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News from the week of November 13, 2002

Davidson, Jones are Tracy ExCEL winners

Anders Davidson and Danielle “Dani” Jones are this year's ExCEL Award winners at Tracy Area High School.

The ExCEL award, sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League, honors students for “excellence in community, education and leadership.” To be considered for the award, junior class students must hold positions of leadership in their school, work voluntarily in the community, and participate in a high-school league-sponsored fine arts or athletic activity,

As District 417's ExCEL winners, Jones and Davidson are now eligible for regional and state ExCEL honors.

“There are few students walking the hallways of our schools today who possess the natural ability to quietly lead by example in the manner that Dani Jones does,” wrote teacher Steve Jones, in a letter of recommendation.

Teacher Eileen Schimming, who wrote a recommendation for Davidson, described Anders as a highly-creative student with natural leadership qualities and a drive to succeed.

“Anders is the kind of student we wish we could clone,” she wrote.

Election winners say budget issues will be at top of agenda

Local winners in last week's general election are looking toward the future this week.

New County Commissioner Steve Ritter unseated Jerry Gladis in the fourth district. “I was really pleased with the way it turned out,” he said. “Obviously the people in the fourth district have confidence in me.”

Ritter said that he will be in the learning process at first, and that it may take a while to “get into the swing of things.” Ritter plans to focus on the same issues he ran on in his campaign—particularly fiscal responsibility. “It will be a challenge with the state's budget,” he said. “Hopefully, if everybody works together, we can achieve that goal.”

C.J. Molitor is also gearing up for his duties on the Lyon County board. “There were several people who helped me and it went the way we all thought it would,” said Molitor of his race against Ellayne Conyers in the fifth district.

Molitor also plans to focus on his campaign issues. “I'm going to do what I said I was going to do—work like heck to hold the line on spending. That's my vow—I'm really going to do that.” One of his goals is to get on some of the more important committees, such as planning and zoning. “I want to see growth here in the county,” he said.

Molitor would also like to see the outlying areas get more help with roads and bridges and other issues. “We have to take a long, hard look at some of those things. Funding is being cut a tremendous amount. We have to ask questions before we approve anything.”

Challenging harvest nears completion

The fall harvest season is wrapping up in Southwest Minnesota.

“We've made good progress. The majority of corn and soybeans have been harvested,” said Lyon County Extension Educator Bob Byrnes this week. “We've been fortunate that, even though we've had cold weather, we've had weather that has allowed harvest to continue, especially with corn.”

Byrnes said yields have been good so far.

“Yields have probably been better than what we had last year,” he said. “Last year there were lots of acres downed by summer storms. Most farmers are pleased with the yields we've had.”

Most farmers, he said, are now focusing on tillage and fall fertilization.

While there hasn't been an excessive amount of moisture, there has been enough with recent rain and snow to make tillage and baling corn stalks a challenge, Byrnes added.

Farmers have also had to spend more time drying corn this fall. In many cases, Byrnes said, farmers have had to take five or six points of moisture off with artificial drying. In the past couple of years, corn was dry enough at harvest time so not much drying had to be done.

The question now will be how much tillage can be completed before the ground is frozen, Byrnes concluded.

“If the weather holds and the ground doesn't freeze before Thanksgiving we should be in pretty good shape.”

Dahl looks forward to assuming sheriff duties

Joel Dahl is looking forward to his first term as Lyon County Sheriff following his win over Dennis Ozmun in last week's election.

Dahl said that while he has been involved in campaigns before, he never realized before what a job it is to run for office.

“I'm really pleased with the support I received,” he said. “I'll try my best to represent every citizen and be the best sheriff I can.”

Dahl believes the transition will be smooth in working with current Sheriff Don Stokke as a mentor. He plans to spend the next two months preparing for the job.

“I'm looking forward to taking over the helm,” Dahl said. “It will be interesting but I'm looking forward to it. There will be some changes people like to see and others people won't like to see.”

“We want crimes solved as soon as possible. Having an investigator is how that happens.”

Dahl said that trying to come up with ways to work for young people in the county will be another of his major priorities.

He said he is keeping an open mind about all issues that may arise during his first term.

Chaplain program aims to serve patients' spiritual needs

By Val Scherbart Quist

Tracy Area Medical Services is offering a new chaplain service to its patients.

Clergy from the Tracy Ministerial Association are providing the service. Lay persons from Tracy congregations may soon also be involved.

Pastor Alan Bolte was instrumental in getting the program started in Tracy, and now serves as chaplain coordinator. He got the idea from a hospital in Blue Earth, where a similar program was implemented. He brought the idea to TAMS Administrator Dan Reiner, who was receptive to the program. Bolte then began working with Angela Nelson, who is also part of the hospital's administration. Together, Bolte and Nelson molded the volunteer chaplain idea to fit TAMS' needs.

“Administration was very supportive right from the start,” said Nelson. The next step was to get the nursing staff and other TAMS staff members on board. The volunteer program began Sept. 1. Seven local clergy are now involved. Volunteers work on a one-week rotating basis, and are on-call as needed.

“Our goal is to visit each patient as soon as we can after they've been admitted,” said Bolte. The volunteer chaplain offers to call the patient's own pastor. If necessary, such as in the case of a patient who does not live in the area, the chaplain will continue to provide spiritual guidance, Bolte explained.

Another important goal is to be supportive to TAMS staff, patients, and their families in dealing with emergencies and death, he added. “There have been a lot of positive comments from patients and their families,” said Nelson.

Bolte said adjustments may be made along the way, such as adding lay people to the on-call list. He encourages people who would like to become involved with the volunteer chaplain program to contact him or their own pastor. He emphasized that the chaplains represent the hospital and God, not their own individual church congregations.

One benefit that has been evident so far, say Bolte and Nelson, is that the program has relieved the nursing staff from the duty of contacting a patient's pastor. Nurses can focus on the physical well-being of the patient, and allow the chaplain to focus on spiritual well-being.

“It's good teamwork,” Bolte said.

Dance studio to complete downtown move by Dec. 1

The Tracy Dance Studio plans to move all of its classes to the former Enderson Clothing building by the end of the month.

“We're really excited about our new location,” says Vicki Nilius, who owns and operates the studio with Jennifer Kainz.

The dance studio has held classes on the third floor of the Tracy Masonic building for the past three years. The new ground-level location, Nilius says, offers greater visibility and easier access.

Tumbling classes are already being held at the Third Street location. Dance classes will move from the Masonic building to the Enderson site Dec. 1.

Remodeling efforts continue on the former men's clothing store, which closed in May. Plans are to use half the building for a tumbling and gymnastics area, and half for dance floor. Floor mats and gymnastics equipment have already been brought into the tumbling area. A 50x20-foot wooden floor will be installed on the dance side.

Nilius said she and Kainz plan to purchase the building.