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News from the week of November 16, 2005



Eight-period day, teacher contract okayed

By Valerie Scherbart Quist

Tracy Area High School students will have an eight-period day beginning in the fall of 2006.

The District 417 board of education approved a master agreement with the Tracy Education Association Monday for the 2005-2007 school years.

The new schedule will lengthen the school day by about 15 minutes—10 minutes in the morning, and five minutes at the end of the day. Instead of seven 50-minute class periods, there will be eight 45-minute class periods.

Superintendent Dave Marlette said changes in the master agreement center around moving from a seven to an eight-period day. Former contract language prohibited this change from taking place.

Marlette said administration felt strongly about moving to an eight-period day and first brought the idea to the board about a year ago. The main reason for the proposed change was because of new No Child Left Behind requirements.

The NCLB requirements mandate that each student take an additional science course. As a result, students would have fewer elective and college preparatory class choices. Adding an eighth period gives students that option back, Marlette said.

“What it all boils down to is that it’s what’s best for the students,” he said.

Roger Benson, lead negotiator for the TEA, said the staff had several concerns over moving to an eight-period day, particularly how it was going to affect the kids. Teachers who have lab classes were concerned about shortening the class period from 50 to 45 minutes. Teachers were also concerned about how some students would be able to handle an additional class.

Marlette said parents should not worry about how their children will handle the extra period. For those students who are struggling in their regular classes, the extra period will be used for enrichment classes.

“That shouldn’t be a concern for parents,” he said.

The new contract includes an 8.9 percent salary increase, amounting to $295,000 over two years. Under the new contract, a teacher starting out at step one would be paid $29,762 in 2005-2006. Step one in 2006-2007 will increase to $30,437. Teachers on the highest step, step 13, will be paid $45,695 in 2005-2006 and $46,732 in 2006-2007.

Marlette emphasized that the referendum voters passed overwhelmingly will not go toward this salary increase.

“None of that money goes into salaries,” he said. “It is all for capital improvements.”

The money comes from the funding increase approved by the state legislature this summer. The district received approximately $200,000 in increased funding, and will receive approximately $200,000 in the coming fiscal year.

Benson also noted that not every teacher will receive an 8.9 percent increase over the next two years. Those teachers who are already at the top step will not see as high of an increase in salary. In addition, the $295,000 over two years includes benefit increases.

Included is a $200 increase in insurance coverage over the next two years, for a $400 total increase.

There will also be an increase in the amount teachers receive for continuing education. Previously, teachers received $50 per credit hour. That amount will be increased to $55.32 the first year, and $62.25 in ‘06-’07.

Extra-curricular salaries also received a boost in some areas. Marlette said head coaching salaries in some areas were increased because some head coaches were making less than assistant coaches were in other areas. The increase evens out the coaching salaries.

Both Marlette and Benson said they were pleased with the negotiations process. Marlette said there were only about seven or eight negotiation sessions. No sessions were held during the summer, because of uncertainty surrounding whether the legislature would approve the increase in funding.

Marlette said he was proud of the staff for stepping up to the plate and approving the changes.

“This could have been a controversial issue, but the staff realized this was what was best for the kids,” he said. “It says a lot about them. It wasn’t about the money. It was about the eight-period day and what’s best for the kids.”

National Guardsmen are back in the U.S.

Welcome home

planned Sunday

in Marshall

A Marshall-based National Guard unit is back in the United States after nearly a year of duty in Iraq. A welcome home ceremony is planned Sunday afternoon in Marshall.

Soldiers of Company A, First Battalion, 151st Field Artillery, arrived in Fort Dix, New Jersey, Sunday. Guardsmen are scheduled to arrive in Marshall late Sunday afternoon for a reunion with their families. A welcome home ceremony is scheduled at the Marshall Middle School (old high school) on Saratoga St. beginning at about 5:30 p.m.

The National Guard unit was activated Sept. 17, 2004, and sent to Fort Dix for training as a military police unit. Guard members returned home for six days in November of 2004 before flying to Kuwait about a year ago. In December, Company A arrived for duty in Baghdad. Their mission in Baghdad has included helping train Iraqi police officers and guarding Iraqi police stations.

Suzanne LaVoy will be among the multitudes eagerly waiting for the buses to arrive in Marshall Sunday. The St. Mary’s School teacher got married to SPC Ben Lightfoot only two months before Company A was activated. Many emotions are going through her mind.

“There are so many feelings,” she said. “I’m happy, nervous, anxious, excited, and elated. And of course, I’m also very, very relief. I was really happy once I heard that they had arrived in Fort Dix.” She said she’s looking forward to having a normal life with her husband, instead of having to settle for a long-distance relationship. A two-week leave this summer has been the only time Ben has been in Minnesota since deployment to Kuwait last year.

Other area Guardsmen coming home include:

Balaton—Jason Anderson, William Gernentz, Joseph Janssen,

Curtis Lamote, John Ross, Brian Rutz, Steven Rutz, Michael Wood;

Milroy— Brandon Lightfoot (Ben’s brother).

Tracy—Dean Johnson, James Otto, Bradley Stelter, J Hamilton.

• • •

Organizers say that all details of the welcome home have not been finalized. But it is anticipated that National Guard members will fly into the Marshall Airport Sunday afternoon, and then be transported by bus through Downtown Marshall. The procession will end in the parking lot of the old Wal-Mart store on the corner of Hwys 23-59. Soldiers will disembark from buses in the parking lot for reunions with their families. The public is welcome to attend.

Following the reunion, soldiers will be honored at a welcome home ceremony at the Marshall Middle School at about 5:30 p.m. The Southwest Minnesota State University band will perform. The public is invited to attend.

Planning updates will be posted at the web site and over KKCK radio, 99.7 FM.

"Grease" opens Friday

Grease is the word at Tracy Area High School this week.

The perennially popular musical will be staged Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights on the TAHS gym stage. Curtain time is 7 p.m.

“The kids are doing well,” said Director Susan Kluge of the cast. “I hope that community people come out to see what they have done.”

The Tony-award winning musical opened on Broadway 33 years ago. A 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John turned Grease into a pop icon.

On the first day of rehearsal, Kluge showed the movie to cast members so they could get ideas for their characters. “Just about everyone had already seen it before,” Kluge said. “The kids are very familiar with it.”

Set in 1959, Grease depicts the senior year at Rydell High School for two groups of friends. Danny Zuko, played by Jacob Gilmore, strikes up a summer romance with Sandy Dumbrowski (Casie Miller). Unexpectedly they meet again at Rydell High School, where Sandy is a new student. But Danny’s edgy image as leader of the Burger Palace Boys doesn’t jibe with the sweet boy that Sandy remembers from summer. The two have a rancorous breakup. Betty Rizzo (Maria Schmidt)—the leader of the Pink Ladies—takes special relish in fanning the discord.

The lives of Rydell’s seniors become more complicated. Frenchy (Celia Brockway) wants to drop out of high school to go to beauty school. The Pink Ladies try to remake Sandy into a more hip “chick.” Marty (Megan Gilmore) pines for her new boyfriend in the Marines. Kenickie (Levi Miller) dreams of a new car. Roger (Ben Van Moer) and Jan (Allison Rasmussen) are moonstruck. Patty Simcox (Emily Gilmore) and Eugene Felznick (Dan Dieder) face teasing in planning the high school prom. Rizzo worries about a possible pregnancy. Sonny (Tyler Anderson) and Doody (Dalton Kirk) think about protecting their gang’s “turf” from cross-town rivals.

Other principals include Brittnee Michael, who portrays bandleader Jenny Casino; Bekah Zens, who plays Principal Miss Lynch; and Eline Bauwels, who is Cha-Cha DiGregorio. Dieder has an extra role as the teen angel.

Britany Hanson, Tara Norstegard, Catie Sanow, Lexi Beierman, Melissa Noerenberg, Monica Pryzbilla, Amanda Goettig, Katlin LeClaire, Courtney Lau, and Michelle Lenertz comprise the chorus.

• • •

The Grease stage version is similar to, but different from the movie.

The sets on the TAHS gym stage are, naturally, simpler than what Hollywood can build. There is no carnival set for the TAHS play, and no beach scene. The components for the “Greased Lightning” car don’t descend from above. There is no Coach Calhoun, no pepfest by a bon fire, and no drag race at Thunder Road. Rizzo and her girls don’t declare that they are going to “rule the school” in the stage version. Instead of the movie’s “T-Birds,” Danny’s stage buddies are the “Burger Palace Boys.”

Some of the songs are different. Danny sings, “Alone at a Drive-in Movie” for the stage instead of “Stranded at the Drive-in.” Sandy croons “It’s Raining on Prom Night” rather than “Hopelessly Devoted to You” that was a hit for Olivia Newton-John.

But many songs in the theatre version of Grease are the same as the movie. Danny and Sandy combine for “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One that I Want.” Rizzo performs “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” and “There are Worse Things I Could Do.” Danny and the Burger Palace Boys belt out “Greased Lightning.” The teen angel sings “Beauty School Dropout.”

Other songs that will be performed this weekend include “We Go Together,” “Freddie My Love,” and “Born to Hand Jive.”

• • •

Shirlee Gilmore, TAHS vocal instructor, is the musical director for Grease. Pam Gervais is providing musical accompaniment on an electronic keyboard. Darwin Saxton, Errol Steffen, and Lynn Nicks are providing technical assistance. Jesse James and Chris Schons took charge of set construction. Schons is the stage manager.

Performers have come up with many of their own costumes, although some outfits are being used from the Southwest Minnesota State University theatre department.

• • •

Why has Grease enjoyed such enduring popularity?

Kluge feels that the adolescent emotions depicted in Grease are universal.

“But adults and kids can identify with what the characters are going through. Adults can watch Grease and say, ‘I remember that.’”

In many respects, she said, the musical represents “a slice of American life.”

The Grease version being staged in Tracy is toned down from the original Broadway and Hollywood scripts. A number of sexual innuendoes, references to drinking and smoking, and curse words have been cut from the Tracy production.

Why perform Grease?

After the successful community musical production of Bye-Bye Birdie last winter, Kluge said several people told her that they thought high school students are ready to put on their own musical. Many students told her they wanted to do Grease. Kluge was familiar with the stage version of Grease, since she’d portrayed Sandy at Lake Crystal Welcome Memorial in 1988.

Rehearsals began in mid-September. Kluge said it has often been a challenge getting students together for practices. But she expressed confidence that the finishing touches would be completed this week.

“They know the music and they know their lines. Now they just have to put it all together.”

The cast will present a dress rehearsal for the student body on Thursday.

Bakery opening set

By Seth Schmidt

The aroma of freshly-baked bread will again waft through Downtown Tracy this week.

The Tracy Bakery Inc. is opening its doors Thursday, Nov. 17. The new bakery is located in a newly-remodeled building at 136 Third St.

“We are looking forward to having people stop in and see what we’ve done,” said Deb Schenkoske a partner in the new bakery enterprise.

The bakery has a 1,200 square-foot retail and seating area, plus a 2,700 square-foot kitchen and storage area in back.

The retail area has two enclosed cases for fresh pastries. Bread shelves will be located behind the cases and along a north wall. A round upright case will display decorated cakes. Pre-packaged baked goods will be available in a refrigerated case. Juices, milk, and other cold beverages will be available in another self-service cooler. A four-spigot self-serve machine will offer coffee, cappuccino and hot chocolate. Table seating is available for up to 18 patrons.

“We thought it would be nice to have the tables and chairs, so that people could stop for a cup of coffee and a roll,” Schenkoske explained.

An oven with the capacity to bake up to 120 loaves of bread an hour is the centerpiece of the kitchen. Equipped with 160, 40, and 20-quart mixers and large counter areas, the production area also has an 8 by 15-foot walk-in freezer and many storage shelves.

• • •

The bakery has two full-time and four part-time employees.

June Mumm is the store manager, and Ray Hay is the head baker.

Mumm, who most recently was an office assistant at JNB Originals, will oversee bakery operations. Hay, who baked at the Tracy Bakery for 21 years, and owned the business for the last five years, will be in charge of the daily baking and product preparation.

Sales and marketing will be key components of Mumm’s job, Schenkoske said. Plans are to develop wholesale bakery accounts at area schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and convenience stores.

A grand opening will be held sometime in the near future, Schenkoske indicates, but no date has been set. A drive-up window on the north side of the building will open Monday, Nov. 28.

Regular business hours will be from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The phone number is 629-3130.

Tracy Business Growth & Development, a small group of Tracy area investors, owns the business. Board members, in addition to Schenkoske, are Tim Byrne, Nicole Larson, George Hebig, Claire Hannasch, and Ken Schiller.

• • •

The bakery opening is the culmination of three months of remodeling.

Tracy Growth & Development bought the property in August from Lyon County, and efforts to clear out the vacant building were underway by late August.

Although the building was structurally sound, most of the interior had to be gutted to prepare for the new construction. Remodeling included new interior sheet rock, a new bathroom, new plumbing and fixtures, an upgraded electrical service, new flooring and new interior painting. Minor repairs were needed on the building’s rubber roof. A new exterior sign will be installed soon.

The steel-frame building was built in 1954 for Rignell Hardware. (A locked Rignell Hardware safe is on display in the building). The Rignell store was an anchor of Downtown Tracy retailing until it closed in the late 1980s. The building then housed a NAPA Auto Parts/Sears catalog agency, and later the P Plus Asian grocery store. The building was vacant for several years after P Plus closed. The building was State of Minnesota property for non-payment of real estate taxes until its acquisition by Tracy Growth & Development.

Tracy has been without a bakery since Sept. 12, when Hay closed the Tracy Bakery located at 187 Third St. A bakery had been located in the 187 Third St. building since at least the 1920s.

Hospital, clinic have new Sioux Valley name

Tracy Area Medical Services has changed its name to Sioux Valley Tracy Medical Center.

The change, recommended by the Tracy hospital advisory board in October, was approved by Tracy City Council members Monday.

Sioux Valley Tracy Medical Center encompasses all Tracy hospital and medical clinic operations.

“This is a positive change for us,” said Cookie Cooreman, community relations representative for the hospital and clinic.

Two major benefits are cited for the name change.

• The clear emphasis of the Tracy hospital and clinic’s affiliation with the Sioux Valley Health System.

• Ending confusion over the Tracy Area Medical Services name.

“The Sioux Valley name gives us meaningful recognition,” Chief Executive Officer Rick Nordahl told council members.

The new name, he said, plainly tells consumers that the Tracy hospital and clinic belong to the well-known Sioux Valley system.

“Our market recognition is going to be better. The name identifies us as a part of an integrated health system. We can capitalize on that name and benefit from Sioux Valley’s marketing.”

Cooreman, in a separate interview, said that market surveys have consistently indicated suggested that TAMS has an identity problem. She said a recent study showed that more than 60% of people in the Tracy market didn’t know what the letters “TAMS” meant. Hospital and clinic employees who walked with a TAMS entry in the Tracy Box Car Days parade reported that many parade watchers didn’t know what TAMS stood for, Cooreman said.

“TAMS is an acronym,” Cooreman said. “It doesn’t tell what we do.”

City Administrator Audrey Koopman, who also serves on the hospital advisory board, supports the change.

“When it comes to medical care, a lot of people think that big is better. The Sioux Valley name identifies us as being part of a well-known system. I think we ought to capitalize on it.”

Mayor Steve Ferrazzno agreed. “Sioux Valley is recognized as a national leader in health care.”

Ferrazzano, Russ Stobb, Tim Byrne, and Jan Arvizu voted for the name change. Charlie Snyder and Sandi Rettmer voted against.

Rettmer asked why the new name couldn’t be Tracy Sioux Valley Medical Center. Snyder said that he thought that the hospital and clinic should stand on their own reputations of quality. People should come to us because of us rather than the Sioux Valley name.

• ••

Cooreman said that exterior signage would be erected soon to reflect the name change. Telephones will be answered “Sioux Valley Tracy Medical Center, hospital” or “Sioux Valley Tracy Medical Center, clinic.” Existing paper products bearing the old logo would be used before new materials bearing the new name and logo are ordered, she said.

• • •

Tracy Area Medical Services has been used since Sioux Valley began leasing and managing the hospital and clinic in 1997.

Old-Fashioned Christmas festivities planned Sunday

Christmas is arriving early in Tracy.

Tracy’s annual “Old Fashioned Christmas” activities are planned from noon to 4 p.m. in the Tracy Veterans’ Memorial Center. Many Tracy retailers are planning special in-store promotions to coincide with the festivities. Shoppers can register to win $375 in Tracy Cash.

Blue Ribbon Carriage Service is offering horse-drawn wagon rides from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. New Tracy Christmas decorations will be lit for the first time at 4 p.m. The Tracy High School Chamber Choir will sing Christmas carols around town from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

About 20 booths will be set up inside the veterans’ center.

Old-Fashioned Christmas activities at the Veterans’ Memorial Center include:

• Photos with Santa, 1 to 3 p.m. (Nominal fee charged).

• Chamber Choir, 1:30 p.m.

• High school brass ensemble, 2:30 to 3 p.m.

• Tracy Community Band Concert, 3 to 4 p.m., with audience sing-along.

• Tracy piano student performances throughout afternoon.

The annual St. Mary’s soup & pie lunch is planned from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the St. Mary’s School gym.

The Tracy Business Partners of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce are the sponsors of the Old-Fashioned Christmas.