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News from the week of September 22, 2004

Five 212 Conference schools to join new Camden group

Tracy Area High School won’t be the only former 212 Conference school competing in the Camden Conference next fall.

Kerkhoven-Murdoch-Sunberg (KMS), Central Minnesota Christian School (CMCS), Maynard-Clara City-Raymond (MACCRAY), and Renville County West have also been accepted.

Activities Director Bill Tauer reported to the Tracy Area Public Schools Board of Education last week that the four additional teams had been voted in with the help of an affirmative vote from Tracy.

"I thought it was in the best interest of the conference," he said.

The addition of the five former 212 Conference schools (including Tracy) boosts Camden Conference’s numbers to 13 member schools. Other members are Dawson-Boyd, Canby, Lakeview (Cottonwood), Ellsworth, Lake Benton, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (RTR), Minneota, and Lincoln HI (Hendricks-Ivanhoe).

Tauer said that because of the conference’s increased size and the concern of some schools about traveling distances prompted the decision to split the conference into north and south divisions for volleyball, girls’ basketball, and boys’ basketball.

Tracy teams will compete in the southern section, which also includes Ellsworth, Lake Benton, RTR, Minneota, and Lincoln HI. Schools competing in the northern section will be KMS, CMCS, MACCRAY, RCW, Dawson-Boyd, Canby, and Lakeview.

In other sports, such as baseball, softball, golf, and wrestling, there will be no north/south division. Schools will play against all other schools that have those sports. There will be a one-day meet to determine the conference title for cross country and track.

The football team will play in the Little Sioux Conference, which includes Camden Conference teams.
Tauer said some of the scheduling for next year had already been worked out, and that another scheduling meeting has been set for next month.

Tracy athletic teams will begin competing the Camden Conference in the fall of 2005.

National Guardsmen leave for active duty

Suzanne and Ben Lightfoot were married three months ago. But Monday, the newlyweds had to say goodbye.

Ben's National Guard unit left Marshall on the first leg of a journey that likely will take the citizen soldiers to war-torn Iraq.

"It was hard," said Suzanne said of the farewell.

Scores of families felt the pain of parting Monday as the Marshall-based Army National Guard Battery "A" 1-151 Field Artillery Battalion left Lyon County. Boarding charter buses at 8:30 a.m., the 120-member unit flew from Sioux Falls to Fort Dix, N.J. For the next three months, the unit will receive special training at Fort Dix as a security force. In December, the company is scheduled to fly to Kuwait. After a month of additional training, the guardsmen will likely be deployed somewhere in Iraq. Guardsmen have been told that their activation could last until March of 2006.

National Guardsmen depart

The Marshall National Guard unit includes many Tracy area members. Brandon Lightfoot, Ben's brother, is among the activated guardsmen. Other local guardsmen include: Andrew Coulter, J. Hamilton, Jasmine Handevidt, Justin McKinney, Dustin Marlette, Nathan Mix, Jason Morin, Sue Moua, Matt Noakes, James Otto, and Brad Stelter. (A complete list of the Battery A members is on page two).

Suzanne Lightfoot said that her husband had no idea that he might someday be deployed overseas when he signed up for the National Guard while still in high school.

"He thought the National Guard was for defending us over here," she said. Money for college was a big incentive in his initial decision to join the guard. Both Ben and Suzanne Lightfoot are 2000 graduates of Tracy Area High School.

Her husband, Suzanne Lightfoot said, is doing his best to be positive about the deployment, focusing on the opportunity for new experiences, see new parts of their world, and serve his country.
Suzanne Lightfoot, a first-year teacher at St. Mary's School, said she intended to stay busy. She indicated that she would draw support from the many other families that are in a similar situation.
Is there a chance that the men and women of Battery A will have a leave to come home before their overseas deployment?

"They have told us not to plan on it," Suzanne Lightfoot said.

Full-time EDA, Chamber jobs proposed

Robert Gervais wears two hats. He works with the Tracy Economic Development Authority (EDA) as the community development director. He also directs the Tracy Chamber of Commerce. Both jobs are supposed to comprise half of a full-time job.

Last week, Gervais recommended to both the Chamber and EDA that each position be expanded into a full-time position. He indicated that he would like to continue working as a full-time economic development director for the city, and have someone else assume the Chamber of Commerce responsibilities. He said there was plenty of work to justify two full-time positions.

"I think both positions could pay for themselves" through the added economic activity each full-time position could generation Gervais told the EDA Friday. Gervais said that the part-time status of each position made it difficult to do justice to either position. At the same time, the time demands from both positions have grown, he said. The Spring Sportsmen's Show, for example, "has become another Box Car Days," Gervais said.

Tim Byrne, EDA member who also serves on the council, said that it would be a challenge for the city to come up with the extra money for a full-time economic development director next year. He noted that the council had recently approved a preliminary property tax levy for 2005 that can not be increased.

City Finance Director Dave Spencer, who is an ex-officio EDA member, said that any money added to the EDA director's salary would have to be taken from some other part of the city's 2005 budget. He said that the Chamber now reimburses the city about $18,000 a year for its share of the combined city-Chamber position.

A Tracy community development position that combined both EDA and Chamber duties was first created in the late 1980s. Con Rettmer was hired for the position.

Rettmer continued in the dual position until the late 1990s, when he resigned the Chamber portion of the job and continued as economic development director. Jennifer Kainz and Sarah Kemp served short terms as part-time Chamber managers. Robert Gervais was hired as the Chamber's new community development director in 2001 after the city and Chamber decided to again combine the two positions.

Review period is underway for Shetek-Currie wastewater plan

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has prepared an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for a waste water collection and treatment project proposed for the Lake Shetek area and the City of Currie. The EAW, which describes potential impacts on land use, water quality and air quality, is open for public review and comment through Oct. 13.

A public information meeting on the EAW will begin with an open house starting at 6 p.m., followed by the presentations at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29 at Murray County Central high school in Slayton. MPCA staff will review the plan and answer questions. Written comments on the EAW may also be submitted at that time. The meeting will only address the EAW and not other issues such as cost and financing of the project.

The Shetek Area Water and Sewer Commission is proposing to build a new sewage collection system around area lakes and to expand the city of Currie's existing wastewater treatment facility. After expansion the new system would serve both the city and the lakes area. The project's goal is to prevent further degrading of water quality. Lakes area businesses and residences currently have individual sewage treatment systems, many of which are not up to code.

The Currie waste water treatment capacity would increase to an average wet weather flow of 319,000 gallons per day, up from the current flow of 87,000 gallons per day. The expansion would accommodate growth from the current 614 residential and 17 business connections in the project area, up to an additional 297 residential connections.

The collection system around the lakes would consist of 33.8 miles of sewer pipe and 25 lift stations. Nearly 10 miles of the collection pipe would be installed at least six feet beneath the lake bed using underground directional drilling to avoid disturbing the lake ecology.

Downtown restaurant plans grand opening

Mace’s restaurant in Downtown Tracy is offering two reasons to celebrate this week.

The restaurant, which opened its doors this summer in the former 21st Century Bank building, is planning a grand opening. The grand opening also marks the second birthday of owner and manager Greg Frederickson’s son, Mace, after whom the business is named.

Frederickson said it seemed logical to name the new restaurant after his son.

"It’s because of him that I’m even doing this," he said. "I don’t know if I would have gone back into the restaurant business if it wasn’t for him."

Frederickson, who formerly operated the Pizza Barn in Tracy, opened Mace’s for pizza carryout in June. He opened the main restaurant in July. Frederickson leases the building from Greg Ipsen of Burnsville, who bought the building earlier this year.

He said the restaurant was in good shape. He added some equipment to the kitchen and a walk-in freezer.

He said the restaurant’s intimate atmosphere is focuses in fine dining, complete with linen tablecloths. "It’s a nice atmosphere that you don’t find that often," he said of the unique bank-turned-restaurant environment. However, he said customers shouldn’t feel they have to dress up to stop in for a bite to eat."It’s a place people should feel comfortable in."

The restaurant has two different menus: one for carryout and delivery, which includes pizza and sandwiches, and a restaurant menu, which includes steak and shrimp, which is featured Thursday through Sunday. Wednesday night is family night, and patrons can order off either menu.

Frederickson said there has been great response to Mace’s. Homemade Alfredo is one of the most popular menu items. Fresh yellow fingerling potatoes are a unique recent addition. "We’ll expand the menu as we go and feature new things," he said.

For the grand opening, which gets underway Wednesday and continues through Sunday, there will be featured menu items as well as the opportunity to register for gift certificates.

Cake will be served, in honor of Mace’s second birthday. Mace’s is open Wednesdays for family night from 4:30 to 10 p.m. and for fine dining Thursday through Sunday from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Band prepares for marching competition

By Val Scherbart Quist

Fall arrived this week, and for the Tracy Area High School marching band, that means it is competition season.

The band has its first competition of the season on Saturday, Oct. 2. in Sioux Falls. They will be participating in the Festival of Bands USA, which generally features anywhere from 20 to 30 bands.

Director Chris Miller said TAHS will be competing in a class that includes high schools with student populations of up to 500. Last year, they placed fourth in their class.

The following Saturday, Oct. 9, they travel back to Sioux Falls to participate in the Augustana homecoming parade. For the past several years, Miller said, the homecoming parade has been combined with the Festival of Bands parade, but not this year. The TAHS band has not marched in the Augustana homecoming parade since 1994. They placed first in their class that year.

The band will not be participating in the Tri-State Band Festival in Luverne this year. Miller said there were some scheduling conflicts that day, and he thought it would be a good opportunity for the band to try something different.

The marching band has a rich history in Tracy, said Miller, who took over the program when he began teaching at TAHS in 1994. He’s since made some changes in the style of marching, including a square turn that Miller said is interesting to watch. "It’s kind of our trademark," he said.

TAHS does not have a summer marching band program. In 1980, Miller said, most schools lost their summer programs as the result of funding changes. Before that, he said, most schools held a six-week summer program that involved going to area parades. Many schools participated in a "round robin" trade off in which schools would march in another town’s parade in exchange for that city’s school band returning the favor.

The TAHS marching band begins its season in late July or early August to begin preparation for the Box Car Days parade on Labor Day. The Box Car Days parade is a great way to begin the marching season, Miller said, and an opportunity he appreciates.