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News from the week of February 2, 2000Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

Pope John Paul II gives blessing to Father Oestreich in Rome

When Father Brian Oestreich left on a week's trip to Rome last month, he packed his priestly garments, hopeful he'd have the opportunity to attend mass at the Vatican, with Pope John Paul II, leader of the world's Roman Catholics since 1978, the officiant.

Not only was the request granted, a special blessing awaited him inside the papal palace.

Besides serving parishes in Tracy and Walnut Grove, Father Oestreich is the vocational director for the New Ulm Diocese. A quarter of his time is devoted to recruiting and supporting seminary students. With three students expressing an interest in studying in Rome, the priest arranged an orientation trip for the young seminarians.

Traveling with the students from Minnesota, besides Father Oestreich, was Father Mark Mallek, who, prior to serving as parish priest in Leavenworth, Minnesota, spent several years in Rome working on the staff of a Roman cardinal. Father Mallek asked the cardinal to relay a request to attend mass to the pope's secretary on behalf of the group. Upon learning that theirs was, the Minnesota delegation was thrilled and humbled. "You don't get in unless your name is on the list." explains Father Oestrich.

"We were asked whether one of us wanted to read the Gospel."

Father Mallek spoke up, offering Father Oestreich's name.

As a priest, Father Oestreich knew immediately what that meant. Before the Gospel is read during mass, the reader receives a blessing from the officiant, in this case none other than the pope.

Michael Scott is No. 1 at state pork convention

Lyon County pork ambassador Michael Scott was named Minnesota pork industry ambassador during Pork Congress 2000 held last weekend at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

As winner of the state competition, Scott will receive a $1,500 scholarship. First runner-up in the state competition was Courtney Solderholm of Nobles County with Brad Stevermer of Faribault County named second runner-up.

Candidates, all county ambassadors, were judged on the basis of a written essay, an oral presentation and a personal interview. The topic Scott chose for his essay and speech was "The Value of Manure." Scott's father David, his uncle Ronald and grandfather Donald operate Scott's Pumping Service in addition to raising hogs in four 1,000 head barns on their farm west of Tracy.

Famous Faces

To help celebrate Catholic Schools Week, St. Mary's students and staff portrayed famous people and characters Tuesday. "Grammys" were presented to the best characters. Catholic schools week activities continue through Sunday at tSt. Mary's.

Off to see Wizard?

Mark April 14, 15 & 16 on calendar

With a click of her heels and a wave of her wand, Director Ade Miller is set to begin rehearsals for the much anticipated Tracy Community Children's Choir production of "The Wizard of Oz."

By the time opening night rolls around on April 14, the imaginary land of Oz, including the turrets of Emerald City, will have been created on the stage of Tracy Area High School. Choir members will comprise the cast of colorful characters.

Three performances of the musical classic are scheduled for April 14, 15 and 16.

A cast list for the spring production will be announced next week.

Saturday, choir members are traveling to Mankato where they'll enjoy a performance of "Oz on Ice."

Specialty Asian grocery store planned in Downtown Tracy

A St. Paul family plans to open a specialty oriental grocery store in Downtown Tracy. PaNhla Her and John Her, of super Oriental Market Inc., have purchased the former NAPA Auto Parts building on Third Street. Plans are to open a grocery store that specializes in Asian foods.

The family hopes to open the store soon. Clean-up efforts in the store began this weekend.

3% salary increase set for city workers

City of Tracy union employees will receive 3% annual salary and wage increase for the years 2000 and 2001.

The increase is included in a new contract approved by AFSCME union members and the Tracy City Council. Terms of the contract call for the city to contribute 100% of an employee's health insurance premium, plus an amount not to exceed $350 per month for dependents. The city offers health insurance to part-time employees who work at least 20 hours a week, with the city paying for 50% of the employee's premium.

Other city business included a grant application, improvements budget, compliance checks and permits.