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News from the week of March 26, 2003

Iraq war stirs emotions, faith for local families

By Val Scherbart Quist

For families with loved ones serving in the U.S. military in and around the Middle East, the eruption of war in Iraq last week hits too close to home.

Pastor Edsel and Deb Miller, and Tom and Sue Morin both have sons serving overseas in the military.

Pastor Miller, who is pastor at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Tracy, shared the following reflections about being the father of a marine during this difficult time.

My son is a corporal in the United States Marine Corps. Robert is an infantryman in the 2nd Battalion of the First Marine Division, Third Platoon, Fox Company.

Since the war started I've had something akin to butterflies 24 hours a day. When I would hear of a Marine killed in Iraq, I would have morbid thoughts like how long does it take for the government to notify you that it was your son.

It's been a week of growing in my faith. In thinking about Robert I have learned what the Bible means by “pray without ceasing.” People say that's impossible. I assure you it is not. I've also learned what it means to abide in Christ.

Tom and Sue Morin saw their son Justin for the first time in months over the weekend—on TV.

“It was awesome,” Sue said.

Justin is a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, and has been involved in two operations in Afghanistan. News personality Geraldo Rivera had been recently following the 82nd Airborne Division for several days.

On Saturday night, Rivera was reporting live from Kandahar, and the Morins were watching for their son.

The camera panned over the crowd of soldiers, and several patrons of the Mediterranean, which is owned by the Morins, spotted Justin. His mother did not. However, the camera scanned over the soldiers again, and this time, she saw him.

“For one day we knew where he was for sure,” she said.

Justin was deployed from Fort Bragg, N.C. on Dec. 6. The Morins were able to spend an early Thanksgiving and Christmas with Justin and his wife, Tara, before his deployment.

So far, Justin has been involved in two operations—Operation Mongoose and Operation Viper.

Swift Lake bike path on track

Plans are moving forward for the construction of a bike/pedestrian path through Tracy's Swift Lake Park.

Monday night, Tracy City Council members approved trail engineering plans prepared by the Lyon County Public Works Department. Bids are to be let this spring, with construction scheduled this year.

Most of the project's estimated $135,000 cost will be paid with through federal funds. The city's share is 20% or $27,000. Lyon County contributed the engineering work for the project.

Steve Johnson, an engineer for Lyon County, told council members that he hopes that the $135,000 estimate will be high. If bids are lower, the city's contribution will be less.

The bike trail has three components:

• A 5,956-foot off-road paved trail will be built through Swift Lake Park. Beginning near the park's County Hwy. 11 entrance, the 10-foot wide paved trail stays mostly south of the park's west-east gravel road.

• A 2,202-foot segment will consist of bike lanes along County Hwy. 11 between Hwy. 14 and the park entrance.

• Bike lanes will be painted along the shoulders of three other street segments in Tracy.

All three segments will have bike-path signage and stripping. Crossings will be built where necessary.

Johnson said that once the project is complete, the City of Tracy assumes all future maintenance costs. He noted that the all non-motorized uses must be prohibited on the trail. Only bike and pedestrian traffic will be allowed. The engineer said that special attention was given to making the trail interesting, with a few curves and gently rolling elevations.

Plans were drafted through the use of Global Positioning Technology, Johnson said.

New business would enjoy captive market

What if a new industry came to Tracy and built a $10 to $15 million facility?

What if the industry employed 250 people?

Would it matter if the new industry was a prison for geriatric inmates?

Tracy Economic Development Authority members faced those questions last week, after learning that a company is investigating the possibility of building such a correctional facility in rural Minnesota. Robert Gervais, Tracy Community Development director, asked whether the city and EDA should look into the idea further.

The EDA's consensus was a strong "yes."

"It would be quite a boon to this town if we could attract something of this magnitude," said Tim Byrne.

Correction Corps of America is the company that is looking into the new facility. The firm also operates a maximum-security prison in Appleton.

According to information he received from Rep. Marty Seifert, Gervais said the company is looking for a donation of 40 acres of land, and concessions on utilities and real estates taxes. The company's decision to build the facility would be contingent upon a bill passed by the state legislature.

The facility would house older "geriatric" inmates who pose few risks to society, Gervais said. He said he knew of at least two other Southwest Minnesota communities who were making a bid to attract the corrections facility.

Snow White musical auditions set Monday

Prairie Fire Children's Theatre is coming to Tracy next week to stage a musical version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with local students.

Two professional actors will prepare students for two performances on Friday and Saturday, April 4-5. The Tracy Fine Arts Council of Tracy is sponsoring the residency.

Auditions are planned Monday, March 31, at 3:15 p.m. on the Tracy Area High School gym stage. Registration slips were sent out earlier to students in grades 3-12 at St. Mary's School, Tracy Elementary School, and the high school. Sixty-seven people returned slips stating that they were interested in participating. Those who filled out forms—as well as other interested students—are invited to attend the Monday auditions. Rehearsals are planned Tuesday through Friday, April 1-4.

Christina Ebert, a graduate of Concordia College, is the play's director. Besides directing the show, Ebert will portray the evil queen in the production. A second professional actor will portray the huntsman. Students will play the roles of Snow White, The Prince, The Seven Dwarfs, The Mirror, The Ravens, the Townspeople, and Forest Creatures.

Performance times are 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night. Admission is $5 for adults, and $3 for students. Advance tickets are on sale at John's Drug, Tracy Food Pride, Minnwest Bank South, and all three Tracy schools.

Missed tiebreaker foils Knowledge Bowl bid

It was a tiebreaker heartbreaker for a Tracy Area High School Knowledge Bowl team last week.

TAHS's Knowledge Bowl teams competed in regional competition Wednesday, March 19 in Marshall. Of the 24 top teams in the region, the two TAHS teams placed 5th and 19th, said advisor Eileen Schimming.

Team one, which includes Eric Nelson, Ryan Stobb, Ryan Peterson, and Anders Davidson, was in first-place following the written round that starts the competition. The team answered 52 out of 60 questions correctly, three more than the second-place team.

At the end of the regular rounds, the team was tied with a Marshall team for fourth place. This sent the team to a crucial overtime round to break the tie. The team lost the tiebreaker round 6-5, and ended up in fifth-place overall.

The top four teams advanced to state. They were Springfield 1, Marshall 1, Windom 1, and Marshall 2.

This isn't the first time a TAHS Knowledge Bowl team has come so close to advancing to state competition.

“Last year, when only three teams advanced, Tracy came in fourth,” said Schimming. “So close . . .”

Team two, which placed 19th in last week's sub-regional competition, consists of Randall Bornitz, Tony Stephens, Gina Ockenfels, and Aum Nantarajit.

Aquatic center rates staying mostly same

Season passes for the Tracy Aquatic Center will be the same as last year, if purchased by May 10.

Rates set by the Tracy City Council Monday night are:

• $80 for a resident family.

• $50 for a resident individual.

• $130 for a non-resident family.

• $90 for a non-resident individual.

Season pass rates will go up by $5 and $10 after May 10.

The pre-season rates are identical to those established prior to the 2002 swim season. The season-pass rate was later cut in half after the pool's opening was delayed into July.

The price for a single-day admission will remain $5. Admission for an early morning swim and a senior hour will be $2 to non-season pass holders. A $20 fee is set for a two-week "grandparent" pass. A season "grandparent" pass is $80.

Ten admission coupon books will be sold for $45. Pool party rentals are $125 an hour with concessions, and $175 without.

Swimming lessons will increase from $25 to $30.

A three-day registration period for swimming lessons is scheduled in city council chambers April 23-25. Season passes will also be sold at that time. It will also be possible to register for lessons and buy passes by mail.