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News from the week of February 13, 2002

New aquatic center rates have no extra water slide charges

With an eye on attracting big crowds this summer, city council members opted to keep rates low for the new Aquatic Center that's scheduled to open this summer in Tracy.

Season family pass will cost $80 for city residents and $130 for non-residents. An individual season pass will cost $50 for Tracy residents and $90 for a non-resident.

Council members rejected two higher-cost options.

“We want to keep the rates affordable,” said Jan Otto-Arvizu, who said she'd rather have the new pool busy with lower fees, rather than a lighter attendance with higher fees.

Pool Administrator Shorty Engel said he thought that even at higher season pass rates, the new season passes are a good value. He pointed out that extra fees will not be charged for using the water slides, which is the case at some area pools. A season pass gives the buyer the use of all pool amenities, over a season that typically is 85 to 90 days.

Water slides are wildly popular at many other pool facilities. The new Tracy aquatic center will have four slides. Two large flume slides will wind down into a large plunge pool. A mid-sized drop slide will woosh swimmers into a diving well. The fourth slide, located on the edge of a shallow-depth splash pool, is designed for small children.

Booster Club seeks money for school sound system

The Panther Booster Club needs help to reach its fund-raising goal of buying a new sound system for the Tracy Area High School gym.

“We hope people will support this,” comments Rick Anderson, Panther Booster Club president. “We'd like to get enough money so we can order the system and get it installed in time for the spring concert (March 21).

The Booster Club hopes to install a $10,000 system, which would include 13 overhead speakers, microphones, and a sound-mixing panel. The Booster Club originally thought the system could be installed for $8,500, but after talking with school groups, discovered that more microphones are badly needed. The original plan also called for sound controls in the “crow's nest” located high the gym's east wall. It was decided that it would be more practical to have a more expensive sound control panel at ground level.

About $6,000 has been committed to the project. The Booster Club has pledged $3,000, while the Tracy Lions Club has promised $1,000 and the Kiwanis $500. The District 417 Board of Education has allocated $1,500 in taxpayer money.

The Fine Arts Council of Tracy has also promised to give to the sound system project. A “Miss Tootsie” program scheduled for Saturday night is being billed as a fund-raiser for the sound-system project.

The new system is designed to greatly improve sound quality for large events held in the gym, such as concerts, plays, special programs, and school assemblies. Besides school events, the gym is frequently used for community events.

“It's the hub of a lot of activities,” Anderson explains. “That's why we hope people will consider contributing to this.”

Anderson hopes that both individuals, businesses, and area service clubs and organizations will consider giving money to the cause. Any size donation is welcome.

Rural pool campaign slated to begin soon

A Tracy Aquatic Center fund-raising campaign targeted to reach rural Tracy area residents will begin soon.

Brian Ludeman and Neil Daniels are chairing the campaign, which is designed to personally contact at least 100 rural families.

The purpose of the drive is to help raise money for pool amenities.

City of Tracy voters approved a $1.5 million bond referendum in February of 2001 to finance the new aquatic center. City property tax payers will pay off those bonds over the next 20 years, beginning with real estate taxes payable in 2002.

However, when construction bids came in higher than expected, the city was left nearly $400,000 short of the money needed to complete the aquatic center. In order that pool equipment could be ordered and the aquatic center finished on time this spring, the Tracy City Council authorized a $355,000 loan from a hospital improvement fund to the pool fund. The money is to be repaid to the hospital fund over a four-year period from donations. Over $100,000 in pledges and contributions has been raised to date.

The rural fund drive will give families and individuals who will benefit from the pool, but live outside city limits, the opportunity to financially support the pool.

Tracy City Council members approved a plan Monday night to reward rural contributors to the aquatic center. Any rural family that donates or pledges to give $1,500 over a five-year period would be able to buy a season pass at the aquatic center for the same rate as a City of Tracy resident. This “Certificate of Residency” right could be assigned by the donor to any family unit, for a period of 20 years.

Kamrud honored for 30 years as mat coach

Wrestling mentor began career as 'roundballer'

By Dick Donaldson

Veteran Tracy wrestling coach was honored last week for 30 years as a Scrapper and Panther wrestling coach.

The surprise recognition took place at the Panthers last home meet of the season Thursday at the Tracy Prairie Pavilion.

"I was in a state of shock,” Kamrud said later. “I was completely surprised. Thinking back I should have been suspicious when my daughter, Sonja said she was coming to the match. She said she hadn't seen her cousin (Donald Strand) wrestle yet this year and this would be her last chance. That sounded very reasonable."

Kamrud came to Tracy Area High School in 1971 in a round-about way.

The Tracy Area High School guidance counselor is a 1958 graduate of Parkers Prairie High School, where he was a three sport athlete in football, basketball and track. Wrestling was not offered at Parkers Prairie at that time.

After high school, Kamrud attended the University of Minnesota- Morris, where he prepared for a career teaching science in high schools. He also found time to play football for the Cougars as a 180-pound running back and the "monster back" on defense.

Some of Kamrud's football friends talked him into coming out for wrestling just to have some "warm bodies" to work out with. Their wrestling team lacked depth and one meet the 157-pound wrestler was absent so Kamrud was talked into filling in.

"They told me, 'just don't get pinned'," he recalled. "I then surprised everyone (including myself) by winning the match and winning a spot on the team."

Toot, Toot, Tootsie, don't cry! you'll be a star, my, oh, my!

Miss Tootsie high heels take stage Saturday

Ten bodacious beauties will strut their stuff on the Tracy Area High School stage Saturday night, vying for the honor of “Miss Tootsie.”

The beauty pageant spoof, sponsored by the Fine Arts Council of Tracy, begins at 7 p.m. The event is a fund-raiser for a new sound system in the gym. Tickets are $5 at the door.

The tongue-in-cheek competition spotlights the theatrical talents of men portraying women in a beauty pageant. The festivities include an evening gown competition, a fitness routine, and individual talent presentations. A panel of judges will select several category winners as well as an overall Miss Tootsie.

Organizers promise that the contestants, fully decked out in women's clothing and make-up, will go all out vying for the Miss Tootsie honors.

Ten local men have been recruited for the fun: Scott LaVoy, Jeremy Trulock, Ben Ludeman, Keith Hoffbeck, Dr. Brandon Ulstad, George Hebig, Steve Jones, Joe Kemp, Keith Rayman, and Jason Kainz. Their stage names are: Excelcious Kilwattobia, Buffy Powder, Carmen Electra, Flossie Dailey, Ba Ba Waters, Polly Norphun, Trixie Tumbler, Penny Banks, Jo Jo Butkus, Ki Ki Surprise.

A women's singing group called “The Cow Patties” and the Tracy Community Children's Choir will perform between Tootsie acts.

End-O-Line visitor center okayed

Curator calls new building a necessity

Plans for a new visitor center at End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum are back on track and moving full steam ahead.

Last week the Murray County Board of Commissioners approved a revised visitor center plan presented by park curator Louise Gervais. One change is the removal of the restroom facility from the building plan.

Last fall, the commissioners rejected the visitor center on a 3-2 vote. At the time, some commissioners expressed concern with putting a restroom in the new building because it would be too close to the existing restrooms. Others expressed a desire to see an interpretive center included in the plan.

While the restroom has been removed from the plan, the building will still be built for the original amount bid by Schreier Construction. The $69,000 project is set to begin this spring, and could be completed as soon as June 1, Gervais said.

What would have been the restroom area will now be used for brochures, pamphlets, maps, and wheelchair storage. In addition to providing tourist information, the building will also include a gift shop, meeting and break area for park employees, and a storage area.

“It certainly will be an addition,” Gervais said. “It really is a need. It isn't something that you want, but it's something that's a necessity.”