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News from the week of March 31, 2004

'Auction Haus' coming to Tracy

Two Tracy women plan to open an auction business in Tracy.

Sheila Leonard and Melanie Pamp are opening the "Auction Haus" in the former Lau Seed building on Hw 14. The first auction is planned Thrusday, April 15.

"We think that this will be a good set-up," said Leonard. "People like going to auctions, we feel that this can draw a lot of people to town."

Auctions will be held on the first and third Thursdays of each month, April through November. They plan to specialize in household sales and in individual consignment items.

All sales will be held indoors. Buyers will be seated during the auction, with items sold from a stage in numbered, individual lots.

The Auction Haus entrepreneurs explain that the controlled, indoor format offers advantages to both buyers and sellers. All buyers have an equal chance to see, and bid, on what is being auctioned, since the auctioneer and the merchandise will be on an elevated stage. Security measures will be taken to prevent valuable items from being switched among boxes. Buyers will better be able to keep track of what is being offered, since everyone will be seated, rather than crowded around the auctioneer.

Sellers, Leonard and Pamp explain, can have their goods displayed better than is often possible at traditional yard sales. The indoor setting is insurance against bad weather, and will make it easier to guard against theft and breakage.

Doors will open beginning at 4 p.m., with the auction starting at 5:30. The Auction Haus owners plan to keep the auctions comparatively short—no more than 90 minutes to two hours in length.

"After that people get restless and lose interest. We want to get the auctions over with so people can get home at a reasonable hour," Leonard said.

T-Wolves game had lofty surprise

Minnesota Timberwolves' star Kevin Garnett has long been a larger than life figure for six-year-old Derek Larson. But the NBA superstar stands especially tall these days for the Tracy first-grader.

After all, how many other Tracy kids can say they've stood at center court with possibly the most talented player in the NBA?

Derek's brush with the NBA celebrity took place at a March 21 Timberwolves game at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Derek and his parents, Nicole and Dru Larson, arrived at the game early, hoping to maybe catch a player's autograph during the pre-game warm ups. Too late, they realized that they were in the wrong side of the arena. As a crush of fans clustered around players such as Mark "Mad Dog" Madson on the opposite site of the arena, the Larsons cooled their heels in an area almost devoid of fans. Out-of-the-blue, a Timberwolves security person approached.

Had they done something wrong?

"Would you like to meet Kevin Garnett at center court?" the man asked Derek.

The young man shyly shook his head, only to be saved from a lifetime of regret by dad.

"Yes, he would," quickly interjected Dru, a devoted basketball enthusiast who played on Tracy-Milroy's 1987 state tournament team.

The matter settled, the Larsons were brought down to the court near the Timberwolves' bench. The family stood within spitting distance of Timberwolves' players during team introductions And when Garnett went to center court to meet the Denver Nugget's captain, Derek, was invited to stand next to Garnett for the pre-game ceremony. A little girl named Megan, who was also selected from the crowd, went to center court too.

The T-Wolves' mega-million dollar star put his hand on Derek.

"How are you doing, Big Ticket?" Garnett asked the Tracy lad.

To cap off the moment, Garnett autographed a basketball for each of the children.

"It was pretty cool," said his mother.

The Kodak moment was marred by just one glitch. Nicole's camera batteries expired just as Derek took the floor to meet Garnett. A bag with extra batteries had been left at home.

"I was so mad," she said.

Knowledge Bowl team qualifies for state

After a successful season, a Tracy Area High School's Knowledge Bowl team has advanced to the state tournament.

Team members are Ryan Stobb, Anders Davidson, Jason Morin, and Dane Bloch. Eileen Schimming coaches the team.

The senior high knowledge bowl regional event for Region 8 was held on Friday, March 19 in Marshall.

TAHS's "team one" was among 27 teams that advanced to the regional event following sub-regional events in Marshall and Jackson. Seventy-eight teams from 23 school districts participated in sub-regional competition.

TAHS's team clinched third place and a trip to the state tournament at the Region 8 event. Marshall's team one placed first and Windom's team one placed second. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton's team one placed fourth. All four teams will advance to compete in the state event on April 20-21 at Cragun's Conference Center on Gull Lake near Brainerd.

Country club open house to showcase improvements

A refurbished clubhouse and a new management structure are in place at the Tracy Country Club for the 2004 golf season.

"We are looking forward to a good year," said Jeff Lau, president of the Country Club's board-of-directors. "We've made some improvements that we think people are going to like."

An open house is scheduled Friday, April 2, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Weather permitting, the course could open for golfing as early as Sunday or Monday.

"The club house needed some freshening up," said Neil Daniels, who assumed duties of country club manager in January.

The clubhouse facelift included new carpeting, wallpaper, paint, and window valances. The bar area has been remodeled to eliminate traffic from the kitchen. Plaques that had been hidden on a fireplace mantel are now prominently displayed. Even the 1970s era orange cushioned chairs are being recovered. New decking is planned on the clubhouse exterior.

"We wanted the club house to have a nicer look to it," Daniels said.

Efforts are continuing to maintain and upgrade the golf course itself.

"We are working a lot on the infrastructure," Lau said, referring to a new four-inch water line, pump house, and new bridges installed last year.

"We had estimates as high as $75,000 to build the new bridges," Lau said, but the actual cost was about $13,400.

He credited the ability of Tracy welder Duane DeSmet, who was able to build the steel frames for all three bridges for $11,000. "We basically got three bridges for the price of one," Lau said.

An estimated 1,100 trees grace the course. But plans are to develop a systematic tree-replacement program. Last year, about 15 trees were removed from the course, and about 50 the previous year.

Donations take wing at waterfowl banquet

Birds of a feather seemed to flock together in Tracy Saturday.

A banquet sponsored by the Shetek Prairie Chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association (MWA) attracted 216 people. Table conversations about hunting and the outdoors were commonplace, as a conservation-minded crowd gathered for an evening of food, raffle drawings, and merchandise auctions.

"Everything went well. People seemed to have a good time," said Dr. Mark Evers, president of the Shetek Prairie chapter.

The banquet crowd heard about the chapter's support for a waterfowl habitat restoration project for Lake Maria in Lake Sarah Township, Murray County. The Shetek Prairie Chapter has pledged to pay utility costs for an electric fish barrier that will prevent rough fish from entering Lake Maria. It is hoped that after a winter kill eliminates rough fish populations in Lake Maria, the electronic barrier will prevent rough fish from reentering the basin, and allow for the reestablishment of beneficial vegetation.

Al Thomas, regional representative for the MWA, said that the future looks positive for the organization. He said that the MWA is again working on habit improvement projects with both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Richard Knakmuhs ends 36-year term as insurance board president

Richard Nixon was in the White House when Richard "Dick" Knakmuhs became the board chairman for the Redwood County Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.

Little did he realize it at the time, but the affable Walnut Grove insurance man would go on to serve 36-years as the company's board chairman. He retired from the board last month.

"I've really enjoyed it," Knakmuhs said.

Knakmuhs joined the Farmers Mutual board in 1965, becoming president in 1968.

"I always pushed the company. That was kind of my pride and joy," Knakmuhs said of the Lamberton-based insurance company. "They have been easy to work with."

Redwood County Farmers Mutual specializes in multi-peril property insurance for farmers, although in-town policies are also written on in-town property. The Knakmuhs Agency, he said, has carried as many as 4,425 policies from Redwood County Farmers Mutual at a single time. All told, 32 different agencies write policies for the company.