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News from the week of December 25, 2002

Home for holidays takes on new perspective for reservist

By Val Scherbart Quist

Being home for Christmas has taken on special meaning this year for Chuck and Sally Evrist of Walnut Grove. One year ago, Chuck spent the holidays in Sasebo, Japan, where the Naval reservist was stationed for nearly a year. “I know exactly what I was doing at this time last year,” he mused.

Chuck's Christmas in Sasebo was spent at his Command Master Chief's home, where he was invited for dinner. One year later, he is back at home in Walnut Grove, where he's celebrating the holidays with his wife and daughter.

Evrist served in the Navy as a gunner's mate from 1964-1968, and was on active duty in Vietnam. He rejoined the Navy as a reservist in 1986. In September of 2001, he was promoted to Chief Petty Officer, and was called to active duty in early October of last year. He left on Oct. 2—the Evrists' 30th anniversary.

Chuck's first stop was his reserve center in Sioux Falls. Next he traveled to Silverdale, Wash., where he underwent a physical examination and completed necessary paperwork. From there, it was on to Little Creek, Va., near Norfolk. He spent two months there receiving law enforcement training, and arrived in Sasebo, Japan on Dec. 4.

“When I got to Japan, I didn't know what I was going to do,” he said. It wasn't Chuck's first trip to Japan. He was previously called there to work with the postal fleet. He had hoped that this would be his job again, but this time his duties would be much different.

Rescuers pull two from icy Lake Yankton waters

Two people were rescued after falling into the water at Lake Yankton in Balaton late Sunday night.

Glenn Mitzner of Balaton Fire & Rescue, said two people had gone into open water on Lake Yankton. The Balaton Fire Department and Ambulance responded to the scene shortly before midnight.

Also responding were the Dovray Fire Department with their inflatable raft; the Slayton Fire Department with their cold-water rescue suits and rope; Tracy Fire Department with their thermal imaging camera and rope; Russell with their medical first responders and rope; North Ambulance out of Marshall with three helicopters; and Tracy and Slayton ambulance services.

The helicopters were called to the scene, said Mitzner, because they didn't know exactly how many people had gone into the water. One of the helicopters also had a big searchlight, which assisted in the rescue process.

During the rescue effort, Craig Bakke, 34, of Marshall and John Van Overbeke, 38, of Minneota, were pulled from the water. One was transported to Tracy and then airlifted to Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls. The other was transported to the Balaton Public School yard and airlifted directly to McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.

One of the rescuers who was wearing a cold-water rescue suit also had to be pulled from the ice after the section of ice he was standing on broke off and began to float toward shore.

Mitzner said aerators have not been installed at Lake Yankton, and were not the cause for the open water.

No one is hung up about new hospital phone system

The New Year is ringing in with special clarity at the Tracy Hospital and Medical Clinic.

A new digital phone system recently became operational for Tracy Area Medical Services. The clinic-hospital system replaces a 20-year-old phone system that was becoming increasingly unreliable. Frontier Communications installed the system at a cost of $449,826. About 100 telephones are included in the system, including patient rooms.

Besides increased dependability and better sound quality, the new system offers new features such as voice mail, and direct-dialing capabilities to individual phone extensions. The hospital's main number continues to be 629-3200. The clinic's number is 629-3520.

The hospital's old telephone system was about ten years old when it was installed in the early 1990s. The system had been used at the Canby hospital.

The phone system isn't the only communications improvement on line at the hospital. A new call system linking the main nursing station with patient rooms is scheduled to be installed soon. The existing call system dates to the construction of the hospital in the early 1960s. Reliability and the availability of spare parts have been concerns for old the nurse-call system.

Christmas tree tradition still twinkles at Tracy Elementary

Sixth graders are continuing a long-time holiday tradition at Tracy Elementary School.

With six coat hangers, a string of lights, 32 feet of garland, a few other supplies-and the help of teachers Gale Otto-the students created the colorful and festive Christmas trees that have graced many homes over the years.

"We've been doing this for a long time," Otto said. "We use it as an art project, but it's also a good will project."

He explained that many of the students give the trees they make to those who might not have Christmas trees, such as grandparents and college students. The trees are vibrant and vary as much as the students who create them. For example, one student decided to add a row of red bows to his tree. Another added reflective shields to the tree's lights. Some mixed two different colors of garland, or weaved strands of lights together. "Some of them really spend time thinking about it," he said.

Otto said the tree tradition was started more than 20 years ago by former sixth grade teacher Emory Biteler. When Otto began teaching sixth grade in Tracy, he kept the craft in his curriculum. The yearly project isn't all fun and games, Otto stressed. Students utilize math, planning, and reading skills, to name a few.

New donation process is way to stretch Type-O blood

A new type of donation procedure was offered to some volunteers at the American Red Cross Bloodmobile in Tracy last week. The process, called a double-red-cell donation, is used for selected Type-O donors.

“It's another way for us to collect more Type-O blood,” said Larry Wieser, Donor Services Representative at North Central Blood Services in St. Paul.

A double-red-cell donation generally takes 35-45 minutes, compared to 10-15 minutes for a whole-blood donation. Those who give through double-red-cell donation will also have to wait 112 days, as opposed to the usual 56 days, before giving blood again.

“We want to make sure their red cell count is back up,” Wieser explained.

Wieser said the red cells taken during double-red-cell donation are generally given to accident victims, patients with anemia, and those who have undergone major surgeries with a large volume loss.

Wieser said the double-red-cell donation is possible most often with men. Type-O women must weigh a minimum of 170 pounds and be at least 5' 5” to be a double red-cell donor. The range for men is larger, since Type-O men must weigh a minimum of 130 pounds and be at least 5' 1” tall to be a double-red-cell donor.

Wieser stressed that donors with Type-O blood are especially encouraged to give blood, whether through double-red-cell donation or whole blood donation.

“Right now, we're concerned because of the way Christmas falls in the middle of the week,” Wieser said.

TMB hoopsters hit road for holiday tourneys

The Panther boys' and girls' basketball teams don't have much time to look over what Sanata brought. Both teams will play in holiday tournaments after Christmas.

The boys take the floor in Lamberton Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27-28, in a tourney involving Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Wabasso, and Red Rock Central.

the girls travel to Rochester for the Rotary/US Bank Holiday Classic. Other teams include Rochester Mayo, Bloomington-Jefferson, Rochester JM, Breck, Rochester Lourdes. Rochester Century, and Lakeville. The tourney is Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 26-29.

In the girls tourney, Panthers open against Rochester Lourdes at Lourdes High School at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, Semi-final action is Friday, with Championship games on Saturday at the Mayo civic Auditorium. Fifth and Seventh place games will be played at Lourdes High School. The B-squad plays at the Mayo Auditorium Thursday at 2 pm. vs. Rochester Mayo.

The TMB boys lay Wabasso at 6 p.m. Friday, with Red Rock Central playing RTR in the following game. The losers will play at 6 p.m. Saturday with the championship game to follow. The B-squad will play Wabasso at 4 p.m. Friday, with the championship game at 4 pm. Saturday and consolation at 2:30 p.m.