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News from the week of February 19, 2003

Ownership changes at North Star Homes

Partners buy out Neil Daniels, look for continued growth

Neil Daniels, president and majority owner of North Star Modular Homes of Tracy and Marshall, has sold his interest in the company.

North Star's remaining three stockholders, plus a new silent partner, have bought out Daniels' share of the company.

"We're excited about this opportunity," said Dan Anderson of Tracy, the new president of North Star. Kim Daniels and Keith Peterson, also of Tracy, joined Anderson in the purchase. Previously, the three men owned 45% of the company, with Daniels holding a 55% majority stake.

"I've just decided to pursue other interests," said Daniels, who said he's been considering the sale for some time. "This isn't something that I've decided on a whim."

He stressed that the North Star is doing well, and is solid financially.

"We've had a lot of growth, and I expect that to continue," Daniels said. "The company is in great shape ...I wouldn't be leaving if it wasn't."

Former Tracy 7th grader could be two years away from space shuttle flight

Kellee (Molitor) Vivens just might become the first human from Tracy to orbit the earth.

Vivens, who moved from Tracy after completing the seventh grade, has been selected for a space shuttle flight in 2005, according to her father, Cy Molitor of Lynd.

"She is on Cloud 9," said Molitor. "We just couldn't be prouder of her."

Vivens is a junior high math teacher in San Antonio, Texas, where she also coaches volleyball, basketball, track and soccer. Two years ago, NASA accepted the former Tracy student for an elite space education program. The teacher and four other people were brought to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, for a series of tests and training to determine their suitability for a future space shuttle flight.

Molitor, who is a member of the Lyon County Commissioners, said that his daughter was notified of her acceptance on a 2005 space shuttle flight. No specific date has been set.

The dad is wholeheartedly in favor of his daughter's dream to fly in space, in spite of the Feb. 1 accident that claimed seven lives on the space shuttle Columbia.

"She has accomplished so much, I don't know why she shouldn't accomplish this too." He said the experience of space travel far outweighs the risks for Kellee.

"She has always set her goals high."

High-tech enterprise plugging into former clothing store site

Two businesses opening downtown

Two businesses are planned in the former Enderson Clothing building in Downtown Tracy.

A computer consulting business-Northern Lakes Consulting, Inc.-will be located in the building's south side. A cross-stitch needle arts supply business-Northern Needle-is planned for the north section.

The new Tracy entrepreneurs are Kevin and Wendy Haney, who last week finalized the purchase of the former Enderson Clothing property from Dianne Kamrud. The Haneys, who now live in a southern suburb of the Twin Cities, are relocating to Tracy, with future plans to build a new house on Lake Shetek.

"We have many plans and ideas for living and working in Tracy," said Kevin Haney. "We look forward to meeting everybody and contributing to the revitalization of Downtown Tracy." The former Enderson Clothing building is located at 157 Third Street. Enderson Clothing closed its doors in May of 2002.

Speech team wins big meet

The Tracy Area High School Speech team continued their success by taking 1st place at the Minneota Speech Tournament with 78 team points followed by Luverne with 43 team points. There were 18 schools and 242 students competing from southwest Minnesota.

Tracy students brought home three 1st place trophies. Sophomore Rebecca Gervais took first in extemporaneous speaking with senior Eric Nelson coming in with a close second. Sophomore Dane Bloch dominated the original oratory category with a first place finish followed by junior Kaylan Johnson taking third. Freshman Brad Lanoue took first in serious drama followed by Casie Miller coming in third.

Thursday, the Panthers host a junior high tournament starting at 4 p.m. There is no admission charge and the public is invited to attend.

Saturday, the Panthers will travel to Luverne. The tournament starts at 10 a.m. and is free to anyone.

School media centers 'try to touch everyone'

By Val Scherbart Quist

When people think of a library, they generally think of a quiet place, says Lauri Fox, Tracy Area Public School media generalist.

But that's not true of the schools' media centers today.

“We're a very active place,” she said.

Fox recently updated District 417 school board members about school media programs.

The elementary media center, she said, serves 325 children in preschool through sixth grades. Deb Miller is the media assistant for the elementary school.

The curriculum for the lower grades involves learning location and accessing skills, processing skills, research skills, library use skills, and literary appreciation. There is also a focus on taking care of materials, which is important because library materials are expensive, said Fox.

She added that children have much the same taste as adults when it comes to choosing books. They like series, and often follow favorite authors.

“They're very much like adult readers,” she said.

Community Blood Bank plans collection Monday

The Community Blood Bank is holding a blood drive in Tracy on Monday, Feb. 24.

Community Blood Bank began supplying blood to Tracy, Slayton, and Westbrook hospitals last July.

“What we are is basically much like a farm cooperative,” said Reid Holsen, Executive Director of Community Blood Bank.

“We serve those communities where we are invited.”

Community Blood Bank began in the 1970s as a cooperative effort between Sioux Valley and Avera McKennan hospitals in Sioux Falls to take care of local blood needs, said Holsen. In the 1990s, Community Blood Bank began supplying to other towns, and now serves 25 healthcare facilities in Southeast South Dakota, Southwest Minnesota, and Northwest Iowa.

Holsen said there are three main advantages the Community Blood Services provides. The first is the safety of the blood.

Blood collected by Community Blood Bank is taken to Sioux Falls, where it undergoes testing. From there, it is split up according to the needs of each hospital and distributed back to hospitals within the system.

Many people are comforted by the fact that their blood goes back to their friends and neighbors in the tri-state area, said Holsen. He noted that many people from the area who need advanced care are transported to Sioux Falls, and also receive locally donated blood there.

“I think it's really important for people to know where the blood comes from and where it goes,” Holsen said. “You really get it back.”