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News from the week of May 25, 2005

Surf was up
Anglers battle waves, but manage to land walleyes

The walleye tournament on Lake Shetek Saturday was not for the fainted-hearted. Nor was Lake Shetek a good spot for fishermen with a 12-foot boat and 10-hp. outboard..

“If you had a small boat, you probably went home today,” said Wayne Maras of Windom, who fished in a 20-foot boat with a 225 hp. motor. “It was pretty scary out there.”

Strong southeasterly and later southwesterly winds of 30 to 40 MPH whipped Shetek into a froth of whitecaps Saturday. Fishermen reported waves four to five feet high in open areas of the lake.

Eric Thompson of Stewartville, said the fishing conditions were among the most difficult he’d ever experienced.

“It was tough out there no matter what you tried.”

An early morning thunderstorm delayed the scheduled 7:30 a.m. start. As fishermen waited at Key Largo for the storm to clear, powerful winds blew across the lake from the southeast. Some boats tied up to the docks took on big amounts of water as waves crashed over exposed sterns. At least two boats were swamped down to the gunwales. Some boats sustained minor damage as they were pushed up against rocks on shore.

The thunder and lightning cleared off, but the winds remained. Forty of 129 boats registered for the tournament opted to drop out prior to the start.

• • •

Despite the adverse weather, the fishing tournament went on, with anglers hunkering down in rain and cold weather gear. Thirty walleyes were registered at a 3 p.m. weigh in, and at least 23 boats of fishermen caught fish.

Leroy Kalass and Craig Christensen of Slayton won the tournament with four walleye that totaled 15.64 pounds. They also caught two other walleyes that weren’t included in their total.

“Tell them that we caught them in a 25-foot hole in the middle of Shetek,” joked Kalass. He later admitted that they spent most of their tournament anchored 15-feet off the Valhalla dikes. Their biggest walleye tipped the scales at 6.29 lbs.

Kalass and Christensen collected just over $1,300 in prize money as tournament champions. They also caught eight panfish totaling 2.94 lbs.

Mark Hagen and Tom McCormick were second the tourney with three walleye totaling 8.62 pounds.

Nathan Sillers of Marshall, and Ronald Krei of Bloomington hooked the prize for the largest walleye at 8.14 pounds, which was also good for third overall in the walleye competition.. Josh Seaton and Bill Johnson of Eagan and Anoka were fourth with three fish totaling 7.73 pounds.

David Kraft and Jason Overby of Marshall landed just one walleye, but the 6.48 pounder was the second largest walleye and gave them fifth place over all.

Other Top Ten walleye teams were: Tom Byrne Sr. and Joe Byrne, Currie & Worthington, 5.73 lbs; Eric Moham and Pat Popowski, Tracy & Cottonwood, 5.38 lbs; Keith and Dave Engesser, Tracy, 4.96 lbs.; Terry Ochsendorf and Eric Thomson, Hayfield and Stewartville, 4.38 lbs.; Jeff and Tammy DeVos, Orange City, Iowa, 4.12 lbs.

Brian and Brenda Frisvold of Owatonna and Oakdale won the panfish competition with 15 crappies totaling 6.55 lbs.

Many fishermen said they enjoyed the tournament despite the difficult conditions.

“It makes it more of a challenge,” said Overby. “You know that not many fish are going to be caught. So we were pretty excited by the one fish that we did get (a 6.48 pounder good for fifth-place overall).

• • •

The Lake Shetek Area Improvement Association sponsored the catch and release tourney. More than $3,100 in prize money was given out to fishermen, as well as a boatload of raffle and door prizes.

Tournament proceeds are earmarked for projects benefiting Lake Shetek. Tournament committee members ended their day by presenting Murray County Commissioner Bill Sauer with a $6,000 check. The money will be used to pay for a new aeration system that will be installed next winter on the south half of Lake Shetek.

Penny for her thoughts?
'Plug Nickel' is now book

Jeanne Pommier Stanton has joined the ranks of Sinclair Lewis, John Steinbeck, and Pearl S. Buck.

Sort of.

The Tracy woman became a book author last week with the publication of “Put on Your Glasses Grandma, I Can’t See You.” The 111-page book is a collection of her “Plug Nickel” columns originally published in the Tracy Headlight-Herald.

“It just tickles me,” Stanton says of her new book. “I don’t really know what to think. But I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

The paperback was published by Daylight Publishers of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She and her husband, Keith, did the advance work of getting the book ready for press.

The book began with a modest idea.

“All I wanted to do was give copies of my columns to each of my grandchildren.” But copying turned out to be neither easy nor inexpensive. A nephew recommended a printer that specialized in self-published books. Stanton was intrigued, and quickly decided to put her columns in book form.

“It was a learning experience, but one that we thoroughly enjoyed,” she relates.

• • •

“Put on Your Glasses” includes 55 columns. Growing up in Currie in the 1930s and 1940s, Catholic schools, marriage, and the joys and challenges of raising eight children are among her column topics.

“I write about what I know about,” she explains.

One column relates how she gave her 1935 Ford a new paint job with pink polka dots over a white base. She wrote, “My friend… told me that I cured a lot of drunk drivers with that car. Seeing a pink polka dot car served that same purpose as seeing pink elephants.”

Another told how she once shared a boarding house bathroom with 17 other girls. “The experience was good for me as we raised eight children before we got a second bathroom.”

A column called “The Unmentionable Subject” explained what sex education was like years ago. “My mother never, ever, in all of her life said the word ‘sex.’ In fact, if she knew I wrote that sentence she would turn over in her grave.’”

She described her childhood home that shared a water pump with backyard neighbors.

“An ice box was on the back porch that led to our large kitchen. Off the kitchen was a washroom where mother did the washing and we all had our baths in the wash tub. A pump at the kitchen sink provided us with soft water from our cistern. The big cook stove was used for heating the wash water, cooking and baking. In the middle of the room was a large wooden table…I would hide pickles on a wooden brace under the table when mother insisted I eat them…”

The columnist frequently shares her thoughts about child raising.

“Don’t we just love it to death when history repeats itself as our children raise their own children? How we parents loved to say ‘I hope someday you have a child just like you’ and the day always comes when they tell us it has happened to them.’”

• • •

The Tracy author began writing a column in February of 2004, at the suggestion of Headlight-Herald publisher Seth Schmidt. The column was to appear on an occasional basis. But the Plug Nickel soon became a weekly feature of the newspaper.

“The column was well-written, and people really liked it,” said Schmidt “I heard many good comments from readers.” One reason for the column’s success, Schmidt feels, is that people can easily relate to the everyday experiences Stanton writes about.”

• • •

The Stantons’ book publisher required them organize and compose the columns electronically using a computer. Their work was made easier because the copy for all of her columns had been saved on a computer hard drive. That eliminated the task of typing the columns again. Michelle Stanton, their oldest daughter, edited the original copy, suggested revisions, and proofed everything before it was sent to press.

Jeanne chose the book’s title, which was based on a comment made by her five-year-old grandson, Eldon. Just before a family meal, Grandma Stanton’s glasses became steamed over after taking a kettle of potatoes off the stove. Grandma momentarily took her glasses off. Not used to seeing her without glasses, young Eldon implored, “Put on your glasses Grandma, I can’t see you!’”

Jeanne drew an illustration for the book’s front cover, showing a little boy and a grandma-figure without her glasses.

• • •

Stanton, 74, has been married to Keith for almost 52 years. They have eight children: Michelle, Toni, Brenda, Conan, Meredith, Jamie, Marshall, Heather) 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The Stantons have lived in Tracy since 1957, when Keith accepted a math teaching position at Tracy High School. He later started the French department at the school.

Jeanne Stanton was elected to the Tracy City Council in 1974, becoming the first woman to serve on the Tracy council. She was re-elected once and served four years. (Three other women have subsequently been elected to the council: Joyce Visker, and present day council members Jan Arvizu and Sandi Rettmer).

“I took it seriously, and did my homework prior to meetings.” She remembered that she annoyed some of her council colleagues, by insisting that ordinances be read out loud prior to votes.

Keith Stanton was elected to the council in 1981, and served two terms, making the Stantons the only husband-wife team in the history of Tracy to both serve on the council.

The Stantons plan to market the book themselves. They are selling the book for $9.99 plus tax. They hope to recoup the money they spent getting the book published, but if they don’t, that’s okay.

“Making money wasn’t the reason we did this,” Jeanne Stanton sums up.

• • •

Tracy Publishing Company will be sponsoring an open house and book-signing for the author Friday, June 3, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The books will be on sale at Tracy Publishing, and The Etc. in Tracy, and Bound to Read in Marshall. Another book signings will be held June 11 at The Etc. from 2 to 4 p.m.

Commencement is Sunday
Emily Baumann is valedictorian, Kyle Peltola
& Lynn Brockway are co-salutatorians

Eighty-one seniors are scheduled to participate in Tracy Area High School commencement ceremonies Sunday afternoon.

Weather permitting, the 2 p.m. program will be held outdoors on the high school football field. In case of bad weather, commencement will be moved indoors to the high school gym.

Emily Baumann is the class valedictorian, with Kyle Peltola and Lynn Brockway honored as the co-salutatorians. The academic honors are based upon grades over the past four years. Principal Chad Anderson said that Baumann compiled a perfect 4.0 grade-point average by earning “A’s” in all of her classes. Peltola and Brockway were nearly as perfect, getting “A’s” in all classes except one over a four-year period. Each received a single “A minus” grade, giving them a 3.997 grade-point average.

The valedictorian and salutatorians will comprise three of five student speakers Sunday. Baumann will give the class welcome, and Peltola will present the class farewell. Brockway will give an address about the past. Kristina Gervais will speak about the present, and Katherine Gervais will discuss the future.

Both the high school band and choir will perform. The band, which leads off the program with the traditional “Pomp & Circumstance” processional, is performing a medley from the musical “Grease” as its featured number. The concert choir will present “Goodbye My Friend.”

Supt. of Schools Dave Marlette and school board members representing three school districts—Tracy, Balaton and Milroy—will present the diplomas. Board members participating in diploma presentation are: Dan Zimansky, Ed Carter, and Al Landa, Tracy; Leo Lindquist, Balaton; and Betsy Snyder, Milroy.

Graduates are to form a reception line immediately following the ceremony.

• • •

This is the fourth-consecutive year that students have planned an outdoor commencement at Tracy. The outdoor program went off without a hitch in 2002 and 2003. But last year’s graduation program had to be moved indoors because of weather-related issues.

Retiring teachers honored

An announcement instructed students to report to the school gym Wednesday afternoon. An assembly, the announcement intoned, had been scheduled to discuss attendance policies.

The students dutifully reported. But when teachers John Coulter, Gayle Myhr, and Jeff “Jesse” James were escorted into the gym moments later, the bleachers erupted in a thunderous ovation.

Students had planned a surprise farewell program for the three teachers, who are retiring at the end of the the current school year. Each has been a Tracy Public School teacher for 34 years.

“I shouldn’t have fallen for this but I did,” James laughed.

“These teachers taught not only you, but your parents,” said David Schiller, who emceed the program for the Tracy Area High School student council.

The three teachers came to Tracy in the fall of 1971. Students thanked the teachers, and presented a slide show of highlights from each teacher’s career.

Myhr, a home economics teacher, was described as “creative, conscientious, frugal, , and caring.”

Coulter, an art and social studies instructor, was cited for his “Coulter love” for students, love of the outdoors and family, and famous quotes, such as “I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at what you’re doing.”

James, an English teacher, was described as “honest, conscientious, and easy-going.” He was remembered for his involvement in activities ranging from speech and theatre to Miss Tracy, prom and outdoor adventure.

Each teacher thanked the students.

Myhr said that she had always dreamed of being a teacher, and said that she felt fortunate that she had been able to be a teacher in Tracy.

James said he had initially planned to teach in Tracy for only a few years. The reason he taught in Tracy for 34 years, he said, was because of all the wonderful people he had met in Tracy.

Coulter echoed those thoughts.

“Kids today are as good as they have ever been.”

Stories on each of the retiring teachers are on page three in this week’s newspaper.

Cy Molitor is Tracy Memorial Day speaker

A former Lyon County Commissioner and 21-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Navy will be the keynote speaker for a Tracy Memorial Day program.

Cy Molitor will speak at the Tracy American Legion and VFW sponsored program, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Tracy Prairie Pavilion. The public is invited.

Born on a farm two miles east of Milroy, Molitor attended both Tracy and Milroy Public schools, graduating from Milroy High School in 1949. After high school, he entered the U.S. Air Force and served 21 years. His service years included the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Molitor moved to Tracy following his military service, and worked for Midwest Supply and Tri-County Co-op. He later moved to Iowa where he was employed by Land-O-Lakes Co-op. He formed his own credit management firm, Credit Counselors, of Charles City, Iowa. He operated the company from 1984 to 1988, when he sold the company and retired.

He moved to Lynd, where he was elected to the Lynd City Council. He served on the Lyon County Board of Commissioners from 2003-04. An officer in the Prairieland Genealogical Society, Molitor has written four books about family history and is now working on an area cemetery index.

• • •

Memorial Day honors deceased people who have served in the U.S military.

The Tracy program begins with a presentation of the U.S. flag by the Tracy American Legion and VFW color guard. Bernie Holm, past Legion commander, will escort the Gold Star mothers.

A band ensemble directed by Chris Miller will play the National Anthem and other patriotic musical selections. Ernie Surprenant, Legion and VFW chaplain, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Pastor Homer Dobson will deliver an invocation, followed by opening remarks and a welcome by Holm and Tracy Mayor Steve Ferrazzano.

Closing remarks from Holm and the benediction from Pastor Dobson follow Molitor’s address. A brief wreath-laying ceremony and firing squad salute concludes the Memorial Day program.

Tri-hospital talks take 'recess'
Murray County to hire own CEO

An effort to combine Tracy Area Medical Services, the Westbrook Health Center and Murray County Memorial Hospital into a single governing entity has ended, at least for the time being.

Talks to unify the three hospitals into one organization that would share profits and losses had been underway since last fall. A statement issued last week said that unification talks were “in recess.”

It was also announced that the Murray County Memorial Hospital board in Slayton had decided to hire their own administrator. Rick Nordahl, who has appointed chief executive officer for all three sites in October, is to remain CEO in Tracy and Westbrook.

Statements were also issued from the board chairs of all three hospitals, stressing that collaborative efforts would continue through Shetek Medical Services, an organization that is already providing services among the hospitals.

“We see the value of continuing to work together in providing those services to our communities, and are open to working together to provide additional service,” said Skip Larson, Murray County hospital board chair. He said that Murray County wants to hire a full-time administrator because of the Slayton facility’s “rapid growth and changes taking place. The (Murray County) board believes we need and can support a full-time CEO.”

Claire Hannasch, TAMS board chair, said, “We need this time-out. We’ve been going at this strong and now we want to absorb what we have learned. When we come together in the future, we may need to even explore other models based on the needs and vision of our separate entities.”

Steve Kjorness, chairman of the Westbrook Health Center, said that Murray County would be given time to hire an administrator. “In the interim, we will continue to develop Shetek Medical Services to expand and improve the services among the three facilities.”


Talks expected to resume

Nordahl said that he expects discussions about a unified governance structure to continue once Murray County hired a new administrator. He said the chief stumbling blocks that had arisen in past talks had been an inability to agree on what percentage of ownership each party would have in a unified governing structure, and how representation on a new governing board would be allocated.

Hospital operations in Tracy, Westbrook, and Slayton all have different ownership and governing structures.

The City of Tracy owns Tracy Area Medical Services. Westbrook Healthcare is owned by a non-profit community organization. Murray County Memorial Hospital is a Murray County entity.

All three are affiliated with Sioux Valley Hospitals, Sioux Falls, S.D., but in different ways. Murray County is managed by Sioux Valley. Sioux Valley manages the Tracy and Westbrook operations under long-term lease agreements.