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News from the week of April 30, 2003

Canby dean of students named TAHS principal

A new principal for Tracy Area High School was officially hired this week.

At a special meeting Wednesday morning, the District 417 board of education approved the contract for Chad Anderson as principal beginning July 1. Anderson will replace John Rokke, who has submitted his resignation effective June 30.

Anderson has worked in the Canby school district for the past four years as dean of students and activities director.

Newly hired superintendent David Marlette was instrumental in the hiring of Anderson.

During the interview process, all superintendent candidates were asked if they would be willing to conduct a principal search. All agreed, but there was no pay established. The board approved a stipend for payment of services to Marlette for his work in the principal search.

Aquatic center to be inspected for flaws

It could be nothing. Or it could be evidence of a major problem.

Either way, Tracy Public Works Director Rick Robinson wants to find out.

Robinson is having the Tracy Aquatic Center checked this week to determine if a small crack and a blister in the aquatic center's concrete floor are normal wear and tear or signs of construction flaws. A representative of USAquatics, the construction manager for the pool last year, is scheduled to be in Tracy to inspect the pool this week. Robinson also has the authority to have an independent consultant inspect the pool if he feels that is necessary.

Robinson reported to city council members Monday that he has noticed two possible trouble spots in the pool floor. One is a pencil-line crack about 15 feet long in the main lap pool area. The second is a blister-like area about four inches in diameter in the zero-depth entry pool.

The aquatic center remains partially filled with water, so it is possible that there could be other cracks that are not visible, Robinson indicated. The pool will be fully drained for its inspection. (The pool normally is supposed to remain partially filled, even over the winter, to prevent damage).

The timing of the inspection is important because all aquatic center work is now under warranty. If repairs are necessary, the aquatic center's original contractors would be responsible for the expense.

"We have concerns about this," Robinson told city council members Monday night, of the potential trouble spots in the pool. But he said that he doesn't have the expertise in pool construction to know for sure what would be considered normal for a pool structure after one year of use.

Computer store coming to downtown Tracy

Planning is underway for a new computer and office supply business in downtown Tracy.

Tracy Computer & Office Supply will be located in the former Tita's Boutique building on the corner of Third and Morgan streets. Owner Lary "Breon" Parker hopes to open the new business in June.

"We will be doing complete sales and service," said Parker. The business will include a "computer learning center" that will offer classes for both beginners and advanced users.

The Tracy business will be a Microsoft Certified Partner.

"We will have a state-of-the-art facility that will meet Microsoft's requirements," said Parker.

Tracy Computer and Office Supply will sell both computer hardware and software. New computer sales will include both name-brand and custom-built, although Parker notes that the computer business is increasingly driven by service, repairs, and upgrades.

"The (new) market has become saturated. But the need for training, service and repairs will always be there." For example, he said, there is now a big demand for wireless networking in businesses and homes that already have computers and the Internet.

Classes will be offered in all Microsoft software, Access, Excel, Word, Power Point, Front Page, HTML, Publisher, MS Money Project, Quick Books, Quicken, and Word Perfect. Training will also be offered for custom software. Classes will be offered both during the day and in the evening.

A computer repair center will offer on-site service. Parker's goal will be to provide "timely service that is reasonable."

The retail aspect will include sales of office furniture, supplies, printers, fax machines, digital cameras, and scanners.

Hospital window replacement set

A $15,000 window-replacement project is planned for Tracy Hospital.

Ten windows will be replaced on the hospital's west wing. The windows date from the hospital's original construction.

"They are old, they are rusted, and the seal is gone," said Rick Nordahl, chief operating officer for Tracy Area Medical Services, explaining the rationale for the new windows to Tracy city council members Monday night. During a recent thunderstorm, Nordahl said that major leakage occurred around the old windows. Two new windows that were installed recently on a trial basis performed well, he said.

The west wing windows were chosen for replacement first, Nordahl said, because that portion of the hospital will not be affected by other facility improvements now being studied.

Council members approved the window expenditure, along with a $6,535 request for new two-way radio equipment and $1,100 for flooring replacement in two patient rooms Monday night.

Nordahl said that the two-way radio will allow nurses and doctors at the hospital to communicate with EMTs in an ambulance. The hospital's existing radio system is about 30 years old, and of uncertain reliability with no availability of spare parts, Nordahl indicated. The city appropriation will be paired with a $5,000 state grant to purchase the $11,565 radio system.

'Issues in Aging' fair is coming to Tracy Saturday

The implications of a population that is living longer and healthier lives will be the focus of three presentations by University of Minnesota experts at an "Issues in Aging Fair," Saturday, May 3rd, at the Mediterranean in Tracy. Exhibitor booths are open to the public at 12 noon, and the speakers begin at 1:00 p.m.

"What's Next for Us? Vital Aging!" will be presented by Jan Hively, coordinator of the Vital Aging Network based in the College of Continuing Education at the University. She will focus on the rapidly growing demographic of adults, ages 55 to 80+, and how this is affecting families and communities. Resources and options available to older adults, as well as the role of education and advocacy in addressing aging issues will be discussed.

"Aging in Place Design," presented by Pam Enz, U. of MN. alumna and principal designer and owner of Tangible Space, Inc., will explore existing housing and renovation options that facilitate "aging in place."

"How to Increase Your Income and Reduce Your Taxes During Retirement" will be addressed by Bob Peterson, director of Planned Giving at the University of Minnesota Foundation. He will address older retiree's concerns about having enough income, reducing taxes and accomplishing personal goals for family and others. And he will answer questions about anything from estate planning to income and tax planning issues.

The cost is $2 per person at the door, refreshments will be served. The "Issues in Aging Fair" is sponsored by the Southwest Minnesota Chapter of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association and Retired Senior volunteer Persons of Southwest Minnesota.

Costly sewage lagoon upgrade flushes onto city radar screen

Tracy City Council members learned two worrisome facts about the city's sewage treatment system Monday night.

1) The city's aging sewage lagoons are in violation of state standards.

2) It will be expensive to either repair or replace the wastewater ponds.

A $6,000 study compiled by an Alexandria engineering firm shows that leakage from the city's four ponds significantly exceeds state limits. The firm estimates that it will cost between $2.1 and $3.1 million to rebuild the sewage pond systems, depending on whether clay or synthetic liners are used in the new ponds.

"That is no expansion. That is just fixing what you have," said Lawrence Van Hout, an engineer for the firm of Widseth Smith Nolting & Associates.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been notified of the Tracy data. Agency officials, in turn, have recommended that the city start looking at improving their sewage facilities and looking into financing options.

Van Hout told council members that there are government grant and loan programs available for sewage treatment improvements. He said it is at least an 18-month process to apply for funds, completing engineering work, and complete a sewage pond project. The actual work usually requires an entire construction season, he said.