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News from the week of October 16, 2002

City seeks $1.2 million

State grant application moves ahead

The City of Tracy is moving forward with a $1,166,820 grant application.

Grant funds, if obtained, would be used for commercial and housing rehabilitation projects within a 10-block area near Downtown Tracy.

Tracy City Council members gave their blessings to a grant application Monday night that had been prepared by Rick Goodeman, director of the Southwest Minnesota Housing Agency. It won't be known until March whether Tracy's grant application is successful.

The revitalization total estimated cost is $1,982,790. The grant application lists the City of Tracy contributing $3,750 for a lead hazard abatement program and $7,000 for general administration. The Tracy Economic Development Authority is listed as contributing $42,000 for a downpayment-assistance homebuyer program. Matching contributions from property owners total $255,460. The remaining $507,760 budget comes from several state and federal housing assistance funds that the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership works with.

Some financial participation is required of property owners. For example, with the commercial and rental renovations, the owner would be required to come up of one-third of the needed money. Another third would be provided by a grant, and the remaining third by a low-interest loan.

To be eligible for the housing funds, properties must be located within the ten-block target area identified in the grant application. The target area is bounded by South, Fifth, Rowland, and Center streets. The area was selected, in part, because of the number of sub-standard structures within the target boundaries.

Property owners oppose Shetek-Sarah sewer system

Most Lake Shetek and Lake Sarah property owners are against moving ahead with a proposed lakes area wastewater treatment and collection system.

A mail survey conducted by the Shetek Area Water and Sewer District last montb showed that lake residents opposed the sewer system by a 317 to 195 margin. Another 154 property owners did not return a survey.

Cornelius Smit, Shetek Area Water and Sewer District Chair, said the vote was a “clear indication” that most lake area residents do not favor a lakes area sewer collection system.

The surveys were sent to property owners following an informational meeting on Aug. 24. At the meeting, property owners were informed that in order to go ahead with the project, planning and spec work would have to be completed at a cost of $500,000. The Murray County Board of Commissioners had agreed to loan that money to the Shetek sewer and water district.

Landowners were also told that the chances of getting grant money for the project were not good.

Surveys were sent to homeowners with seasonal or year-round homes, as well as those with buildable parcels of land.

Dept. of Tourism honors Walnut Grove pageant for tenth-straight year

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove has again been honored by the Minnesota Dept. of Tourism.

For the tenth-consecutive year, the pageant is designated as one of Minnesota's “Top Annual Group Tour Festivals and Events.”

The honor was announced by John Edman, the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development's deputy commissioner for tourism.

“It's nice to be on their list,” said Errol Steffen, Walnut Grove Pageant Committee chairman.

The popular Walnut Grove pageant—which depicts the story of the Charles and Caroline Ingalls family settling near Walnut Grove in the 1870s—attracted nearly 9,000 spectators at nine performances this summer. Over 25 seasons, the pageant has played to over 200,000 people.

50 gallons chili keeps spice in fire prevention week tradition

By Val Scherbart Quist

The Tracy Fire Department Auxiliary's annual chili feed has become synonymous with Fire Prevention Week.

Preparing for the chili feed is no small task. The auxiliary first meets in September to discuss plans, said organizers Sue Buysse and Deb Greenfield.

“We plan everything that night,” Greenfield said.

This includes who's doing what and who's bringing what. This means finding volunteers to watch the chili the day of the event, wash dishes, and each family bringing a pan of bars.

On Tuesday before the event, the group chops all the vegetables for the chili and begins cleaning. On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Lane Horn, a retired fireman, fries the hamburger.

On Wednesday evening, the group gathers to mix the ingredients. Buysse and Greenfield said the auxiliary members aren't the only ones who help. Since it is the same evening as “Operation E.D.I.T.H.,” a city-wide home fire drill, many of the firemen stay afterward and help out, they said.

The result? Fifty gallons of chili, which are stored at Tracy Food Pride until the following day.

The chili recipe has been passed down through generations of auxiliary members. Buysse and Greenfield were unsure where the recipe originated, but believe the chili feed has been a tradition since the 1950s.

“It always seems to turn out pretty good,” Greenfield said.

New phones dialed up for hospital & clinic

Patient call system upgrades also set

Two major equipment upgrades are moving forward for Tracy Area Medical Services.

A new telephone system will be installed at both the hospital and the medical clinic. A new nurse's call system is on line for the hospital.

Monday night, Tracy City Council members okayed an $83,523 expenditure for the new patient room call system and $49,826 for the new phone system. The new equipment was recommended by the Tracy Area Medical Services community advisory board this summer.

The new telephone system will replace equipment that is about 20 years old. The nurse call system dates from the original construction of the hospital in the 1960s. Reliability had become an issue with both systems.

The company receiving the patient-call contract—IdeaCom Mid-America—submitted the only bid. Rick Nordahl, assistant TAMS administrator, said that one other company picked up bid specifications, but did not submit a proposal. He said he felt very comfortable with dealing with IdeaCom.

The $83,523 price was just under an $84,000 project estimate.

The hospital-telephone system bid was the highest of three proposals received. The council's accepted Nordahl's recommendation that the $49,826 Frontier Communications bid represents the best value. The other competing bids were Northwestern Communications at $42,548, and $43,271 from Dialnet.

The Dialnet bid was eliminated, Nordahl said, because they didn't like the hardware as much, and the fact that the company is relatively new in the business of selling phone systems.

Nordahl said that several factors—service, familiarity and compatibility—make the IdeaCom bid more attractive that the Northwestern proposal.

Girl Scouts paint new headquarters

The Tracy Girl Scouts have found a new home.

This fall the group moved into their new room in the basement of the Tracy Multi-Purpose (Senior) Center. The room formerly housed the Tracy Food Shelf.

“The senior center was awesome to let us have this,” said service unit manager Joan Rollag.

The girls worked for 11 hours to brighten up the room and make it their own. They painted the walls and added bright touches—butterflies, a bright sun, and a rainbow that will eventually contain handprints of all the girls and their names.

“It was a lot of work, but we sure had fun,” Rollag said. She added that the Cadets of Troop 840, Kaila Jones, Aisling Moham, and Annaleah Rollag, did the majority of the work.

The room redecoration also qualified as a service project for the Girl Scouts 90th anniversary expo held in Redwood Falls. The project won first place at the expo.

There are currently about 35 girls in the Girl Scout program in Tracy. A harvest party is being planned next month.