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News from the week of September 10, 2003

School enrollment jumps

Supt. David Marlette had good news to share with the District 417 board of education Monday night—enrollment in the district is up this fall.

The figures Marlette presented show that 752 students were enrolled in the district in May of 2003. Seventy-nine seniors graduated, leaving 673 to return this year. Adding in 42 kindergartners, the expected enrollment was 715.

Actual enrollment on Sept. 3 was 769. Marlette said approximately three additional students had been enrolled since the figures were compiled.

The breakdown of enrollment figures as of Sept. 3 was:


K 42

1 39

2 31

3 49

4 50

5 52

6 57

Total: 323

7 65

8 68

9 75

10 88

11 83

12 67

Total: 446

Master agreement approved

The board ratified the Master Employment Agreement between the district and the Tracy Education Association for the years 2003-2005.

The master contract agreement was part of the agreement that was agreed to when the 2001-2003 contract was approved.

Board member Eric Nelson said that the agreement meant roughly a 2.5 percent increase the first year and 3.5 percent increase the second year.

Nelson also brought up a concern with the community education section of the contract, which states that the activities director, which includes the positions of athletic director and community education director, should be licensed in community education. At this time, Bill Tauer, who serves in this capacity, is working toward his licensure. As a result, the board approved the contract subject to a letter of understanding concerning this issue.

Tracy parcels included in regional JOBZ proposal

Just over 300 acres of land in and around Tracy are included in a proposed "tax free" development zone for Southwest Minnesota.

The Southwest Regional Development Commission is seeking one of the ten Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) authorized by the state legislature earlier this year. The regional application includes selected sites within an 11-county area of Southwest Minnesota. Gov. Tim Pawlenty will hear an overview of the regional JOBZ plan during a visit to Slayton Thursday.

The regional application includes four parcels of property in and near Tracy. The 308 acres of mostly agriculture land were identified as possible future development sites by the Tracy Economic Development Authority. The parcels are:

Area one—116 acres in northeast Tracy. (Undeveloped portions of Tracy Industrial Park, other city owned land south of Tracy Airport, including Swift Lake Park).

Area two—49 acres on southeast edge of Tracy. (south of East Morgan Street and east of South Center Street, on both north and south side of railroad right-of-way).

Area three—47 acres in west Tracy. (East of Highline Road, north of Greenwood Addition and west of railroad right-of-way).

Area four—96 acres on northwest edge of Tracy. (Agricultural property north of Hwy. 14 commercial strip).

Robert Gervais, Tracy community development director, has been invited to speak about Tracy's portion of the JOBZ application at the Slayton luncheon Thursday, September 18. Governor Tim Pawlenty will be in attendance.

The Tracy City Council gave their blessings to the Tracy JOBZ application Monday night.

New 417 teachers get bearings

Three new teachers have joined the Tracy Area Public Schools teaching staff this fall.

Rick Haberman, is a native of Heron Lake. He is teaching seventh-grade health, and ninth grade and kindergarten physical education.

Before coming to Tracy, the 1993 Southwest Minnesota State University graduate taught for nine years in the Fulda school district. He taught several sections of physical education and health there, and said he liked having a variety of different classes to teach. Haberman has also coached basketball, baseball, track, volleyball, and football. He will be assistant girls' basketball coach for the Panthers, and is looking forward to the opportunity.

Haberman said he really enjoys working with kids, as well as sports. “I really like the school atmosphere. I just think it's a great place to be,” he said.

• • •

Teresa Hildebrand is teaching math at Tracy Area High School.

Hildebrand, who grew up in southern Manitoba, moved to Madison, S.D. three years ago to attend college. She graduated from Dakota State University in May with a degree in math education. This is her first teaching job.

Hildebrand will be teaching three sections of algebra, one section of refresher math, and one section of consumer math I. She will is also coaching 7th and 8th grade volleyball.

She is planning a wedding this December to Jason Timmerman, who is the nephew of Lynn and Rose Goltz of Tracy. Timmerman is also from the area, and the couple wanted to move back to Minnesota, Hildebrand said. Timmerman is teaching math in Lake Benton. Hildebrand said she likes the size of the Tracy community and the school.

• • •

Corrine Marlette has been hired as a new Title I teacher at Tracy Elementary School. She is splitting her duties between Tracy Elementary and St. Mary's School.

She is married to new Tracy Area Public Schools Superintendent David Marlette.

She is enjoying working in both the public and parochial school settings in Tracy. It is the first time she has taught in a parochial school. Marlette is impressed with the warm environment at both schools and the professional treatment of the educators in the community.

The Marlettes have four children. Shauna is working toward her degree at Dakota State University, Nicki teaches preschool and lives in Omaha with her husband, Patty teaches math and lives near Sioux Falls with her husband, and Brett is a sophomore at the School of Mines, where he is majoring in metallurgical engineering.

The Marlettes moved to Tracy in June and have found it easy to settle in. “Tracy's just such a friendly community.”

New mentors join fold at St. Mary's School

Two new teachers are on board this year at St. Mary's School.

Jen Kainz is teaching fifth and sixth grades at the school. Kainz, the daughter of Dennis and Linda Fultz, grew up in Tracy and graduated from Tracy Area High School in 1993.

She graduated from Augustana College in 1997 with a degree in business and communication. For the next five years, she worked for Wells Fargo. In May of 2003, she graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a degree in education.

This is Kainz's first teaching experience, and she is enjoying it so far. She said she enjoys working with fifth and sixth graders because they are able to work toward a goal through independent exploration. “They're a great age group,” she said.

Kainz and her husband, Jason, have been married for four years. In addition to teaching, Kainz operates the Tracy Dance Studio at the Prairie Pavilion with Vicki Nilius.

• • •

Mindy Otto is teaching kindergarten at St. Mary's.

Otto graduated from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in 1980 with a degree in education. She moved to Tracy to teach, and has taught at St. Mary's, Balaton, and Tracy Public schools. She has taught for 12 years in various capacities as a full-time, part-time, and substitute teacher.

Otto said she enjoys working with the primary grades, and was excited at the opportunity to teach kindergarten again, having previously taught kindergarten for one year. She said she especially likes kindergartners' enthusiasm and curiosity, as well as the fun activities she gets to do with the students.

Her husband, Gale, teaches 6th grade at Tracy Elementary school. They have four children, Valerie, Melanie, Jim, and Jenny.

Tests ordered for aquatic center

A Minneapolis firm will be conducting structural tests at the Tracy Aquatic Center this month.

The tests, ordered by the Tracy City Council Monday, will investigate surface cracks noticed in the pool this spring. The tests will also look at the 'delamination' that has occurred on some spots in the pool's top coat. Estimated cost is $4,758.

Braun Intertec will evaluate the pool with a "sounding survey" and ground-penetrating radar. A visual and photographic survey of the pool will note and map any problem areas. Four-inch core samples will be taken from the pool.

The tests are to determine whether the aquatic center has any structural problems, and if so, what caused the problems and what repairs are needed to be made. Data from the Braun tests could be used in a legal dispute involving Olympic Pools, a major contractor for the aquatic center, and the City of Tracy.

Senior college kick-off planned at SMSC Thursday

Gene Hochhalter will be the guest speaker at the Senior College kick-off event at 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11 in Charter Hall 201 on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University.

Hochhalter, a counselor for 20 years, will give a presentation, "Don't Believe Everything You Think." He will discuss stress and how it relates to thinking and the way people talk to themselves. He believes that "the tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it."

Registration is at 2:30 p.m., followed by a welcoming remarks by SMSU President David Danahar at 3 p.m. Senior College participants who have registered may then meet their study group leaders and get acquainted with SMSU. Refreshments will be served.the event.

Signs will be posted and parking permits are not required.

Senior College is in its third year at Southwest Minnesota State University. Senior College is for those 50 years and older. It provides a chance to take non-credit courses dealing with topics of interest, such as computers, history, music, art, writing and science. Participants may take up to four courses. Eleven courses are being offered during this session of Senior College.

For further information, contact Betty Roers, senior college coordinator, at 537-7363.