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News from the week of February 2, 2005

St. Mary's kids keep faith
School observes Catholic Schools week

Faith has a twin-meaning at St. Mary’s School this week.

“Faith in Every Student” is the theme for Catholic Schools Week, being observed at St. Mary’s Jan. 30-Feb. 6. Practicing one’s religious faith is the other side of the St. Mary’s coin.

Tuesday morning, for instance, children lined up near the school’s entrance for prayers with Father Brian Mandel and Principal Jina Baartman. Children and school staff then tied yellow ribbons around trees outside the school, and offered prayers for the safe return of American soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Tuesday morning ribbon-tying ceremony is one of several events and activities planned this week to help children think beyond their normal schoolwork. Children made cards and letters for American troops. Special Valentines were made for children in Guatemala. Students participated in a “Pennies for Patients” campaign. Prayers written by students concluded each day.

Other events this week included “Hawaiian Day,” a “Beach Party” lunch, volleyball, “Red White and Blue Day,” a medallion hunt, “Mirror Image Day,” a book fair, and an alumni pizza party.

Special activities continue at St. Mary’s through Sunday. Baartman said that anyone is invited to attend the activities. St. Mary’s has 55 students.

The remaining schedule is:


• Pajama Day & Wacky Hair Day.

• WonderWeavers storytellers. Kindergarten through first grade, 10:15 to 11 a.m.; Grades 3-6, 12:30-1:15 p.m.

• End of day prayer, first grade, 2;45 p.m.



• School Spirit Day.

• School Mass, 8:45 a.m. Adoration following Mass.

• Talent Show in gym, 1 p.m.

• All School prayer at 2:30 p.m.



Closing Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Currie, 11 a.m.

Soup & pie dinner, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Helping to Heal grand opening set for Saturday

A grand opening is planned Saturday, Feb. 5, for the Helping to Heal wellness center in Downtown Tracy.

Tours of the center will be offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Helping to Heal moved to a newly remodeled building at 192 Third Street in early January.

The new center has about 10 times more space than its former Third St. location next to Charter Communications. Helping to Heal facilities include a therapeutic sauna, sound-proof therapy rooms, a shower, and a large upstairs exercise area.

“Helping to Heal is about healing choices,” said therapist Sheila Carlson, a registered nurse. “Clients come to us with issues such as fears, anxieties, chronic pain, erectile dysfunction, obesity, additions, hypertension, diabetes, menopause and lung cancer. We assist them to heal without the use of prescription medicines.”

Therapist Diane Tosh-Ferrazzano said that some people come to the center when other alternatives have been unsuccessful, are too expensive, or have serious side effects.

“Among the choices we offer are sports massage, traditional Chinese medicine, energy psychology, nutrition advice, menopausal education, hyperthermia (treatments),” said Rachel Landherr, massage therapist.

The padded and carpeted upper floor is devoted to Tai Chi, Chi-Gong, the martial arts and other fitness related training.

“Helping to Heal emphasizes those activities which develop both the body and the mind,” said Y. Wue, therapist, Chi-Gong master and Chinese-trained martial arts instructor.

The grand opening will unveil a photographic display by Lois Reinert, “Medicinal Herbal Flowers of Southwest Minnesota. Many of the images show medicinal herbs cultivated by psychotherapist Sunny Ruthchild, who raises organic medicinal plants and garlic near Walnut Grove.

Helping to Heal was founded by Charles Reinert of rural Garvin. Reinert has doctorate degrees in physics and naturopathy, and is certified in hypnotherapy and “energy psychology.” He has received advanced training in ‘bio-energy” and Chi-Gong “energy healing” therapy.

Snyder leaves TAMS board to avoid conflict of interest

Tracy City Council members reviewed two aspects of appointment policies for city boards last week. Both involved recent appointments to the Tracy Area Medical Services (TAMS) advisory board.

Mayor Steve Ferrazzano was re-appointed to the hospital board Jan. 24, after City Attorney Frank Nielsen pointed out that according to city ordinance, a hospital or clinic employee can not serve on the TAMS board. At an earlier meeting in January, newly-elected council member Charles Snyder was appointed to the TAMS board. Snyder works in the hospital’s radiology department.

Nielsen said that, to prevent potential conflicts of interest, city ordinance specifically prohibits hospital or clinic employees from serving on the TAMS advisory board.

Snyder said that he “didn’t have a problem” with going off the hospital board.

• • •

The second point involved the council’s recent appointment of Robert Gervais to the TAMS board. Council member Jan Arvizu said that the council had not been consistent in its appointment policy. She noted that prior to Gervais’ appointment, the city had advertised the opening and had gotten only the single application from Gervais. But late this summer, when the council had an opening on the police commission, the council did not advertise the opening, opting instead to ask a person to serve who had previously applied for the commission.

A hospital board candidate existed from a previous application period, Arvizu said, but unlike the police commission vacancy, the council sought new applications.

“We need a consistent policy,” Arvizu said.

The council’s consensus was that the city should advertise all board vacancies, and not simply appoint people who had previously expressed an interest.

More surgeries possible, with hospital upgrades

Tracy City Council members gave their enthusiastic endorsement to an $80,000 plan to install new air handling equipment for the Tracy Hospital’s surgical area.

The Tracy Area Medical Services (TAMS) advisory board recommended the expenditure Jan. 19. The council accepted the recommendation Jan. 24.

Rick Nordahl, chief executive officer for TAMS, told the advisory board that the improvement would allow most surgical procedures to be done at the hospital. A more extensive improvement plan that would have involved moving interior walls was rejected because of estimated costs that approached $350,000.

Council member Jan Arvizu, who also serves on the TAMS board, told council members that TAMS is trying to be cost-effective in its service.

“We feel that we have to be very cost efficient. We are still in the black, but it is not easy to be in the black.” Arvizu said that the air-handling improvements were important, because they will make it possible for the hospital to generate additional revenue, while providing needed medical services to patients.

The $80,000 will be taken from the city’s hospital improvement fund, which stood at $490,000 as of Nov. 30, 2004. The investment will also result in a larger annual lease payment from Sioux Valley, since the lease is based partly on depreciation. The new equipment will result in a higher hospital depreciation amount.

Other discussion at the Jan. 24 council meeting included:

Swift Lake Lake Park bike trail damage—Councilman Russ Stobb said that he has heard from some residents, that vehicles driving on the Swift Lake Bike Trail have caused damage. All motorized vehicles are prohibited from driving on the path.

City Attorney Frank Nielsen said that anyone caught driving on the trail, will find themselves liable for expensive repairs. Public Works Rick Robinson said that a log chain barring access on one spot on the trail had been stolen. Council members instructed him to install permanent posts. The bike trail, which opened in the fall of 2003, cost over $100,000 to construct.

Tobacco compliance checks—Police Chief Bryan Hillger reported a tobacco compliance check was conducted Jan. 18 at the city’s six licensed tobacco sellers. Police sent a 17-year-old male into each establishment, with instructions to attempt a cigarette purchase. Clerks at BP Amoco, Food-N-Fuel, Swen’s Fuel, The Eagels Club, and the Tracy Liquor Store refused the under-age youth. At Tracy Food Pride, however, the youth was able to buy cigarettes from another juvenile, Hillger reported.

Hillger said that the Food Pride owners subsequently fired the employee who improperly sold the cigarettes. According to city ordinance, the store will be fined $75 for the violation.

The police chief indicated in a memo to council members that the check should have been conducted in 2004, but that he had forgotten to do the test prior to Jan. 1.

“I apologize for not accomplishing this in 2004, I completely forgot to do it. Another check, for 2005, will be done later this year,” Hillger wrote to council members.

Councilman Sandi Rettmer asked Hillger how he could have forgotten the compliance check.

“It’s not real high on my radar screen,” the chief responded.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman said that the annual tobacco compliance checks are required by the state.

“It’s very important that we do this,” said Arvizu.

City employee hired—Allen Schultz was hired to fill a new position in the Tracy Public Works Department. He will start at $13.95 an hour.

Schultz is no stranger to Tracy, having formerly served as Tracy’s water plant operator as an employee of PeopleService. He is state certified.

Schultz’s primary responsibility will be to operate the water plant under the supervision of Robinson, who is also state certified to run the plant. Schultz will also be available for some work in the public works department.

PeopleService voluntarily terminated its contract for operating the water plant and sewage treatment system on Jan. 1.

Cemetery contract—A $6,556 contract with cemetery superintendent Bernie Holm was approved for 2005.

Administrative fine—Hillger, in response to a question from Ferrazzano, said that police have not been issuing administrative fines. “It’s a gray area,” the chief said.

Airport Layout Plan—Rettmer ask why the city is spending money on an Airport Layout Plan. Robinson explained that an updated airport plan is necessary for the city to access airport grant money that is available to pay up to 95% of airport improvement costs. The airport’s present plan dates to 1961, Robinson said.

Man convicted in public nuisance trial

A Tracy man was convicted after a two-hour trial in Lyon County District Court on Friday, Jan. 28, of maintaining a public nuisance as a part of the ongoing effort to deal with health and safety issues related to deficient properties in the city. The defendant was sentenced to jail time and a $500 fine, with a probation term staying the jail and part of the fine on the condition that the defendant pay the rest of the fine or perform community service in lieu thereof, clean up his property and keep it clean.

As part of the nuisance enforcement process, a city-wide review for public nuisances was performed by the Tracy Police Department in May of 2004. Warning letters were sent out to owners and occupiers of deficient properties, and those that were not cleaned up were assessed administrative penalties and again told to rectify the nuisance conditions. Seven person who failed to heed the second warning and/or pay the administrative penalty were subjected to misdemeanor prosecution, including the defendant convicted last Friday. The other six cases have either been resolved through the courts or have further legal proceedings pending.

In the past series of cases, owners of deficient properties were given an opportunity to improve their properties without going to court and without having to pay any fines or administrative penalties. In future years, the planned policy is to immediately assess administrative penalties to repeat offenders without sending out a warning letter first.

Lake Sarah fishing derby offers prizes

The Lake Sarah Pals (People Around Lake Sarah) Club plans its annual fishing derby Sunday, Feb. 6, from 1 to 3 p.m.

A host of prizes will be given away, in addition to three cash drawings of $150, $75, and $50. All proceeds will go to lake and park improvements around Lake Sarah.

To enter, people must buy a ticket at the Murray County Park on the west side of Lake Sarah. In case of bad weather, the derby will be rescheduled to Sunday, Feb. 13, from 1 to 3 p.m.