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News from the week of August 23, 2006


Ryan Grunden welcomed home

By Kyle Lessman

Laughter, love and tears—not to mention the vehicles from the Tracy fire and ambulance squads—escorted Ryan Grunden home Wednesday.

Grunden, 21, had been hospitalized in Sioux Falls since July 15, recovering from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident near Currie.

“It feels really good (to be home),” said Ryan’s mother Mary. “We are starting to get things back in order and somewhat back to normal.”

Ryan had sustained head injuries in the accident and was initially placed in a drug-induced coma at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls as doctors tried to control brain swelling. Since coming out of the coma he has taken major strides toward recovery according to his mother.

“They say that the amount that is recovered in the first two weeks after coming out of a coma really reflects on how the total recovery will go,” explained Mary. “ Ryan has made leaps and bounds and the prognosis is looking good that he will regain his memory and be able to be on his own again someday.”

Although he has made great progress thus far, still has a long way to go, his mother said. Ryan will be attending speech therapy five times a week and occupational therapy three times a week. The family looks forward to his continued recovery.

The family is very grateful for the community’s support over the past month. Mary Grunden asks that people continue to keep Ryan in their prayers as he works toward recovery.

In an on-line website posting, she expressed her emotions as Ryan arrive home August 16.

“As we came through town, escorted by both ambulance and fire, and to see all the people lined up along the road took my breath away. I don’t know how to explain how I was feeling, to think that all of you were here for my family. God Bless you all, its great being from this little town.”

• • •

Jake Swenhaugen—Ryan’s friend who was also hurt in the two-cycle crash—was released from a Sioux Valley hospital in the week following the accident.


Tracy Box Car Days has new torso-twisting event


Bull riding is planned Sept. 2

The Minnesota Extreme Bucking Bull Tour will be stampeding into Tracy Saturday, Sept. 2 for Box Car Days.

“It will be good family entertainment,” says Jeremy Trulock, Tracy, who is helping organize the event.

Thirty to 40 bulls bred for rodeo-ring bucking will be on hand for the event.

“A couple of the bulls have been to the national rodeo finals,” Trulock explains.

The bulls that will be in Tracy are monsters, weighing up to 2,400 pounds. Unlike the ordinary bulls one might see on a Minnesota farm, most of the bucking bulls have a full set of horns.

Bull riders are expected from across the Upper Midwest. Some have local connections. Drew Hebig, a 2006 Tracy grad, will be among the competitors. Dan Tutt, formerly of Balaton, now of Gillette, Wyoming, is another expected entry.

The Tracy competition is one of five in the 2006 Minnesota Extreme Bucking Bull Tour. Windom and Fulda host the other tour events.

The Tracy bull riding competition will be set up along Hwy. 14, between the Tracy Equipment and the Midstates Equipment Consignment lots. Competition begins at 3 p.m. In case of rain, the event will be rescheduled for Sunday, Sept. 3, at 1 p.m.

• • •

Trulock, a 1998 Tracy grad who works at a Marshall bank, will have the best seat in the house. He’ll be eyeball to eyeball with the action in the ring as a “bull fighter.” His job is to keep riders safe by distracting cantankerous bulls away from fallen riders.

“(Bull fighting) is something I’d always wanted to try,” says the quick-footed banker. He’s been a bullfighter on the Minnesota Extreme Bucking Bull Tour for two years.

The bullfighter works the ring along with a rodeo clown. While the clown can take refuge from a bull’s horns inside a hollow barrel, a bullfighter like Trulock has no such luxury. He tries to follow this advice: never stand still, and never run in a straight line.

• • •

Admission will be charged, although there is no charge for children ages 6 and under. Two other competitions will coincide with the bull riding. Children who weigh less than 70 pounds are invited to try “Mutton Busting” (sheep riding). Adventuresome adults can enter a “Money the Hard Way” contest, where contestants try to remove a sticker glued to the forehead of a bull. A successful contestant wins $150.

The bull riding is one of many events scheduled for Tracy Box Car Days, Sept. 1-4. Other Box Car Days highlights include an antique tractor show, 5K and 10K road races, softball and volleyball tournaments, an arts & crafts fair, the Miss Tracy pageant, a downtown carnival, a fly-in breakfast, beer gardens, and a parade. Call 507-629-4021 for more information.

Household waste collection offered


Tracy area households have a chance to safely dispose of old paint, pesticides, and other household chemicals next week.

The Lyon County Environmental Office is sponsoring a household hazardous waste collection in Tracy Wednesday, August 30, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Tracy Public Works Dept. shop on Hwy. 14. Any household chemical that people want to dispose of can be brought to the collection site during that time. Only household hazardous waste will be accepted.

For more information, call the Lyon County Environmental office at 507-532-8210.


Senate campaign comes to Tracy


By Seth Schmidt

One of the nation’s most fiercely contested U.S. Senate races touched down in the rolling countryside of Amiret Township last week.

Three-term Congressman Mark Kennedy, who is seeking the Senate seat now held by Democrat Mark Dayton, spoke to 30 people gathered at the Sander and Peggy Ludeman farm northwest of Tracy. The 45-minute campaign stop was one of 13 Kennedy appearances across the state Wednesday through Friday. At each event the Republican-endorsed Senate candidate touted a 13-point “Plan to Bring the Right Kind of Change to Washington.”

Kennedy talked about agriculture and rural issues at the Ludeman farm.

“We need to keep the new farm bill close to what we have now,” Kennedy said. The Congressman said he was proud to have served on the House agriculture committee that helped draft current federal farm policy. The existing farm program, Kennedy said, is “friendly” to ag interests and he’d like to keep it that way.

The casually dressed Senate hopeful frequently interjected homespun humor (“I was in 4-H, but my heifer only got a red ribbon”) as he listed his ideas for boosting agriculture.

Kennedy sees great potential for the continued development of Minnesota crops as fuels.

“I was asked whether our corn and soybeans should be produced for food or fuel. I said, ‘why can’t it be both?’”

Kennedy said he supports a federal mandate that the U.S. fuel supply use 10% of renewable fuels like ethanol by 2010, and 25% by 2025. The Congressman said he has been a strong advocate of farm-related energy initiatives, such as a turkey manure-energy plant in Benson. He said he favored the elimination of estate taxes make it easier for family farms to passed on to future generations. Kennedy voiced support for “full funding” for upgrades to locks and dams on the Mississippi River. The Congressman that he favors “environmentally safe deep ocean exploration” for natural gas to reduce energy costs. High natural gas prices, Kennedy said, drive up the cost of farm fertilizer.

Kennedy took questions from the crowd and the press following his remarks.

The Congressman said that he was concerned about the size of the federal budget deficit, but said that job-stifling tax increases were not the solution. He said that he supports a presidential line-item veto as a way of controlling spending, as well as a balanced budget amendment, and reform of the practice of placing “earmarks” in spending bills.

Kennedy, a staunch supporter U.S. policy in Iraq, said that while the U.S. had “made mistakes,” he still felt the original decision to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do.

The real issue now, Kennedy said, is how the U.S. can best support its troops and its allies, whether the U.S. will continue to pursue a policy of “victory over terrorism,” or whether America would “cut and run” in Iraq. He criticized his DFL party endorsed opponent, Amy Klobuchar, for inconsistent positions on Iraq.

Kennedy was first elected to the U.S. House in 2000, defeating a four-term incumbent Democrat David Minge in 2000 for the Second Congressional District House seat. Re-districting placed Kennedy in the Sixth Congressional District in 2002, where he defeated another incumbent Democrat, Bill Luther. Kennedy and his family live in near the Carver County community of Watertown.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have poured major resources into the Kennedy-Klobuchar race.

“This election in Minnesota could determine which party controls the Senate,” said Kennedy Wednesday.

• • •

In addition to his campaign stops in Tracy Wednesday, Kennedy also spoke in Winona (education), Rochester (health care), Nicollet (outdoors), and Granite Falls (energy).

The 13-points of Kennedy’s plan for “The Right Kind of Change in Washington” touch on:

• The economy and job creation,

• Agriculture and rural Minnesota.

• Education, energy, values,

• Health care,

• Retirement,

• Outdoors,

• War on terrorism,

• Public safety,

• The environment,

• Traffic congestion,

• Reforming Washington, DC.

The complete text of Kennedy’s 13-point plan is listed on Kennedy’s web site,


Victory Creek attracts thrill-seeking MX riders


By Kyle Lessman

Tabletops, doubles and dirt bikes are a part of everyday life for a rural Tracy Family.

Landy and Melissa Millican own and operate the only MX dirt bike track in the area. The MX course layout is on the Millican farmstead six miles north of Tracy on County Road 11.

“There really are no other places to ride in the area,” said Melissa Millican. The closest comparable dirt bike tracks are in Sioux Falls or Mankato, she said. “My sons kind of got into dirt biking and there really weren’t any safe places to do it around here.”

“Most people in this area rode in ditches or gravel pits,” Melissa said. “These just aren’t safe, and if my kids were going to ride I wanted them to be able to do it in a safe and supervised area.”

In June of last year, the family began designing and building a small track on the Millican’s home site with Brendon Clark of Marshall, a friend they had met through dirt biking.

“We originally built the track as a private place for my sons and our friends to ride,” said Millican. “But then we had so many people stopping in and asking us about it that we decided to open it to the public.”

Many issues had to be addressed before the track could be opened, she said.

“If we were going to do this we were going to do it right,” said Millican. “We went through the township and the county and had to fill out a lot of forms and create forms of our own for riders to fill out before they could ride.”

The track opened and has been drawing a growing number of people ever since.

“It is really a growing sport,” explained Millican. “It offers something different to those kids who really aren’t into the traditional sports like football or basketball.”

Victory Creek MX offers a half-mile long track that winds around the Millican’s farmsite. This year they expanded the track adding more distance and more jumps.

“It is a pretty standard track,” said Millican. “We are different from most Minnesota tracks because we have more double jumps than table tops.”

A tabletop is a flat topped hill while a double is two consecutive hills.

“From what I have heard the riders really like the track,” said Millican.

The track is open Thursday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $10 a day per rider, with season pass rates also offered.

Riders must sign liability waivers before entering the track and all riders under 18 are required to have a parent present to sign a permission slip, or present a notarized note. All riders must wear a helmet. Protective gear such as boots, chest protectors, and knee, elbow and wrist guards are recommended but not required.


‘Devastating’ accident

Activity at the track continues despite a fatal accident at Victory Creek MX on June 2. David Peters, a 15-year-old Marshall teen, died as the result of injuries he sustained while riding a dirt bike on the course.

“It was just devastating,” said Millican. “It was just one of those freak things that no one expects to happen.”

The Peters family and Victory Creek track combined to host a memorial event in David’s honor on July 15-16. The event featured dirt bike races and a freestyle show. A portion of the proceeds earned from the event went toward a David Peters Memorial Rider Scholarship.

“It was just a time for us the honor his memory by having fun doing the sport that he loved,” said Millican.

The Millican family operates a website about their Victory Creek MX course at

Tracy hosting Saturday grid scrimmage


The Panther football team kicks off its 2006 season with a home scrimmage Saturday, August 26.

The “Pigskin Kickoff” begins at about 9 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. pork loin or beef sandwich lunch. There is no charge, but donations will be accepted for the lunch. Proceeds are earmarked for the Panther football program, especially equipment replacement.

Participating teams, besides Tracy/Milroy/Balaton, are Wabasso, Springfield, Windom, Dawson-Boyd, and Minneota. Each team is expected to scrimmage about three other squads. Both B-squad and varsity scrimmages are planned. Scrimmages will take place on the varsity football field, as well as a nearby practice field.

Organizers thank Cenex-Harvest States for being a major sponsor of the event.

The Tracy event replaces a long Panther football tradition of participating in a four-school scrimmage in Sleepy Eye the weekend prior to the season opener.