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News from the week of January 4, 2006


Mayor sees good things for '06

Tracy Mayor Steve Ferrazzano is entering the third year of a four-year term. The Headlight-Herald last week asked the mayor how he views life in Tracy and a number of city-related issues.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of life in the City of Tracy? Why?

Quality of life in Tracy is a 9. No town is perfect so a 10 is impossible to achieve. The reason I say 9 is that we have quality schools, affordable and quality housing, relatively low crime rate and most importantly friendly and caring citizens.


What was city government’s biggest success for 2005?

The City government’s biggest success in 2005 was dealing effectively with a tight budget. And this really goes back for the past two years as the state legislature’s deficit was well documented during that time. When the state has a deficit, we see a reduction in local government aid. When state aid is roughly 60% of your budget, any reduction hurts. We as a city managed to weather the storm without sacrificing services.


What was your biggest disappointment as mayor during 2005?

My biggest disappointment as mayor this past year was not having the pool opened. Two full seasons in a row without a pool has been a burden on the citizens and we as a council wanted more than anything to have it up and running this year. But additional problems with the pool’s construction prevented that from happening.


Is Marshall’s continued growth as a regional center an opportunity or obstacle for Tracy? Why?

I believe Marshall’s growth is more of an opportunity for Tracy than an obstacle. The more people that are drawn to Marshall for jobs, the greater chance we have to attract people to our town to live. They will see we have quality schools, affordable housing and are only a short drive to Marshall. The continued growth of the region is a positive for Tracy.


Is Tracy’s economic development strategy working?

I think it is too soon to judge Tracy’s economic strategy to determine if it is working or not. It would be best to judge in five to ten year’s time its effectiveness because the long-term health of the community is far more important than a quick fix. But all indications are that we are moving in the right direction and a lot of the credit has to go to Bob Gervais.


Are you happy with the almost completed repairs of the Tracy Aquatic Center?

I will let you know if I am happy with the repairs of the pool when it opens the end of May.


The Aquatic Center litigation is scheduled to come to trial in 2006. What chances are there that an out-of-court settlement will be reached prior to trial?

At this point I can’t comment specifically about our pool litigation. But I will tell you that at our next council meeting on Jan. 9th, I want a decision made as to when we can tell the citizens more specifics about the case and how it is progressing.


Community Development Director Robert Gervais has been trying to encourage the concept of a privately built corrections facility in Tracy. What benefits do you see for Tracy in becoming the site for such a facility? Would a Tracy corrections facility bring any negatives to the community?

I can only see positives about a correctional facility in town. It would create more jobs, more people would need to buy houses, our current businesses would prosper from the influx of visitors to the facility and with the population growth the new jobs created.


Drainage improvements in South Tracy are being studied. Will construction take place in 2006?

If there are no unforeseen problems with the project, construction should begin sometime in 2006. This project is long overdue and the council understands it needs to get done.


Do you see the need for any other major improvements in city infrastructure within the next five years?

The biggest infrastructure need is upgrading our water treatment facility. Rick Robinson and others on the City crew have worked wonders with our old instruments and equipment but upgrading is needed.

What can the City of Tracy do to encourage more new housing construction?

The biggest way to encourage more housing construction is to timely sell the houses that are already constructed. Also, the development of more desirable lots would encourage construction.


What opportunities and challenges do you see for Sioux Valley Tracy Medical Center in 2006?

The biggest challenge for Sioux Valley Medical Center would be the same for any rural health care facility and that is recruiting and maintaining quality medical personnel. The opportunity for us is to develop into a Sioux Valley regional health care center the way Avera is attempting to do with the Marshall hospital.


How do you like working with this year’s council?

I enjoy working with this years council. Everyone has input and you need that when you are discussing issues. There is nothing worse than having a meeting when only one or two people contribute to the discussion.


Do you plan to seek reelection this fall as mayor?

At this point I am undecided as to whether or not I will seek re-election. There is a significant time commitment required in being Mayor and it takes away from my family time with Stephen and Diane. If I do seek re-election it will only be for one more term. I think two terms as mayor is enough as we need to have new people involved in city government to progress as a city.


Is there any truth to the rumor that you plan to ask the State Legislature for $15 million to build a new soccer stadium in Tracy? Do we have to worry about our Penguins soccer team moving to another town if we don’t have better soccer facilities?

That’s not a bad idea to ask the legislature for $15 million for a soccer stadium. I’m sure the legislature would be receptive to such a small request and would have no problem supporting such a project. Well, even if we don’t get the money we will still remain in Tracy as the facilities are more than adequate. All kidding aside, the development of soccer in our town has been wonderful to see. Hopefully it will continue to grow and that we will soon have a varsity soccer team at the high school.

What New Year message do you have for Tracy citizens?

On behalf of the City of Tracy I would like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. I can assure you that this coming year our pool will be open and we can all once again use the facility. Thank you for your patience in this long and frustrating process to get the pool re-opened. I know it has not been easy but the end is in sight. May God bless you all and may He continue to bless our town.

Chase ends in Tracy

Police nab man fleeing state highway patrol

With an assist from Tracy police, the Minnesota State Highway Patrol got their man in Tracy last week.

Roger Rolfes, permanent address unknown, was arrested in a downtown alley Dec. 28 after attempting to flee from a state trooper near Garvin. A high-speed chase came to an end in Tracy, when the suspect’s vehicle spun out of control on South Street. The suspect fled on foot a short distance before being apprehended by Tracy Police Chief Bryan Hillger and Officer Jason Lichty.

Rolfes faces 10 criminal charges in Lyon County District Court, and remains in custody in the Lyon County detention facility in Marshall. After Rolfes had been detained, authorities discovered that the suspect has an outstanding arrest warrant in Hennepin County.

• • •

The drama unfolded about 3 p.m. Dec. 28 on Hwy. 59 south of Garvin.

According to State Highway Patrol, a southbound highway patrolman observed the suspect’s vehicle traveling northbound at a high rate of speed. The trooper turned around and pulled the vehicle over. But as the trooper was walking up behind the suspect’s car, Rolfes drove away at a high rate of speed. The officer followed, and radioed for help.

The suspect turned east from Hwy. 59, onto Hwy. 14 and headed toward Tracy, with speeds at times exceeding 100 MPH. On the western edge of Tracy, Rolfes turned onto South St., driving at a speed in excess of 80 MPH. The pursued vehicle spun into a boulevard street sign on the northeast corner of South and Second streets as Rolfes attempted to make a left turn onto Second St.

With the vehicle stuck on the boulevard, the suspect fled the vehicle, and ran northwest through the America’s Doctors of Optometry rear parking lot. The suspect then ran north in the alley behind the Tracy Post Office.

Chief Hillger, who had just gotten off duty, responded to the call in his own pickup truck, and drove into the alley from the north. With Hillger’s truck blocking the alley, the suspect ran into the front of Hillger’s vehicle and fell down. Lichty arrived an instant later and the two policemen took the suspect into custody.

A state trooper who had been pursuing the suspect on foot slipped on a patch of ice in the ADO parking lot and hit her head. The Tracy Ambulance transported the trooper to Sioux Valley Tracy Medical Center, where she was treated and released.

• • •

Rolfes has been charged with driving while impaired in the first degree, fleeing from an officer in a vehicle, driving after the cancellation of a license, child endangerment, fleeing from an officer not in a vehicle, providing a false name to an officer, reckless driving, criminal damage to property in the fourth degree, and speeding.

Capt. Steve Willers, of the Minnesota State Highway Patrol in Marshall, commended Tracy police for their assistance.

“They did an excellent job,” he said. He added that it was very fortunate that the incident ended without serious injuries or fatalities.

Willers said that a 10-year-old boy was in vehicle with Rolfes.

“The officer who made the stop did not know that there was a juvenile in the car,” Willers said.

A total of seven state highway troopers responded to the call, in addition to Tracy Police and the Lyon County Sheriff’s Dept.

The 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Rolfes is now the property of the state highway patrol.

Bail for Rolfes has been set at $50,000 without conditions, and $25,000 with conditions. His next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9.

'Celebration in Song' Sunday at St. Mary's

Ten choirs, three vocal soloists, an organist and several vocal ensembles will perform at the “Celebration in Song” Sunday afternoon at St. Mary’s Church.

The event, sponsored by the Fine Arts Council of Tracy (FACT), begins at 2:30 p.m. The public is invited.

“We have an excellent program,” said Marge Robinson, fine arts council president. “People don’t realize how much musical talent we have.”

The program will include:

Organ performance, Kathy Vondracek.

Christ is Alive Singers, “Shine Jesus Shine.”

St. Mary’s Choir, “Family of Christ.”

Deb Miller, Mary Zwach, Con Rettmer, Errol Steffen, “You’re A Grand Old Flag.”

Celia Brockway, vocal solo, “There is No Rose.”

Immaculate Heart of Mary Choir, “Make Me a Servant.”

Tracy Area High School Chamber Choir, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Tracy United Methodist Choir, “Wade in the Water.”

Tracy Lutheran Joyful Noise Choir, “African Praise Song,” “Jesus Knocks”

Lake Sarah Baptist Praise Team, selection not announced.

Tracy Lutheran Choir, “Chariots Comin’!”

Derek and Kayla Daniels, vocal duet, “Don’t Let Go.”

Songs of the Prairie Chorus, selection not announced.

Maria Schmidt, vocal solo, “From a Distance.”

Tracy Area High School Choir, “Oh, Happy Day.”

Jacob Gilmore, vocal solo, “I Can Only Imagine.”

Terry & Carol Flesner, vocal duet.

• • •

The program will conclude with a mass choir singing “America the Beautiful.” Carol Stenstrom, director of the Song of the Prairie Chorus, will direct the mass choir.

A $5 admission will be charged, with proceeds going toward local fine arts activities supported by FACT.

Subway re-opening moved back to Jan. 13

The phrase “everything but the kitchen sink” has new meaning for Tom and Sue Morin, owners of the Tracy Subway Restaurant.

Delays in obtaining a state approved sink have contributed to the Morins postponing the re-opening of their restaurant until Friday, Jan. 13.

“We have a two-compartment sink, and the state requires a three-compartment sink,” Sue Morin said. A new sink was ordered in time for an anticipated Dec. 27 opening, but the sink was damaged during shipment.. A new sink had to be ordered.

The Morins have also experienced delays in getting other supplies from a vendor. Those issues are also getting resolved, Tom Morin said.

The Hwy. 14 Subway will be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant has been closed since September.

Twisters host competition

Nine schools are expected Saturday when the Tracy Area High School Twisters host their annual dance team competition.

Doors open in the high school gym at 11 a.m. Jazz funk competition begins at noon, with precision high kick starting at about 2 p.m.

“This is always a good meet for us,” comments Twister Coach Vickie Vandendriessche. “The girls have been practicing hard and we hope that a lot of people come out.”

Wabasso, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Lakeview, Minneota, Worthington, Canby, Jackson County Central, and Waterville-Elyssian-Matorville will be the visiting schools at the meet.

Besides varsity jazz funk and high-kick competition, the meet will have a junior varsity and exhibition presentations.

Judges evaluate teams on the execution and difficulty of moves and the overall dance choreography.

There are 21 girls on this year’s team. They are: Eline Pauwels, Ann Byrne, Allison Rasmussen, Elizabeth Rayman, Paige Hansen, Ashley Knott, Maria Schmidt, Kathryn Baskerville, Jessica Jeffords, Kylie Meyer, Samantha Meyer, Megan Gilmore, Ashley Hedges, Alexis Horner, Stephanie Jacob, Kayla Lanners, Kayla Lanoue, Arlin Bautista, Victoria Lau, Kayla Mercie, Megan VanEssen.

'05 weather warmer, wetter than historic averages

Weather in Southwest Minnesota during 2005 was both wetter and warmer than historic averages.

The University of Minnesota’s Southwest Research and Outreach Center near Lamberton recorded a whopping 35.88 inches of precipitation through Dec. 27. The 2005 Lamberton precipitation is nearly 37% greater than the center’s 26.23 inch historic average. The 2004 precipitation of 29.63 inches was also well above historic norms. The Lamberton ag center has been recording weather information since 1961.

Precipitation in the immediaite Tracy area was also greater than normal. Local weather observer Kevin Haney recorded 28.02 inches of moisture in Tracy during 2005. According to Haney, that figure is 3.22 inches above historic norms for Tracy.

Temperatures for the year were warmer than average.

“Growiing Degree Days” at the Southwest Research Center were their highest in five years. The Growinig Degree Days index, which measures heat during the May 1 through Sept. 30 growing season, totalled 2,668 in 2005, compared with the historic average of 2,529 and a 2,268 reading for 2004.

Haney calculates that average Tracy temperatures for 2005 were 3.2 degrees above normal. The average daily temperature in Tracy during 2005 was 46.7 degrees, according to Haney.

Additional 2005 weather information is on pages 5 and 16.