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News from the week of January 9, 2002 Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

Shetek-Lake Sarah area sewer system in doubt

County board moves forward with septic tank inspections, balks at $500,000 sewer system request

A proposed sewer collection and treatment system for the Lake Shetek and Lake Sarah areas faces an uncertain future in the wake of a decision by the Murray County Commissioners last week.

The county board balked at a Shetek Area Sewer and Water Commission (SAWSC) request that up to $500,000 be appropriated for Phase I of a lakes area sewage collection and treatment system.

Instead, on a 3-2 vote, the commissioners authorized a campaign to test all septic systems older than five years in the Shetek and Lake Sarah sewer district. (Septic systems in Mason and Lake Sarah Townships that are within a shoreland district will also be tested.) Septic systems found to be non-compliant will need to be repaired within 12 months, or within three months, if causing an imminent health risk.

Some proponents of the lakes area sewer system fear that the commissioners' action will scuttle the project.

“The way current Minnesota regulations are written, this effectively kills the project,” asserts Dr. Jack Von Bokern, SAWSC chairman. “It was an unfortunate decision.”

The commission chair feels it is unlikely that an area sewer system will move forward if significant numbers of property owners are forced to make costly septic system improvements now, because most people won't want to pay twice for sewage treatment improvements.

Public hearing set Monday on 55-block street project

Tracy citizens can learn more about a proposed 55-block street improvement project next week.

A public hearing on the street project begins at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14. Purpose of the hearing is to explain the project to citizens, and give property owners a chance to present their views.

The 55 blocks of street work with an estimated $567,741 cost, is being contemplated for 2002. Some costs would be assumed by city taxpayers at large. Other costs would be assessed to benefiting property owners.

The council can choose to do all, some, or none of the proposed street improvements.

The proposed street project calls for:

• 35 blocks of bituminous overlay.

• 17 blocks with a mill and overlay. The roadway would be milled off and replaced with a new bituminous overlay.

• 3 blocks new street construction on existing gravel streets, with new curb and gutter.

If city leaders agree with some or all of the proposed work, engineers would be hired to prepare detailed plans and specifications. Bids would be sought for the 2002 construction season.

To finance the improvements, the city would sell bonds, which would be repaid over time by property tax assessments and general city tax revenues. Historically low interest rates are now available, which would reduce costs for property taxpayers.

Amazed in Egypt

Tracy grad returns from three-month teaching trip

Understand this about the three months Sarah Gervais lived in Egypt.

She did not—repeat, not—feel she was in any danger following the terrorism attacks of Sept. 11.

“I felt completely safe there,” she said, of her sojourn to the ancient cradle of modern civilization.

Gervais, a student at the University of St. Thomas, taught English to kindergartners in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt, for three months this fall. She arrived in Egypt shortly before the Sept. 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

“Right after it happened, I got a ton of e-mails from people wanting to know if I was all right, and if it was safe to be where I was,” she remembers. People shouldn't have worried so much, she says. The vast majority of Egyptian people were profoundly saddened by the Sept. 11 attacks and expressed their sympathies to her.

“They are against terrorism. Everyone I talked to felt really bad for the people who died (on Sept. 11) and their families. They do not think Osama Bin Laden is a good guy.” While she did feel “nervous” in the days after Sept. 11, never was she fearful for her safety. Mostly, she felt she was living among friends.

“The people were wonderful to us. Most Egyptians would give you the shirt off their back if you asked them for it. I never expected that. They are a very kind and generous people.” Returning to the USA in December was bittersweet. While Gervais was anxious to return to family and friends in the States, it was hard to say good-bye to her new friends.

SSU campus remains closed

The Southwest State University campus in Marshall remains closed, one week after a fire destroyed a food service building and caused millions of dollars in damages.

At a meeting of university staff Monday, it was announced that Jan. 28 is the earliest that classes will resume. The college is now on semester break. Classes were scheduled to resume Jan. 16.

Smoke damage extends to many campus buildings, many of which are linked through underground passageways. No unauthorized access is being granted to the campus. Only public safety and physical plant personnel are to report for work on the campus.

The closed campus has forced many changes for activities originally scheduled at SSU. The SSU men's basketball team practiced at the Tracy Prairie Pavilion Tuesday afternoon because of the unavailability of its campus facilities.

The fire was discovered at noon on Jan. 2 in the food service building. Fire engulfed the structure and the roof and a portion of a north wall collapsed.

SSU President David Danahar said Monday that an 18 to 24-month reconstruction period lies ahead for the campus.

Downtown business survey planned

A survey will be conducted soon among downtown Tracy business owners, to gauge interest in a grant program to renovate downtown business properties.

About two dozen business people and downtown real estate owners turned out for an informational meeting Tuesday night at Tracy City Hall to learn details of a Small Cities grant program being pursued by the city. It was agreed to move forward with a survey of downtown business owners as part of the grant application process. The survey is expected to begin within a week.

Rick Goodemann, executive director for the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership in Slayton, has been hired by the Tracy City Council to spearhead the grant application process. He said that a high return rate for the survey is crucial for the grant application's chances of success.

The survey data must also show a high interest among business people in improving their property

Competition is keen for Small Cities grants, Goodeman said. In a typical year, the program attracts about 90 applicants, he said. Only about 38 are funded. There is about $24 million available.

`Tootsies' to take stage Feb. 16

Community players sought for in-between acts

Who is Tracy's most talented “Tootsie?

Hang onto your lipstick! You'll find out who s(he) is on Saturday, Feb. 16, when the Fine Arts Council of Tracy stages its first ever Miss Tootsie Contest. Eight to ten Tootsie hopefuls are expected to strut their stuff in the beauty pageant spoof.

“This should be a lot of fun,” said Ade Miller, who is directing the tongue-in-cheek production with Jesse James.

A “Tootsie” contest spotlights the theatrical talents of men, who portray women in a beauty contest.

“It's hilarious,” agrees James. “Our Tootsies will be going all out. They'll have high heels, dresses, nail polish, you name it. But shaving is optional.”

Candidates will be announced soon. Miller and James say they have already compiled a tentative list of Tootsies. A surprising number of local men have expressed an interest in the production, the directors say.

The Tootsie production will include evening gown competition, a fitness routine, and individual talent presentations. Judges will select several category winners as well as an overall Miss Tootsie.