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News from the week of March 30, 2005

All Shook Up - 'Bye-Bye Birdie' opens Friday

Put on your blue suede shoes and poodle skirts. Bye-Bye Birdie is opening Friday night on the Tracy Area High School gym stage.

“People are going to really like this,” comments Marge Robinson, ticket sale and publicity coordinator for the show. “It is really coming together.”

Curtain time is 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with two other performances slated Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10.

The last day for reduced-price advance ticket sales is Wednesday, March 30 at Uniquely Yours and Tracy Food Pride. Tickets will also be available at the door for $8 adults, and $6 for children 12 and under.

Directed by Ade Miller and Jesse James, Bye-Bye Birdie has a cast of more than 50 people. Actors and actresses range in age from teenagers to seniors. Practices have been underway since mid-February. The musical comedy has a score of more than a dozen numbers, including “Put on a Happy Face,” “Baby Talk to Me,” and “Whole Lot of Living to Do.”

The plot is based loosely on the commotion that resulted when rock star Elvis Presley was drafted into the Army in 1958. An original Broadway production that opened in 1960 starred Dick Van Dyke.

Jacob Gilmore, a TAHS sophomore, portrays the Elvis figure (Conrad Birdie). The musical’s fun revolves around the frenzy Conrad Birdie evokes from the teenage girls in Sweet Apple, Ohio. Lovelorn hysteria erupts when Sweet Apple 15-year-old Kim MacAffee, portrayed by Celia Brockway, is selected for a publicity gimmick concocted by Conrad’s music company. In front of a national television audience, Kim is to give Conrad Birdie his last kiss as a civilian.

Kim’s iron-fisted father, played by Steve Ferrazzano, opposes the idea until learning that he and his family can appear on the Ed Sullivan show. Deb Miller plays Mrs. MacAffree, a doting wife and mother. Dalton Kirk plays Kim’s obnoxious brother.

An off and on romance between Albert, Conrad’s agent (Michael Martin) and his long-time girlfriend (Mary Zwach) is tested by Albert’s overbearing mother (Vickie Olson).

Jealousy torments Kim’s boyfriend (Jeremiah Martin), sparking an unexpected chain of events.

• • •

Bye-Bye Birdie is the third large-scale community musical directed by Miller and James. The other two were Music Man (1999) and Oklahoma! (2000). The production is sponsored by Tracy Community Education, with support from the Fine Arts Council of Tracy.

Cast members include:

Principal Roles

Albert Peterson - Michael Martin

Rose Alvarez - Mary Zwach

Conrad Birdie - Jacob Gilmore

Mr. MacAfee - Steve Ferrazzano

Mrs. MacAfee - Deb Miller

Kim MacAfee - Celia Brockway

Randolph MacAfee - Dalton Kirk

Hugo Peabody - Jeramiah Martin

Ursula Merkle - Emily Baumann

Mrs. Mae Peterson - Victoria Olson


Gloria - Pam Peterson

Mayor - Keith Stanton

Mrs. Merkle - Ethanie Schmidt

Mr. Johnson - Jim Miller

Mrs. Johnson - Jan Mason

Mary - Sue Nackerud

Murphy - Sue Kluge

Lee - Muriel Coulter

Lois - Mev Jackson

Roxy - Diane Ferrazzano

Mitzie - April Green

Yvette - Robin McIntire

Violet - Bev Holland

Lily - Dar Ford

Rose - Carla VanDeWiele

Dahlia - Rosemary Krueger Martin


Helen - Allison Rasmussen

Suzie - Molly Miller

Nancy - Maria Schmidt

Penelope - Julia Olson

Lidia - Jessica Mason

Margie - Megan Gilmore

Gidget - Maisee Vue

Audrey - Emily Gilmore

Barbie - Bekah Zens

Gretchen - Mariah Schelhaas

Wendy - Melissa Noerenberg

Lacey - Nicole Hansen

Donna - Jackie Coulter

Peggy - Michelle Lenertz

Marilynn - Megan Landa

Colette - Rachel Stobb

Cindy - Mallory Fultz

Judy - Lindsey Daniels

Marsha - Danielle Thooft

Alice - Emily Miller

Dawnette - Christy Her

Debra Sue - Kayla Van Keulen

Rex - Levi Miller

Buzzy - David Jones

Percy - Kyle Lessman

Freddie - Chia Thao

Harvey - Ben Van Moer

Ewold - Kyle Peltola

Karl - Ben Ziemke

Security cameras eyed for high school

The District 417 Board of Education heard more last week on the possibility of installing security cameras at Tracy Area High School.

High school Principal Chad Anderson said technology coordinator Nan Ladehoff had contacted several companies that install security cameras. Representatives from three companies have come to the school.

Anderson said the areas of biggest concern are the hallways and the parking lot. Areas of lesser concern are the library, cafeteria, gymnasium, and the south side of the school.

Anderson said there are two options for wiring the school for cameras. Cameras can be installed in areas of highest concern and the whole building wired for future expansion, he said, or the whole building can be wired and cameras installed right away.

He said there are two different kinds of cameras, stationary and pan and tilt, to be considered as well. Pan and tilt cameras, he added, are considerably more expensive than stationary cameras. He estimated that stationary cameras cost about $250 each, while pan and tilt cameras can cost as much as $2,500-$3,000 apiece.

A DVR (Digital Video Recorder) would also be needed for the security system. A DVR, which can handle up to 16 cameras, runs in about the $3,000 range, Anderson said.

He said one option would be to install one DVR and more pan and tilt cameras, or get a second DVR and 16 additional stationary cameras.

One concern about the pan and tilt cameras, said Anderson, is that activity might be missed while the camera is moving. The district’s money might be better spent, he said, on more cameras rather than have half the cameras and miss something.

Board member Garry Hippe questioned whether additional lighting would be needed for the cameras. Anderson said some cameras record in color during the day and switch to black and white at night to help alleviate the problem of low lighting. Supt. Dave Marlette said extra night lights are often recommended with the use of security systems.

Ladehoff said there are different grades of cameras on the market. She said the district may want to consider a higher grade of camera for the parking lot. Anderson said the cameras being considered are digital, which provide a clearer picture.

Anderson added that DVRs range in the amount of memory they have as well. Ladehoff said some of the DVRs can hold information for up to two to three weeks. She said more would be learned about these options as more information is received.

Marlette said consideration is also being given to installing cameras in the Tracy Elementary School office area, but that other areas at the elementary school are not being considered at this time.

He said the budget for installing the system is expected to be between $30,000 to $60,000.

Anderson said he hopes to have more details by next month’s meeting.

• • •

The discussion of installing security cameras at TAHS resulted in part from vandalism and other issues that have taken place in recent months at the school. Most recently, the school was the subject of a bomb threat.

The threat, which took place the first weekend of March, resulted in locks being cut off lockers so that they could be searched.

Anderson reported that the investigation is continuing and on track. He said he is assisting Tracy Police Chief Bryan Hillger in the investigation and interviews.

Anderson asked the board to consider whether students whose locks were cut should be reimbursed. Last month, the board had approved the purchase of locks for the entire school building, which will be rented to students. Anderson said the locks are expected to arrive next week.

Board members agreed that since student property had to be destroyed in the search, they should be reimbursed.

Up to #1.5 million loan sought for Kid's World

Grants, fund drive expected to reduce loan

Tracy Kid’s World is seeking a federal loan of up to $1.5 million to finance an 11,500 square foot daycare center near Tracy Elementary School.

The non-profit group’s board of directors approved a resolution seeking the loan last week.

“We’ve been told that qualifying for the loan will be no problem,” said Louise Noomen, Tracy Kid’s World board member.

The estimated cost to build and equip the new Tracy daycare center is $1,409,160. Tracy Kid’s World board members asked for the $1.5 million loan, to provide a cushion for higher than expected costs.

Board members are hopeful that grants and a community fund-raising drive will reduce the amount that will be borrowed.

A $50,000 Rural Development grant has been promised if an application is submitted by April 1, Noomen said. She added that Rural Development has indicated that the Tracy daycare will qualify for other federal grants, but has not specified any amounts.

The Kid’s World loan, Mark Priegnitz, said, will not be guaranteed by the City of Tracy, and will not affect local property taxes.

The Tracy Kid’s World fund-raising campaign is being planned for May.

Licensed for 104 children

Tracy Kid’s World will be licensed to provide daycare services for up to 104 children; 74 daycare kids infant through age 12, and 30 children in before and after-school programs. The center, located on about four acres east of Tracy Elementary School, would be open Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fifteen to 17 people would be employed at the daycare center.

Mark Priegnitz, Tracy Kid’s World board president, said the new daycare would address a severe shortage of licensed daycare in the area.

“All of the surveys we have done, all of the people we have talked to, show a huge demand for daycare.” The proposed Tracy daycare, he said, will attract children from Marshall to Slayton.

Plans are for Tracy Kid’s World to also house Head Start and Rainbow Pre-School operations.

Priegnitz said that the Kid’s World board has tried to be conservative in its financial projections. Even if 100% of a $1.5 million project had to be borrowed (no grants or money raised in the community), Tracy Kid’s World operations will cash-flow with 60 children, Priegnitz said.

Proposed childcare fees are based on the age of the child. The charge for an infant, six weeks to 16 months, would be $2.50 to $2.75 an hour. The fee for older children would be $2.25 to $2.50 an hour. Twenty-five cents an hour would be added for drop-in children.

The daycare’s operating plan calls for pay rates that are above the industry average for Southwest Minnesota. Child-care aides would be paid $8 an hour, and teachers $10 an hour. The daycare’s director and assistant director would be paid $14 and $12 an hour respectively.

Near elementary school

Blueprints, developed by I&S Engineers & Architects, meet all state codes for daycare operations. Separate areas are provided for infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers and before and after school children. Each area has its own toilet and storage areas. A 1,400 square foot “mini gym” provides an indoor play area.

Built on what is now an open grassy area east of the Tracy Elementary School parking lot, Tracy Kid’s World would have a parking area on its east side, and an enclosed playground to its west. A circular driveway coming off Pine Street would allow children to be dropped off at doors on the daycare’s south side.

An enclosed playground would be built on the daycare center’s west side.

Security measures would be put into place to insure that children could be picked up only by authorized people.

Plans are to have food catered in from Tracy Elementary School during the school year, and an as yet undetermined private vender when school is not in session. An in-house kitchen, and three kitchenettes, would be used to heat up food and prepare snacks.

On-site laundry equipment would be available to wash not only towels, uniforms, and bedding, but also toys and equipment.

The plans were developed with suggestions from Tracy Kid’s World board members, many of whom have young children of their own. Ideas were also gathered by visits to other daycare centers in the region.

“We asked people what they liked and what they didn’t like about their daycare,” said Priegnitz.

“We tried to learn from other people’s mistakes and successes,” Noomen said.

The District 417 school board has agreed to sell the Tracy Kid’s World the land for $1. The open area is now used mostly for after-school flag football and soccer programs. School board members have discussed the possibility of developing additional athletic fields north of the elementary, on land that is now used as a farm test plot by the Tracy FFA.

Open in a year?

Engineers project a five-month construction period, Priegnitz said. In a best-case scenario, Priegnitz said that ground would be broken early this fall and the daycare would be open March 1 of 2006. Noomen said that the board definitely wants the daycare ready in time for the 2006-07 school year.

The wood-frame structure would have a stucco-like, energy-efficient exterior, and slanted metal roofs. Most of the facility would be built on a concrete-slab foundation, but there would also be a 1,500 square foot basement. The basement would house the building’s mechanical equipment, and also serve as an emergency storm shelter.

Planning for the daycare center has been underway since 2002. Tracy Kid’s World board members, besides Priegnitz are: George Hebig, Beth Lanoue, Deb Skoglund, Jeri Schons, Stacy Barstad, Virginia Hansen, Art Marben, Sheila Siebenahler-Holland.

What if...? Tracy plans emergency response

Imagine that you are a Tracy police officer. Or an ambulance EMT…a Lyon County Civil Defense worker…a Red Cross volunteer…a city worker…a Lyon County sheriff’s deputy …or an emergency room nurse at Tracy Hospital.

Startling news comes over your pager. A bad accident has just happened in Tracy. A semi-trailer truck hauling anhydrous ammonia has broadsided a mini-van at the intersection of Hwy. 14 and the Airport Road. People are trapped inside the van. Anhydrous is leaking from the over-turned truck.

Horrific details emerge. People in the surrounding neighborhood are succumbing to the ammonia fumes. There are fatalities. More lives—perhaps hundreds of lives—are endangered.

What do you do? Whose help do you ask for?

Three dozen local and county officials contemplated those kind of questions last week at a “table top” emergency planning drill in Tracy March 22. Emergency-response personnel discussed how such a disaster should be handled, and what tasks needed to be done by whom.

“This is really good,” said Tammy VanOverbeke, Lyon County Emergency Management director. Thinking through responses to a hypothetical emergency, she indicated, is excellent preparation to the real thing.

Sheriff Joel Dahl was also impressed with the drill, saying that Tracy has become a leader in emergency planning. He cited the city’s recent acquisition of back-up generators and the fire department’s training in handling hazardous materials chemicals, as other examples of Tracy’s emergency-response planning.

Police Chief Bryan Hillger, who organized the exercise, said that the anhydrous ammonia accident was picked, in part, because of the fire department’s recent hazardous materials training. (The entire 26-member department completed 30 hours of training on hazardous chemicals and materials).

The 34 people who participated in last week’s exercise were instructed to determine the problem, develop a defense and implement a response. Hypothetical weather conditions needed to be considered in the response. Participants adjusted their discussions as the disaster scenario expanded to 20 fatalities, 60 injured and 20 missing.

All six Tracy Public Works Dept. members attended the session, as did six out of seven city council members. Six fire department members participated in the session, along with four city police officers. Also represented at the meeting were: Tracy Public Schools, Lyon County Red Cross, Marshall Chemical Assessment, Tracy Area Medical Services, Lyon County Sheriff’s Department, Tracy Ambulance Service, city administration, Lyon County Emergency Management and the Tracy Headlight-Herald. At least eight people attending the session belonged to more than one agency.

Bill comes due for revised pool repairs

A glitch that delayed Tracy Aquatic Center repairs last fall is also resulting in increased costs.

Tracy City Council members approved nearly $50,000 in engineering bills for planned aquatic center repairs Monday. Payments of $19,750 to Gremmer & Associates, and $30,000 to Wiss Janey Elstner Associates were okayed.

The payments are for the design work for the city’s most recent plan to repair the aquatic center. That plan has an estimated $1,154,000 cost. The City of Tracy is now seeking construction bids on the proposed pool repairs. Hopes are that a contract will be awarded this spring, and that renovations will be complete by Nov. 1.

The City of Tracy had planned to award contracts last fall, and have the aquatic center back in operation this summer. But the original repair plans had to be scrapped after a product manufacturer refused to warrant the Diamondbrite material in refurbishing pool surfaces.

The $50,000 in engineering fees that the council agreed to pay this week, is for the design and planning work needed to develop a new plan for repairing the pool. The engineering work would not have been needed, had the city been able to move forward with the original repair plan last fall.

The aquatic center repair plan that the council selected in January calls for the installation of a steel-reinforced Myrtha “RenovAction” PVC liner. Repairs also include some mechanical components of pool operations and structural improvements to a retaining wall.

The $1,154,000 estimated cost, which includes a $150,000 contingency fund, is more expensive than the pool repairs contemplated last fall. In September—based on the assumption that the Diamondbrite materials could be used—aquatic center repairs were estimated at $486,000, plus a 30% contingency fund of $145,000.

• • •

The Tracy Aquatic Center opened in July of 2002, and operated an entire summer in 2003. But the pool did not open in 2004, and will remain closed in 2005.

A series of structural tests and evaluations began on the pool in the fall of 2003, after surface cracks and unusual water losses were noticed. To evaluate the pool, the Diamondbrite surface coat was jack-hammered from pool shells, and core samples drilled in pool walls. The tests showed a number of problems, including voids and foreign objects in walls. The City of Tracy has filed suit against Olympic Pools, USAquatics, and Mid-State Surety, hoping to collect damages for what it claims was faulty construction, design, and construction management in the aquatic center’s original construction.

• • •

Council members did receive one bit of positive news related to the aquatic center Monday. A $5,000 contract with Paulson & Clark Engineering of White Bear Lake was approved for electrical engineering work on the proposed aquatic center repairs. The $5,000 price was one-third the $15,000 cost that had been estimated.

New senior housing complex nears completion in Walnut Grove

The finishing touches are being put on Country View Senior Living in Walnut Grove.

Last week, carpet in the 28-unit apartment complex was being installed, and gleaming appliances were being carted into brand-new kitchens.

“I’m hoping that our first residents will be able to move in by May 1,” said Marsha Hansen, Country View manager.

Country View Senior Living is located on the south edge of Walnut Grove on Redwood County Highway 5. Assisted living services will be offered in 16 of the apartments, with 12 units reserved for independent living. As of last week, seven apartments had been rented: six independent living and one assisted living. Tracy Area Medical Services will operate a medical clinic in the building.

Because of the assisted living services, Country View will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A nurse will be available at least 16 hours a week.

Marketing efforts to attract residents, Hansen feels, are on track.

“We’ve had a lot of people looking,” Hansen said. On average, it takes a year and a half to fill an assisted living facility.

She is pleased with how the project is turning out. She likes Country View’s amenities, especially its dining and common meeting areas. Hansen feels that a beauty/barber shop will be popular. Each independent-living apartment will have its own washer and dryer. Country View will also have a fitness center, and Internet service,

The apartments are spacious, with the two-bedroom, independent living units boasting 1,050 square feet. Ten of the 12 independent living apartments are two bedroom.

Rents are set at $675 for one-bedroom, and $825 for two bedroom. Assisted living fees are based upon the level of services needed.

The new apartments, Hansen feels, will make it possible for Walnut Grove area seniors to continue living in their hometown as they get older, rather than move elsewhere.

For more information, people can call Hansen at 859-2133 or check out the web site at

The Walnut Grove Economic Development Authority is the project’s owner. Construction began last fall. A grand opening is tentatively targeted for mid-June.