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News from the week of November 20, 2002


$6,000 given for extra-curriculars

Michael McBreen never scored the winning points at Milroy High School. But two decades after donning the Spartan red, white and blue, McBreen has hit a home run for Tracy/Milroy/Balaton extracurriculars.

Thanks to McBreen and Nike USA., Panther extra-curricular activities have an extra $6,000. McBreen, now director of global operations for Nike in Beaverton, Oregon, personally gave $2,000 for school activities. Nike is matching McBreen's donation with another $4,000.

Bill Tauer, Panther athletic director, said this isn't the first time the school has been blessed by a benefactor. But he can't recall a larger cash donation. “It's very much appreciated,” Tauer said. “This was totally unexpected.”

McBreen, reached by telephone in Beaverton, said he simply wants to say “thank you” for the opportunities he had when he attended Milroy Schools. “I look on this as a chance for me to give something back. I look back very fondly at the experiences I had going to school in Milroy.”

Attending school in Milroy, he said, allowed him to participate in many different activities. “It was an amazing opportunity. I was able to do a lot of stuff. I played basketball, I was in the band, I was in a lot of things. In Milroy, I had the sense that whatever I wanted to do, I could.”

He was not a good athlete.

“I just stunk in high school sports,” he laughed. “I was the slowest kid in the class.” Nonetheless, he enjoyed the camaraderie of being on a team. At a larger school, he said, he wouldn't have ever gotten the chance to put on a uniform.

The son of Jim and Kay McBreen, Mike was the youngest of seven children. The family lived 7 1/2 miles north of Tracy. Mike attended Milroy School from 1976 until the spring of 1981, when the family moved to Lake Shetek. He attended the last two years of high school in Slayton, where he graduated in 1983. Following high school, he earned a degree in chemical engineering from Iowa State University, and later earned a Master of Business Administration degree. Prior to joining Nike, he worked for Exxon and Price-Waterhouse. He lives in Salmon Creek Washington, with his wife, Mickey, and three children.

TAMS revenues increase, activity dips

Less was more for Tracy Area Medical Services (TAMS) during its 2001-02 financial year.

Combined clinic and hospital operations showed volume declines in five of seven activity categories. But overall revenues increased by 11.4%. TAMS finished the year showing a loss, but the bottom line was substantially better compared to the previous three years.

Net income was a minus $62,995 for the fiscal year that ended April 30, 2002. That compared with deficits of $141,755 in 2001, $582,251 in 2000, and $189,685 in 1999. TAMS showed a $10,696 profit in 1998.

Five statistical measures of patient activity—inpatient day, inpatient admissions, swing bed days, swing bed admissions, and outpatient visits—showed declines for the year. Only physician office visits and surgical procedures increased for 2001-02. However, overall TAMS revenue increased from $4,719,826 in 2001 to $5,401,609 in 2002.

The increased net revenues—at a time of decreased patient activity—are due in part to the hospital's status as a Critical Access Facility, which bases federal Medicare and Medicaid patient reimbursements upon expenses.

The financial figures are part of an annual audit recently completed for TAMS. Stacy Barstad, TAMS director of financial services, presented an audit summary at the TAMS advisory board's October meeting. She noted several positive trends.

Concert raises money for band's Washington DC trip

The Tracy Community Band got a Star-Spangled salute Friday night.

One-hundred fifty-eight people turned out for a dinner concert to help the band raise money for its planned trip next summer to Washington, DC.

“We're proud of you,” said Master of Ceremonies Conrad Rettmer, of the band's selection to represent Minnesota at the National Festival of States, July 28-31.

Mayor Claire Hannasch read a proclamation from the Tracy City Council saluting the band.

Proceeds from the Fine Arts Council of Tracy sponsored event will go to the band. The 41-member band hopes to raise $40,000 for trip expenses.

In keeping with the concert's “Marching to Washington” theme, the band's 12-song set was liberally interspersed with military marches and sentimental patriotic melodies. A rousing sing-a-long—featuring “Yankee Doodle Boy,” “America,” “America the Beautiful,” “The Caissons Go Rolling Along,” “The Marine's Hymn,” “Dixie,” “You're a Grand Old Flag,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Star-Spangled Banner”—capped off the evening.

Guests in the audience included Gene Thompson, Tracy High School music instructor from 1966-77; and George and Pat Mounter, from Southhampton, England.

The Tracy Community Band, directed by Clint Peterson, traces its roots to an alumni band that played for the Tracy All-School Reunion in 1990. This year, the band performed in four area parades and had four outdoor concerts in the Tracy bandshell. Sunday, the band will perform at the Tracy Prairie Pavilion for the Old-Fashioned Christmas celebration. The Sunday event is the band's third indoor concert this fall.

Plans nailed down for volunteer home repairs

Tracy will be base for 400 volunteers

Four hundred volunteers will be in Tracy next summer offering free housing renovations for 60 to 65 area houses.

The maintenance would be done at no charge to income-eligible households. Painting, minor carpentry and roof repairs are examples of the work that will be offered.

A non-profit group in Loveland, Colorado, Group Publishing, is organizing the volunteers. Western Community Action—a non-profit agency that provides social services in Lyon, Redwood, Lincoln, Cottonwood, and Jackson counties—is coordinating efforts locally.

“This is a wonderful opportunity,” comments Jill Houseman, Western Community Action housing coordinator. “This group goes around the United States and repairs houses for the low-income, elderly, and people with disabilities.”

The 400 volunteers will be in Tracy July 6-12, where sleeping and meal accommodations are being arranged at Tracy Area High School. Students will sleep overnight in the school gym. Meals will be served from the school kitchen. The youth volunteers, who range in age from 13 to 18, will operate from the school in small crews. An adult supervisor will accompany every five to six kids on work projects.

Jobs will be accepted within a 30-mile radius of Tracy.

To qualify for the program property owners must fall within income guidelines. For example, Houseman said, a household with one person could earn no more than $27,150.

Five-year technology plan suggests spending $80,600

Someday, Tracy citizens may turn on their home computers in order to pay their city utility bill.

On-line bill paying is one of the services envisioned in a new “Strategic Technology Plan” developed for the City of Tracy. The five-year plan, approved by the Tracy City Council last week,” is a blueprint for future telecommunications improvements in the community.

“It is not cast in stone, but it is a plan that we can review each year and decide how far we want to go with it,” said Mayor Claire Hannasch.

Robert Gervais, Tracy Community Development director, likens the plan to a road map that charts the use of innovative technology in Tracy. How long it takes Tracy to reach its destination, depends on whether the city decides to buy a Pinto or a Ferrari for the trip, he said.

The plan, written by Frank Cesario of Everest Communications, recommends that the city spend $80,600 over the next five years for technology enhancements. Whether that happens remains to be seen. Tracy City Council members did not authorize any spending when approving the plan. Spending requests are to be considered on an annual basis.

The technology plan, Cesario explained, is “not just looking at how computers are used.” The plan, he said, suggests how Tracy can capitalize on “the new economic engine” of technology. Not investing in technology, he wrote in the plan, will seriously handicap future economic development efforts in Tracy.

Cesario suggested that Tracy improve its technology incrementally, with an annual budget, rather postpone action and be faced with large spending needs all at one time.

Implementation of the plan, the consultant said, will make it possible for Tracy to offer “e-government services.” This will be necessary, he said, because the State of Minnesota will increasingly require local government to provide reports and information on-line. Tracy citizens, he said, will come to expect on-line access with City Hall.

United Fund needs $1,800 to reach goal

The Tracy United Fund is within $1,800 of reaching their goal.

As of Monday, donations to the 2002 United Fund stand at $11,200.

United Fund board members urge citizens who haven't yet given to the drive to send in their contribution. “It's most important for the Fund to reach its goal as 2002 has been a most stressful year economically with organizations requiring added help from the outside,” comments Clara Andrew, United Fund board member. “We thank you for your sacrifices in the past and hope that we can once again ask for your support.”

Pledge cards were mailed Oct. 1 to all Tracy residential addresses. Businesses were solicited in a door-to-door campaign. The United Fund Board hopes to conclude its drive soon so funds can be distributed before Christmas.

Donations can be sent to Tracy United Fund, Box 1069, Tracy, MN 56175 or left with Tracy United Fund Treasurer, Karla Baumgartner at Minnwest Bank South, Tracy.