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News from the week of October 10, 2001 Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

`I love the kids'

Tracy woman begins 23rd year of operating daycare

By Valerie Scherbart Quist

At the homes of LaVonne Johnson and Lori Mayer, kids rule. And they wouldn't have it any other way.

Johnson, who started doing daycare because she wanted to be home with her own kids, has been a child care provider for 23 years.

So what keeps her going? “I love the kids,” she says. “That's basically why I do it--I love the kids.”

The number of kids at Johnson's home varies, but usually there are about eight or nine. The youngest child is 11-months-old, while the oldest children are school-aged and come after school. The first child arrives at about 6:45 in the morning. The children are usually all gone by 6 p.m.

The first order of the day is breakfast. “From then on, it's playing with the kids,” Johnson said.

They play, color pictures, read stories, and do whatever the kids want to do. When weather permits, they play outside as much as possible. Story time is the kids' favorite, Johnson said.

Johnson's daycare runs on what she calls a flexible schedule. While many of the activities she does with the kids are educational, she doesn't want them to feel that it is a school setting. “I want them to come and play and have a good time and know that I'm there for them,” she said.

Some of Johnson's former day care kids, who are now grown up and in school, still come and talk to her, which gives her a good feeling. “I like them all to feel that this is home. I want them to feel comfortable.”

Lori Mayer began doing daycare for the same reason as Johnson. She started because she needed the extra income, yet wanted to stay home with her own children. She first began doing daycare in Austin. She began doing daycare in Tracy in July.

Mayer now has eight kids who spend the day with her. The youngest is seven months old, and the oldest is 5. Mayer says doing daycare is fun for her.

Aquatic center construction reported to be on schedule

Contractors say that construction is proceeding on schedule for the new Tracy Aquatic Center, Public Works Director Don Polzine told city council members Monday night. “It seems to me that it is moving along pretty slow, but they assure me that they are on schedule and that everything will be done on time,” Polzine reported.

Forms for the center's plunge and lap pools are in place. Next week, it's expected that forms for the zero-depth entry splash pool will begin. Block is now being set in place for the pool's mechanical/concession building. The old bathhouse's interior has been gutted and readied for renovations.

Polzine said that if soil tests are favorable this week, the installation of steel reinforcement rods will begin this week, every six inches along the forms. All told, Polzine said, three semi-loads of steel rods would be used in the pool's construction. Plans are to begin pouring concrete the week of Oct. 22.

In July, the city council approved just over $1.3 million in construction bids for the new aquatic center.

Salonek Concrete and Construction of Springfield was awarded a $512,900 contract for demolition of the old pool, site preparation, building a concession and mechanical building, and remodeling the bathhouse. Olympic Pools received a $584,828 contract to build the new pools. Heartland Mechanical of Tracy and Balaton has a $139,573 contract for mechanical and plumbing work. Fulda Electric has a $62,732 contract for the electrical work. USAquatics of Plymouth is overseeing the project.

Sebastian Park's 50-year-old outdoor pool was closed in late July. The new aquatic center structure is to be completed by May of 2002. The new pool will have three distinct pool areas: a plunge pool at the bottom of a water slide, a lap pool with an adjacent diving well, and a shallow splash pool for small children.

Dennis Morgan nominated for Songwriter's Hall of Fame

Tracy native Dennis Morgan is a 2001 nominee for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Morgan is a Category 2 nominee, songwriters whose first significant work occurred 20-30 years ago. Other Category 2 nominees are Larry Henley, Dennis Linde, Layng Martine Jr. and Bob Morrison. Morgan was also nominated last year.

Morgan's songwriting credits include Barbara Mandrell's "Sleepin' Single In A Double Bed" (#1 in 1978) and "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" (#1 in 1981), Ronnie Milsap's "Smoky Mountain Rain" (#1 Country #24 Pop in 1980), "I Wouldn't Have Missed It For The World" (#1 Country / #20 Pop in 1981) and "She Keeps The Home Fires Burning" (#1 in 1985).

Other hits include Charley Pride's "Roll On Mississippi" (#7 in 1981), the Aretha Franklin-George Michael duet "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (#1 Pop in 1987), Rod Stewart's "My Heart Can't Tell You No" (#4 Pop in 1989), Johnny Lang's "Missing Your Love" (Top 20 Pop in 1998) and Faith Hill's "Let Me Let Go" (#1 in 1999).

Morgan was NSAI Songwriter of the Year for 1981 & 1982, and BMI's Country Songwriter of the Year for 1980, 1982, 1983 & 1986, and BMI's Pop Songwriter of the Year for 1981 & 1982. Morgan's song "Nobody" by Sylvia (#1 Country / #15 Pop in 1982) was BMI's 1983 Country Song of the Year. To date, Dennis has earned 47 BMI awards.

Morgan, the son of Esther Morgan and the late Les Morgan, left Tracy in the late 1960s to pursue a dream of becoming a songwriter.

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame is administered by the Nashville Songwriters Foundation Inc., a non-profit foundation dedicated to honoring and preserving the songwriting legacy uniquely associated with the Nashville music community.

EDA gets responsibility for Eastview lot sales

Future Eastview Addition lot sales are now the sole responsibility of the Tracy Economic Development Authority (EDA).

Tracy City Council members accepted an EDA recommendation Monday night to give the EDA the final say in all future Eastview lot sales. The council accepted the recommendation on a 5-1 vote. Steve Ferrazzano, Mike Fraser, Dave Berndt, Robert Caron, and Russ Stobb voted in favor, Mayor Claire Hannasch voting in the minority. Jan Otto-Arvizu was not present.

“In simple terms, the EDA would be able to negotiate and decide on the sale price of an Eastview lot without the need to go back to the city council for approval,” explained Robert Gervais, Tracy Community Development Director. The streamlined process, he added, could speed up a deal in cases where time is limited.

Until Monday night's vote, council members had to approve any Eastview offer that was less than the city's established price of $9,000 for each lot. (The city also offers a $1,000 rebate to any lot purchaser who builds a new house within a specified period of time).

Big Buddies seek to make difference, one child at a time

'To support, inspire and guide every child in need toward a future of unlimited opportunity through mentoring."
-- Big Buddies vision statement

It's the little things that can make big differences in people's lives, Diane Gunvalson believes.

"Sometimes, when we look at all the problems in the world, it's easy to say, "what can one person do?' I'm just one person. There isn't anything I can do."

Gunvalson gives people considerably more credit. She feels individuals can have an enormous impact on the lives of others.

"All of us have opportunities every day to make a difference in the lives of others. It can be as simple as smiling at a stranger and making them feel like they are someone whom matters. To that one person, at that moment, we can make all the difference in the world."

Seventy-eight children are in the Big Buddies program of Lyon County. "Kids come to us for all different reasons," Gunvalson notes.

Shetek Inlet land retains tracts of virgin prairie

This is the last in a series of stories about Tracy area Century Farms that were recognized at the Minnesota State Fair

By Valerie Scherbart Quist

The Duane M. Peterson farm was founded by Godfrey Peterson on June 7, 1899. Peterson, Duane Peterson's grandfather, purchased the tract of prairie and pasture land from the Winona and St. Peter Railroad on a contract for deed for $12 per acre. He paid for the farm land in five annual installments of $61.51.

The land is located along the inlet to Lake Shetek in Section 11 of Lake Sarah Township.

Marvin S. Peterson, Duane M. Peterson's father, assumed ownership of the land in 1934. Duane M. Peterson has owned the land since 1963.

"The land is about half original prairie that has never been touched by a plow," said Peterson.

CRP has been planted on a portion of the land.

Peterson added that the farm is not the home farm where his family homesteaded. That farm was sold out of the family.