banner.gif (15051 bytes)

News from the week of March 6, 2002

From Third St. to Wall Street, Tracy grad makes mark as Big City editor

“May you live in interesting times,” is the Chinese proverb Phil Connors uses to put the past few months into perspective.

The 1991 Tracy Area High School graduate used to get off the subway for work in the basement of the World Trade Center. On Sept. 11, 29-year-old Leisure & Arts page editor's desk at the Wall Street Journal was covered in ash and debris from the World Trade Center building across the street.

Recently, he got the news that one of his colleagues, Daniel Pearl, had been killed by terrorists.

“I certainly feel that what has happened in New York lately, and to Danny Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter in particular, has made me and my colleagues at the paper feel we're living in times that are a little too interesting.”

Bakery politics, picking rock

Flash back 11 years. Connors, the son of Bob and Betty Connors, is a senior at TAHS, co-salutatorian of his class, part of the academic top 10, and a participant in basketball, track, and cross country. He works for Mike Fritz at the Tracy Bakery.

“Since I woke up at three in the morning to go to work six days a week, I didn't have time or energy for much beyond sports,” Connors recalls.

In looking back on those early mornings at the bakery, Connors considers his talks with Fritz to be an important part of his educational experience.

“I learned a great deal talking about books and politics with Mike in the wee hours of the morning.”

Connors realized that he wanted to live what he calls “a life of the mind” while picking rock one summer with his father's cousin, Fran Gervais.

Babes in Toyland excitement begins

Cast selected, practices underway

Practices are underway for the Tracy Children's Choir Musical, Babes in Toyland.

The musical, directed by Ade Miller and Jesse James, will be staged Saturday and Sunday, April 6-7, and Friday and Saturday, April 13-14. Forty-six choir members in grades 3-6 comprise the cast.

Babes in Toyland marks the fourth-straight year the choir has staged a musical. Annie started the tradition in 1999, followed by Wizard of Oz in 2000 and Peter Pan in 2001.

The Fine Arts Council of Tracy is helping sponsor this year's production, with the assistance of a $3,700 grant from the Southwest Regional Arts and Humanities Council. The children's choir is an activity sponsored by Tracy Community Education. The production will be performed on the Tracy Area High School gym stage.

As has been the case for its past musicals, elaborate costumes and sets are planned. Anyone who would like to help with the production is invited to call Marge Robinson, Fine Arts Council of Tracy president, at 629-3114. Help will be needed for sewing costumes, hair and make-up, building the set, lights and sound, props, ticket sales, and publicity. A call has already gone out for a clown and Raggedy Ann and Andy costumes, a large stuffed sheep or pig, a bugle without valves, and a large artificial pumpkin.

Assisted Living offered at Twin Circles

Assisted Living services are now available for residents of Twin Circle Apartments in Tracy.

Starting Monday, services are being offered through Lutheran Social Services. A variety of home health services are being offered, said Twin Circle manager Dawn Benson.

“The services will be optional,” she added.

“We are bringing services to the people, not to the building,” said Gail Sumerfelt of Lutheran Social Services. “We have a variety of services to offer.”

Available services include help with bathing, dressing, grooming, meal preparation, monitoring of medications, and transportation, to name a few. Services will be billed separately through Lutheran Social Services, and will not affect Twin Circle residents' rent, Sumerfelt added.

“We are also going to provide some activities,” she said.

Staff will be on-site 24 hours a day, and residents who utilize assisted living services will be put on an alert system. Anyone who has assisted living services will have a pendant to use that rings to a cellular phone that notifies staff which building needs help.

An open house is being planned March 25 at Twin Circle. Guests will have the opportunity to learn more about assisted living services and will be able to see the remodeling work in the Twin Circle community room.

City taken off Ventura budget cutting hook

A deficit-reduction plan that would have substantially cut the City of Tracy revenues from the state is off the table in St. Paul.

Last week, the Minnesota legislature passed a budget-measure designed to eliminate a $1.95 billion budget deficit. The legislature's action overrode a veto from Governor Jesse Ventura. Unlike a deficit-reduction plan proposed by the Ventura administration, the legislature's budget-balancing plan does not reduce state aid to local units of government. Under Ventura's plan, the City of Tracy would have lost $189,916 in state aid in 2002.

The governor's formula for calculating cuts was based partly on how much a community had increased its 2002 property tax levy. The City of Tracy, where voters passed a $1.5 million bond referendum to replace a 50-year-old swimming pool, has a 30% increase in its 2002 property tax levy and was hit especially hard by the governor's plan. Slayton and Springfield—towns similar in size to Tracy—faced respective losses in state aid of $65,088 and $77,807 under the governor's plan.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman had felt that the governor's formula unfairly penalized Tracy and other communities that had passed bond referendums for major improvements last year.

Grant sought for park equipment

Sebastian Park will become a kids' paradise on land as well as water, if a proposed Tracy Parks Commission plan becomes a reality.

On the waterfront, a $1.8 million aquatic center is scheduled to open early this summer. On land, the city's park committee is seeking a matching federal grant to help build a large children's play structure at the park. The multi-station modular play area, with an estimated $50,000 price tag, would be located in open space west of the existing Sebastian Park parking lot. Grant money is also being sought for a picnic shelter near the play areas.

A public hearing on the proposed LAWCON park plan is scheduled Wednesday (March 6), 6 p.m., at Tracy City Hall. It's hoped that grant money will be available for construction in 2003. The LAWCON grant is matching. City tax money would need to match any federal grant money on a one-to-one basis.

Three different play equipment plans, from Miracle Recreation Equipment Company, are under consideration. The largest would require an area of 123x93 feet. The rigid plastic pieces, surrounded by wood chips, would have a variety of slides, swings, and climbing devices. Some pieces are specially designed for small tots. Others are made for children up to 12-years-old.

The 20x40 picnic shelter has an estimated cost of $8,000. Costs will vary depending on the type of roofline used.

Sandy & Peggy Ludeman receive national farm conservation award

Sandy and Peggy Ludeman of SanMarBo Farms of Tracy have received a national conservation award.

The Amiret Township farmers received the national Conservation Legacy Award from the American Soybean Association, Monsanto, and Soybean Digest.

The program recognizes outstanding environmental and conservation achievements by U.S. soybean farmers. The Ludemans received the award at the Commodity Classic held recently in Nashville, Tennessee. The Ludemans were named the Midwestern Region winner in December. The Ludemans and the other three regional winners received an expense paid trip to the classic and were recognized at the ASA awards dinner on Feb. 21.

“It is a nice award,” Ludeman said Monday, but he gives credit to other members of the SanMarBo partnership.

“It's really an award to SanMarBo farms. Our names are on the award because you have to be a member of the American Soybean Association and we are the ones whose name is on the membership.”

Other family members involved in SanMarBo Farms, Inc. are Sander and Mary Lou Ludeman, Brian and Bonnie Ludeman, Cal and Deb Ludeman, and Ben and Stacy Ludeman.

This is the first year for the Conservation Legacy Awards program.