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News from the week of October 17, 2001 Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

School operating levy facts spelled out

57% of revenue is from state, ag land exempt, old levy is ending

Two rhetorical questions framed the issue facing Tracy Public School voters on Nov. 6.

“Can Tracy schools survive without passing a referendum?” asked Supt. Rick Clark at an informational forum Monday night.

“Yes,” he said.

“Can it thrive (without passage of a referendum)?” he asked again.

“I don't think so.”

Without an operating levy, he said, the reduced quality of school programs and facilities will result in the loss of open-enrollment students now coming to Tracy. Basic school maintenance projects couldn't be done for a lack of money.

Russ Stobb, a high school science teacher, put his own spin on Clark's questions.

“We would regress greatly (if the operating levy) doesn't pass. It would hurt our programs greatly. I don't think that is survival. Survival can be someone on a respirator.”

Most dollars from state

Approval of the operating levy on Nov. 6 would give the Tracy Board of Education the authority to levy an extra $425 per pupil in each of the next five years.

The proposed operating levy would raise about $357,000 in additional funds for District 417 operations in the 2002-03 school year. About 57% of the referendum revenues ($203,459) would come from state aid. Local property taxes would generate the remaining 43% ($153,816).

The new levy would replace an existing school levy that ends after this year. The existing operating levy, approved four years ago, raises about $278,000 in extra revenue for school operations. Of that amount, about $168,000 comes from school district property taxes with the remaining $109,000 from state aid.

If the Nov. 6 measure is not approved, Tracy Public Schools will not have an operating levy next year.

Community support seen as key to downtown plan

Sabongi plan nears completion

Planning for a revitalized Downtown Tracy is entering a new phase.

“The important thing is that we don't stop here,” said City Administrator Audrey Koopman, at the conclusion of the final community-planning meeting hosted by Eagan planner Fred Sabongi.

“It's exciting to look forward,” said Planning Commission member Eugene Hook. “It doesn't do any good to leave here and not be positive.”

Sabongi reviewed the comprehensive plan for improving Tracy commercial districts at the Oct. 17 meeting. Final drafts of the plan are to be delivered to the city before Thanksgiving. The Tracy Planning Commission and Tracy City Council are then expected to review the plan. Civic leaders hope the plan will be a catalyst and blueprint for future development, and help the city attract matching grant funding.

“This is not just ink on paper,” Sabongi said. Community renovations, he said, can be contagious. When one property owner begins to improve their property, other business people also become interested.

Some community improvements, he said, such as better landscaping and signage, can be accomplished without spending a lot of money.

Once the revitalization plan is adopted by the city, Sabongi suggested that a committee be formed to spearhead the implementation of two-year and five-year “action plans.” Sabongi suggested the panel also include business people, a council member, a banker, an educator, a retiree, and a high school student.

“They will be the ambassadors for this project.”

The city will also need to work with an agency or individual in applying for matching grant funding, he said. The plan will be used as the basis for grant applications.

Ruptured valve forces Tracy Medical Clinic evacuation

The Tracy Medical Clinic was evacuated Tuesday after a valve ruptured in the facility at approximately 11:30 a.m..

According to a press release issued Tuesday afternoon by Tracy Area Medical Services, preliminary investigations were underway to determine the cause of an odor which made several individuals become ill.

The clinic building was evacuated as a precaution, said Tracy Area Medical Services Community Relations Director Valerie Sobrack. The clinic remained closed Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning until test results could be received which would allow the clinic to be reopened. While preliminary test results showed that there were no toxic substances found, further test results had to be obtained before the clinic could open.

The Tracy Fire Department responded to the scene and worked with TAMS Safety Coordinator Sally Reese, a Registered Nurse, to notify agencies necessary to perform testing required to re-open the facility.

North Star plant has new look

The North Star Modular Homes plant in Tracy has a snappy new appearance these days.

The 28,000 square-foot facility has new steel siding and newly-insulated exterior walls. Landscaping on the building's west side—including newly-planted trees and rock—accents the new exterior.

“First appearances are so important,” comments North Star President Neil Daniels.

Aesthetics aren't the only reason for the improvements. Next summer, the building's ceiling will be refurbished and insulated. At that point, Daniels said it will become feasible to heat the building over the winter months and use the building for year-around production. North Star has traditionally closed production at the Tracy plant over the winter because it's too costly to heat the cavernous structure.

North Star Modular Homes of Marshall leased the facility in 1997 and bought the plant in 1998. The company now produces housing units at both its Marshall and Tracy facilities. On average, about four to five people work at the Tracy facility each day. About $1 million of it's units are produced at the Tracy plant each year, Daniels said.

Upgraded high school computer lab improves Internet access

by Valerie Scherbart Quist

Believe it or not, there was once a time when there were no computers in schools. Now, computers are an increasingly important part of every child's education.

Tracy Public School's first computers arrived in the early 1980s, when the district got four Apple IIE computers. This year, Tracy High School has a new lab of 30 Compaq computers.

One of the main reasons for the new lab was that about half of the old computers did not have Internet capabilities, said Nan Ladehoff, Tracy Public School technology coordinator. Ladehoff said the new computers, like the old, are networked together, which allows for file sharing and printing to central printers. The main difference, Ladehoff said, is that on the new computers, students can access the Internet.

"Memory was limited on the old computers. They couldn't connect to the Internet without crashing," she said. "We restrict students to using web browsers and for looking up information."

What's in a name? FCCLA covers all bases for students

By Valerie Quist Scherbart

They used to be known as the Future Homemakers of America. Then they became the Future Leaders of America. This year, the name has changed again, and they're called the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).

The FCCLA motto is “focusing on youth, peer education, and family.” Goals of the FCCLA include promoting personal growth and development through family and consumer sciences education, focusing on the multiple roles of family members, wage earners, and community leaders.

The 2001-2002 state FCCLA theme is “No Limits: Envision the Future.” This was the theme of the regional convention held in Tracy last week. The Tracy Area High School FCCLA chapter hosted over 260 people at the convention.

In addition to hosting the event, the Tracy FCCLA chapter attended roundtable discussions on different aspects of FCCLA led by fellow members.

Tracy FCCLA will soon be working on STAR events for regional competition February 4 in Round Lake. The members will be able to choose from a variety of topics which they will learn about and speak about in competition with other FCCLA members.

Tracy FCCLA members agreed that they had a good time at the regional convention, and that it was a learning experience for them. Advisor Gayle Myhr was proud of the girls for their help in setting up and cleaning up after the event. She also heard comments from other TAHS faculty members who were at the school for workshops about how quiet and well-mannered the group was.