banner.gif (15051 bytes)

News from the week of April 14, 2004

Sportsmen's show aims to top '03 success

75 exhibitors, special shows coming Saturday

By Val Scherbart Quist

There's more in store in 2004 at the Tracy Area Sportsmen's Show.

The show gets underway at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Prairie Pavilion, and continues until 5 p.m. Additional vendor space will be set up under a tent in the Pavilion parking lot. Morgan St., between 3rd and 4th streets will be blocked off for the event.

This year's event has grown considerably over last year's. About 75 vendors have reserved space at the show, from as far away as Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, and South Dakota.

Gervais said the attraction of vendors from a distance shows that the word is spreading about the Tracy Sportsmen's Show.

“It's not just a local, hometown show,” he said. “What makes us different is that there's something for everyone and for all ages.”

While shows often focus on one outdoor interest, the Tracy show features vendors on a variety of outdoors-related interests from hunting and fishing to taxidermy, in addition to seminars and entertainment.

Gervais is hoping the show will draw between 7,500 to 8,000 people this year. Last year, an estimated 5,000 people came to Tracy for the Sportsmen's Show.

He expressed his appreciation to the Sportsmen's Show committee and to the local sponsors.

“A huge thank you to them for making it possible. We're already looking forward to next year.”

Admission to the show is free. However, there is a charge to see the Fred Scheer's Lumberjack Show—$5 for adults and $3 for ages 18 and under.

Main events

The main attractions for this year's show are Brody, a 1,200-pound Kodiak bear, and Fred Scheer's Lumberjack Show.

Brody the Bear and his owner Jeff Watson of Spencer, Indiana, travel throughout the country as Jeff shares his knowledge of bears. Brody has appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine, done numerous commercials for Dodge and ATV manufacturers, and appeared on many television programs.

There will be three performances of the “Olympics of the Forest” given by Fred Scheer's Lumberjack Show. The show includes competitions in events such as axe throwing, log rolling, speed pole climbing, chopping, chainsaw carving, crosscut sawing, hot sawing, and an obstacle pole relay race. Shows will take place at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. in the gravel lot west of the Tracy Liquor Store.


A full day of outdoors seminars is planned as well.

The featured speaker is Bob Jensen of the Fishing the Midwest television series. In addition to the show, Jensen also writes a syndicated fishing column and has published articles in several magazines. He will give two seminars during the show, at 9:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

State champion turkey caller Daryl Mestad of the National Wild Turkey Federation is speaking at 11:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Returning from last year are Bill Hesselgrave, who will speak on deer filleting, and John Luttrell, who will speak on dog training. Hesselgrave's seminars begin at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Luttrell's seminars are at 12 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. Also giving seminars is Nick Jensen of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association. Jensen will be speaking at 9 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

In addition to the seminars, the Saratoga Archery Club will be giving demonstrations at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Following the 9 a.m. demonstration, people can participate in a “learn to shoot” session.

Also on-site will be Prairie Wild's mobile classroom, featuring hands-on activities, a computer lab, and a presentation on soil erosion.


Several big prizes will be raffled off again this year.

The grand prize is a choice between an Alumacraft fishing boat with 25 hp. Yamaha motor and Shoreland'r trailer or $5,000 cash. Other prizes include:

• An RCA high-definition television;

• Four-person launch trip to Randall's Resort, $1,000 credit to Randall's resort, or $500 cash;

• $1,000 gift certificate for Border View Lodge or $500 cash;

• One of five hunting or fishing packages from Borch's Sporting Goods or $500 cash;

• An original oil painting by local artist Erik Gile.

Only 1,000 tickets are being sold at $20 apiece. Tickets are available ahead of time at the Tracy Chamber Office or from any Sportsmen's Show committee member.

Food being sold

Food will be available on-site throughout the show. The Tracy Hospital Auxiliary will be serving food in the upstairs of the Pavilion, and the Tracy Revitalization Committee will be operating the Whopper Wagon.

Other food available will include Pizza Ranch pizza, mini-donuts, and jerky and beef sticks from Moon Creek Ranch.

Food will also be served at the Tracy Eagles Club. The Eagles will be serving up the “Lumberjack Special” all day, beginning at 7 a.m.

Added attraction

Wait, there's more! There's no reason for women to feel left out of the Tracy Sportsmen's Show. Now there's a special event just for them.

Women Are Important Too (W.A.I.T.) will be held at the St. Mary's School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will feature crafts, antiques, and vendors.

Restricted hours set for city compost site

More violations are last straw

A locked gate, restricted hours, and a hired monitor are coming soon to the Tracy yard and garden compost site.

Tracy City Council members decided to end seven-day a week public access to the dump Monday, after learning of recent incidents of illegal dumping.

"It's too bad," said city council member Jan Arvizu. "We've tried to accommodate people."

The new hours for the compost site will be Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 to 4 p.m., and 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, spring through autumn. A supervisor hired by the city will be present when the dump is open. At all other times, the gate to the dump will be locked.

The restricted hours will go into effect as soon as the city can hire a monitor.

The compost dump, located on the northwest edge of the city off Hwy. 14, is available for the disposal of yard and garden waste such as sticks, tree branches, grass, leaves and other plant material. However, over the past two years, repeated dumping violations have occurred at the site. Old furniture, appliances and demolition building materials have been found at the site. When violations have occurred, City of Tracy personnel have had to clean up the messes. City leaders have worried that the state could shut down the compost site because of the continued violations, leaving city residents with no convenient place to dispose of yard and garden debris.

Councilman Tim Byrne felt that the city was spending more on cleaning up the violations than it would cost to hire an observer for the dump.

Council consensus was that past methods to control illegal dumping—public education, improved signage, reward offers to catch perpetrators, and a surveillance camera—had been unsuccessful.

A motion passed to hire a dump monitor, at a cost of $6 an hour. More than one individual may be hired to cover the hours.

Until workers can be lined up, the compost site will remain open seven days a week during daylight hours, council members decided. However, the gate to the dump will be locked at night. The gate had been left open 24 hours a day.

School fire safety upgrades could cost over $75,000

A recent fire marshal's report could end up costing the Tracy school district more than $75,000 in bringing the high school and elementary school up to code.

District 417 board members learned at their March meeting that several areas of concern were discovered during the fire marshal's last tour of the school. Supt. David Marlette explained at that time that schools are now required to meet tougher fire standards.

At their April meeting, held Monday night, the board took a tour of some of the areas in the high school that need to be fixed led by head custodian Jo Pyle.

Pyle told the board that a total of 46 areas were listed in the fire marshal's report. Most of the items, he said, were able to be repaired right away at little cost to the district. However, there were some major areas that will need to be addressed.

Pyle showed the board several air handler rooms that are currently being used as storage areas. These areas will no longer be usable for the storage of flammable items, he explained to the board. These include two storage areas above the stage.

Some of the areas may pass as usable with some work. For example, an air handler room in the ag shop area may continue to be used because it has a fiberglass ceiling between the air handler and the storage space. However, that ceiling needs to be repaired.

Another air handler room in the cafeteria may also continue to be used if some issues are corrected, such as installing metal shelves in place of the wooden ones that are currently in place. Pyle said he hopes these corrections can be made because the kitchen staff really needs this area.

One solution to the storage problem could be the construction of new storage areas at each school. Additional storage space will also be needed for each school's snowblower, since they are no longer allowed to be kept in the school buildings. A storage building at the high school is also being cleaned out in hopes that additional items can be stored there.

Park bathrooms are vandal targets again

Another spate of vandalism has struck the Central Park bathroom facility.

Heavy metal doors were bashed in on three occasions Saturday and Sunday. Fecal matter and other debris were deposited in sinks and fixtures.

"It's a mess," City Administrator Audrey Koopman reports. Both doors were warped in the crimes, and will have to be replaced at an unknown cost.

The restroom facility is located on the west side of the park near a combination basketball/tennis court. It was erected in the fall of 2002 at a cost of more than $15,000. But since opening in the spring of 2003, the bathroom has been plagued with vandalism. Broken doors and handles, graffiti, and fouled and plugged fixtures have been among the problems. The vandalism ebbed last summer after increased police surveillance.

Tracy City Council members have asked Police Chief Bryan Hillger to increase patrols in the park, and turn on a surveillance camera. Citizens are asked to report any suspicious activity to police. Police have not made any arrests in the case.

This weekend, the bathrooms had remained locked because services had not yet been turned on for the season to avoid the possibility of freezing pipes.

Concerns aired about city chickens

The possibility that some Tracy residents are illegally keeping chickens in residential basements and garages has city officials crying foul.

Jan Arvizu told fellow council members Monday that she has had people tell her that they have heard chickens around town. Mayor Steve Ferrazzano responded that he has seen chickens within city limits.

Arvizu said that she is concerned because of the health risks that poultry-related diseases pose for humans. She asked Police Chief Bryan Hillger what his department can do if someone sees or hears chickens within the city.

Hillger said that he can knock on a door and ask the resident to remove the poultry, and issue a ticket for the ordinance violation if he sees the chicken. However, if the poultry is concealed on the property, perhaps in a basement or utility building, he would need to establish probable cause before seeking a search warrant. People reporting poultry violations would have to agree to be identified as witnesses in order to obtain the search warrant, the chief said, something that not all people are willing to do.

"If they (poultry) are indoors, what are you going to do?" said Ferrazzano. The mayor said that police need to do their best at enforcing the ordinance.

Arvizu said that while she didn't want poultry to be kept in residential sheds and garages, she especially didn't want to see poultry moved inside houses, where they would be even more of a health hazard.

Lyon County Community Health officials will be contacted about suspected cases of in-town poultry, council members decided.

New assistant manager begins at Lake Shetek State Park

Lake Shetek State Park has a new assistant park manager.

Elaine Feikema began working at the park on March 22. The job is a promotion for Feikema. Prior to coming to Lake Shetek, she worked as a naturalist for 17 years in several state parks. After losing her naturalist job due to cuts in the state park system, she took an 80 percent management position at Minneopa State Park.

After testing the waters in the Minneopa management position, Feikema decided to take the Lake Shetek job. The park just seemed to be “a good fit,” she said.

Feikema was drawn to Lake Shetek State Park because it met her goals better, is a bigger park, and because she has family nearby. Her mother, sister, and aunt all live in the area.

“That's why I'm here,” she said.

Feikema did a variety of jobs before finding her niche in the park system. In every job she worked, she found that she kept wanting to grow more than the job allowed. She began taking classes, and planned a career in social work. Then her focus changed.

“Once I took my first biology class, that was it,” she said. “I was very fortunate to find work in something I love. Work is very important to me. Enjoying it is a perk.”

She appreciates the park's rich history, and has observed through her years in the parks system how people have become more willing to appreciate other people's culture.

Feikema has several goals for the park. High on her list of priorities is resource management. She hopes to be able to focus on more research, interpretation, and outreach. She also hopes to be able to focus more on the stewardship aspect of projects such as prairie restoration.

Other planned projects include campground work such as erosion control and tree assessments, savanna projects, upgrading the park's bluebird houses, and various other improvements.

All of these things, she hopes, will keep Lake Shetek State Park a great place to visit.

“I want to continue to have this be a great place to work and for people to visit. We want people to know their parks and to use them.”