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News from the week of June 11, 2003

Rokke accepts Waseca offer

John Rokke, Tracy Area High School principal for the past eight years, is headed to Waseca.

Rokke begins a position July 1 as an assistant principal at a senior high school in Waseca. The school has 800 students, grades 9-12. He interviewed at Waseca Thursday morning, was offered the position Thursday afternoon, and had accepted the job by Thursday night.

"I'm really excited about this," the veteran Tracy educator said Monday. "It's a wonderful opportunity."

Rokke was also offered a position as the high school principal at Russell-Tyler-Ruthton. Rokke said that he was ready to accept the RTR position early last week. But the night before he was to give RTR officials a final answer on Tuesday, June 3, a Waseca representative called and asked Rokke to come for an interview.

"I interviewed for two positions and got two job offers. That made me feel good. I had no idea what to expect," Rokke said

Feasibility study eyed for prison

Discussion about the possible construction of a large, multi-million dollar corrections facility in Tracy continues among Tracy leaders.

City officials plan to meet with a consultant next month to discuss a feasibility study for the proposed regional prison. The July 22 meeting is expected to involve city staff, council and EDA.

Sally Isaac, representing the DLR group of Minneapolis, will meet with the Tracy officials. DLR worked with Corrections Corps of America in planning an addition onto a prison in Appleton.

Robert Gervais, Tracy community development director, told EDA members Friday, and city council members Monday, that Corrections Corps has expressed an interest in building a new prison facility in Minnesota if there is a demonstrated need. He said that the Nashville, Tennessee company is interested in a regional facility serving county inmates in Minnesota, but would prefer that it be relatively large, with room for perhaps 300 to 400 inmates.

Gun show at school draws wary response

Is it appropriate to hold a gun show in a school? That's the question Tracy Area Public Schools board of education members asked Monday night in response to an idea raised by one of its members.

The discussion surrounded a facility use application filled out by board member Garry Hippe requesting use of the high school for a gun show. The show would be held the weekend of April 16-18, 2004, with set-up taking place after school on Friday, April 16 and the show taking place Saturday and Sunday, April 17 and 18. This is the same weekend as the Tracy sportsmen's show.

Hippe said Wells has a similar gun show at its high school.

“The thought is to make it a fund-raiser with the net proceeds to go back to the school,” Hippe explained. He added that there would be armed security at night.

Hippe said that the school has the capacity to accommodate about 300 tables at the maximum. He added that items in addition to guns, such as knives, ammunition, and books, would likely also be displayed.

“This area is void of a gun show,” he said. “It would be one big fund-raiser.”

Going, going...gone?

Eastview Addition has flurry of interest

Suddenly, vacant building lots are a hot commodity in Tracy's Eastview Addition.

After not selling any lots last year, two lots have already sold this spring for new housing starts. The EDA is also pursing the construction of a new "spec" house on a third bare lot.

Now, interest is being expressed in eight additional lots. If the deals go through, only a handful of developed lots would remain in Eastview.

"We might have to look at developing lots in a new area," Robert Gervais told EDA members Friday.

Tracy Area Medical Services obtained an option to buy five Eastview lots on Union Street, to pave the way for a possible expansion project of the hospital and O'Brien Court. (See related story).

A $500 deposit was accepted on a lot on Sunrise Drive from a couple interested in building a new house. Builders have expressed interest in two other Sunrise Drive lots.

If the sales all go through, the EDA would have only one developed lot left on Sunrise Drive, plus two lots on East Second streets. Six platted, but undeveloped (no street or utilities) remain on the east ends of Sunrise and Union streets.

TAMS looks south for expansion space

If Tracy Area Medical Services embarks upon a building expansion program, the new construction likely will go south of the present hospital-clinic-O'Brien Court campus.

A right-of-first refusal purchase option was obtained by TAMS last week for five vacant lots on the south side of Union Street. The Tracy Economic Development Authority granted a request that gives TAMS the right to match any offer to purchase the property through August 31. The Eastview Addition lots comprise 520 feet of frontage on Union Street. The depth of the parcel is 128 feet.

Rick Nordahl, chief operating officer for TAMS, says that it is uncertain yet whether the property will be needed, and if so, how it would be utilized. However, he said, if the hospital, clinic and/or O'Brien Court were expanded, the only place where there is room to add on is to the south. Obtaining a purchase option on the Union Street lots, he noted, protects those future plans. (The use of Eastview lots for hospital or O'Brien Court expansion projects would require that the City of Tracy vacate Union Street, south of the hospital).

Earlier this year, TAMS and sister Sioux Valley facilities in Slayton and Westbrook, hired a Twin Cities consulting firm to study options for "regionalizing" medical services among the three communities. Upgrading facilities in each community to allow each hospital and clinic to specialize in several areas; or building a centrally located medical clinic/and or hospital; are among the options being studied.

Masons mark sesquicentennial

Tracy Masonic Lodge 155 held their spring membership dinner at the Mediterranean last week. Attendees were members of the lodge, prospective members, and scholarship winners and their parents.

The Grand Lodge of Minnesota was founded in 1853. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the organization in Minnesota. The Grand Lodge commissioned a print entitled "The Three Lights of Masonry," in honor of founding.

Speaker Junior Grand Warden from the Grand Lodge, Steve Johnson, from Winthrop presented the Tracy Lodge with a print of the three lights, numbered 155. This print will be displayed in the local lodge.

Brother Johnson spoke about masonic values, community support, and the organization in general. He spoke of the activities of this fraternal organization that seeks to help out their fellow man through organizations such as the Shriners' Hospital, and Masonic Cancer Center in Minneapolis.