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News from the week of May 28, 2003

Seifert sees possibility of multi-county prison

State privatization bill dies in Senate

Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Republican) hopes to organize a meeting this summer to discuss the feasibility of a regional prison being built to serve the needs of area counties.

The Marshall lawmaker, in Tracy Monday, said he intends to invite area county leaders to hear a presentation from Corrections Corps of America, a Tennessee-based company that builds and operates prisons. Seifert says that current law allows counties to contract with privately-operated companies to hold county inmates.

Seifert indicated that he wants to explore the regional jail possibility, after the defeat of legislation that would have allowed the Minnesota Department of Corrections to send state inmates to privately-operated prisons. Tracy is one of at least five Minnesota communities who were hoping to be chosen as the site for such a prison.

The proposed corrections facility, designed for short-term state offenders, would have had room for 600 to 800 state inmates. A wing for up to 200 people being held by counties, had also been discussed. Corrections Corps of America, which owns and operates a prison for out-of-state inmates in Appleton, had expressed interest in building a second facility in Minnesota, if the privatization bill had passed the legislature.

State budget uncertainty has city leaders wondering

The impact of proposed state cuts on the City of Tracy remained unclear Tuesday night, as the state legislature remained in special session.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman told city council members Tuesday night that the city would lose about $149,000 in 2003 from reductions in Local Government Aid, according to terms of a budget agreement that had been announced early this week. She said that reduction was a significant improvement over the cuts proposed this winter by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The governor's budget would have reduced Local Government Aid to Tracy by $144,000 in 2003 and $274,000 next year. Tracy would not have any further state aid reductions in 2004, under terms of the tentative budget agreement reached this week.

Koopman said that the city would be able to live with the state cuts, if they are limited to $149,000 this year, because of spending cuts, fee increases, and tax increases already enacted for this year.

However, council member Jan Otto-Arvizu said that she had heard on Minnesota Public Radio late Tuesday, that the state budget agreement had come unraveled.

"Well then, there's not much more we can do but wait," Koopman said. She added that the uncertainty of the state budget was frustrating, because it made financial planning for the city extremely difficult.

Shetek State Park benefit offers free treats Sunday

• Event coincides with open house, annual meeting

A special fund-raising event is planned at Lake Shetek State Park Sunday, June 1.

The Friends of Lake Shetek State Park, the Currie Town & Country Club, and the Lake Shetek Area Improvement Association are sponsoring an 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. picnic at the park. The Murray County Pork Producers will be serving a meal that will include pork patty sandwich or hot dog. Schwan's Fine Foods of Marshall will serve free ice cream bars, while Viking Coca-Cola of Marshall will be serving free soft drinks. Currie State Bank is also donating to the event.

Enough food for 500 people is being prepared. Serving will continue until 3 p.m. or until the food runs out. The refreshments and food will be served at the state park's picnic shelter near the swimming beach.

There is no charge, but donations to the Friends of Lake Shetek State Park are welcome. Money will be used for park improvements, such as new picnic tables, playground equipment, and electrical upgrades for campsites.

Pool opens Saturday


The Tracy Aquatic Center officially opens its second season Saturday, May 31. Doors open for swimmers at 1 p.m.

The Saturday opening kicks off a full slate of summer activities at the popular Tracy pool. Open swimming hours are Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 9 p.m.; and 2 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. An early morning open swimming session is planned Monday through Friday from 6 to 8 a.m., followed by a senior swim from 8 to 9 p.m.

The daily admission rate of $5 a person remains the same as last summer. Coupon books, with ten passes for $45, are also being sold. The charge for the early-morning swim session is $2.

Season passes are also available. Rates are: $90 resident family; $140 non-resident family; $60 resident individual; $100 non-resident individual.

Daily admission passes can be purchased at the pool office. Season passes are being sold only at the City Clerk/Deputy Registrar office at Tracy City Hall.

Museum begins new season with need for more helping hands

Summer rolled into Tracy over the weekend, and into the Wheels Across the Prairie museum. The museum officially opened for the season on Memorial Day.

Work began to clean and prepare the museum for the summer season about a month ago, said museum volunteer Dorthey Pamp. While most of the work is completed, the machine shops are not finished yet, and may remain closed for a short time.

She expressed that additional volunteers are needed to help her and curator Mary Lou Ludeman keep the museum in running shape. “We would like to get more people in to help,” she said. “We'd hate to see something like this go away.”

The newest acquisition at the museum is the Monroe Town Hall, which was moved to the museum last year. “We've been working on the town hall,” said Pamp. “We're adding a lot of interesting things in there.”

She said it is hoped that a collection of local political figures' photographs from throughout the years can be collected. They hope to include photographs of local people who have been involved in city, county, state, and federal government.

Pamp asked for the assistance of the community in making this project possible.

“If anyone has pictures of someone in their family who was a political figure, we would like to have them,” she said.

Summer softball, baseball programs begin next week

Tracy Area Community Education and Summer Recreation programs begin next week.

T-Ball, baseball, and girls' softball programs all begin on either Monday or Tuesday. A variety of athletic camps are scheduled throughout the summer.

T-ball for four and five-year-olds is planned Mondays and Wednesdays beginning at 10 a.m. at Sebastian Park.

All baseball practices and in-town games are held at Sebastian Park.

A girls' softball program offers competition at the Peanut, Pee Wee and Midget levels. Grade levels are the same as for baseball.

Students who still wish to register for a community education softball or baseball program can contact the Tracy Community Education/Activities office at 629-5510.

A host of summer recreation athletic camps and leagues are being offered.