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News from the week of May 8, 2002

Home lighting showroom is opening this summer

Lori Hebig and Deb Schenkoske have a bright idea for Southwest Minnesota and Tracy.

The entrepreneurs are opening a home lighting and accessories showroom in Tracy. They plan to have the business, Lights Etc., up and running by August 1.

“The two things we are going to offer is selection and service,” Schenkoske explains. “We plan to have a big selection and we are going to be there to help our customers.” Their lighting displays, Hebig says, will be done “in a warm, homelike atmosphere. It's not just going to be rows of lights.” Lights Etc. will be located in vacant space in the former Tracy Bottling building on South St.

Wide trade area

The partners feel their new business can draw from a 12-county area because their aren't any complete lighting stores in the area closer than Sioux Falls, Willmar or Mankato.

“We feel we have a niche market,” Schenkoske says.

Their market research indicates that about 400 new houses are built annually in the 12-county area, and that the region is served by 113 licensed electricians. They hope to tap into that new construction market by establishing relationships with both contractors and electricians. Special incentives will be offered to those who refer customers to them.

Consumers will travel a long distance to look for lighting fixtures if they are offered good selection and service, the women say.

“It's important to be able to touch it and see it,” Schenkoske says. “People don't want to order out of a catalog.” Their goal is to offer customers more assistance than is typically available at a large building supply store.

“We have experience with lighting, and feel we've got a pretty good knack for home decor,” Schenkoske comments. Adds Hebig, “We will encourage people to bring in fabric samples, pictures or plans.”

Asian grocery store is opening Saturday

Public invited to grand opening

A specialty Asian grocery store is opening Saturday in Downtown Tracy.

Xiong Vue, and his wife, Mai Vang, are opening the store in the former Hair Shoppe building at 106 Third Street.

The Tracy couple invites everyone to a grand opening Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, when homemade samples of Asian food will be served.

The husband and wife have worked to clean up the building and set up food shelves. Their inventory includes a variety of special oriental and Asian foods, including rice, noodles, fruits, and vegetables. Most of their merchandise is canned. But a freezer stocks such items as egg rolls and fish. A cooler will have specialty juices and milk. They also have a selection of Hmong language video cassettes and compact disc recordings.

Although the store is designed to appeal especially to the area's Hmong population, Xiong and Mai stress that they hope they can attract customers from Tracy's traditional population too. In the future, the store hopes to also offer specialty “Mexican food.”

“Everyone welcome,” Mai says. She plans to offer food samples and recipes to help familiarize non-Asians with the store's products.

Early morning fire takes life of Dan Anderson, 49

Smoldering cigarette is thought to be cause

Funeral services were held Wednesday (May 8) for the victim of an early Sunday house fire.

Daniel “Danny” Anderson, 49, died after a fire broke out in his rural Tracy home, 2 1/2 miles west of Tracy on Hwy. 14.

The Tracy Fire Dept. and Tracy Ambulance Service were called to the scene at about 3 a.m. But a glow from the fire could already been seen by firemen at the edge of Tracy as they sped to the scene. Flames were shooting through the house's north and west windows when the first trucks arrived at the farmstead.

After firemen knocked down the flames, two teams of firemen were sent in to search the house. Anderson's body was found in a bedroom. He was pronounced dead at the scene. A coroner's report ruled that Anderson died from smoke inhalation.

A smoldering cigarette is the most likely cause of the fire, according to Fire Chief Keith Engesser. Evidence points to the initial ignition occurring in a carpeted area on the living room floor, between a coffee table and a couch, he said.

Engesser said there didn't appear to be a working smoke alarm in the house.

Firemen from Garvin and Balaton assisted on the call. Some firemen stayed on the scene until 10 a.m. Sunday. Fire Marshall Steve Kellen of Granite Falls investigated the fire.

Hwy. 14 detour begins

A $1.8 million Hwy. 14 construction project is underway between Tracy and Garvin Corner.

Barricades closing off the six-mile segment went into effect late Monday afternoon. The highway segment is expected to be closed until mid-summer.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation detour adds about ten miles onto the Tracy to Garvin Corners trip. The detour sends westbound traffic south on Center Street in Tracy, then west on Pine to the Tracy Elementary Corner. Traffic then goes four miles south to the intersection of Murray County Highways 38 and 21. The detour follows County Highway 21 west to Hwy. 59, and then north on Hwy. 59 to the intersection of Hwys. 14 and 59. A shorter route, using Lyon County 14 between Garvin and Tracy, was not chosen as the detour because of two railroad crossings and two sharp corners.

The Hwy. 14 improvements call for a bituminous overlay from west Tracy city limits to the junction of Hwy. 59, construction of turn lanes, culverts and edge drains. An upgrade to the Hwy. 59 railroad crossing north of Garvin is also included.

Central Specialties of Alexandria is the prime contractor for the project.

Dan Kern is TAMS employee of year'

Dan Kern planned to stay only a year or two after he landed a nursing job at Tracy Hospital in 1985. But other things happened in the mean time.

He liked his job, the town, and its people. He got married, bought a house, and started raising a family. And last week he was named the “Employee of the Year” for Tracy Area Medical Services.

“I like it here,” Kern said Monday during a break at work. “This is a nice place to work.”

During his tenure, Kern has seen his responsibilities increase. The registered nurse is the Operating Room Manager for both Tracy Hospital and its sister facility, Westbrook Health Care Center. He also works regular nursing-care shifts.

A native of Olivia, Kern studied agriculture at the University of Minnesota following high school. He shifted career gears into the medical field, with encouragement from his mother, who was also a nurse. After completing nursing programs in the Twin Cities and Rochester, Kern noticed a “help wanted” newspaper ad for nursing staff in Tracy.

The job appealed to him because “it was in a rural setting” similar to what he'd grown up with. He was also impressed with two of the first Tracy people he met: then-hospital Administrator Omer Eischens and former Director of Nursing Gail Schnieder.

He took the job.

Another incentive soon developed to remain in Tracy after the Christian Manor Nursing Home (now Prairie View) hired a new activities director. He'd met the new activities director, Luann, while working as a physical therapy assistant at a Franklin nursing home. Luann and Dan got married, and they now have four children: Michael, 11; Joe, 9; Jacob, 6; and Anna, 3.

Kern finds his job satisfying from both a personal and professional standpoint. He likes the people that he works with, and helping people. Plus, he finds the work interesting.

FFA kids earn laurels at state convention

The Tracy Area FFA Chapter has been recognized as the outstanding chapter in Region 6 for the fifth consecutive year.

The honor was announced at the 73rd annual Minnesota State FFA Convention at the University of Minnesota last week. Thirty-seven Tracy Area High School students attended.

Eight Tracy members were awarded the prestigious Minnesota FFA Degree, the state's highest FFA award. Kami Skoglund, Katie Lanoue, Steph Carter, Rhonda Bitker, Curtis Paradis, Becky Lessman, Pam Schreier, and Leah Malone received the award.

Tracy's Poultry Evaluation team placed second in state. Members are Laura Lanoue, Laura Zwach, Emily Vandendriessche, and Katie Lanoue. Katie Lanoue was posted the third highest individual score at state.

The Tracy Meats Evaluation team was third in the state contest. Members are Tina Gervais, Mark Gervais, Rhonda Bitker, Jason Morin, and Jake Gervais.

The chapter's Small Animal Judging Team placed third at state. Members are Leah Malone, Steph Carter, Kami Skoglund and Becky Lessman. Lessman, who was the fourth-highest individual, led the team. Other members are Leah Malone, Stephanie Carter, and Kami Skoglund.

Six other Tracy FFA teams also qualified for state competition: General Livestock, Crops Evaluation, Soils, Horse Judging, Dairy Products, and the Ag Mechanics.