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News from the week of September 25, 2002

$496,500 Boiler replacement leaves little money for cooling

A $496,250 question confronts the Tracy Board of Education.

Should District 417 move forward with a recommended boiler replacement project? Is a $496,250 bid proposal the best way to go?

Board members Monday night postponed action on the half-million dollar project until their Oct. 7 meeting. Garry Hippe said he'd like to hear an engineer's report before making a decision, considering the scope of the project. Ed Carter agreed, stating that a delay of two weeks wouldn't be a big hindrance.

The $496,250 bid was submitted by Harder Plumbing of Sioux Falls. Boilers at Tracy Elementary School and Tracy Area High School would be replaced by the project. Both boilers date from the original construction of the two schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

According to Supt. Rick Clark, both boilers should be replaced soon because of uncertain reliability and poor efficiency.

“They needed to be replaced yesterday. We have boilers that have 50% of the boiler wall gone.”

The existing heating plants utilize a combination steam/hot water system. An attached chiller system has historically cooled both buildings. However, the cooling systems at both schools no longer function. School began this fall without cooling capabilities in classrooms.

According to the school district's consulting engineer, the new boiler system will dramatically improve heating efficiencies and lower energy costs. It's estimated that energy savings of 20 to 25% will be realized at the high school, with savings of 40 to 45% at the elementary school. Engineers calculate that existing boilers are operating at 65% efficiency. The new boilers would have an efficiency of 85%.

If the boiler bid is accepted Oct. 7, it's projected that the new equipment would become operational between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15. Money to pay for the new boilers would come from the district's voter approved operating levy.

Superintendent petition given to board chairman

A citizen petition asking that Tracy school board members not renew Supt. Rick Clark's contract was acknowledged by Board Chairman Dan Zimansky Monday night.

Speaking at the regular Board of Education meeting, Zimansky thanked citizens “who expressed their opinions” through the petition process. He said he had received the petition last week.

The petition, signed by about 713 people, asked that the board not renew Dr. Clark's present contract when it expires on June 30 of next year.

Zimansky said he considered the petition to be a “statement of opinion,” and said he wasn't certain what information people had used to base their opinions upon.

“At this point, to my knowledge, there has not been a statement regarding any allegations about the superintendent.” Zimansky said he has received no specific complaints about the superintendent not doing his job properly. If a citizen wants to make such an allegation, Zimansky said the statement should be made to the board “in writing so the board can determine whether there is any validity” to the charge.

No one has received a copy of the petition signatures but him, Zimansky said. He indicated that he intends to keep the identity of the petition signatures confidential.

Zimansky said that Dr. Clark had told him that he has no desire to learn who signed the petition.

“I believe it was the superintendent's viewpoint that he wants to treat everyone in the district fairly and equally,” the board chairman said. Zimansky said that Dr. Clark desires to eliminate any possibility that future dealings with any individual would be affected by whether an individual signed the petition, or to have the perception that petitioners will be treated differently.

Congregation says `thank God' for new church

Dedication, open house is Sunday

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,

Through eternal ages let His praises ring,

Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,

Standing on the promises of God.

Before the carpet was laid in the new Tracy Christian and Missionary Alliance Church building, parishioners were asked to write their favorite verses and names on the floor.

The goal? To be standing always on the promises of God.

The congregation is celebrating the new church this weekend with an open house and dedication. The open house takes place Saturday, Sept. 28 from 2-5 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and a Power Point presentation will be given on the church's history. On Sunday, Sept. 29, the congregation will dedicate the church at 2:30 p.m. Former pastors, the church district superintendent, and mayor will be present. There will be special music and a Power Point presentation.

Pastor and Deb Miller say they hope the community who supported them throughout the building process will “stand on the promises” with them this weekend and visit the new church.

It's been almost exactly one year since ground was broken for the new church. The original plan was to complete only the sanctuary and the restrooms. There wasn't even going to be carpet until a later date.

Today, the only room that needs to be completed is the kitchen.

“It's way beyond what we thought that we'd have done,” said Deb Miller.

Polzine retiring at end of year

Don Polzine, Public Works Director for the City of Tracy since 1975, is stepping down.

Council members reluctantly accepted a letter of resignation from Polzine Monday and agreed to advertise the vacancy. The city hopes to hire a successor by Dec. 1, so the new person can work with Polzine until the retirement becomes effective Jan. 3.

Polzine cited “mixed emotions” in his letter.

“I have enjoyed working for the City of Tracy for the past 26 plus years. We have had our good times and our bad, but most of them, in my opinion, were very positive...thank you for your support over the years.”

Polzine came to Tracy from Worthington.

He had intended to retire this spring. But City Administrator Audrey Koopman and council members talked him into delaying his retirement. City leaders were especially anxious to have Polzine stay on because of the Tracy Aquatic Center construction, plus large street and sewer improvement projects going on this summer.

Council members were unanimous in their praise of Polzine.

“You have given me a great education,” said Jan Otto-Arvizu, who has served on the council since the early 1980s. “You have always had the best interests of Tracy at heart.”

“It seems as if when we didn't have an answer, Don had it,” said Russ Stobb.

The council accepted Polzine's resignation, “with thanks” for his past service.

Midwestern rider places five times at world rodeo event

Toni Shaw is a big-time rodeo winner.

How big?

The granddaughter of Curt and Delores Shaw of Tracy placed in the Top Ten of five events at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. Toni placed third and fourth in team penning, fifth in barrel racing, seventh in pole bending, and ninth in cutting. She rode three different horses at the world competitions.

“We're really proud of her,” said Curt Shaw, an avid horseman himself. Toni is the daughter of Brad and Mary Shaw of Minot, N.D. Brad is a 1969 graduate of Tracy High School. Toni was the only world competitor to place five times in the Top Ten. “I knew I had a pretty good shot,” she told the Minot Daily News. “But it was awesome to place five times.”

The 17-year-old, who is a senior at Minot High School, has been riding horses since she was five. She credits her father for teaching her about horsemanship.

“My dad knows what he's doing. You have to have the right trainer. We were lucky. We were just born into it.” Toni takes care of her horses twice a day. She says she pampers them, but not to the point of spoiling them. “You have to treat them like people. You have to let them know you're the boss. But you have to treat them with respect too.”

Leap of Faith . . . Gift of Life

Nineteen years ago, two Minnesota college students faced a heart-wrenching dilemma.

Both were 22.

She was a junior at St. Benedict's College.

He was about to graduate from St. John's University.

They had been going together for months, but had no immediate plans of getting married. He was looking forward to going on to graduate school. She had another year at St. Ben's before also seeking a master's degree.

Then they learned she was pregnant.

Many of her friends urged her to have an abortion. Others advised marriage and raising the baby.

They decided not to do either. Neither felt ready for marriage and the responsibilities of raising a child. They considered abortion to be wrong.

She stayed in school as long as she could, then returned home to have the baby. He postponed graduate school, got a job, and provided moral support during the pregnancy.

The baby was born, healthy, pink, and cute.

Hearts torn, the young parents signed away their parental rights. One gray February day in 1984, the mother and father placed their healthy, month-old-daughter into the arms of a foster mother, not knowing if they would ever see or hear of the child again.

This is the story of that baby, her birth parents, her adoptive parents, and her maternal grandparents.

* * *

Heartsick doesn't begin to describe the emotion.

Jamie Stanton kissed her newborn daughter's cheek, and handed the little bundle to the foster mother.

Then she and her boyfriend, Duke Moloney, drove away.

“She was so beautiful and so soft and gentle that I wanted to take her into my life,” Jamie remembers. “But I couldn't. As we drove away from the house, I cried. I didn't stop crying for a year.”

Duke shared her anguish.

“It was pretty quiet in the car,” Duke recalls. “There wasn't much to say. We really didn't know if we would ever see her again.”

Not in their wildest dreams did either imagine they would gather one day around a kitchen table with their teenage daughter a nd her adoptive parents, laughing and eating pizza.

* * *

Cassie Ludwig didn't think much about her birth parents as she grew up.

Sure, she'd written notes and sent them pictures once a year since she was in the third grade. She knew that she was adopted. Her mom and dad had explained to her at an early age that birth parents had given her up for adoption because they loved her but couldn't take care of her.

It wasn't until Cassie got older that she thought about meeting her birth parents.

“I thought, maybe they could come to my high school graduation.”

The meeting came sooner than expected.

After exchanging greetings via e-mail, arrangements were made for a face-to-face meeting between Cassie's family and the birth parents, Jamie and Duke Moloney of Eagan. The date was Oct. 12, 2001.

Just about everyone was nervous. But the encounter was sweet. Duke and Jamie kissed and hugged daughter for the first time since February of 1984, when they'd left their month-old-baby at a foster home.

“It was pretty cool,” remembers Cassie, the 2001 homecoming queen at St. Cloud Cathedral High School. “I was really excited about meeting them.”

The Moloneys were overwhelmed to see their grown up “baby” and also to meet the people who had so lovingly raised Cassie. The Ludwigs, in turn, were gratified to meet the Moloneys, who years before had given them the priceless gift of a daughter.

At subsequent visits, Cassie met her three younger siblings for the first time. Davin, Shaela, and Kyla Moloney had grown up knowing they had an older sister who had been adopted by another family. Pictures of their older sister, after all, were displayed in their family's home. But November of 2001 was the first time the siblings met face-to-face. Almost immediately, the kids were comparing similar likes and dislikes.

* * *

Barb Ludwig's eyes still mist over as she thinks about the first time she saw her daughter.

“She was so tiny,” she remembers.

She'd been at work when the agency called.

“We have a little baby girl for you,” the voice had said. “You can pick her up either tomorrow or Monday!”

So excited she hardly knew what to think, she called her husband, Steve. They decided they would have to wait until Monday.

“We didn't have a thing ready,” she laughs.

After a `wild and crazy” weekend of shopping and getting a nursery ready, the new parents were ready for their new daughter —barely.

“All they gave us was a baby in a diaper and four ounces of formula,” Steve smiles. “We had to even bring an outfit for her.” Their first task as parents was to run to the store and buy baby formula. Then they discovered that the diapers they'd bought earlier were too big.

But, oh, what a joy she had brought into their lives.

Tears come again as the mother describes their happiness.

“Without adoption we never could have had a family. Being a mother is what I had always wanted to do.”

* * *


For their daughter's sake, the Stantons supported the adoption decision. But while their minds said “yes,” their hearts said “no.”

It was agonizingly difficult to see their daughter give away her baby, Jeanne admits. The decision was even more wrenching because her daughter and boyfriend, both 22, were no longer teenagers.

Keith also had mixed feelings.

“My first concern was for Jamie— protecting, her, helping her, if I could. What does a father do or can do? For her sake, we accepted Duke and knew she needed him, but I could not help but wonder about their future.”

After the baby had been put up for adoption, the Stantons wanted to talk with other grandparents who had gone through a similar experience. They had little success.

“It's something that people just don't want to talk about,” Jeanne remembers.

The adoption decision was made even more difficult, by what Jeanne feels is a social stigma attached to adoption. Young women get the message that it's okay to have an abortion in case of an unplanned pregnancy, or to raise a baby as a single parent, Jeanne says. Yet at the same time, the young mother who gives her baby up for adoption is often regarded as unfeeling and heartless.

“Who is the mature one?” Jeanne asks. “She (a birth mother) has given the most unselfish gift of all. She gave a part of herself away so her child could have that which she could not give.”

Even though they knew only the sketchiest details of their granddaughter's life over the past two decades, the Stantons never forgot her. At each Christmas and birthday, they gave their granddaughter a small gift or card. (The gifts were kept by her daughter and husband until they could be delivered this past year). Like all grandparents, they gushed over each new photo.

They've been thrilled that the adoptive and birth families have been able to meet, and especially that they've been able to meet their granddaughter, Cassie.

“The meeting of the two families was everything anyone could have hoped for. It is indescribable to know our feelings after 18 years.”

Today, she has absolutely no regrets about the adoption.

“Adoption is tough, but it isn't always tragic, and often it is the right thing to do,” she sums up.