to moderate income" category.

Olson didn't rule out all grant prospects, however. He suggested Tracy use a neighborhood approach to grants. For example, if a particular Tracy neighborhood had a high percentage of low and moderate income families, the city might quality for grant funding for a utility project in just that part of town.

Winter: Tax rebate is likely

• Lawmaker meets constituents at Red Rooster Cafe

Rep. Ted Winter (DFL-Fulda) says that Minnesota residents can look forward to some type of tax rebate coming from the 2000 legislative session.

"There will be some kind of a rebate," Winter said during a Tracy "town meeting" Monday morning at the Red Rooster Restaurant. "The governor won't sign anything unless there is some kind of rebate."

The lawmaker feels it is also likely that there will be a move to reduce the sales tax by half a percent, cut income taxes and "put more state aid into local school costs."

Other good bets for the coming legislative session, he said, include a reduction in auto license fees, an increase in nursing home funding, and a boost in the K-12 public education state aid formula.

Capitol Hill lobbyist sees huge potential in China

• Trade negotiators make China priority

The streets and buildings of the nation's capital are as familiar to Christina Muedeking as the fields and barns of her childhood home once were.

The 1989 Tracy High School graduate is employed as an international trade specialist in the Washington, D.C. offices of the National Pork Producers Council. Prior to assuming the position early last fall, the Tracy native worked as a legislative assistant for Minnesota Congressman David Minge.

"It's an intriguing time for international trade issues," says Muedeking of her new position. In her job, she compiles information and lobbies members of Congress about programs benefiting the nation's pork producers.

These days, explains Muedeking, that means opening up world markets, primarily with the emerging nation of China.

The U.S., she says, is already one of the world's most open markets, making it a good customer for countries looking to export. But other countries have put up tariff barriers as well as export subsides and domestic supports that make it difficult for America's export-dependent farmers to compete in the global marketplace.

"Our goal is to negotiate zero for zero agreements with other countries -- zero exports and subsidies, zero tariffs, and zero trade distorting domestic subsidies."

Historic signing at Lucan bank signals farmer-owned pork processing plant

History was made at the State Bank of Lucan this month when officials from the USDA Rural Development Agency signed loan guarantees for four area pork producers.

The farmers are among 73 stockholders in a $6 million farmer-owned pork processing plant being constructed in Dawson. (See accompanying story.)

According to Business Programs specialist David Gaffaney of the Minnesota USDA Rural Development Office, a provision in the 1996 "Freedom to Farm" Bill set aside $170 million dollars nationwide in loan guarantees for cooperative ventures that meet designated criteria.

A number of stockholders in the Prairie Farmers Cooperative, along with their lending institutions, are the first in the nation to benefit from the provision. The signing of documents at the Lucan bank on Jan. 12 was the second one nationwide. The first loan note guarantee for the purchase of co-op stock was signed the day before at the State Bank of Taunton.

Improvements to welcome Wilder Museum visitors

An improvement project is underway at the Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove.

The museum's "McVenes Building" is undergoing a complete remodeling. Named in honor of the late Robert McVenes, a charter member of the museum committee, the remodeled structure will boast a new visitor admissions area, an expanded gift shop, staff offices and extra storage spce. The goal is to have work completed when the museum opens for the 2000 season in April.

Construction is ahead of schedule, with much of the work being donated by members of the community and Aid Assoc. for Lutherans.