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News from the week of July 16, 2003

The Etc. carves niche as new downtown hub

Businesses launch grand opening festivities Saturday

By Val Scherbart Quist

Marsha Goff and Glenda Johnson both had a vision for Tracy—a vision of a community gathering spot.

Beginning this Saturday, the two women will be kicking off a week-long celebration of the realization of that vision—The Etc.

The grand opening begins Saturday, July 19 and continues through Saturday, July 26. On the 19th, there will be special things going on throughout the day, as well as free food samples, said Johnson. Those who stop in will have the opportunity to register for door prizes throughout the week.

“Every day we will have different special things going on,” Johnson said. “We want people to come in and check us out and see what we're all about.”

Chance meeting

Just a few years ago, Goff and Johnson didn't even know each other. The two were connected through a series of conversations that led them to discover they had the same goals.

Goff, who also works full-time in the Twin Cities and lives in St. Paul, knew that she could never do it on her own, was excited to meet Johnson. “We had the same vision,” she said. “We just put our strengths together.”

The pair began about two years ago by looking at buildings. They settled on the former Ben Franklin building, which needed a great deal of work, but had the potential to fulfill their collective dream. Both say they have kept a positive, “tell us we can't do it and we'll find a way anyway” attitude. “It has paid off,” Goff said. Johnson is thrilled with the final product as well. “It looks exactly like we envisioned, and it's exactly what we wanted,” she said.

One of the most notable changes to the building is the reinstallation of the storefront windows. Over the weekend the windows were embellished with signs for the businesses that call The Etc. home—Baskets of Yarn, The Lighthouse Books and Treasures, The Candy Nook, and Coffee on Third. Along the top of the windows is the word “coffee” in several different languages.

The coffee shop has only been running with a limited menu, but a full menu is expected to be in place by the grand opening. The full menu includes different types of sandwiches and salads, as well as a variety of pies and cheesecakes, cookies, coffee, tea, smoothies, and ice cream. The downtown businesses, as well as out-of-town travelers just passing through, have been supporting the coffee shop well, said Johnson.

“We already have what we consider regulars.”

Always expanding

Both women emphasize that The Etc. is still a work in progress. “It's going to be ongoing,” said Goff. “We're continuing to expand.” “We're going to keep adding as we go,” Johnson added. “We have new stuff coming all the time.”

The pair is continuing to look for a tenant to occupy the basement retail space. One planned addition is artwork by Curt Paulsen. Goff is also looking into the possibility of offering a houseware line. “What they see now is still not the final product,” she said. “It's a work in progress.”

Hours at The Etc. are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Christian bookstore shines light in Tracy

A Christian book and gift store has opened in Downtown Tracy.

Lighthouse Books & Treasures is located in newly-remodeled The Etc. Building on the corner of Third and Morgan streets.

The owners are Gene Zick of rural Lake Benton, and her daughter, Rachel Deutz of rural Marshall. They also operate a similar store in Tyler. They decided to open another store in Tracy, after being invited to look over Tracy.

"We've found Tracy people to be very, very friendly," Zick said.

The women feel Tracy is a good location for their business. Besides their store in Tyler, the next closest Christian bookstore is in Redwood Falls, the business women said. Marshall, they said, does not have a Christian bookstore.

Besides books and gifts, Lighthouse Books & Treasures carries a variety of church and Sunday school supplies. The store is located in the loft on the west end of The Etc. Building, near Glenda Johnson's Baskets of Yarn business.

When they are not personally at their shop, Zick and Deutz explained, Johnson will assist Lighthouse customers. Zick and Deutz plan to personally staff their Tracy store one or two days a week.

Lighthouse Books & Treasures is open weekdays until 5 p.m., except for Thursdays when hours are extended to 6 p.m. The store will be open until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Cheering okayed for another year

Heating & cooling bonds sold at 1.9%

The cheerleading program at Tracy Area High School is safe—at least for now.

The District 417 school board voted Monday to keep the cheerleading program intact this year.

The issue was first discussed at the board's June 23 meeting following a recommendation by the TMB committee to discontinue the cheerleading program.

Several cheerleaders and parents were once again in attendance at the meeting to show their support for the program.

The decision to keep the program came following several recommendations by Activities Director Bill Tauer. Tauer recommended that the board allow the program to continue this year but revisit the issue again in the spring. He also recommended that football and wrestling cheerleaders continue to be the only squads allowed to travel to away matches.

Tauer also recommended that another coach not be added for the cheerleading program, and that purchasing of new uniforms be put on hold. Cheerleading was on the schedule to buy new uniforms this year.

At the request of cheerleading Coach Missy Erbes, the board agreed to allow for the purchase of some cheerleading skirts, not to exceed a cost of $500. Erbes said the squads have been forced to revert back to skirts that are 10 years old because the newer ones aren't the right size.

Erbes questioned the logic behind the original recommendation to terminate the program. “How do you get rid of a program that is growing?” she said. “I have no doubt that our program will continue to grow.” Board members said they would revisit those issues in March, and told supporters of the program that they were welcome to take the issue up with the TMB committee.

1.9 percent bond accepted

The board accepted a bid from Wells Fargo for general obligation capital facilities bonds to Wells Fargo Brokerage Services, LLC. The bid had a true interest rate of 1.9102 percent.

Technology buff sets up new Tracy weather center

By Val Scherbart Quist

As a thunderstorm rolled through the area Monday morning, Kevin Haney monitored the storm's each and every move.

The Tracy businessman and weather enthusiast frequently checked the storm's speed, direction, and severity, paying special attention to the potential for hail so he could alert his father-in-law and brother-in-law—local car dealers Dean and Jeff Salmon.

But all this weather watching isn't just for the sake of helping out the family business. He's doing it to keep the whole Tracy community informed when severe weather strikes.

With the help of special weather software, Haney has created a website that gives real-time weather especially for Tracy.

“It's a hobby, plus I want to provide information to the local area,” he said. “It's for people who want to know what's going on here, not in Marshall.”

There can be a big difference, he pointed out, between what the weather's doing here to what's happening 20 miles away.

Haney began pursuing his hobby about two or three years ago, when home weather monitoring equipment started to become more affordable.

“It combines a hobby with technology, which is what I like,” he said.

While still living in the Twin Cities, Haney began his weather website. Since he and wife Wendy moved back to Tracy, he has begun providing Tracy weather information on the site.

“No matter how much technology we have, I think the best information we have comes from weather spotters.”

The Tracy weather site gives all the current weather information, such as windspeed, temperature, humidity, and dewpoint, as well as any current warnings. Current National Weather Service information is included as well.

He hopes that providing this information and equipment will be beneficial to the community, especially to those who need it most such as hospitals and nursing homes.

“I'd like to make sure that areas that need to know about storms have a way to know,” he said.

Check out the Tracy weather site at weather/.

Emerald Tide bring wee bit 'o Ireland to library

Irish eyes were smiling at the Tracy Public Library Thursday.

And why not?

The Emerald Tide Dancers staged a half-hour program that had Norwegian, Swedish, German, Hispanic and Southeast Asian eyes twinkling with merriment too. The sibling act of Aurora, Elizabeth, Micah, Josiah, and Dominique Sunderman presented a menagerie of Irish songs, dances, and stories that had both children and adults laughing. The Plum Creek Library System sponsored the performance.

The Emerald Tide Dancers have been performing together for about four years. The group was born when the three oldest sisters—Micah, now 20; Elizabeth, 19; and Aurora, 15—learned an Irish dance and song. Their grandmother was so impressed, remembers their mother, Mary, that the grandmother talked the girls into entering a talent contest at the Cottonwood County Fair.

The act was a crowd-pleaser. The Emerald Tide Dancers won the county contest, and qualified for the state fair talent contest. In 2001, the Emerald Tide won the state fair talent contest, performing in front of the state fair grandstand.

Invitations to perform kept coming. The Emerald Tide Dancers—now joined by 11-year-old Josiah and five-year-old Dominique—will present more than 100 programs this year. The rural Westbrook siblings are booked to perform for 22 libraries in the Plum Creek System.

On August 8-10, the Emerald Tide is booked for performances at the St. Paul Irish Fair.

"It's something we do as a family," Mary said, of the Emerald Tide's busy schedule. Husband Dick Sunderman also gets in on the traveling.

The Emerald Tide Dancers performed Saturday for the opening weekend of the Wilder Music Festival near Walnut Grove. They are scheduled to return for the final weekend of the festival July 26.

Missouri 4-Hers discover Minnesota is no sweat fun

Eleven teens from the "Show Me" state learned a thing or two about the "Gopher" state this past week.

The students from St. Charles County, Mo. stayed with host families in Lyon County through a 4-H exchange program. Next year, the Lyon County 4-Hers will travel to Missouri to spend a week with their St. Charles counterparts.

St. Charles County is about 60 miles northwest of St. Louis. The biggest city in the county, also called St. Charles, has about 60,000 people. The county lies between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

So how did the Missourians enjoy their trip to Minnesota?

Lauren Moreno, Tera Loyd, and MacKenzie Huber all agreed that Minnesota was "cool," both literally and figuratively. Not only did they like the things they got to do in Minnesota, but the 4-Hers also enjoyed Minnesota's summer weather, which they said was cooler and less muggy than Missouri.

"The people in Minnesota are really nice," MacKenzie added. Southwest Minnesota's flat typography, compared with the rolling terrain of home. More sheep are raised in St. Charles County compared to Minnesota. But corn, soybeans, and wheat fields of Minnesota all looked familiar to the Missouri 4-Hers.

Population densities are a major difference between the two regions. The open spaces of St. Charles County are increasingly being affected by the urban sprawl from the St. Louis Metro area, the visitors indicated.