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News from the week of October 1, 2003

Shetek-Sarah sewer meetings are Saturday

Property owners invited to participate

Lake Shetek and Lake Sarah area property owners can meet with engineers Saturday to discuss a proposed lakes-area sanitary sewer system.

Five separate meetings are planned at Shetek Lutheran Ministries on Keeley Island, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 4.

"This is a chance for landowners to give the engineers input," said Chris Hansen, of the Murray County Environmental Services office.

Bonestroo & Associates, a Twin Cities engineering firm, was hired by the Murray County Board of Commissioners to draw up plans and specifications for the proposed lakes-area sewage collection system earlier this year. Saturday, property owners will have a chance to see preliminary layouts for the sewer system and how construction could affect their land.

Hansen said that public comment is important to the planning process. For example, he said, a property owner might know the location of valuable trees that he or she didn't want disturbed by construction.

The long-discussed lakes-area sewer system would collect sewage and treat the effluent at a central facility. The City of Currie would also be connected to the system.

Peace finally comes to Slaughter Slough

Words of reconciliation mark dedication ceremony

By Seth Schmidt

Words of peace echoed over the rolling hills that once witnessed the bloodiest episode in recorded Murray County history.

"What a place this is for a monument dedicated to reconciliation," said Dr. Paul Carpenter, Sioux Falls, S.D., a relative of Shetek settlers who died at the hands of Dakota warriors at Slaughter Slough 141 years ago.

"My friends, this is a good day, not to die, but to live," said Harry Charger, the great-grandson of a Lakota man who helped rescue eight white Shetek captives in 1862. "If you are armed with compassion, you can not lose."

"We've got to bury this hatchet," said Richard Bryan, a member of the Dakota community near Pipestone.

The speakers were among the 300 people who turned out Sept. 24 to dedicate a monument at Slaughter Slough and mark its new status as a federal Waterfowl Production Area.

The site, three miles east of Lake Shetek in Murray Township, was the spot where 11 white settlers and an unknown number of Dakota were killed on August 20, 1862. The 640 acre-site was purchased last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is restoring the land as a Waterfowl Production Area.

Steve Kallin, manager for the fish and wildlife service, spoke of the site's environmental value. "It's a place where people can connect with nature." The Slaughter Slough preserve, he noted, is part of a 95-million acres system across the U.S.

"It's a national treasure and it belongs to you," he said.

Senator Jim Vickerman (DFL-Tracy), who farms nearby, praised the planned restoration of Slaughter Slough. "Lake Shetek is one jewel that we have, and this is the second jewel. We need more of this."

But on this day, nature took a backseat to history, as a mammoth rock cairn was dedicated as a perpetual monument to three peoples: the Dakota Indians who inhabited the region before white settlement; the white pioneers who were forced from their Shetek homes in 1862; and the ten to 12 Lakota young men who rescued the Shetek captives near the Missouri River.

The cairn, erected on high ground overlooking Slaughter Slough, is comprised of four boulders found nearby. Three rocks— each representing one of the three groups—form the base for a larger boulder that has a circumference of about 20 feet.

Dr. Carpenter, a physician in Sioux Falls, S.D., explained the symbolism.

"The first rock is for the Dakota, the original inhabitants of this land, who after years of broken promises and mistreatment of their people by the white government, reacted in anger in an attempt to retake their native land.

"The second rock is for the white settlers. These were brave, industrious young families who were just trying to live a better life. They were innocent bystanders in a larger conflict who got caught here."

"The third rock is for the Fool Soldiers. These brave young Lakota men went at the risk of their lives to barter for the release of the captives.

"I think it is very appropriate that all three are honored."

Harry Charger, who lives near Eagle Butte, S.D., said he was "very happy" to participate in the monument dedication.

"I am glad that somebody is finally recognizing the efforts of those ten courageous men who took a great risk, only to be ridiculed and mocked and made fun of. They were called traitors (by their own people)....To this day we are still being called that."

Elvina Olson marks 105th

Tracy's oldest resident is still smiling in third century of life

By Seth Schmidt

Words don't come as freely as they once did for Elvina (Holten) Olson.

But she's succinct, when reminded about her 105th birthday.

"My goodness!" she exclaims.

The Prairie View Healthcare Center resident reached the 105-year milestone Friday. But it wasn't until Saturday and Sunday when she officially celebrated her birthday with friends and family.

"She's wonderful," said Sandy Steffes, activities director at Prairie View.

At the age of 105, Elvina tires more easily than she used to, and she's hard of hearing. Her vision is no longer clear enough for reading. But she maintains as much independence as she can, moving her wheelchair up and down hallways by herself. She still loves to talk with visitors who take the time to speak clearly and loudly.

"She's still got her sense of humor," related a daughter, Lorraine Frisvold of rural Slayton.

A granddaughter asked her this weekend how old grandma was.

"Oh, about 200!" the centenarian quipped.

The 105-year-old was hospitalized for four days in September with an infection, but has since bounced back. This weekend the lady—who has experienced life in parts of three centuries—was the picture of health.

"I had dinner with her on Friday and she looked like she was on the top of the world," Frisvold said, adding that her mind is still surprisingly sharp. Her mother, she said, can still remember long-ago events. The only regular medication she requires is a Tylenol and eye-drops

And Elvina's eyes still twinkle.

When a newspaper photographer was introduced, she turned toward the camera like a model. Tracy's oldest resident beamed.

ECCO expansion breaks ground

Construction is underway on an addition to the ECCO developmental achievement center in Tracy.

Building at the site, which is located at 144 4th St., began early last week.

ECCO received the go-ahead to move forward with the project in July. Bids had been let for the project earlier in the year, but the project was put on hold because the center's funding was in jeopardy.

Overcrowding prompted the decision to add on, Director Cathy Nelson said.

The new addition, which will be built on land at the corner of South and Fourth streets purchased from the city of Tracy for $1, is expected to cost about $150,000. The addition will include a 25-by-75-foot area that will be used for programming, and a 15-by-25-foot garage.

Nelson said the new addition is desperately needed.

“This is exciting for us,” she said. “We've waited a long time for this.”

The ECCO center provides work opportunities for people with disabilities.

Those were the days, my friend

By Seth Schmidt

The year Cliff Nelson was graduated from Tracy High School, "Casablanca" played at the Hollywood Theatre. Roller skating was a popular recreation at the Valhalla rollerdrome.

Ice cream cones cost a nickel at the Steinberg Creamery across from the high school, and big bands still swung at the Sabin Ballroom down the street. "Mairzy Doats" and "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" were popular songs with kids. A zoot suit was the epitome of a dapperly-dressed guy. Nylon hosiery was scarce at any price.

The cloud of World War II cast an ominous shadow on the future.

"We had a scrap iron pile on the east side of the school," said Nelson, a long-time Tracy resident. "Kids would bring in junk and toss it onto the pile. They needed the iron for the war effort."

"A lot of the guys went into the (military) service right after graduation," remembered LaVern (Lefty) Holm, Tracy, another Class of '43 grad.

The Tracy High School Class of '43—scattered far and wide after their prep days—gathered Sept 20-21 to mark the 60th anniversary of their high school graduation.

"Everyone thought that this was the best reunion we have ever had," said Nelson. "Everyone said that. I talked with every classmate who was there."

Holm said that differences that at one time divided classmates no longer matter.

"We're all in the same boat," he said, of the ties that bind the Class of '43. Holm said that to his best knowledge, all '43 Tracy alumni are retired. The classmates are now mostly 77 to 79 years old.

"We had a wonderful time," said Aileen (Sabin) Horan, now of Pinedale, Wyoming. "We love coming back to Tracy."

The Class of '43 originally had 86 graduating seniors. Thirty-one classmates attended this year's reunion. Forty-three deceased classmates were remembered with a moment of silence, after each name was read.

Many other kids went to school with the Class of '43, Holm remembered, but did not stay in school long enough to earn a diploma. One of the classmates who never graduated, he said, was Lester Lesnetske, who joined the U.S. Army prior to graduation. Lesnetske became a tank driver and died in Europe when his tank sustained a direct hit, Holm said. Lesnetske was the only class member who became a war casualty, Holm said.

Doll (Nelson) Manke, Marshall, remembers that World War II affected their high school years in many ways.

Sacrifice for the war effort was a part of life.

The Class of '43s Teton yearbook consisted of a few typed up sheets of paper. Since no photos were taken for the Teton, pictures of the class's school activities are scarce.

School extra-curricular activities were also curbed. No prom was held in 1943. Many everyday items were rationed—from gas and tires to shoes and sugar—were rationed.

"Defense stamps were sold all year in the student home rooms," Manke remembered. "Each stamp cost 25 cents. It took 75 stamps to fill a book, which then had a value of $18.75. After ten years, that bond matured and you could receive a check for $25."

Teacher turnover was high, since workers were in demand everywhere because of the war.

Two war-related classes were added to the high school curriculum.

"One was sheet metal, which enrolled mostly the girls. The boys and a few girls attended the airplane mechanics class," Manke recalled.

Holm and Nelson remembered that an army obstacle course was made a part of a physical education class.

"The army set it up. There were things we had to climb up over and under. There was barbed wire that we had to crawl underneath," Holm said.

The 31 classmates, who enjoyed dinner at the Tracy County Club the first day and a brunch at the Mediterranean the next day, came from six states including Minnesota. A 65th anniversary reunion is planned in 2008.

Classmates who gathered for their 60th-year class reunion Sept. 20-21 in Tracy were: (front row, from left) Joan (West) Walters, Dolly (Nelson) Manke, Leone (Garvin) McVicker, Dorthy (Evans) Pamp, Norma (Meyer) England, Helen (Denault) Haage. Middle: Dick Hylstad, Charlotte (Ludwig) Highby, Merron (Thompins) Gullickson, Aline (Sabin) Horan, Dorothy (Bromberg) Kass, Lavina (Holland) Huso, Virginia (Schons) Foley, Maxine (Noll) Silvernale, Anna (Van Avermoet) Johnson, Gussy (Verstraete) Shaw, Lucille (Dalthorp) Lorinz. Back: Tom Carey, Sheryl (Ruthenbeck) Swanbeck, Helen (Howe) Edgin, Daryl Riley, Von Buesing, Cliff Nelson, Neil Lien, Luvern Carlson, Milton Moen, Lavern Holm, Sander Ludeman, Paul Knoblauch, Robert Fodness. (Not pictured: Melvin Bauer.

Allen Pierson hopes to touch hearts with newly-recorded song

By Val Scherbart-Quist

It was Veteran's Day 1996. Allen Pierson listened quietly with others at a program that day as the names of those who have given their lives for their country were read.

As he sat there, Pierson was inspired to write a song he titled “Our Hearts Go Out.” Pierson recently traveled to Nashville where he recorded the single—a tribute to this country's heroes.

The Westbrook musician first planned to go to Nashville after he entered and won a prize in a contest sponsored by Paramount Groups. The song he entered in the contest was called “We Are United” and featured third graders from Westbrook singing the chorus and saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Though Pierson was declared a winner, he was disappointed to find that the recording contract he'd been promised was really only a discount on a recording session.

That didn't stop Pierson. He went to Nashville anyway.

Pierson had been in contact with Midi Magic Studio, operated by Gerry Peters. Peters has worked with artists such as Mel Tillis, Roy Clark, and Amy Grant.

“He's known for good work,” said Pierson.

Peters agreed to record Pierson, and even bumped him up in the schedule since he'd be traveling from Minnesota.

Pierson, who says he enjoys the recording aspect, hopes to be able to buy bigger and better recording equipment.

“I started out with what I could afford,” he said.

Pierson will do recording for individuals or groups at reasonable rates. Anyone who would like a copy of the single “Our Hearts Go Out” or is interested in a recording project may contact him by writing 28727 340th Ave., Westbrook, MN 56183, or e-mail allenpierson@