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News from the week of May 11, 2005


Wellness/rehab center sparks healthful discussion

Several themes emerged from a Tracy City Council public hearing about a proposed wellness/rehab center for Tracy Hospital Monday. Many comments expressed support for the concept, but only if the project did not require taxpayer support. Opinion was divided on whether the community would be better off building a new facility near the hospital or remodeling an existing building.

“What I’m hearing from this is that people are willing to support this, but they don’t want the taxpayers to have to help pay for it,” summed up councilman Bill Chukuske, near the end of the hearing.

Mayor Steve Ferrazzano said, “I think people would support a wellness center. There is interest. Then the second question is whether or not it is financially feasible.”

Some citizens urged caution in light of other city financial needs.

“I think the city has some real financial problems,” said Dale Krog, referring to pending aquatic center repair costs and the uncertainty of whether those expenses will be recovered through litigation. City streets are in need of maintenance, and money likely will be needed for sewage treatment ponds, he added.

“The city needs to take a hard look at the priorities of where it needs to spend money.”

Both the Tracy City Council and Tracy Area Medical Services advisory board are expected to study the wellness/rehab center concept further. The Tracy council made no decisions Monday, other than to ask City Administrator Audrey Koopman for more information.


The idea

The concept that was presented to Tracy City Council members on April 25 calls for the construction of a 6,000 square foot facility near Tracy Hospital. The estimated cost is $600,000 to $625,000.

A 300 by 130-foot parcel of city-owned land south of the hospital along Union Street has been suggested as the location. City-owned land south of the Prairie View nursing home has also been mentitioned as a potential location.

The new structure would house a wellness center that would be used by dues-paying members, and the hospital’s therapy department. High-quality fitness machines and equipment would outfit the center. A large room would be available to aerobics/exercise classes or other group events.

The hospital’s therapy department would move to the new center, freeing up space in the hospital for more medical outreach services.

Staff costs at the new center would be shared between the wellness and therapy departments. An electronic-card system would provide after-hours access to the wellness center.

The City of Tracy has been asked to donate the land and the expense of extending utilities to the site.

One concept under consideration calls for a private company to build the center, and then get paid through a long-term lease with the City of Tracy. The city, in turn, would have a long-term lease arrangement with Tracy Area Medical Services.

Rick Nordahl, chief executive officer for TAMS, told council members on April 25 that projections indicate that operations would be sufficient to pay for the lease, if the total debt isn’t higher than about $500,000. He said that a community fund-raising campaign was envisioned for the needs above $500,000.

The lease-financing concept being considered would not require any cash outlays by the City of Tracy, but the city would ultimately be backing the lease payments. A 20-year term has been suggested for the wellness/rehab center lease.


Benefits seen

Mark Boerboom, rehab services director for TAMS and its affiliated hospitals in Slayton and Westbrook, said Tracy is limited by a lack of therapy space. Better therapy facilities, he said, will encourage future growth in Tracy therapy services..

Boerboom sees significant advantages to a new facility built near the hospital, compared with a remodeled facility elsewhere in town.

A center near the hospital, he said, is worth $10,000 to $20,000 a year in increased operating efficiencies. Having physical therapists travel to a center downtown or on Hwy. 14, would constantly waste small increments of time from therapists that could otherwise be invested into billable time with patients, he said. A site on the hospital campus, Boerboom said, would be an advantage in a medical emergency, and be convenient for patients. A new building would have lower energy costs, he said.

An off-site wellness center in a remodeled building, Boerboom said, would also work. He said that wellness/therapy centers in Westbrook and Slayton—both developed in existing buildings—had “exceeded expectations.” Both have a positive cash flow from operations, Boerboom indicated.

Boerboom said that three buildings had been considered as possible Tracy wellness centers: the former P Plus Asian Grocery in Downtown Tracy, and the former Tracy Minntronix and Mediterranean Club buildings on Hwy. 14.

Remodeling the P Plus building, he said, would cost about $350,000, but he did not have firm remodeling costs for the other two buildings. He said that the Slayton wellness project involving the remodeled building cost more than what is being estimated for a new Tracy building.

“I am not against a remodeled building. It could work. I just think you are going to have a much better project with a new building,” Boerboom said.

Exact remodeling costs for the Minntronix and Mediterranean building hadn’t been developed, Boerboom indicated, in part because it would cost $50,000 to hire an architect to draft specific plans for each project. The lease/financing company that TAMS is working with on the new building plans, are providing architectural services


Citizens have say

Statements of support and opposition were interspersed with questions and concerns in a hearing that lasted for more than an hour.

Con Rettmer, former Tracy economic development director and Chamber manager, said he wasn’t against the concept of the rehab/wellness center. Based on a recent experience following a knee replacement, Rettmer said he understands why the therapy department is seeking more space.

However, Rettmer said that he doesn’t like some aspects of the proposed project.

$625,000 is a lot of money, he said, and in addition, the city is being asked to give up three lots that were developed at a cost of about $45,000. Rettmer also questioned whether the building would generate any taxes for the city.

Rettmer said that a wellness center would not conform to the restrictive covenants established for the Eastview Addition, Eastview land, he noted is zoned for residential use.

Dave Reese, who lives on Sunrise Drive, said he and his wife are not be opposed to a wellness center near their house. However, Reese said that the center probably wouldn’t meet the restrictive covenants for the lots along Union St. He thought that the undeveloped Eastview land directly south of Prairie View did not have restrictive covenants.

Krog, who lives on Fourth Street East, said that he wasn’t opposed to the center, but had concerns about traffic and parking problems around the hospital. A wellness center would make those problems worse, Krog said, unless other remedies are developed.

Carol Buyck, an RN at the hospital, sent a letter supporting a wellness/rehab center close to the hospital, which she said would be especially convenient for cardiac rehab patients.

Tony Peterson, a council candidate in the 2004 election, said he agreed with Krog. “The city has got enough financial problems.” He said he was against the project if any taxpayer support is needed.

A letter was read from Jeff Salmon, an owner of the Tracy Minntronix building. Salmon said he was willing to work with anyone in developing an affordable wellness/rehab center on their property. A remodeled center on their property, he wrote, could offer significant savings over a new building, and would offer convenient Hwy. 14 access.

Council member Sandi Rettmer said she was “totally” in favor of a wellness/rehab center, but said she did not favor a new building. She wondered why two previous fitness centers (Hollywood Health and Body Shop) had failed over the past 20 years.

Sherrie Spencer said that fees at the Body Shop were too expensive. In contrast, the $20 monthly fee charged for the centers in Westbrook and Slayton, Spencer considered “darn cheap.”

A petition signed by 55 people, mostly hospital employees, supported the wellness center.

A letter from Paul and Arlene Knoblauch was read opposing the wellness center proposal.

Penny Peterson and Marge Peterson submitted statements supporting the wellness center. Carol Whaley said she also favored the center, but not in a new building.


Terms offered on ‘Med’ property

A statement from Tom Morin, owner of the Mediterranean building, questioned the prudence of investing more than $600,000 in a new building, when the Med or the Minntronix building could be remodeled for less money.

Morin offered two options for utilizing his building.

1) City buys the Mediterranean property for $299,000, with the exception of the Subway equipment and kitchen equipment. Subway would remain in its current location and pay $1,000 a month in rent to the city. Over a 12-year period, payments to the city would total $144,000, and the city would also collect wellness center lease money from the hospital. The city could rent bar space for more revenue. Morin estimated the cost of remodeling the Mediterranean for the wellness/rehab center at $150,000 to $200,000.

2) City of Tracy rents space at the Mediterranean for the wellness center at a cost of $2,000 a month, and pays remodeling costs of $150,000 to $200,000 for the wellness center. Over the 12-year period, the city’s investment would be $440,000 to $490,000.


Other comments

Nordahl said that he wanted to make clear that Sioux Valley Hospitals, the entity leasing and managing Tracy Hospital and medical clinic, is not the catalyst for the new center.

“The whole idea of a wellness center came from the community to the hospital. This has been brought to us.” Sioux Valley leaders, he said, have not taken a position on the Tracy project. No specific lease terms have been offered, and many details need to be worked out before any project can move forward.

Nordahl felt that the main purpose of the Monday night hearing was to simply get a feeling for whether Tracy people will support a wellness center.

Council member Jan Arvizu, who also serves on the hospital board, wondered if the large number of Tracy people who work in Marshall would hinder the success of a Tracy center.

Boerboom didn’t think so, because the center in Slayton has been successful even though many workers in that town also commute.

“I am very confident that this (Tracy wellness center) will cash flow,” Boerboom said.

It was explained that many major health insurance plans will pay for a subscriber’s monthly wellness center fee, if minimum participation requirements are met.


Council instructions

Council members concluded their discussions by asking Koopman to research two points. 1) Would the non-city lease financing being investigated for a new building, also be available for remodeling an existing building. 2) What, if any, restrictive convenants exist for property in the Eastview Addition.

Teacher recovering from heart surgery

Sandy and Russ Stobb say it’s wonderful to live in a community with heart.

“People have been so good,” Sandy Stobb said Tuesday. “Russ has had so many cards, e-mail messages and visits. His students have brought things over. Every place I go people ask about Russ and ask if there is anything they can do. The community support has been wonderful.”

Russ Stobb, 55, is recovering from heart-bypass surgery on April 30. The prognosis for a full recovery is excellent, according to Sandy. But the Tracy Area High School science teacher is not expected to return to teaching this school year.

“It’s going to take him a while to get back his strength,” Sandy Stobb said. “He is trying to walk a little more every day.” Tuesday, Russ Stobb managed a 1,500-foot walk near their home—quiet an accomplishment for someone whose life had been threatened by a heart attack ten days earlier.

• • •

Russ Stobb woke up early April 29 not feeling well. His left shoulder hurt, but he attributed the pain to sleeping in an awkward position. He went back to bed. The pain seemed worse in the morning, radiating across his chest. He had broken out in a sweat, and his heart felt “fluttery.” Something was wrong. By 7:15 a.m, Russ and Sandy were in the emergency room at Tracy Hospital.

An initial blood test showed no signs of heart trouble. But a second test, taken as a routine safeguard, showed the signature of a heart attack. By early Friday afternoon, the Tracy City Councilman was on a medical helicopter headed for Sioux Falls. At Sioux Valley Hospital, specialists discovered that Russ Stobb had six partially blocked arteries. All were too serious for stints. Bypass surgery was conducted early on Saturday, April 30.

• • •

Prior to April 29, her husband had exhibited no obvious signs of heart trouble, Sandy said.

“There was nothing big. You just attribute little aches and pains to getting older,” she said. But in retrospect, they can identify small incidents that could have been warning signs. She feels very thankful that they went to the emergency room when they did, and that trained medical personnel were on hand to quickly provide assistance.

The Stobbs express special thanks to Pastor Steve Olson of Tracy Lutheran Church, for his repeated visits during their time of need.

“Pastor Steve has really been supportive of us. He waited with us during the surgery.” Rachel, and ninth grader at TAHS, and Ryan, a freshman at Augustana College, were also able to join their father at the hospital.

Sandy Stobb said that even though he can’t return to the classroom until next fall, Russ is itching to wander over to the school and greet his students.

Stobb joined the high school faculty in 1971. He has been a city council member for ten years.

Decor lends magic to prom grand march

Kri“This Magic Moment” was the theme for the Tracy Area High School prom Saturday. Seventy-four couples strolled through the high school gymnasium that was decorated to resemble a snapshot from the 1960s.

On one side of the gym were cardboard cars, resembling a drive-in restaurant. Couples began their walks from up on the stage, where the girls sat at tables as if waiting to be asked to dance until their escorts approached them, one by one.

Emcees Jen and Jason Kainz stood on the stage among the tables, resembling deejays at a dance.

A real dance followed the grand march until midnight. An after-prom party began in the high school cafeteria at 1 a.m. with games, food, and prizes. The largest prizes given away were two television sets, won by Alissa Lightfoot and Erik Frisvold.

Couples who participated in the grand march were:

Lynn Brockway/Anthony Rasmussen, Rebecca Gervais/Kyle Rosa, Lyndsie Murphy/Sean Kirk, Kaitlin Lubben/Taylor Rignell, Tory Ruppert/Derek Radke, Jenna Fischer/Peter Koenig, Dani Thooft/Dane Bloch, Amanda Olafson/J Hamilton.

Brianna Schroeder/Chris Bornitz, Laura Lanoue/Matt Schons, Melissa Luckhardt/Guillaume Frebault, Ashley Schreier/Mark Buysse, Katie Woitaszewski/Jason Heern, Ann Byrne/Ted Nilius, Kayla Lau/Kyle Peltola, Kim Lau/Kory Burch.

Megan Meyer/Cody Arnold, Elizabeth Rayman/Chad Stibbe, Emily Baumann/Adam Louwagie, Alissa Lightfoot/Jon Carter, Diana Benavente/Jannik Sebald, Kylie Henkel/Ross Hoffman, Bailey Landa/Erik Fossum, Kayla VanKuelen/Kyle Lessman.

Nicole Hansen/Kraig VanKuelen, Christina Peterson/Lance Iverson, Tanya Evans/Roberto Mata, Kelly Saxton/Ryan Rathman, Angie Towne/Kyle Lanners, Cassie Bryant/Anthony Ysker, Cayla Caron/George Tanguy, Laura Peterson/Mitch Holm.

Shiloy Erickson/Eric Tutt, Emily Minnett/Joey Becker, Jessica Coulter/Anthony Vroman, Casie Miller/Chris Bangesser, Megan Pool/Paul Johnson, Emily Scharfe/Mike Schreier, Tessa Nelson/Trevor Morin, Andrea VanMoer/John Knott.

Tashia Lamb/Dan Tutt, Nicole Haecherl/Brett Jackson, Tessa Clerck/Josh Ruppert, Tina Gervais/Scott Debbaut, Kate Yearous/Darren VanMeveren, Jenna Schaar/Donald Strand, Cassie Willard/David Schiller, Sarah Fritz/Andrew Nelson.

Jillian Tholen/Luke Nelson, Krysta Tholen/Mike Dardis, Ashley Neperman/Paul Carlson, Sierra Hemish/Drew Hebig, Stacy LaVoy/Matt Bauer, Laura Weiring/Brad Lanoue, Courtney Bitker/Lance Kuehl, Allison Rasmussen/Jacob Gilmore.

Ashlei Carpenter/Justin Vercruyssee, Brittany Maeyaert/Blain Sannerud, Alyssa Kirk/Mitchell Schwindt, Jackie Vroman/Erik Frisvold, Denise Tietz/Derrick Vandromme, Ashley Hansen/Derek Vosberg, Krista Swanson/Matt Beranek, Roxanne Tanschin/Brandon Alexander.

Lia Moua/Meng Her, Ong Moua/Bee Lor, Xia Thor/Phia Moua, Carrie Brown/Tim Lanoue, Kaily Goehring/Derek Daniels, Maria Herrera/Paul Andere, Valeria Sotte/David Jones, Katie Gervais/Kong Her, Ashley Peters/Matt Engesser.

Music-makers beckon

Two of Tracy Area High School’s most popular concerts are coming up this week.

Choirs under the direction of Shirlee Gilmore present their annual “Vocal Extravaganza” Friday night. Tuesday, the spotlight shifts to Chris Miller and the instrumental department for the annual band “Pops” Concert.

Both concerts will be staged in the high school gym beginning at 7:30 p.m.


Swinging singing

The program follows a musical variety show format. Solos, small groups, and full-choral performances are planned. Students in grades 7-12 are putting on the show.

“Summer Nights” sung the high school choir, and “Route 66” presented by the Chamber Choir are among the large-group numbers. The junior high choir is preparing a medley of songs with a summer theme.

The high school Girls’ Show Choir will present “It don’t Mean a Thing,” a song that earned the group a superior contest rating this spring.

Stacy LaVoy, Jacob Gilmore, Celia Brockway, and Allison Rasmussen are among the show’s featured soloists.

Casie and Carly Miller, and Mai Zao Vue and Mai Vue Moua will sing duets. Jasmine Lavoie, Annaleah Rollag, Kaila Jones, Mai Xiong Vue, and Mai Lia Moua will perform as a group of “southern belles.” Kyle Peltola, Jacob Gilmore, Dan Dieter, and Ben VanMoer will perform as a barbershop quartet.

Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. The admission includes “munchies” and a drink.

Seating will be set available on both the gym floor and the side bleachers. Reserved seating can be obtained by calling the school office at 507-629-5500.


Tuesday night at ‘Pops’

A light program of marches, popular music, and movie themes will be presented at the pops concert. District 417’s entire instrumental department will perform, including the fifth-grade band, sixth-grade band, junior high band, and senior high band.

Musicians in the high school award-winning percussion ensemble will be among the group featured at the concert.

The pops concert is the last formal concert for 21 seniors. Most have been playing an instrument since elementary school. The seniors will be recognized at the concert. The senior musicians are: Nicole Haecherl, Jenna Schaar, Kayla VanKeulen, Emily Baumann, Lynn Brockway, Courtney Bitker, Bailey Landa, Rebecca Gervais, Kim Lau, Kayla Lau, Melissa Luckhardt, Laura Lanoue, Anthony Rasmussen, Kyle Peltola, Kyle Lessman, Jon Carter, Adam Louwagie, Megan Meyer, Kaitlin Lubben, Dane Bloch, and Jason Heern.

There is no admission charge for the pops concert.


Shop projects displayed

Projects made by TAHS industrial arts students will displayed in the school cafeteria for

viewing before and after the concert. Mike Peterreins and Chris Howard are the school’s industrial arts teachers.

Drama, music promised for "Arts in the Afternoon" program

The Fine Arts Council of Tracy is sponsoring “Arts in the Afternoon” Sunday, May 15. The program begins at 2 p.m. at the Tracy Christian & Missionary Alliance Church.

The program features many local students who participated in band, choir and speech competitions this spring. The program includes:

Soloists: Jacob Gilmore – “O Magnum Mysterium,” Stacy LaVoy – “My Heart will Go On,” Emily Baumann – “Agnus Dei,” Derek Daniels – “The Cowboy’s Hat.”

Duet: Celia Brockway and Kyle Peltola – “Dirait on”

Vocal Trio: Allison Rasmussen, Celia Brockway, Emily Baumann – “My Heart is Full of Merriment and Joy”

Barbershop Quartet: Kyle Peltola, Jacob Gilmore, Ben VanMoer, Dan Dieter – “Honey”

Chamber Choir: Emily Baumann, Celia Brockway, Allison Rasmussen, Pala Moua, Jackie Vroman, Casie Miller, Mai Vue Moua, Bailey Landa, Lyndsie Murphy, Dane Block, Jacob Gilmore, Kyle Peltola, Ben VanMoer, Dan Dieter – “Route 66.”

Piano solos: Eric Carter – “Shimmering Waterfalls,” Victoria Lau – “At Wood Lake.”

Trombone solo: Emily Gilmore – “Vittoria.”

Clarinet Quintet: Emily Baumann, Lynn Brockway, Kim Lau, Melissa Luckhardt, Kayla Lau – “Eine Kleine Nacht.”

Speeches: Megan Richardson (original poetry) – “My Meadow,” James Fultz and Shawn Zwach (Dramatic Duo), Celia Brockway (Storytelling), Rebecca Gervais (Great Speeches), Carly Miller (Serious Prose), Casie Miller (Serious Drama), Dane Block (Original Oratory).