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News from the week of August 14, 2002

Mosquito spraying is planned soon

The City of Tracy plans will be spraying for mosquitoes soon as conditions warrant, according to Public Works Director Don Polzine.

For spraying to be effective, he explains, temperatures must be at least 70 degrees. Winds must be less than 10 miles-per-hour. It is also important to time the spraying to mosquito hatches, which typically take place 14 to 17 days after a significant rainfall. The last heavy rains in the immediate Tracy area fell on August 3 and August 5, meaning mosquitoes could hatch beginning this weekend and into next week.

The spray used in Tracy is meant to affect only mosquitoes, killing them on contact, Polzine said. He said that Tracy is one of the few area communities that still sprays for mosquitoes. He guesses that only about 10% of Minnesota municipalities spray for mosquitoes.

It costs city taxpayers about $750 for a citywide spraying operation. Spraying operations have been conducted twice this summer.

Mayor Claire Hannasch says that citizens are especially concerned about mosquitoes this summer because of the West Nile Virus. Several cases of the West Nile Virus in horses have been reported in Southwest Minnesota. The virus, is carried by birds, and spread by mosquito bites.

The West Nile Virus is often fatal in horses. Humans can also be affected by the West Nile Virus, although as of last week, the Minnesota Center for Disease Control had not confirmed any cases of human infection. Even if a person were bitten by an infected mosquito, only about 1 in 150 would become seriously ill, according to the Center of Disease Control.

`Shetek Revisited'

Reconciliation stressed, 140 years after terror & death stalked Shetek

Three days of special programs are planned at Lake Shetek State Park this weekend commemorate the 140th anniversary of the Dakota Conflict of 1862.

Special programs are planned to explain leading up to the Dakota Conflict, and the tragedy that befell Shetek settlers on August 20, 1862.

The weekend activities focus on the theme of reconciliation between the white and Native American peoples. A special 4 p.m. reconciliation ceremony is planned at the Shetek Monument Saturday.

The eastern side of Lake Shetek was home to a small settlement of white farmers in the summer of 1862. But surprise attacks initiated by Dakota warriors on August 20 left 15 whites and an unknown number of Dakota dead. The remains of the 15 settlers are buried at the monument site.

The bloodshed at Lake Shetek was a part of the widespread fighting between whites and Dakota Indians that began on August 17, 1862, in Meeker County. Fighting spread the next day when Dakota warriors, frustrated about late government treaty payments, attacked the Lower Redwood Agency. Subsequent Dakota attacks were mounted on Fort Ridgely, the Upper or Yellow Medicine Agency, Fort Ridgely, and New Ulm.. The Indians defeated a group of U.S. soldiers in the battle of Birch Coulee. What was later called “The Sioux Uprising” ended on Sept. 23, when a Dakota force of about 700 fighters led by Little Crow was defeated near Wood Lake by a 1,600 soldier force led by Henry Sibley.

Eight women and children who had been taken captive on August 20, 1862, at Shetek were freed in November of 1862 near what is now Mobridge, S.D. The captives were freed after the intervention of 11 Teton Sioux young men, who traded nearly everything they had for the captives. The Indian men, called “The Fool Soldier Band” by their own people because of the risks they took, brought the captives to safety at Fort Randall, 100 miles southeast on the Missouri River.

Dr. Paul Carpenter, a descendant of one of the Shetek captives, has organized a special raffle to raise scholarship money for descendants of the Fool Soldier Band, who were never thanked or compensated by the U.S. government for rescuing the Shetek captives.

The quilt winner will be announced at a special 5 p.m. picnic.

Other highlights of “Shetek Revisited” include a Dakota pipe-making demonstration, a program about an 1864 panorama, programs about traditional Dakota culture and the prairie, a dramatic portrayal of Shetek survivor LaVina Eastlick, and bus tours of Shetek sites.

School scrambles to fill openings

Late resignations have caused a last-minute struggle to complete the 2002-2003 teaching staff at Tracy Area Public Schools.

At Monday's meeting, the Tracy Board of Education accepted the resignations of vocal music instructor Rachael Klimes and English instructor Leann Thooft, as well as English-as-a-Second Language paraprofessional Luann J. Hansen.

Staffing reports for the high school, elementary, and activities were also presented to school board members.

Principal John Rokke updated the board on the staffing situation at the high school.

“We still have a couple of holes,” he said.

Rokke said eight applications were received for the math teaching position. Three candidates withdrew, and two took jobs elsewhere. Three candidates were interviewed, none of whom are still available.

Rokke said advertising would continue for the position. He will also be contacting area colleges to see if a student teacher may be available to fill the position. If this scenario is implemented, a substitute teacher will have to be hired to sit in on the student teacher's classes.

Interviews for the English teaching position will begin this week. Three applications have been received.

One candidate has been interviewed so far for the vocal music position. Two applications were received.

Guidelines okayed

Tracy City Council members gave their blessings to a vision of what a refurbished Downtown Tracy can look like someday.

Improvement guidelines developed by the Tracy Planning Commission and Downtown Revitalization Committee were unanimously approved. The guidelines were drawn, in part, from suggestions made by Eagan consultant Fred Sabongi last year.

The Sabongi plan strives to build on the historic character of downtown buildings, and create a downtown district that is different from the “big box” shopping malls prevalent in larger communities. The guidelines suggest ways for property owners to renovate their buildings in a way that enhances the overall downtown appearance.

“If possible, renovations should be in character with the original building design,” the guidelines state.

Other guidelines deal with awnings, windows, exterior doors, exterior lights, and street slights.

The guidelines call for second-story window openings to not be covered with wood or other materials. Most second-story window openings in downtown are now boarded up.

Light gray, burgundy or dark green awnings are recommended for store fronts. Exterior lights are to be of the “old town” design. Exterior doors are to be compatible with exterior designs. It is suggested that any new street lights be similar to the ones installed in Central Park.

A review committee is to look over all renovation plans prior to construction. The committee is to consist of two downtown business owners, two planning commission members, two revitalization committee members and one council member. The planning commission is to act as an appeal board. A permit shall be required prior to construction, with the fee not to exceed $20. The city building inspector is to verify that the construction complies with the plan approved by the review committee or planning commission.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman said that the guidelines are intended to assist property owners in renovation efforts, and encourage a uniform look to the downtown area.

WW II bomber is coming to Tracy

A 60-year-old World War II bomber is flying to Tracy for Box Car Days.

The restored B-25 bomber will fly into the Tracy Airport on Monday, Sept 2 for the Box Car Days “fly-in” breakfast, which traditionally attracts pilots from across the region. The fly-in also includes an antique car show, a pancake breakfast, and a remote-control model airplane exhibition.

The B-25 is the same type of aircraft that was used in the surprise American air raid against Tokyo in April of 1942. The raid, led by Major General Jimmy Doolittle, is credited with boosting American morale after a series of crushing defeats in the early months of WW II.

The B-25 flying into Tracy is owned by the Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, an organization dedicated to preserving the heritage of WW II-era American military airplanes. The craft will fly into Tracy from Fleming Field in St. Paul.

Dave Algyer spearheaded the effort to book the B-25 for Box Car Days by lining up sponsors to pay a $2,500 fee. Sponsors will also pay for the approximately 250 gallons of fuel needed for the round-trip from St. Paul.

The B-25 is a two-engine aircraft with a 67-foot wingspan. The airplane is 52-feet long and nearly 16 feet high. The medium bomber carried a crew of six. On most missions, it carried between 2,000 and 4,000 pounds of bombs.

The B-25 coming to Tracy was used as a trainer aircraft during WW II. Affectionately dubbed “Miss Mitchell,” the plane has been restored to its original WW II appearance. The plane has been used for honorary fly-overs at both Doolittle's funeral, and that of Hank Potter, a navigator on the Doolittle Raid.

Summer projects near completion at schools

Carpet delays are a concern

Tracy Area Public Schools are making final preparations for the start of the 2002-2003 school year.

The major challenge right now, reported Superintendent Rick Clark, is that new carpets that were supposed to be installed last week still haven't arrived.

Dr. Clark said he is pleased with the progress made on cleaning.

“I think the building conditions speak for themselves,” he said.

Projects include replacing tile and carpeting, and working on roofing, ventilation, air quality, smoke detectors, and boilers, just to name a few. Dr. Clark presented the board with two full pages of painting projects that have been completed, and said the gym floor and bleachers look better than they have in a long time.

Progress at the elementary school has hit a few snags, reported Principal Scott Loeslie.

“We have a ways to go,” he said.

As a result, the open house scheduled for August 26 may have to be delayed, he said. He said the public will be notified as soon as possible if a change has to be made.

Fee change requested

The board heard a request from the Twister dance team coaches and parents to reconsider fees paid by student participants for the upcoming year.

Current fees are $50 in the fall and $50 in the winter for junior high, and $75 in the fall and $75 in the winter for senior high, for a total of $100 in junior high and $150 in senior high.

Fall is considered to be performance season. Danceline participants practice two to three times a week, perform as often as possible, are not allowed to letter, and are not invited as a team to the fall sports banquet.

Winter is considered a competition season. The team practices five to six times a week, performs as often as possible, members are allowed to letter, and the team is invited to the winter sports banquet.