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News from the week of May 3, 2006



Real estate values show gains

Tracy values increase 8%

Tracy residential property values increased about 8% this past year, according to City Assessor Orlin Bruss.

“This community is coming around. Values are increasing,” Bruss told Tracy city council members Thursday. Bruss and Lyon County Assessor Dean Champine met with council members for the city’s annual Board of Equalization hearing, which allows citizens to contest property values and classifications.

Bruss reported that estimated market values for Tracy residential property increased an average of 8% for taxes payable in 2007. The increase is based on 34 “arms length” real estate sales in the 12-month period from Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, 2005.

The real estate values were increased, Bruss said, because the assessed market values on Tracy homes were averaging only about 90% of sale values. Following state law, Bruss said that he tries to have assessed values within 95% of actual sale prices.

Newer, high value houses, and remodeled residential properties, Bruss said, tend to have the largest gap between assessed values and sale prices. For those reasons, he indicated, those type of properties took the largest increase in assessed values for 2007.

Demand is lowest for older, lower quality houses that have not been remodeled. Bruss indicated. Those type of houses had an average sale price just above or just below the assessed market value.

“Tracy was stagnant for a number of years. But these last three of four years, values have been coming back,” Bruss said.

Asking prices for houses now on sale in Tracy, he said, tend to be well above assessed values. If houses are sold for close to the listed prices, residential property valuations will see another round of increases next year, Bruss indicated. The “16 or 17” house sales in Tracy since Oct. 1, 2005, are continuing the upward trend in Tracy real estate, he said.

Commercial property in Tracy had a 3% increase for 2007, Bruss said, with the strongest values existing along Hwy. 14.

The estimated market value of all real estate in Tracy is $52,843,000.

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Assessed residential market values for 2007 have also increased in other Lyon County communities. Balaton is seeing an 11% in estimated residential market values. Garvin values have increased 9%, Marshall 6%, Minneota, 5% and Cottonwood 6%.

Lake property shows double digit increase

The tide keeps rising on lakeshore property values in Murray County.

According to Assessor Marcy Barritt, estimated market values for Lake Shetek and Lake Sarah area lakeshore properties increased 10 to 15% for taxes payable in 2007 compared with 2006.

“There is still a strong demand for lakeshore property,” she said.

Land values for lakeshore in the Shetek and Sarah areas range from $400 to $1,000 a front foot, she said, based upon recent market sales.

Farmland values keep climbing

Area farmland values continue to climb.

Estimated market values for ag land calculated by county assessors in Lyon, Redwood, and Murray counties show significant increases for taxes payable in 2007.

Dean Champine, Lyon County assessor, says that tillable farmland values increased 20 to 25% in Lyon County compared to a year ago.

In Redwood County, Assessor Kathleen Hillmer reports that estimated market values for Redwood County farmland increased an average of 10 to 15%, with some values jumping as much as 30%.

Murray County Assessor Marcy Barritt says the ag land values in Murray County increased 25% for 2007 taxes. Holly Township, where values were adjusted upward by 30%, saw the greatest increase.

“We continue to see a strong demand for ag land,” said Champine.

The 2007 estimated market values, which were mailed out recently by county governments to property owners, are based on real estate sales from October of 2004 through September of 2005. Champine said that ag real estate sales since last fall suggest that values will be adjusted upward again next year.

A recently recorded farmland sale in Lyon County showed a sale price of $3,425 an acre, he said. Champine said that he had also heard of a recent $3,500 an acre sale in Vallers Township. That sale, however, has not been recorded. Agricultural property near Marshall City Limits, which has had added value beyond farmland, has sold for as much as $3,900,

Farmland values, Chapine noted, can vary greatly depending on the type of soil and improvements. But generally, he said, Lyon County’s farmland increases in quality from west to east across the county. However, , some of Lyon County’s poorest quality farmland is also seeing some of the largest valuation jumps for 2007, based on sale prices, he said.

Average 2007 estimated market values per tillable acre for area townships, as calculated by county assessors, are:


Lyon County

Monroe Township, $2,584 per acre; Custer, $2,378; Rock Lake, $1,759; Amiret, $2,270; Sodus, $2,124; Lyons, $2,017.


Murray County

Holly, $2,768 per acre; Shetek, $2,250; Lake Sarah, $1,975; Skandia, $1,960; Dovray, $2,461; Murray, $2,393; Mason, $2,340; Lowville, 2,249.


Redwood County

Springdale, $2,400 per acre; North Hero, $2,300; Gales, $2,500; Johnsonville, $2,400; Westline, $2,600.


'Yesteryear' book chronicles rhythms of everyday Tracy life

A 312-page book of “Yesteryear” columns written by Lorraine Radke has been published.

The book, “Yesteryear: Portraits of Tracy” features 93 of the 168 columns that Radke wrote from 1998-2005 for the Tracy Headlight-Herald. Dozens of photographs are included in the softcover book.

“Lorraine’s columns are a unique historical legacy for Tracy,” said Seth Schmidt, Headlight-Herald publisher. “We are delighted that we’ve been able to preserve many of her features in book form.”

“Yesteryear” is peppered with the names of hundreds of local people, and snapshots of 20th century Tracy life.

A column about telephone switchboard operators, described how Ma Bell employees coped with sultry summer heat in a second-floor room.

“One ingenious manager brought a couple tubs of ice water and set them where fans would blow cool air on the operators. That was a unique form of early air conditioning.”

“Yesteryear” described “hobos” who gathered at the Craig Pool Hall during the Depression years, after riding freight trains into Tracy.

“They would gather at the pool hall looking for work and farmers would pick them up to help with shocking or other harvest-time jobs. They would sit on the block ledge below the windows in the sun and those inside would look out and see the lice creep out of their caps from their shaggy hairlines…”

One column described the early days of the Hollywood Theatre.

“…crowds stood in line on weekend nights to get in. If people did not get in for the 7:30 p.m. movie

they would wait and come back for the second show!”

The longtime Tracy insurance agent and Realtor wrote about the both humorous side of life (“Wimpy Peterson earned named by eating 13 hamburgers”) and the grueling (“When horsepower ruled the farm, work day began early.”) In one of her later columns, she reflected on the change she and others of her generation have witnessed.

“…consider the phenomenal progress of the 20th century. From the abacus to the computer…from horse and buggy to the Chevrolet…from Wright Brothers to space travel…from one-room school houses to consolidated learning complexes…from lamp light surgery to the Mayo Brothers…from the wash board to Maytag…from teams of horses to John Deere. Were the 1920s and ‘30s the “good old days?” You be the judge.”

The book is on sale for $30 at Tracy Publishing, John’s Drug, The Etc., Summit Place, and Tracy Floral.


School panel looks at arts & athletic facilities

A District 417 steering committee continues to study a proposed arts and athletics addition for Tracy Area High School.

Ideas that have been discussed for the proposed addition are:

• A 1,800-seat gymnasium.

• A 500-seat auditorium/theater facility.

• Wrestling practice room, dance team practice space, weight room.

• Spacious entry foyer.

• Additional bathrooms, locker rooms, mechanical, custodian, office, and storage space.

The 17-member steering committee— authorized this winter by the Tracy Board of Education—met twice in April to discuss the proposed athletics & arts facility. Members were divided into four committees and given assignments to each study specific areas.

The group appointed to study the auditorium/theater, office space and storage needs are: Keith Stanton, Clint Peterson, Deb Miller, Chris Schons, Marge Robinson, Ade Miller, Sue Kluge, and Jessie James.

Brian Michelson, Karl Campbell, Chris Schmidt, Bill Tauer, Kim Daniels, Jim Christians, and Dru Larson will look into the athletic facilities.

Eric Fultz, Chad Anderson, Dan Anderson, and Joe Pyle have been charged with studying the concessions, entry, office, storage/mechanical and janitorial space needs.

Finance committee includes Dave Marlette, Jim Miller, Eugene Hook, and Jeff Salmon.

As part of their work, some committee members plan to visit other schools.

Each group has until May 24 to report their findings to the entire steering committee.

Garry Hippe heads the steering committee. Supt. Dave Marlette and High School Principal Chad Anderson are serving as steering committee advisors.

• • •

Other interested people are still welcome to join the steering committee. Participants are especially needed from the Balaton, Currie, and Milroy areas. The group is also looking for someone who could help assist with grant applications.

Anyone interested in serving on the steering committee can call Hippe at 629-3566 or Marlette at 629-5500.


Prom banquet set

Grand march is 8 p.m. Saturday

A formal banquet is being planned prior to this year’s Tracy Area High School junior-senior prom.

The banquet—the first organized Tracy prom meal in more than 20 years—will be held at Shetek Bend beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 6. A prom social is set at 5 p.m., with the banquet following at 6 p.m.

The prom grand march begins at 8 p.m. at Tracy Area High School, followed by the prom dance. An adult organized and chaperoned post-prom party begins at 1:15 a.m. at Shetek Bend.

Seventy-five couples are registered for prom, which has the theme “A Whole New World.”

• • •

Loretta Gervais and Carla Frisvold are chairing the preparations for the prom banquet and party. Others assisting are Jesse James, Chris Schons, Deb Larson, Teresa VanNevel, Colleen and Ken Schiller, Dona Daniels, Shelly Daniels, Kim Daniels, Karen Ziemke, Sandy Carpenter, and Pam and Anna Peterson.

Gervais said that the banquet provides an extra prom event that students can attend collectively. Since at least the 1980s, the prom hasn’t had a banquet. Instead, small groups of students have gone out to dinner on their own at area restaurants.

A special menu is planned for the banquet, Gervais indicated. Donations are being used to defray “the costs of the extra touches to make this prom dinner memorable for the dinner guests,” Gervais said. Individuals and organizations are invited to “sponsor a table” at the prom banquet.

After the formal banquet, adult volunteers will redecorate the Shetek Bend dance hall for the 1:30 a.m. after-prom party, which will have many prizes, games, and food. Hypnotist Terry Davolt will be the party’s featured entertainer.

There is no charge for students to attent the party.

Gervais says that the post-prom “is meant to be a gift to the students from the parents and the community.” She thanks all who are supporting the party.

“Thank you to all the parents and community members who have generously donated prizes, money for expenses and your time and talents. Your generosity will once again provide a safe and exciting evening for our young people.”

The prom grand march is open to the public. An admission of $1 will be charged to defray the cost of decorations.


Mock accident to be staged at high school

A program about the importance of wearing seat belts and driving sober is planned at Tracy Area High School Friday afternoon.

A mock car accident is planned near Tracy Area High School. Several students will portray people who have been killed or injured in the crash.

Law enforcement, ambulance, and fire department personnel will be dispatched to the scene. Responders will perform their duties as they would in a real emergency. A coroner will be the last person to arrive on the scene.

A program with two presenters will follow in the high school gym.

May 10 last day for swim lesson sign-ups without $10 extra fee

One week remains for early bird-registration fees for swimming lessons at the Tracy Aquatic Center.

Registrations for summer lessons began April 19-21. Swimming lesson registrations submitted after May 10 will cost $10 more.

Swimming lesson sign-ups can be made at Tracy City Hall.

Three, two-week sessions of swimming lessons are offered: June 12-23, July 3-17, and July 24-August 4. Classes will be offered for Water Babies (ages 1-4), Tiny Tots (ages 4-5), Pre-Beginners, Beginners, Advanced Beginners, Intermediates, Swimmers, Lifeguard Training, and Water Safety Instructor Certification.

Season passes can also be purchased. Resident rates are $60 for an individual and $100 for a family. Non-city resident rates are $100 for an individual and $150 for a family. Daily passes are $5 per person, or $2 for the early and senior swims.

The aquatic center is scheduled to reopen this spring for the first time since 2003. The pool was closed while extensive tests and repairs were conducted on the pool in 2004 and 2005.

The swimming pool is scheduled to be back in operation by mid-May, when certification classes are scheduled for lifeguards and Red Cross Water Safety Instructors.