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News from the week of April 26, 2006



Show is whopper

Two-day format is success

“This is a wonderful show. It’s well-organized, and there’s been a steady stream of people.”

So said Jane Aschnewitz of the Pequot Lakes Chamber of Commerce of the Tracy Spring Sportsmen Show, which was held Saturday and Sunday. She felt the Tracy show is good for marketing tourism in the Pequot Lakes area.

“The people are friendly and they aren’t afraid to come up and talk with you.” She liked the change to a two-day show.

“It’s 198 mile drive for me to come down here. If I am going to come that far, I’d like the chance to stay two days,” Aschnewitz said.

Bruce Shaw, who had an exhibit selling German shorthair pointer dogs, agreed. “I wouldn’t have come if it wasn’t for two days.”

Louise Noomen, interim Tracy Chamber of Commerce manager, felt that the show “really went well.” Most of the exhibitors she had talked with liked the two-day show and were planning on coming back next year.

She describes crowds as “steady.”

“I would say that attendance was at least as good as last year, and we estimated that we had 5,000 people last year.”

Bryan Hillger, who chaired the volunteer committee who organized the show, indicated that the new location at the high school worked well. However, he said he would have liked to have seen bigger crowds.

A gun-show, held at the Veterans Memorial Center over the weekend, Noomen said drew good crowds.


Many exhibitors

The Tracy Area High School campus was dotted with 60 exhibitors. The parking lot was lined with RVs, boats, and four-wheeled vehicles. A food tent and an exhibit with race cars and lawn and garden equipment anchored a grassy area northeast of the school. An archery demonstration was set up on the football game, with a firearms safety exhibit held north of the parking lot.

The high school gym was filled information and products that varied from fishing tackle and woodcarvings to conservation and hunting products. The high school choir room was the headquarters for a series of free hunting and fishing seminars headlines by national fishing celebrity Tony Dean.

The cafeteria was used for a food concession operated by the Tracy Hospital Auxiliary and the Tracy Revitalization Committee.

A popular outdoor entertainment was the Fred Scheer Lumberjack shows held just north of the high school.

Drawings for the sportsmen’s show raffle were a highlight of Sunday activities. Dennis Vandeputte was the winner of the grand prize, a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Arlene Ross buys Eastside

Change becomes effective May 1

A new owner is preparing to take over the kitchen at Sanders’ Eastside.

Arlene (Fastenau) Ross is purchasing the restaurant, bar and store from Ruth Sanders effective May 1.

“We’re really excited,” Ross said. “It’s really going to be fun having our own business.”

A lifelong area resident, Ross is no novice in the food business. She has worked at restaurants and supper clubs for 28 years. Her most recent job as a cook was at the Red Rooster Restaurant in Tracy.

“I know how to make just about everything,” she said.

Eastside will continue to specialize in home-cooked meals, she said, and feature a daily special.

An expanded breakfast menu will include pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy. Hours will be extended from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., seven days a week.

The business now has a beer license. Ross plans to seek a city set-up license that would enable Eastside to serve mixed drinks also.

Ross plans to work the morning shift. Her daughter, Pam Fastenau, and granddaughter, Rochelle Fastenau, will handle the other shifts.

• • •

The 1965 graduate of the Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Currie, Ross considered purchasing Eastside for some time. When Eastside went up for sale, she said that her friends said, “Arlene, there’s your chance.”

She feels that by adding more hours, and cooking up a few new menu items, the business has great potential for growing. Eastside already has a reputation for good food, Ross said.

She said that she doesn’t mind working seven days a week, since her husband, Richard, is gone for extended periods on his job with the Union Pacific Railroad.

• • •

Doug Sanders, the chief cook at Eastside since 1995, grew up in the family restaurant business. His parents, Cy and Sally Sanders, operated The Eat Shop at the corner of South and Fourth streets in Downtown Tracy for many years.

Eastside, which once included a gas station, has operated at the corner of Center and Morgan streets since at least the 1940s. Ross plans no changes to the building, except for a fresh coat of paint. She will call the business “Eastside.”

In addition to prepared food, Eastside also carries a stock of basic food items.

City yard inspection set May 22

Offenders won't receive warning

Tracy Police will begin their annual inspection for violations of the city’s residential nuisance ordinance on May 22.

The ordinance prohibits unsightly accumulations of junk and debris in open residential areas. Unlicensed motor vehicles parked outdoors has been another common violation in past inspections.

Unlike past enforcement campaigns, Tracy City Council members have decided that offenders will not be issued warnings. On a 5-1 vote Monday (Jan Arvizu voted “no”), the council directed Tracy police to issue citations carrying a $25 administrative fine for all apparent violations of the ordinance. It has been past practice to issue an initial warning, and give citizens two weeks to clean up problems before they become subject to a fine.

Council members agreed to initiate a publicity campaign to educate people about what constitutes a violation of city ordinance.

The “windshield” inspection, which will be conducted by police driving through city streets and alleys, will involve only residential properties. Tracy does not have a nuisance ordinance that covers commercial real estate.

Construction set for lakes sewer plan

The Shetek-area sewer project is officially moving forward.

On April 18, Murray County commissioners voted unanimously to accept bids for the proposed centralized sewer project.

The low bid was by Dunnick Bros. Construction of Prinsburg, who bid $5,930,394 for Alternate A and $5,623,853.44 for Alternate B.

In order to receive $11.4 million in state loans, the commissioners had to accept bids by April 23. Tuesday’s decision came following a recommendation from the Shetek Area Water and Sewer Commission to award bids for the sewer project. The SAWS board was more split in its decision than the commissioners, with Nancy Snedeker, Jon Hoyme, and Dean Salmon voting in favor of the recommendation and Tom Gervais and Ted Haugen voting against.

A discharge agreement has also been reached with the city of Currie. The agreement includes a $28,000 annual payment for discharge, which would be used for improvements to Currie’s system.

Work on the sewer project is expected to begin as early as next month, with the system ponds. A January timeline has estimated completion of the project in September of 2007.

The project involves construction of a pressurized central sewer system around Lake Shetek, Lake Sarah, and Bloody Lake. Bonestroo & Associates is the engineer for the project.

Volunteers roll up sleeves, open wallets for hungry

By Seth Schmidt

More than 100 volunteers gathered at Tracy Lutheran Church last week to assemble and package food to help feed the world’s hungry.

An estimated 26,244 meals were packaged for the “Kids Against Hunger.” The Stewart-based non-profit organization distributed 4.1 million nutritionally balanced meals worldwide in 2005.

Tracy Lutheran Church and Sillerud Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran churches of Balaton organized the April 19 event. But many other area churches and local organizations were also represented.

“We hope that this will become an on-going event,” said Pastor Gary Gabel of Tracy Lutheran. “Maybe the next time this will be held at another church.” The turnout last week, he said, “was wonderful.”

About $600 for Kids Against Hunger was also collected. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is also providing an additional $400 matching grant.

“It was a great success,” said Carlene Edwards,” Tracy area Thrivent representative. “We would like to thank all the people (from the Tracy and Balaton communities) who helped.”

Pastor Steve Quist helped organize volunteers from the Balaton congregations.

• • •

The packaged meals provided by Kids Against Hunger consist of fortified rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, chicken flavoring, 21 minerals, salt, and fat. Volunteers ranged from elementary students to senior retirees. All workers were organized into assembly lines set up in Tracy Lutheran’s entryway.

Food ingredients were divvied up into plastic bags at multiple stations. At another workstation, rows of volunteers weighed the portions, adding or subtracting rice to attain a uniform weight for all bags. Further down the assembly line, backs were sealed and packaged into boxes before being wheeled outside for loading onto a semi-trailer truck.

All volunteers washed their hands and donned hairnets or caps before working on the food. Workers packaged food for about two hours until all raw materials were packaged.

The Kids Against Hunger food packets are shipped to impoverished areas in countries such as Haiti, Guatemala, Romania, Uganda, Malawi, Kosovo, Philippines, Kenya, Indonesia, West Timor, Tanzania, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Honduras. Kids Against Hunger packets were also shipped to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Monetary donations are used to purchase food and packaging materials. Transportation is provided by the U.S. military.

Money is still being accepted for Kids Against Hunger. Donations can be sent or dropped off at Tracy Lutheran, Sillerud or Trinity Lutheran.

Community group to buy Four Seasons

Marlene Buck ending 23 years store ownership

If all goes as expected, the Tracy Four Seasons women’s clothing store will be operating under new ownership Monday.

Owner Marlene Buck plans to sell the business to a group of community investors. The sale is scheduled to be finalized May 1.

“I have mixed feelings about selling,” said Buck, who founded Four Seasons with her late husband, Al, in 1983. “But it’s time for me to do something different. I’m ready to let someone else run the store.”

Eugene Hook and Claire Hannasch are two of the leaders in the group that is purchasing the store.

“We feel that it is important that we keep this store in town. It draws a lot of people to town,” Hook said. A drive is underway, he said, to attract additional investors to the limited liability corporation that is buying the store.

Kathy Schmidt, Garvin, will manage the store. Long-time Four Seasons employee Marilyn Carlson will be staying on. Buck plans to assist with the transition.

Hook said that Four Seasons traditions will continue with an emphasis on quality, affordable merchandise lines. Buck will continue to have an investment in the store. Plans are, he said, to buy out her interests over a period of several years.

Buck has been a part of the Downtown Tracy retailing scene since 1963, when she started a job at the Tracy J.C. Penney store. She and her husband started Four Seasons after Penney’s closed. Four Seasons moved to its present location in the Box Car Business Center building since the late 1990s.

The veteran Tracy retailer, who said that she has made a concerted effort to sell the business for about a year, is pleased that the store will remain open. She also expressed gratitude to long-time employees Carlson and Joanne Ruebsam. “I have had such wonderful employees. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

• • •

The Tracy Economic Development Authority approved an $18,000 loan to the new buyers. The loan, which will be used as operating capital and to help buy out Buck, will be secured by store fixtures and inventory.