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News from the week of October 30, 2002

City hires public works director

A Walnut Grove man has been hired to become the City of Tracy's new Public Works Director.

Rick Robinson, 42, began working for the city Tuesday. He'll train under retiring Public Works Director Don Polzine until the end of the year.

“I'm looking forward to this,” Robinson said. “It's fun having a new challenge.” Robinson said he genuinely likes the idea of getting involved in a community and working with the public.

A native of Worthington and a 1979 graduate of Worthington High School, Robinson has 18 years experience in the public works field. His most recent job was with People Service, where he worked 11 years as a water/wastewater plant operator. His work has involved facilities in Walnut Grove, Revere, and the Upper and Lower Sioux communities. As an employee of People Service, he has also done back-up work at the Tracy water plant.

Robinson and two other candidates were interviewed Wednesday. The city council interview committee unanimously recommended that Robinson be hired. The full council accepted the recommendation Monday night. Robinson's starting annual salary was set at $37,752 with three weeks vacation.

Council members said that they liked the breadth and depth of Robinson's experience. Councilman Russ Stobb said he felt that Robinson had the potential to “become another Don Polzine” on the job.

Antique Shoppe unveils new (and old) look for Thursday grand opening

Need a small wooden goat cart to haul your livestock to market?

Or how about a hardwood smoke stand, complete with a built-in humidor for storing tobacco?

Or maybe you need a big Red Wing crock to finish outfitting your kitchen?

Chances are, you'd find what you are looking for at the grand opening of the Antique Shoppe Thursday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

“We invite people to come out and see what we have,” says Dar Ford, one of the shop's owners. Ford and partners Denise Rokke and Dorothy Stelter opened the doors to their business in late August. Over the past two months, the antique store's inventory has greatly expanded. Besides their own merchandise, the store also features inventory from seven area antique dealers.

The Hwy. 14 Tracy business has four rooms of collectibles and antiques. The store's treasures includes glassware, pottery, primitives, folk art, linens, dishes, toys, tools, tables, shelves, lamps, clothing, jewelry, memorabilia, records, pictures, clocks and mirrors.

“We've got a lot of things here, and we want to sell it, and move it out, and bring some new things in,” Rokke explains. The three partners say they want their shop to have a reputation for always having something new to look at and discover.

The Antique Shoppe also offers some new merchandise, such as reproduction collectable dolls and action race cars, soy candles and one-of-a-kind appliqued clothing.

The Antique Shoppe is a more than a business for the three women. Each has an enthusiastic interest in antiques and collectibles.

Rokke feels that antiques are a way to connect with the past, and gain knowledge and appreciation about previous generations. For example, she has some bowls and plates of green Depression glass that were once used by her great-grandmother. The glassware provides a special connection to her great-grandmother, whom she otherwise never knew personally. The same goes for the spinning wheel in her home that once belonged to her husband's grandparents.

“It's a way for you to get to have a connection with the past, and understand how they lived,” she explains.

Their business has attracted many shoppers from out-of-town. Some antiquers stop as they drive through town. Others make a special trip to Tracy, or include The Antique Shoppe as they visit other area shops.

The owners feel their store offers customers good value with fair prices and a good selection for both the novice and veteran collector. Buying something at their shop, rather than at an auction, is something of an assurance that an antique is priced right. Rokke said she has many times seen antiques and collectibles sell far above their book value at an auction.

The value of a good antique shop, is that “you can touch it and you can feel it,” and examine a piece carefully for flaws.

The Antique Shoppe is located space formerly occupied by Tele-Radio. Grand opening shoppers are invited to register for a variety of door prizes.

And yes, the Antique Shoppe really does have a wooden goat cart for sale.

Voters have their say Tuesday

Months of politicking end Tuesday, when voters head to the polls to decide a wide variety of city, township, county, and state elections. Polls open at 7 a.m. in municipal precincts, and at 10 a.m. in townships. Polls will be open until 8 p.m.

In this first general election since Congressional reapportionment, area voters will help decide two Congressional races. In the new Seventh Congressional District (generally north of the Lyon-Murray county line), Congressman Collin Peterson, a Democrat, is running against Republican Dan Stevens. In the First Congressional District (south of Lyon-Murray line), Republican incumbent Gil Gutknecht is running against Democrat Steve Andreasen.

All state Senate and House races are up for grabs. Local races include DFL incumbent Jim Vickerman running against Republican challenger Alex Frick in District 22. Republican Doug Magnus is challenging DFL incumbent Ted Winter in the District 22A House seat. In House District 21A, DFLer Deb Hess is challenging incumbent Republican Marty Seifert. Republican Dennis Frederickson is running unopposed for the Senate 21 seat.

The county sheriff's position is at stake in both Lyon and Murray counties. In Lyon County, Dennis Ozmun is running against Joel Dahl. The Murray County race has Steve Telcamp running against Ron McKenzie.

Voting in Tracy will take place in City Hall. In Monroe Township, voters will make history by casting the general election ballots at a museum. The Monroe Town Hall was moved to the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum earlier this year. Next week's general election will be the first at the museum.

Other area voting precincts include: Custer Township, Garvin Auxiliary Hall; Springdale Township, Walnut Grove Community Center; Amiret Township, Amiret Town Hall; Gales Township, Gales Town Hall; North Hero and Springdale Townships, Walnut Grove Community Center.

Grand opening set

This Ol' Place in Garvin has many reasons to celebrate this weekend.

Owners Dennis and Myra Kronke are celebrating the grand opening of a new convenience store and the one-year anniversary of the Garvin establishment.

The Kronkes bought the bar and grill, formerly known as Al's Bar, last fall. Since then, they have embarked on an extensive renovation project.

“It's been a busy year,” Myra said. “It's just been non-stop.”

The biggest project was the addition of a new convenience store. The store carries a variety of items, such as milk and bread, that Garvin residents once had to drive several miles to get.

“The local people are really enjoying it,” said Denny, adding that the store gets business from the lakes area as well.

Myra said she would eventually like to add a small gift area to the back of the new store.

The convenience store is connected to the bar and restaurant by a hallway that has new men's and women's bathrooms. The old bathrooms have been torn out, and allow for an expanded seating area.

A new ceiling in the bar area is the most recent project. Future projects may include adding a horseshoe-shaped bar and expanding the kitchen.

Business has been good, especially for the kitchen, the Kronkes say.

“The food business has really been unreal,” Denny said. The full menu includes specialties such as steak, shrimp, chicken, and a variety of burgers.

A year's worth of hard work culminates this weekend in a three-day celebration.

The party gets underway Friday, Nov. 1 with comedian Jeff Bergs, who is originally from Tracy, from 9 to 10:30 p.m.

On Saturday night, there will be a Halloween party with karaoke. Cash prizes will be given for the top three costumes.

The celebration continues on Sunday with music by Mary Molitor from 4 to 6 p.m. Jeff Bergs returns from 8 to 9 p.m.

There will be drawings and prizes throughout the weekend, as well as a truckload Coke sale. On Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m., customers will receive five cents off per gallon of gas.

The Kronkes are looking forward to the three-day celebration and the future at This Ol' Place.

“We've met a lot of people and made a lot of new friends over the past year,” Denny said. “The local people have been really supportive.”

Seven seek four Tracy jobs

Tracy voters will fill four terms on the seven-member Tracy City Council in Tuesday's general election.

Up for grabs is a four year term as mayor, plus three, four-year terms on the city council.

Voters will choose between City Council member Steve Ferrazzano and Marv VanAcker for the mayoral opening.

Five candidates are vying for the three council openings. Incumbents Russ Stobb and Jan Otto-Arvizu are joined in the race by Adeline Johnson, Tim Byrne, and Greg Torkelson.

Other area municipal races include:

Currie—James Jens is running unopposed for mayor. Louise Gorman and Robin Leonard are running unopposed for two council positions.

Dovray—Gayle Rupp is running unopposed for mayor. Joann Shaw and Herb Hansen are running unopposed for council.

Garvin—Joe Stefanick and George Mason are the only people to file for two council positions. James Julien is running unopposed for mayor.

Balaton—Nort Johnson and Del Rutz have filed for mayor. Pat Rutz, Brad Wojahn, and Scott Wood are running for two council positions.

'Mystery Machine' makes appearance in Tracy

If you happened to drive down Center Street over the weekend, chances are you saw what appeared to be the Mystery Machine from the Scooby-Doo cartoons.

Were Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang in Tracy? Not quite.

The van belongs to Guy Frechette of St. Paul, who was in town visiting his parents, Louis and Arlene Frechette.

Frechette's two sons, Andy and Avery, were the inspirations for the paint job. The van is popular with other kids—and adults—as well.

“When I drive down the street, little kids stop and they stare,” said Frechette.

The artist, who grew up in Tracy, has many stories about his experiences with the van—including taking the creation to the Scooby-Doo movie when it was in the theater.

This isn't his first unique creation, either. The last van he owned was decorated with glow-in-the-dark stars, also at the request of his sons. He also decorated his sons' bedroom walls with a color crayon motif.