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News from the week of July 13, 2005


Free, reduced-cost tests offered for Health & Fitness Fair Saturday

Many free or reduced-cost health screening tests are being offered for Shetek Medical Services’ Health & Fitness Fair Saturday, July 16.

The free event runs from 7:30 a.m. to noon at End-O-Line Park in Currie. Besides medical tests, the Health & Fitness Fair will also have health and medical information from more than 40 exhibitors, a 5 kilometer “fun run,” a pancake breakfast, Community Blood Bank, an air ambulance “fly-in” and children’s activities.

Shetek Medical Services includes Tracy Area Medical Services, the Westbrook Health Center, and Murray County Memorial Hospital.


Free tests

The medical tests that are available to people at no charge are:

• Blood glucose.

• Orthotic foot screening.

• Blood hemoglobin counts.

• Skin cancer screening.

• Lung screening.

• Peripheral arterial disease screening.

• Hearing tests.

• Body Mass Index.

• Arterial disease screening.


Reduced cost screenings

Carotid artery/stroke screening. This procedure scans the arteries in the neck and is designed to spot a narrowing of an artery, which can cause a stroke. Cost is $40.

Abdominal aortic/aneurysm screening. This test can detect an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta. Fasting six hours prior to the test is required. Cost is $40.

Osteoporosis bone density test. This test is designed to identify risk for bone fractures and osteoporosis. Cost is $25.

All three screenings are available for $99.

Chemistry blood panel. A cholesterol test will show breakdowns for HDL “good” cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol. Blood panels will also show “triglyceride” fats in the blood, and check kidney, liver and other metabolic functions. A 12-hour fast must be observed for accurate test results. Cost is $25.

• “PSA” prostrate test. This test measures a protein produced by the prostate gland in men. Elevated readings can be a signal of problems, possibly prostate cancer. A baseline test is recommended for men over 40. Cost of the test is $15.

Pre-registration is recommended by calling 507-212-4122. However, walk-ins are also welcome on the day of the health fair.


Pancakes anyone?

Kiwanis members from Tracy, Slayton, and Westbrook are rolling up their sleeves to serve pancakes from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for children 6-12, and free for children under five.

Proceeds from the breakfast will go to either the Children’s Miracle Network or Camp Love’s Embrace.


5K run/walk

Prizes are being offered in five age categories, with both men’s and women’s divisions, for Shetek Therapy Services’ annual 5K Run/Walk. Last year 70 people participated in the event along the scenic End-O-Line bike trail.

Entry fee is $10. All participants get a T-shirt. Prizes will be awarded to each adult winner.

To pre-register, call 212-4168 in Tracy, 836-6262 in Slayton, or 274-5197 in Westbrook.


Special activities

Exhibits at the health fair will include a trailer that shows how area specialists are trained to respond to a chemical spill or bio-terrorism attack.

The Murray County Sheriff’s Department will use special glasses to demonstrate how alcohol can impair vision and coordination.

Demonstrations will be given on how to properly install children’s car seats in vehicles.

Clowns are scheduled to visit the wellness fair from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

The Sioux Valley Air Ambulance is scheduled to make an appearance. Crew members will be available to talk with people and answer questions.


Blood volunteers wanted

Health and Fitness Fair attendees are invited to give blood. The Community Blood Bank will be accepting blood donors from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. The entire process, which includes a health screening, is done in the Community Blood Bank’s self-contained bus. The donation process usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Community Blood Bank provides blood for hospitals in Tracy, Slayton, Westbrook, Windom, Tyler, Ivanhoe, Pipestone, Luverne, Worthington, Jackson, and Adrian.

Organizers say that a single blood donation can save three lives.

School filings open

Incumbents Nelson, Carter don’t plan to seek another term

The filing period for a Tracy school board election this fall continues through Tuesday, July 19.

Three, five-year terms on the District 417 school board will be decided in a Nov. 8 election. Incumbents with terms expiring at the end of this year are Eric Nelson, Ed Carter, and Garry Hippe. As of Monday, no one had filed for the offices.

Nelson and Carter announced at a Monday night school board meeting that they do not intend to file for re-election. Hippe told the Headlight-Herald Monday that he had not decided whether to seek another term. Nelson has served on the board since July of 1992. Carter has been on the board since July of 1997. Hippe is completing his first term on the board.

Forms for filing for the school board election are available at the Tracy Area High School district office. Candidates must file an affidavit of candidacy by 5 p.m. July 19 to have their names placed on the ballot.

District 417 school board candidates must be eligible to vote, be a school district resident 30 days before the election, be at least 21 years old upon taking office, and not be registered as a convicted sex offender. The filing fee is $2.

If more than six candidates file for office, a primary election will be held on Sept. 13 to narrow the field to six.

As of Tuesday morning, no one had filed for the school board positions. The filing period opened Tuesday, July 5.

New zoning eyed for rehab/wellness center

The physical therapy/wellness center that has been proposed southeast of Tracy Hospital is poised to hurdle a potential zoning obstacle.

Tracy City Council members have set a July 25 public hearing to consider re-zoning five undeveloped lots on the eastern edge of the Eastview Addition from an R-1 to an R-2 zone. A physical therapy/wellness center is a permitted use in an R-2 zone, but not in an R-1 zone. Restrictive covenants that apply to the rest of the Eastview Addition would not apply to the newly rezoned area.

The council waived a first reading of the ordinance that will be required to change the zoning. A public hearing is planned at 6:35 p.m., July 25, to consider the new ordinance. The city planning commission recommended the zoning change July 5.

“We need to get this done,” said Councilman Bill Chukuske, in making the motion. Sandi Rettmer, Russ Stobb and Mayor Steve Ferrazzano joined Chukuske in passing the motion.

Last month, Ron and Warren Gramstad of the Tracy Ace Home Center reached a tentative agreement with the Tracy Economic Development Authority to buy 1.7 acres of Eastview Addition land south of the Prairie View Healthcare Center. The Gramstads are studying the possibility of building a therapy/wellness center at the site, if a long-term lease agreement can be worked out with Tracy Area Medical Services. The new facility would house Shetek Therapy Services operations that are now located in the south wing of the hospital. The space vacated by therapy services is envisioned for additional outreach services at the hospital. The wellness center would be open to the public through the use of a membership fee.

The Gramstads’ project would be privately financed and owned.

Poor pool base material suspected

Early repair work at the Tracy Aquatic Center has uncovered evidence of sub-standard base materials around the children’s splash pool, Tracy City Council members were told Monday.

Legal counsel Jim Kerr and Public Works Director Rick Robinson reported that black dirt, clay, foreign materials and organic matter were found underneath some of the concrete that contractors have torn out around the children’s splash pool. Council members accepted a recommendation from engineers to spend up to $1,200 for additional tests to evaluate the problem.

Council members were told that it is important that planned pool repairs be made over a good base. If the base material turns out to be poor, the city might be forced to remove all the concrete from the splash pool area, install new aggregate materials, and begin repairs on a solid base.

Mayor Steve Ferrazzano said he didn’t want to aquatic center repairs jeopardized by poor base materials.

“If we don’t do the testing, we could be putting a new pool over something bad.”

Councilman Bill Chukuske asked Kerr whether the new evidence would bolster the city’s lawsuit claims the aquatic center suffered from poor workmanship and materials during its 2001-02 construction. Definitely yes, Kerr said, noting that photographs had been taken and materials secured as evidence. He said that the cost of the testing—and any additional costs caused by poor foundation materials—are costs that the city can seek to recover in its lawsuit. (The lawsuit is scheduled for trial in January. A mediation process seeking a pre-trial settlement is now underway).

• • •

Pool repair work, which began June 29, has included the removal of some concrete around the splash pool, and removal of pool gutters. Sections of the pool’s perimeter fence have been removed and all pool water toys, slides, and ladders have been moved from pool shells.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman was given the authority to authorize up to $10,000 for unexpected problems that come up during pool repairs. Council members felt it wise to give some decision-making authority to Koopman, rather than have minor decisions wait until the full council meets and delay the project. Council members may still be polled about issues, or special meetings could be convened for major decisions. The administrator is to bring any of her decisions to the council for retroactive approval.

Kerr and Koopman reported that the city had sent a $267,000 payment to the company supplying the Myrtha pool liners The city had earlier paid 10% down on the $297,000 materials contract. A $790,800 construction contract was awarded in April.

Besides the $1.1 million construction and materials contract, the city has a $150,000 contingency fund set-aside for unexpected expenses.

Kerr said that the Myrtha liner materials are scheduled to be shipped from Genoa, Italy, on July 20.

• • •

The council barely had a quorum for the July 11 meeting, with only Chukuske, Stobb, Rettmer, and Ferrazzano present at the meeting’s onset. Jan Arvizu arrived near the end of the regular meeting. Other council business included:

Nuisance ordinance inspection

Police Chief Bryan Hillger reported that curbside inspections started Monday, looking for violations of the city’s nuisance ordinance. About 30 violations had been cited during the first day.

“We are being pretty liberal. We are letting a lot of the smaller stuff go,” Hillger said.

Inspections were to continue on Tuesday.

Council member Sandi Rettmer said that a question had been raised as to whether commercial properties were to be included in the inspection. She said that she that according to meeting minutes, it was the council’s intent to have businesses also inspected.

Housing possibilities

Chukuske and Community Development Robert Gervais said that they had talked with John Glaser about the possibility of buying land on the northeast edge of Tracy for a new housing development. Gervais said that one possibility would be to buy about 11 acres of land north of the Prairie View Healthcare Center, and east of Fourth St. East. Ideally, he said, enough land should be obtained for the northward extensions of Fifth St. East and Sixth St. East.

Gervais said that Glaser had asked whether the city would be interested in buying all 50 acres, and that Glaser had been asked to respond by August 1 whether the property is for sale.

The Tracy Planning Commission has recommended that the Glaser property be the first option pursued for a new housing development. If the Glaser land can not be obtained, the planning commission recommends that a portion of the former Central Livestock property in the Broadacres Addition be explored as a new housing development.

Chukuske expressed doubts as to whether the Glaser land will be available.

“I think we need to focus on Central Livestock,” he said.

However, earlier in the council meeting, council members unanimously rejected an option in an engineering contract to have a “preliminary commercial/ residential subdivision plan” drafted for the former Central Livestock site, at a cost not to exceed $5,000.

Kerr recommended that the sub-division engineering proposal be rejected, stating that its consideration now would be “totally premature.” Rettmer agreed, questioning why the city was getting a proposal for something the council hadn’t authorized.

City council members have discussed, but not taken action on, an idea to incorporate a housing addition at the 30-acre Central Livestock site, since some land will have to be purchased anyway for the construction of a new drainage ditch.

Engineering contract

A $35,200 contract with the Worthington engineering firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson was approved. The contract is for engineering work for a drainage project in South Tracy that could begin this fall.

The project will include:

• Construction of a storm sewer along south Fourth Street from high school property to the intersection of Fourth and Front Streets.

• Construction of a culvert underneath Fourth St., between high school and elementary school grounds.

• Construction of an open drainage ditch from the intersection of Fourth and Front to Judicial Ditch 23.

• Extension of a storm sewer line from an intake south of Greenwood Ave. to Spring Street with lateral connections.

Plans and specifications are to be prepared for a public bidding process.

No action was taken on an estimated $15,000 construction administration and observation contract.

Liquor store patio

The proposed outdoor patio east of the Tracy Liquor Store won’t be usable until next year, council members agreed. Earlier this summer, the council demolished a vacant building between the liquor store and the Dr. Lane Horn chiropractic building on South Street, to create space for the patio.

Robinson said that walls on both the liquor store and chiropractic building need repairs, a doorway needs to be created from the liquor store on-sale area to the patio, and the area must be enclosed on the south and north. He recommending waiting to pour a concrete floor for the patio until next year, to allow more time for the ground to settle

Hillger said that the entire patio must be secure from any entry besides the inside of the liquor store bar.

Chukuske said that the vacant lot must fenced off as a public safety precaution until the patio is finished.

Police officer sought

Hillger received permission to advertising for a new police officer to succeed officer Steve Louwagie, who has resigned. The chief said that at this time of year, there should be many recent law enforcement school graduates looking for jobs.

EDA update

Gervais reported that he continues to get many inquiries about 24 parcels of tax-forfeited real estate in the city that recently had their values reduced for a coming Lyon County real estate auction. No date has been set for the real estate tax auction, but Gervais said that September is a possibility.

Gervais reported that a sale is pending on the EDA-owned house at 100 Elm St., at a price of $25,000, and that he pursuing an Innovation in American Government grant for acquiring and improving sub-standard housing. The EDA, he noted, had recently made a loan to a private group for the purchase of a Tracy business. The sale, however, has not been finalized.

He said that he “is working with another group on a major project. I can’t say much about it, but the people of Tracy should be pleased with it.”

Contractors are pushing to complete work for Tracy’s Small Cities redevelopment project prior to a Sept. 30 deadline, Gervais said. If the Sept. 30 deadline can’t be met, Gervais said that Small Cities administrator Jeff Gladis told him that an extension can be sought until Jan. 1.

Projects have been delayed by the number of houses that have lead-based paint or asbestos removal issues. Only a limited number of licensed contractors are available for that type of work.

Casey’s convenience store

A council member asked about the status of an earlier announced plan for the construction of a Casey’s convenience store in Tracy.

Gervais said that it is his understanding that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has approved the Casey’s project. Koopman said that she had signed a building permit for the project.

“It seems to be a go,” said Gervais.

The site of the proposed Casey’s is west and south of the intersection of Hwy. 14 and Morgan St..

Flower gardens questioned

Chukuske, saying that he had fielded complaints about weedy city flower gardens, asked who was responsible for the upkeep for the gardens.

Koopman said that she is responsible for the supervision of the city gardener position, now held by Bernie Holm. She said that wet weather conditions this year, had made gardening “difficult for anyone.”

Chukuske responded that if someone was getting paid for work, they needed to be held accountable. He wondered if in the future, the city should consider asking volunteer groups to take over the care of flowerbeds.

Koopman said that volunteers are wonderful, if enough people can be found to get the work done. In recent years, however, she said that city volunteers have been in tight supply. She reminded the council that no one responded to the city’s original “help wanted” ad for the $2,500 city gardener’s position this spring, and that she had to appeal to Holm to take on the responsibility again this summer. The gardener position, she said, is a big job, since it includes several raised beds along Hwy. 14, the Tornado Tree Memorial flower garden, the welcome-to-Tracy sign on the east edge of Tracy, the Sebastian Park flower bed, and flower garden at the intersection of Center and Rowland. The gardener’s duties call him to order, plant, weed, and water, and maintain all flowers and plants.

Busy street department

Robinson said that equipment has been readied for a mosquito-spraying program in the city. But he said the spraying can not be done unless the wind is less than 10 MPH on a weekend.

The annual inspection for Dutch elm disease will start July 15, he said. Other current projects he said include the painting of downtown crosswalks and parking lanes, demolition of an old city well, and construction of a shelter for a standby generator near Tracy Hospital. Robinson said that he had begun a daily log of weather conditions and construction activity at the aquatic center. Koopman said that she wanted people to realize, the Robinson is not responsible for aquatic center construction inspections, and that other specialists had been hired for that work.

Bid rejected

A $500 bid for a vacant lot on South Street southeast of the Tracy water tower was rejected from G & R Electric. The council had set a $2,000 minimum bid on the property.

G& R, which owns a warehouse at the corner of South and Sixth Streets, had expressed an interest in the property earlier.

Rettmer felt that the city needed to stick with its $2,000 minimum price, since that represents the cost for the city to moving materials from the vacant lot to another location along Hwy. 14. Other council members agreed. Chukuske stressed that G&R should be made aware that the property is still for sale.

Closed meeting

The council met in closed session following the opening meeting, to discuss mediation in pool litigation and contract negotiations. Koopman said later that she had nothing to report.

Milestone of faith, Lake Sarah Lutheran marks 50th

By Johanna Schmidt

Fifty years ago, two rural country churches began building a structure that would unite their congregations. In April of 1955, the groundbreaking began. The weather wasn’t pleasant.

“”It was blowin’ like a son of a gun,” remembers Clifton Frisvold, a former member of Modum Lutheran. This weekend, the Lake Sarah Lutheran congregation will celebrate the day the cornerstone was laid 50 years ago.

Sunday, the congregation is marking the 50th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. Bishop Jon Anderson will speak at a 10 a.m. communion worship service. A church dinner and fellowship time will follow the service. All members, former members, and friends are invited to attend.

• • •

Lake Sarah Lutheran traces its roots to two country churches founded in the late 19th century by Scandinavian immigrants. Modum Lutheran was a Norwegian Church. Bethany Lutheran had a Swedish heritage. The two churches were about two miles apart in the southeast corner of Lake Sarah Township.

Both congregations endured hardships. Modum Lutheran burned to the ground after being struck by lightning 1906. Bethany Lutheran had been destroyed twice, once by a tornado in 1886 and once by lightning in 1914. Both congregations had had the perseverance to rebuild their churches from the ground. Yet by mid-century, both churches were struggling with declining with smaller numbers.

Modum and Bethany joined their congregations together in 1951 and began alternating between the churches each week for worship services. Two years later, a decision to build a common church. Lake Sarah Lutheran was the name chosen for the new congregation.

The day of the groundbreaking was a hard one for volunteer workers from the church, who assisted Hattendorf Construction, an Iowa company that had built a number of Lutheran churches in the Slayton and Dovray area. Besides the gusty wind, rain poured down on the workers. The pastor, Reverend John B. Rockne, traveled to nearby communities to gather raincoats for the workers. Churchwomen cooked meals in the parsonage while the men worked on the foundation, using hand mixers and wheelbarrows, from four a.m. to 10 p.m.

Rev. Rockne laid the cornerstone on July 31, 1955. The first worship service was held in the basement on Jan. 8, 1956. The building was completely finished nine months later.

Chancel furnishing and the organ were temporarily used from the Modum Church, as were pews from the Bethany church. Eventually, these items were replaced, and the interior of the church continued to improve and create an identity of its own, thanks to donations from congregation members.

Today, the Lake Sarah Lutheran congregation is again struggling with a declining church membership.

“As the population goes down, so does the number of members in the congregation,” notes member Lois Robinson.

Today, Lake Sarah Lutheran has only about 50 members, yet longtime members still feel their community of faith is a strong one. They hold on to old traditions of ice cream socials, quilt making, birthday dinners, Sunday school, circle, and fresh coffee served every Sunday. Their worship service is of traditional style.

Three charter members are remain active members of Lake Sarah Lutheran: Lois (Ludwig) Robinson and Clifton Frisvold of Modum Lutheran and LaVerne Holm of Bethany Lutheran. All three have at one time been church committee members and played other important roles in church leadership.

Playground dream becomes glittering reality in Garvin

A half dozen or so years ago, a group of Garvin mothers had an idea. Wouldn’t it be nice, they speculated, if the town’s park had some new playground equipment? The city park had lots of space, but little to offer kids except a wooden merry-go-round and some ancient swings.

The women—which included Sandy Carlson, Jane Carlson, Jenni Towne, Kim Rolling, Tammy Hatton and Heather Radke—went into action. With help from some of their children, they organized Garvin’s first-ever “Skeeter Day.” Children’s games were set up and a “Whopper Feed” was served. All proceeds were given to the Garvin’s playground equipment fund.

Saturday, Garvin celebrated its sixth annual “Skeeter Day,” complete with a street dance and pork barbecue at “This Ol’ Place.” As young and old enjoyed the festivities, $15,000 worth of playground equipment glistened in the sunshine at the Garvin City Park.

“It’s great,” Sandy Carlson said Saturday. “We’re really happy with it.”

Garvin Fire Department members helped erect the red and blue modular playground set three weeks ago, after Darwin and Sheri Towne donated time and equipment in landscaping the site.

The equipment has three slides, and an assortment of climbing apparatus. Two horns allow children to speak with one another at opposite ends of a hollow tube. A steering wheel allows imaginative youngsters to practice their driving skills.

The new playground apparatus is paid for, except for about $500 needed for the surrounding sand. Carlson hopes that future donations will buy additional playground features. A digging toy, or a small bouncing animal, would be nice, she says.

• • •

Many people and organizations have contributed to the playground equipment drive, Carlson points out.

The Garvin Fire Department and First Responders, became additional sponsors of Skeeter Day in its third year. The Garvin Economic Development Authority contributed $5,000. The Tracy American Legion gave several thousand dollars from its charitable gambling proceeds. Other significant contributors, Carlson said, have included the Joe and Paulette Stefanick family, Xcel Energy, This Ol’ Place, The Schwan Food Company, Viking Coca-Cola of Marshall, and Pepsi Bottling of Pipestone. Bible school children at the Garvin Congregational Church contributed $200 this summer. Ed Sweetman donated transportation costs for the washed sand around the playground equipment.

About 250 people were served at the Skeeter Day BBQ supper Saturday.