banner.gif (15051 bytes)

News from the week of April 17, 2002

Yes or no? EDA considers call center finance decision

Tracy Economic Development Authority members confronted the $64,000 question Friday. Would providing start-up money for a Tracy Call Center be a good investment in the future of Tracy?

The question was examined from all angles at a special early-morning EDA meeting.

“You want to be sure you are betting on a sure thing,” City Finance Director Dave Spencer advised EDA members. “Otherwise, you are putting your taxpayers at risk.”

Bob Gervais, Tracy Community Development Director, noted that the call center represents a new step for the EDA.

“In the past, people have come to us. Now, we've are the potential developer. It is different because it is the taxpayers money.”

Mayor Claire Hannasch said that the call center represents potential as well as risk for the city.

“If we aren't willing to take a chance, then we won't ever get ahead. If we don't take a chance, then we know that nothing will happen. But if we take a chance, in two years we could have a two million dollar a year business.”

No final verdict on the call center was reached after more than an hour of discussion. Consensus was to further study a recommendation that the EDA provide start-up costs and “incubate” the call center for a year. The EDA will discuss the call center again Friday, April 19, at 6:30 a.m. At this meeting, the EDA will review a proposed timetable for establishing the call center.

“We will establish a schedule of trigger events to work from,” said Frank Cesario of Everest Information Systems. Cesario suggested that work continue in small, incremental steps.

For $5,000 to $7,000 a month, Cesario said his firm can begin to obtain sales contracts and doing other preliminary work for the proposed Call Center. If early efforts to secure contracts for the Call Center are successful, the Call Center can move forward to a targeted July 1 opening. If not, Cesario said, the EDA can pull the plug before spending a great deal of money.

Hannasch said that he would like to see any call center spending request also be approved by the Tracy City Council.

School okays spending cuts

By Kris Tiegs

Tracy School Board members approved budget reductions of $132,988.93 for the upcoming school year at a special meeting on Tuesday night. A group of about 50 people attended the meeting.

Tracy Area Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Clark presented administrative recommendations that were slightly different from those board members had received several weeks ago. Clark also provided several “considerations” to the board on which they could take action.

Tracy school board members revisited two issues from the March 25 board meeting at a special meeting on Tuesday night. The special meeting was scheduled to discuss a resolution to reduce personnel and/or programs for the upcoming school year.

Board member Gary Hippe made a motion during the agenda approval to add items to discuss the “firing of the head basketball coach” and to “complete the discussion of the hiring of a commercial bus to take players to a basketball game.”

At the March 25 school board meeting, Tracy Area Public Schools (TAPS) superintendent Dr. Rick Clark informed board members that it was the administration's recommendation not to rehire boys' basketball coach Jonathan Ruoff. Many people who attended the meeting spoke in favor of Ruoff remaining as coach and distributed letters written by students and parents on his behalf.

Four headed to state speech

Team misses regional title by two points

Four Tracy Area High School students are headed to the state speech meet Saturday in Eagan.

Shanna Lowe, Brady Averill, Brian French, and Bobbi Jo Buyck qualified for state by placing high at the Section 3A speech tourney at Southwest State University Saturday.

As a team, Tracy thespians put an exclamation point on a banner season amassing 36 points and finishing just two points away from a section team championship. Luverne won the section, followed by Montevideo and the Panthers in third.

Three rounds of state Class A speech competition begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Eagan High School. Finals start at 2:30 p.m. The public is welcome.

Averill, a senior, eased the disappointment of just missing state a year ago, with a gold medal in extemporaneous speaking.

Lowe, another senior, returns to state after a sixth-place state storytelling finish last year. Lowe captured second-place honors in Saturday's sectional story-telling competition. Her regional showing continued a string of success this spring that includes three tournament championships.

Sophomore Brian French qualified for state by finishing third in serious drama. He earned a bronze medal for his rendition of "Kennedy's Children."

Bobbi Jo Buyck completes the Panthers' state-bound foursome. The eighth-grader qualified for state with a third-place medal in storytelling.

62 years ago, nation's worst 2-car accident took 12 lives at Slayton

Note—This is a condensed version of an article that originally appeared in the May, 2000 edition of the Southwest Minnesota Sailor).

By Bill Bolin

My hometown, Slayton, gained instant recognition in April, 1940. On that date, the nation's most tragic two-automobile collision occurred, eventually claiming 12 young lives.

In checking with Allan Rodgers of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, he affirmed that this horrible accident on the southeast edge of Slayton, caused more deaths than any other two-vehicle accident in Minnesota over the past century. Upon further research we are quite certain, but not positive, that it was also the worst two-car accident in the United States of America in the 20th century. (Readers must realize that we are not talking about vans, trucks or busses.)

For many years, if you told someone you were from Slayton, they would respond: “That's where all those young kids were killed in a car accident.”

Many living in Slayton in 1940 can relate to that April morning with almost total recall. My memories are etched quite permanently as my dad, Tillman Bolin, ran the Ford garage, where the wrecked cars were brought. I spent considerable time with dad that day, but being so young, I never thought about the significance. Now, 60 years later I think of all the people I've known in my life who were directly or indirectly involved in the accident. How I wish I would have asked some questions.

Illustrator draws rapt attention from students

Warren Hanson asked Tracy Elementary School pupils to think about what they enjoy doing more than anything else. Then he asked the children to imagine doing that most-loved activity everyday when they grow up.

“When I was a young kid, I liked to draw more than anything else. Today, drawing is what I do as a job. This is what I do to earn money so I can buy groceries and put gas in my car. It's fun.”

The St. Paul children's book illustrator and author put on a workshop for Tracy Elementary students in kindergarten through the third grade. Hanson showed the children how he draws and paints characters and how he works on books. The author also read stories and answered questions.

One child wanted to know which was his favorite book.

“All of my books are my favorite. I can't choose just one, because there is something special about each one.”

Hanson is the illustrator of all the books written by author Tom Hegg, including “A Cup of Christmas Tea” and “A Memory of Christmas Tea,” “Peef and the Best Friend", and “Peef: The Christmas Bear.” He has also illustrated “Reading with Dad”, written by Richard Jorgenson.

Known for rich, colorful detail in his illustrations, Hanson said it can take as long as two years to complete the pictures for a book. “That is because I want to be able to do my best work for you,” he told the children.

Someone wanted to know what kind of clothes he wears when he paints.

“Old clothes. I'm always spilling something on them,” he said.

Dollars-for-Scholars spaghetti brings $900

A Dollars for Scholars spaghetti supper raised about $900 for a new student scholarship fund Friday.

“I don't think anyone anticipated that we would take in that much money,” said Chris Kamrud, high school counselor who is part of a newly-organized Dollars for Scholars committee.

The event kicked-off a Dollars-for-Scholars fund-raising campaign that seeks to raise at least $5,000 by June 30. The $5,000 in local contributions would qualify for a $5,000 match from Schwan's Sales Enterprises of Marshall. Schwan's has already given $2,000 to help get the local Dollars-for-Scholars group organized and develop an initial mail solicitation for Tracy alumni.

The Friday night spaghetti supper—complete with bread sticks, apple sauce, milk and ice cream—attracted about 140 diners. The turnout was less than what was expected, Kamrud said, but the amount of money contributed more than made up for the smaller crowd.

The event was held prior to the Tracy Children's Community Choir production of Babes in Toyland. It was hoped that the back-to-back scheduling would help draw more people to both events.

The Dollars for Scholars goal is to establish a large endowment for a perpetual student scholarship fund. Tracy Area High School graduates would be eligible to apply for the scholarships.