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News from the week of November 5, 2003

Trick, treat or rumor?

Halloween door knocking drops amidst gang violence rumors, police experience quiet night

On a typical Halloween night, 140 to 180 trick-or-treaters are apt to stop by Heidi Morgan's house on North Street.

Not this year.

"I was lucky if I had 80 or 90 kids this year," Morgan said.

Hollett Street East resident Clara Andrews noticed a similar downturn in her neighborhood.

"It was not a normal amount," she said. On an average year, 75 to 80 trick-or-treaters will stop by her house. Friday night, she had perhaps "25 or 30" trick-or-treating youngsters, she said. The neighbors she had talked with all experienced similarly small turnouts of trick-or-treaters.

Smaller than expected numbers of trick-or-treaters were reported across Tracy. Of 13 people queried randomly by the Headlight-Herald early this week, all but two felt that trick-or-treat numbers were down dramatically compared with previous years. Some attributed the smaller than expected attendance to a number of organized parties in the community Friday night. But most felt that rumors that swept through Tracy last week warning of Halloween violence had kept many children at home.

"My kids were too scared to go out," Morgan said of the rumors. She restricted her children's trick-or-treating to a two-block area in her neighborhood

The rumors circulating in Tracy last week involved the potential for gang violence and gunfire. An out-of-town gang, the rumor went, supposedly was coming to Tracy for a "drive-by shooting." Another version suggested that a fight would breakout among an out-of-town gang and a Tracy group. One story suggested that a shooting would occur at or near Central Park.

Police Chief Bryan Hillger heard the stories too. But he stressed Monday that his department was unable to find anything to support the rumors. He said that police uncovered no reliable information to give credence to the Halloween-threat stories.

None-the-less, the chief said that law enforcement took the stories seriously. All four Tracy police offers were on duty Halloween night. A Lyon County sheriff's deputy was also in town periodically during the night, meaning that at times there were five officers patrolling the streets of Tracy.

"It was better to be safe than sorry in case something did happen," Hillger said of the increased law enforcement presence.


Down...ready set...hut!

St. John's-Bethel clash stirs football fervor on Hollett St.

Rose Goltz and Adele Thomas have prayed together at home Bible study sessions.

Their husbands—Lynn Goltz and Wendell Thomas—sometimes greet one another from their front yards on Hollett Street East.

Occasionally, the couples find themselves at one or the other's homes for neighborhood get-togethers.

"We're good friends," says Rose of her across-the-street Tracy neighbors.

Adele echoes the friendly sentiments. "They are good people," she says of Lynn and Rose.

Yet neighborliness has its limits.

Saturday, the couples will be on opposite sides of the field when the St. John's University and Bethel College football teams square off. The Goltz's youngest son, Jeremy, is the starting free safety for St. John's. The Thomas's son, David, is a starting offensive lineman for Bethel.

The game between two undefeated teams has attracted national attention because a St. John's victory will make Coach John Gagliardi the winningest collegiate football coach of all time. The tilt between nationally-ranked teams will also decide the MIAC Conference championship.

So don't expect Lynn and Rose to share any insights about St. John's defensive schemes with their neighbors. Don't expect the Adele and Wendell to copy off pages from Bethel's playbook for Lynn and Rose.

"I wish the St. John's coach well with the record, I just don't want him to get the record against Bethel," smiles Adele.

"Go Johnnies" will be Rose's battle cry. "We're looking for a win," she says of her aspirations for an undefeated St. John's season.

It's hard to tell who has bragging rights as the most fervent college football fans on Hollett Street. Both couples make it a point to be at all of their son's games. Except for a contest in Ohio, Rose and Lynn haven't missed a St. John's football game since October of 2001. Last fall they followed the Johnnies to play-off games in Oregon and Texas. Adele and Wendell have a similar passion. They've seen all of Bethel's football games this fall, and most of the games last year.


Fultz, Landa, Zwach & Zimansky top school board vote

Two new faces will be joining the Tracy Board of Education.

A close school board election resulted in the election of newcomers Eric Fultz and Al Landa Tuesday. Incumbents Peggy Zwach and Dan Zimansky were also elected to new four-year terms. Board members Steve Johnson and Mike Carlson fell short in a close six-way election.

Unofficial vote totals Tuesday night showed Zwach leading with 273 votes. Eric Fultz was second with 257 votes, followed by Landa with 241 and Zimansky with 221. Johnson had 202 votes and Carlson 147.

• • •

In the Balaton school district, an operating levy referendum passed by a more than two-to-one margin. A total of 123 voters said "yes" and 52 said "no" to the ballot question authorizing a $226.25 per pupil unit operating levy. The levy replaces a $452.27 per pupil unit levy that expires this year.

Three Balaton school board running unopposed were re-elected to four-year terms. Don Swanjord received 151 votes, Kristen Giles 150, and Leo Lindquist 148. Jody Bauer and Kelly Fricke, both also running unopposed, were elected to two-year terms. Fricke received 157 votes and Bauer 141 votes.

• • •

Four incumbents will be serving new terms on the Milroy Public School board. Dennis DeRuyck got 59 votes, Lon Walling 56, and Richard Vroman 31 to earn four-year terms. Vroman, who had not filed and whose name was not on the ballot, was elected by write in.

Kristine Christensen received 59 votes in an unopposed contest for a two-year term.


Extra pool costs pinch city

Tracy city government leaders will get an idea much Tracy Aquatic Center repairs will cost next week.

An engineering report is expected to be presented to the city council Monday, outlining the recommended repairs. Earlier this fall, the city committed $58,800 to the painstaking job of air-hammering off the concrete surface of the aquatic center's four pool areas. Another $26,500 is being spent to have a Twin Cities engineering firm test the aquatic center's structural integrity, and make recommendations for fixing any problems that are discovered.

The pool contracts were authorized after an unusual amount of surface cracks were noticed before the aquatic center was filled this spring and again late this summer after the pool was drained.

Council members were told that the two-year-old, $1.8 million aquatic center looked like it was ten-years-old. The council accepted a recommendation to strip away the pool's Diamond Brite surface coat, and about two inches of concrete, so that testing could be done to determine what has caused the cracks.

The City of Tracy is involved in litigation with Olympic Pools, one of the aquatic center's major contractors; and USAquatics, the general construction manager during the aquatic center's 2001-02 construction. A trial date is set early next year.

Tracy City Council members hope to win the case and collect monetary damages that will compensate them for costs related to the pool's delayed construction, engineering tests, legal services and repairs to the aquatic center.

"We had better win," said Mayor Steve Ferrazzano, at special meeting at 7 a.m. Monday, of the city's lawsuit.

During the 15-minute meeting Monday, Koopman reminded council members that the council has not budgeted any money for the future aquatic center repairs. How much the renovations will cost, she said, remains an unknown.

She also noted the on-going legal expenses that are being incurred as the city prepares its case. The legal expenses added up to about $5,000 last month, she said.

Hopefully, the city will recover the expenses from a successful conclusion to the litigation, she said. But in the meantime, the city will have find money to pay the up-front costs, she said.


Tracy afghan unveiled

Revitalization committee raising money for new Hwy. 14 welcome-to-Tracy sign

An afghan with a Tracy connection is going on-sale in Tracy.

The four by five-foot cotton afghan is stitched with a dozen images from Tracy's past and present. The Tracy Revitalization Committee is sponsoring the afghan sale as a fund-raiser.

"We've only ordered a limited number so we are taking advance orders," explains Mary Poss, revitalization committee member.

A sample Tracy afghan is on display this week in the lobby of Minnwest Bank South. The committee's entire shipment of five dozen afghans is expected to be on hand by Nov. 23, the date of Tracy's Old Fashioned Christmas celebration.

The afghan is available in one of three colors: cranberry/rose, navy/French blue; hunter green/sea foam. The images on the afghan are the Tracy railroad depot, the old Tracy High School, Farmers Co-Op Elevator, old and present-day water towers, Tracy Aquatic Center, Tracy Hospital, Wheels Across Prairie Museum, a Headlight-Herald headline about the June 13, 1968 Tracy Tornado, and the Scrapper and Panther high school mascots.

The afghans are priced at $45. Orders can be placed at Minnwest Bank.


Paul Rehkamp is Tracy Veteran's Day speaker

A retired major general in the United States Army Reserve will be the keynote speaker at a Veteran's Day program in Tracy next week.

Paul G. Rehkamp, Marshall, will address the Tuesday, Nov. 11 assembly at Tracy Area High School. The program begins at 10:15 a.m. The public is invited.

A native of Marshall, Rehkamp is a 1959 graduate of Central Catholic High School. He earned a degree in mortuary science from the University of Minnesota in 1963 and was commissioned through the Army ROTC program. He later was graduated from the Army Command and Staff College and the Army War College. He retired from the army reserve with the rank of major general after 35 years of service.

Rehkamp is a partner in Rehkamp Funeral Homes of Marshall and Minneota. He is a director of the Community First National Bank of Marshall, Vice Chairman of the Marshall Area YMCA, past president of the Southwest State University Foundation, and is president of the Marshall Industries Foundation. He has been a member of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airport Commission since 1993 and has served two terms on the Marshall Board of Education.

In the Army Reserve, Rehkamp commanded the 88th Army Reserve Command at Ft. Snelling. His last assignment was on the Department of the Army staff in the Pentagon. He is a past member of the Department of Defense Reserve Forces Policy Board and is a past president of the Senior Army Reserve Commanders Association. He and his wife, Marcia, have three married daughters, a son, and five grandsons.