banner.gif (15051 bytes)

News from the week of December 24, 2003

Home for Christmas

Friends & family welcome serviceman back from Iraq

By Seth Schmidt

Blame the misconception on faulty intelligence.

Ben Beierman was expecting to shoot a little pool Friday night after going out for supper. His dad, Dean, mentioned that a couple of substitutes were needed for pool league. Would Ben join him in a few games?

Ben, home on Christmas leave from the U.S. Army, agreed. The father and son dropped by the Tracy Eagles Club.

Poof! Cameras flashed. A roomful of people cheered.

What billiards? It was a surprise party to welcome home one of Tracy's own.

"It was really cool to see all those people," the 2000 Tracy Area High School grad said later. "I was really surprised."

The son of Dean Beierman and Nancy Beech of Tracy served five months in Iraq this year as member of the Army's 501st Military Intelligence Battalion,

"It's great to be back," Beierman said.

Neatly dressed in civilian clothing, the 22-year-old could have easily passed for a college student home on Christmas break as he mixed with well-wishers at the Eagles Club. An outsider couldn't have guessed that a few months ago, Beierman had walked through opulent palaces that were once home to Saddam Hussein.

• • •

Beierman entered the military the September after his high school graduation. Several factors drove his decision. Patriotism was one—he sincerely wanted to serve his country. The education incentives the Army offered sounded good too. He also wasn't sure what else he wanted to do with his life then. So he signed up for a five-year stint with Uncle Sam.

Army testing qualified him for specialized training in intelligence. So after Army basics at Fort Leonardwood, Mo., he was sent to the Defense Language Institute at Monterrey, CA, where he gained fluency in French.

"It was total immersion (in French)," Beierman said. "It was really intense." The French he learned in high school, he said, gave him "a jump ahead of everyone else,"

He completed the training as a signals intelligence analyst in about a year. In 2001, he was assigned to the 501st Military Intelligence Battalion of the First Armored Division in Germany.

Each intelligence unit, Beierman explained, has a specified number of experts in different languages. He joined the 501st cadre of French linguists.

The 501st was deployed to Kuwait in May of 2003. After several weeks in Kuwait, Beierman and his comrades set off on a two-day convoy to Baghdad. He served in the Baghdad area until September.

Transplant is Christmas miracle to Tracy woman

By Val Scherbart Quist

Shelba Giles feels especially blessed during this season of miracles.

The Tracy woman feels blessed to be healthy and at home following a kidney transplant less than two months ago. She feels blessed that she found a donor in her son. She feels blessed by the prayers of her friends and acquaintances here in Tracy, where she and husband Ken have lived for the past two years. She feels blessed by the way she feels God has led her along a difficult path.

Her story begins 20 years ago, when she underwent a mastectomy. It was discovered then that she had a kidney disease called membranous nephropathy. It is believed that she contracted the disease, which affects about two in every 10,000 people, from a virus. The specialist she saw said she would likely be on dialysis within 10 years. At the time, a transplant was not an option.

Twelve years later, she saw a specialist again, and was told that in her case, progress of the disease was slower than usual. It would be another 10 years before she got sick—just two years ago.

“I thought it was the flu at first,” she said.

By that time, there was a choice between dialysis or a transplant. To Giles, that means there was a reason why the illness didn't worsen sooner, as it should have.

“To me, that was God holding it off.”

Several potential donors immediately volunteered, including her son, Scott Hays, and her five siblings. Medical problems resulted in the elimination of the siblings as candidates. Her daughter didn't think she would qualify as a donor, because she is adopted. She has since volunteered to be a donor as well, after learning that donors don't necessarily have to be blood relation. But at that time, Hays was the only candidate left.

He began five months of testing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Sioux Falls in February. There were problems with two of the tests. Upon re-taking them, both tests worked.

Then, in July, a check was done to make sure their blood would mix. Because of the past blood transfusions Giles had received, it didn't. It was a devastating blow. She was put on the donor list, which meant a wait of up to seven years.

“There is a dire need for donors,” said Giles.

Meanwhile, she would have to go on dialysis, something she desperately did not want to do.

“Finally I just said I was ready to go home to the Lord,” she said.

Giles saw her specialist again, and this time was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. The test was repeated again, and this time, the blood mixed.

“To me, that's an answer to prayer,” Giles said. “I asked the doctor, `Can you explain this?' and he said `no.' I said, `I can.'”

Tracy athletes celebrate St. John's national football championship

Jeremy Goltz and Scott LaVoy earned plenty of laurels while wearing the red, white and blue uniforms of Panther athletics. But nothing in their prep careers compared to the championship glow the young men basked in Saturday.

Playing in a nationally televised game, Goltz and LaVoy became part of a national championship collegiate football team, as St. John's University rallied for a 24-6 victory over Mount Union. The Stagg Bowl win, in Salem, Virgina, gave St. John's their fourth NCAA Division 3 football championship since 1976.

Goltz, a senior who played his final collegiate football game, was the Johnnies' starting free-safety. LaVoy, a sophomore, played on special teams for St. John's. In high school, each was a three-sport all-conference selection. But until Saturday, their highest team honor was a third-place trophy at the state baseball tournament.

Goltz recorded three solo tackles, one for a loss, and assisted on four others. He also made a pivotal play late in the first half when St. John's trailed 6-0, picking off a pass to end a Mount Union drive. The Johnnies scored following the turnover and dominated the remainder of the game. It was Goltz's sixth interception of the season, and 16th of his collegiate career, tying St. John's season and career records.

The St. John's victory capped an undefeated season that established Coach John Gagliardi as the winningest collegiate football coach of all time. The game snapped a 55-game Mount Union winning streak.

Jeremy, a 2000 Tracy Area High School graduate, is the son of Lynn and Rose Goltz of Tracy. Scott, a 2002 TAHS grad, is the son of Steve and Jan LaVoy of rural Tracy.

City gets tax-free zones

Beginning next year, high taxes won't be hurdle for any business that wants to expand and create jobs in Tracy.

Thanks to an announcement by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Tracy will have two Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) totaling 163 acres.

One Tracy JOBZ area encompasses 116 acres of the Tracy Industrial Park and city-owned land south of the municipal airport. The second JOBZ area is a 47-acre parcel in southwest Tracy bounded by the Dakota Minnesota Railroad and the Highline Road.

Businesses who meet job creation and expansion guidelines within the zones would qualify for tax breaks over a 12-year period.

The Tracy JOBZ areas were part of a 12-county application submitted by the Southwest Regional Development Commission. More than 4,000 tax-free JOBZ areas in 60 Southwest Minnesota communities were approved. The Pawlenty administration also okayed nine other regional JOBZ applications. Nearly 29,000 acres across the state are included in the ten JOBZ areas. The Minneapolis-Twin Cities metropolitan area was not eligible to apply for the JOBZ areas.

Area communities who were approved for state JOBZ areas included: Marshall, 500 acres; Redwood Falls, 60; Tyler, 150; Lake Benton, 176; Wabasso, 26; Lamberton, 50; Lucan, 50; Vesta, 21; Cottonwood, 153; Slayton, 29.

Besides the 163 acres that were granted, the Tracy Economic Development Authority had sought an additional 145 JOBZ acres. Those acres were not approved.

Robert Gervais, Tracy community development director; and Audrey Koopman, Tracy city administrator, both expressed satisfaction with the areas that were approved.

"This is good news," said Gervais. The JOBZ areas, he said, would be another economic development tool for the city to use.

Christmas Preludes

After being delayed five days by bad weather, the sounds of Christmas echoed through the Tracy Area High School gymnasium Friday afternoon. The 2 p.m. Christmas Preludes concert was originally scheduled for Dec. 15. Chris Miller directed the instrumental groups, with an assist from student teacher Kim Breamer, while Shirlee Gilmore directed the choral groups. The performing students were in grades 7-12.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Students at Milroy Public School gave their interpretation of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" at their Christmas program last week. The program focused on the different aspects that the holiday season grings, from decorating the tree and writing letters to Santa to playing in the snow and, of course, shopping. The holiday revue ended with the most important gift of all-the gift of love.

The concert also featured several selections from the varsity and concert bands.