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News from the week of September 11, 2002

Tracy school systems have new teachers

Four new teachers greeted Tracy Area High School students as they returned to school last week.

They are: Dave Sogge, English; Shirlee Gilmore, vocal music; Roger Parsons, math; and Katie Gervais, business.


Sogge, while new to the TAHS teaching staff, is familiar to the Tracy school district. He taught English in the Balaton Public School District for 27 years and has been a coach for several different sports in Tracy.

Vocal music

A long-time resident of the Pipestone area, Gilmore is happy to be back in rural Minnesota after spending a year in the Chicago area.

Gilmore had a piano studio for 14 years before deciding to go back to school. She graduated from Southwest State University in December of 2001.

Gilmore is teaching seventh and eighth grade choir, seventh and eighth grade general music, and senior high choir. She will also be giving individual and group voice lessons.


Parsons, Ph.D., brings 37 years of combined experience at the high school and college level to TAHS. Dr. Parsons will be teaching Algebra I, Consumer Math, and refresher math courses.

“Things have gone well,” he said. “The students are nice and the teachers are wonderful. The people of Tracy should be proud of their school.”

He is originally from Plum City, Wis., and currently resides in Vermillion, S.D., where his wife is part of the bio-medical program at the University of South Dakota. Dr. Parsons is staying in Tracy during the week and commutes back to Vermillion on the weekends.

Business education

Gervais is also no stranger to the Tracy community.

The new business teacher has been the media assistant at the high school for four years, and has been coaching in the district for nine years. She has served as head volleyball coach for the past four years.

Gervais has a degree in business finance management from Southwest State University in Marshall and a degree in business education from Dakota State University in Madison, S.D.

While she believes she has an advantage as a new teacher with some knowledge of the district, she says it is challenging to return in a teaching position.

Two teachers join staff at Tracy Elementary

Two new teachers are on board at Tracy Elementary this year.

Jennifer Larson, a 2000 graduate of Southwest State University, is teaching second grade. She is a native of Blue Earth.

Larson taught at United South Central Public Schools in Wells two years ago. Last year she was a long-term substitute at the Minneota Public School for four months, and at the Canby Public School for five months.

Nathaniel Boyer is the new fifth grade teacher at Tracy Elementary. He comes to Tracy from the Prior Lake school district, where he taught fourth grade.

The Mankato State University and Bethany Lutheran College graduate grew up in New Richland, and was attracted to the size of the Tracy district. The opportunities to teach in a small district and serve as head boys' basketball coach were major draws for Boyer.

Stacey Johnson is teaching upper grades at St. Mary's

Stacey Johnson is the newest addition to the St. Mary's School teaching staff. Johnson is teaching fifth and sixth grades at St. Mary's.

The Rush City native is a graduate of St. Cloud State University. She previously served as a part-time teacher in Pine City and as a long-term substitute in North Branch.

While Johnson said it is taking awhile to get used to a combination classroom, she is positive about the opportunities it may bring.

Petition campaign asks that superintendent's contract not be renewed

Cable TV broadcasts sought for school board meetings

A citizen petition campaign is underway in District 417, asking that the Tracy Board of Education not renew Superintendent Rick Clark's contract next year.

A second petition asks that all school board meetings be broadcast over the Panther cable television channel.

Tuesday morning, homemade signs displayed in the front window of an organizer's home indicated that 615 signatures had been collected for the first petition, and 620 for the second.

Jan Otto-Arvizu, an organizer of the petition drive, was asked by the Headlight-Herald to comment about the campaign. She indicated that it is her intent to present the petitions to School Board Chairman Dan Zimansky by Sept. 15.

The first petition states: "In order to maintain positive morale at the school and to ensure a supportive relationship between the community and the school, a change in leadership is necessary." the petition asks that the school board give notice that his contract will not be renewed beyond June 30, 2003.

The second petition states that "televising the meetings of the school board would allow many voters to be fully informed of discussions on issues important to District 417. The equipment is already in place and an access channel is available. for those not receiving cable TV, tapes of the meetings would be available or people could gather at a friend or relative's home to view the meeting live."

Dahl, Ozmun top sheriff primary

Joel Dahl and Dennis Ozmun advanced int he Lyon County sheriff's race following Tuesday's primary election.

Tracy resident Ron Stephens was eliminated from the three-way Lyon County sheriff's race in the primary. In Tracy, Stephens was the favorite, receiving 63.71 percent of the vote. County-wide, Stephens received 14.85 percent of the vote, while Joel Dahl received 62.73 percent and Dennis Ozmun 22.42 percent.

One hundred Tracy voters supported Republican U.S. Senate candidate Norm Coleman, while 92 voted for DFL dandidate Paul Wellstone. Ten tracy voters suported Republican candidate Jack Shepard. Six voted for DFL candidate Dick Fanson, and three voted for Alve Erickson.

A total of 268 voters turned out to vote in the primary election Tuesday in Tracy. In Lyon County, there were 2,221 voters.

Seven file for city offices

Seven people have filed for four positions on the Tracy City Council. Two of the filings are for mayor; five are for city council terms.

Two people have filed for mayor: Steve Ferrazzano and Marv Van Acker. Incumbent Mayor Claire Hannasch did not file for reelection. Ferrazzano is now on the Tracy City Council.

Council incumbents Russ Stobb and Jan Otto-Arvizu both filed for reelection. Tim Byrne, Greg Torkelson, and Adeline Johnson have also filed for office.

The candidates with the three highest vote totals will be elected to four-year terms that begin Jan. 1. The mayor's term is also for four years.

A two-week filing period ended Tuesday, Sept. 10. The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Renovations to start soon, offer accepted by EDA

Renovations on the former Ben Franklin building in Downtown Tracy are likely to begin soon.

Friday, the Tracy Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved an $11,000 purchase agreement on the property with Glenda Johnson and Marsha Goff. The women hope to finalize their purchase on Monday after getting an updated abstract from the City of Tracy.

“As soon as we can close on the building, we are going to get started (on the remodeling),” Johnson said Tuesday.

The entrepreneurs plan to refurbish the building to serve several business. A coffee shop will be one of the anchor businesses. Johnson plans to move her specialty store, “Baskets of Yarn,” to the site from 125 Third St. Other business possibilities include new furniture sales, inspirational books, and specialty craft and antique items. Goff and Johnson have also talked with an out-of-state company about renovating the top floor for a technology/call center.

Johnson said that no official target date for opening has been set, although she would like the remodeling done by the end of the year.

The EDA purchased the building in 2001 with the goal of attracting a technology-related business to the site. Forester Furniture was the building's original occupant, followed by Kirkpatrick's Drug, Ben Franklin, and Korner Krafts.

City, engineers work to resolve unfinished aquatic center issues

Tracy City Council members rolled up their sleeves with consulting engineers Monday night in an attempt to resolve nuts and bolts issues about the new Tracy Aquatic Center.

The new swimming facility ended a successful first season on Sept. 1. Monday night's 90-minute session focused on work that remains uncompleted and equipment thunder warranty that either needs to be repaired or replaced.

Most items on the 18-point list were not readily apparent to the Aquatic Center visitors this summer. They include: caulking, broken equipment in zero-depth area, leaking gaskets, non-functional heaters and water level controls, leaking filters, an electrical box and filters,

Tom Schaffer, president of USAquatics, the firm that has represented the city during the construction, said that most of unfinished work or repairs are contractual obligations of Olympic Pools. Council members authorized Schaffer to contact Olympic Pools and other contractors about the work that needs to be completed, and find out by Sept. 16 whether they are willing to come back and to do the work. The deadline for completing all work was set at Oct. 1. If contractors are not willing to do the work, Schaffer was instructed to get find someone else to do the work.

“We want everything drained, locked up and put away by Oct. 15,” said Mayor Claire Hannasch, about the need to winterize the pool.

Shorty Engel, pool administrator, noted that pool staff had not even received a complete manual for how to shutdown and winterize the pool from Olympic Pools.

Schaffer explained that to date, the city, as called for in its contract, was retaining payments equal to 300% of the uncompleted work. He also noted that Olympic Pools had been assessed for about $46,000 in liquidated damages for not completing work on time.