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News from the week of June 25, 2003

Red Rooster changes hands

Carolyn & Don Engelkes end 30-year tenure

How long is 30 years?

Thirty years ago, Richard Nixon occupied the White House, The Godfather won an Academy Award for "Best Picture" and Harmon Killebrew was still slugging homers for the Twins. And in Tracy, a young couple named Carolyn and Don Engelkes took over ownership and management of the Red Rooster Café.

Sunday, the couple served up their last roast beef commercial and said good-bye to a way of life that's been theirs for three decades.

Monday, June 23, was the first day in 30 years and four months that the couple was not responsible for the Red Rooster. The sale of the Tracy restaurant became effective to Robert and Donna Caron Monday.

"It's been long enough," said Carolyn, of their decision to sell. "We had a good year, and now we'd like to take a little time for ourselves and spend more time with friends and family. Maybe I'll have some time to clean my house and work in the garden, and Don's going to take to time to golf."

They will miss their customers and employees, she stressed.

"I've really enjoyed the work and being around people. You really get to know people." Some diners were such regular customers, she said, "you'd wonder what had happened to them if you didn't see them."

Her employees, she considers like family.

"We've grown up together. We couldn't have done this without them."

For more on this story, see this week's newspaper.

'Uniquely Yours' planned downtown

Tracy's downtown area took another positive step last week when new owners finalized the purchase of the former Almlie Furniture building.

Jim and Ade Miller of Tracy plan to transform the building into “Uniquely Yours,” a store specializing in revitalized furniture and accessories. The sale was finalized on June 18.

Ade Miller explained the concept of “Uniquely Yours”.

“We take orphaned furniture and accessories and we use decorative paint and design to give it new life.”

“When you adopt it, it becomes `uniquely yours,'” Jim added.

They use everything from old doors to shutters to create new furniture. Chairs are a specialty shoppers will be sure to find a variety of—the Millers have collected nearly 200 already.

“We have some very unusual things that some people would probably throw away,” Ade said. Sometimes, she admits, they don't know exactly what they'll do with an item at first, but simply have an idea of something that might work.

For more on this story, see this week's newspaper.

Quilt auction promises timeless craftsmanship

200 items donated for Saturday benefit

With painstaking care, Ethela Monsen's seasoned hands worked the fabric.

Using cardboard patterns and a scissors, the elderly lady meticulously cut odds and ends of cloth into triangles, squares and rectangles. Then hour after hour, day after day, month after month—despite failing eyesight—she lovingly hand-stitched the fabric into quilt tops.

The Tracy Lutheran Church parishioner died five years ago at the age of 89. But her artistic legacy will live on Saturday at the annual Shetek Lutheran Ministries quilt auction. Her handiwork is in two large quilts that will be sold at the auction.

"The amount of time that went into making those quilts is almost unimaginable," comments Peggy Ludeman, a member of two local quilting groups contributing items for the auction.

One of Mrs. Monsen's "scrappy quilts," called "The Road to California," follows an Amish tradition. A single piece was purposely placed askew from the rest of the pattern.

"The Amish believed that only God can make something perfect," explains Ludeman of the apparent "mistake" in the quilt.

The two quilts being sold Saturday are the last of five quilt tops that Mrs. Monsen left to Tracy Lutheran Church prior to her death in June of 1998. Volunteers from several Lutheran churches finished the tops into quilts. One was sold at the Shetek Auction two years ago, and two others in 2002. The final two quilt tops were completed by quilters from Highwater Lutheran Church of rural Lamberton, and Grace Lutheran Church of Westbrook.

For more on this story, see this week's newspaper.

Last hurrah for cheering?

Panel suggests dropping program

The cheerleading program at Tracy Area High School could be history if the District 417 goes along with a recommendation from the Tracy/Milroy/Balaton athletic committee.

Athletic Director Bill Tauer brought four recommendations from the TMB committee to the board Monday night. The options listed by the board were to add junior varsity danceline, eliminate the cheerleading program, add boys' cross country, and to approve the participation of the boys' basketball team in the Marshall holiday tournament.

Discussion about the cheerleading program followed a request to add a cheerleading coach.

Tauer said there was considerable discussion surrounding the cheerleading program. A recent survey revealed that only three schools in the 212 conference have cheerleading programs. The idea was that by discontinuing cheerleading, the danceline program could be enhanced, said Tauer.

Board member Mike Carlson had concerns about problems in the past with cheerleaders at out-of-town events. He added that the district could focus on building one strong program, and noted that TAHS doesn't always have the numbers to sustain all of its programs. He said that the TMB committee thought that this would be the best thing for the district.

“Sometimes we have to make those hard choices, and I think this is one of them,” he said.

For more on this story, see this week's newspaper.

City restores money to budget

Solutions sought for airport land access

About $16,400 in spending is being restored to the City of Tracy's 2003 budget.

The changes, recommended by City Administrator Audrey Koopman, were approved by council members Monday night.

The $16,400 was cut by council actions this spring. The restored spending items are:

• $2,280 for safety training.

• $3,768 for a part-time custodial position.

• $1,500 for police department equipment replacement.

• $5,000 for building inspection and demolition of dilapidated buildings.

• $1,387 airport equipment replacement.

• $2,473 for salary and benefits cuts for senior center director.

This spring, the council enacted about $97,000 in spending cuts, and raised a variety of city fees that will raise an estimate $10,000 annually. The cuts were enacted in response to a budget proposal from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, that would have resulted in two-year loss in state aid to Tracy of over $400,000.

The state cuts weren't as large as had been feared. Legislation that was signed into law earlier this month will result in a loss of $149,000 this year, and none next year.

For more on this story, see this week's newspaper.

Swift Lake trail bid lower than estimate

If all goes as expected, construction will begin soon on a new Swift Lake Park bike and pedestrian trail.

Bids were opened last week for the project, with McLaughlin & Schulz Inc. of Marshall the apparent low bidder. The bid was $131,661. The McLaughlin & Schulz bid was less than the $136,080 engineers' estimate.

Anita Benson, Lyon County public works director, said that she hopes that construction will begin "by the end of July." The McLaughlin & Schulz bid has received verbal approval from Minnesota Department of Transportation officials, Benson said. She said she will recommend that the Lyon County Commissioners award the contract to McLaughlin & Schulz at the board's July 1 meeting.

The project involves the construction of a 10-foot wide paved path through Swift Lake Park on the northeast edge of Tracy. The off-road trail begins at the park's entrance off Lyon County Highway 11, and winds its way past a playground, the lake and campground, before heading south, east of the Tracy Industrial Park. The off-road trail will be 5,956 feet long.

A second segment of the Swift Lake trail involves the construction of 2,707 feet of paved shoulders, along County Highway 11, from the intersection of Hwy. 14 and the Swift Lake Park entrance.

An on-road bicycle route will be designated on South, South Center, and Pine streets through the use of signage and roadway striping.

For more on this story, see this week's newspaper.