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News from the week of November 1, 2006


Tracy to become one nursing home town

Prairie View to consolidate operations, Tracy Nursing Home will close down

By Seth Schmidt

Both the beginning of a new era in Tracy elder care, and the end of a proud tradition were announced in Tracy Tuesday.

The new era is the planned merger of the Tracy Nursing Home and the Prairie View Healthcare Center into one operation.

The tradition that’s coming to an end is the independent operation of the Tracy Nursing Home.

The Tracy Nursing Home’s Board of Directors, and Administrator Tennes Eeg announced the consolidation and closing plans to staff and residents Tuesday. Letters were mailed to families of Tracy Nursing Home residents on Monday.

Pending state approval, operations at the Tracy Nursing Home will be taken over by Tealwood Care Centers Inc., the business entity that manages Prairie View, effective Dec. 1. Tracy Nursing Home residents are being given the option of moving to Prairie View or some other long-term care facility. Tracy Nursing Home employees will lose their jobs effective Dec. 1, but have been invited to apply for positions with Tealwood at Prairie View.

“We will make sure that all residents are taken care of,” Eeg said, in an interview with the Headlight-Herald.

“It’s going to be a time of transition, we understand that,” said Steve Harl, one of two Tealwood partners who met with Tracy Nursing Home and Prairie View employees Tuesday. He said that an extensive effort will be made to meet with residents and their families in coming days to answer questions and explain options.

For a time, Harl explained, it likely will be necessary for Tealwood to operate two nursing homes. Jan. 1, 2007, is a target date for having all residents transferred from the Tracy Nursing Home, Harl said, but the ending date could be later.

“We will take as much time as necessary,” he said.

Howard Groff, president and CEO of Tealwood, hopes many of the Tracy Nursing Home residents will want to move to Prairie View. But he said the choice is ultimately up to families. “Families and residents always have choices.”

Job prospects for Tracy Nursing Home employees remain uncertain.

Groff and Harl declined to predict how many Tracy Nursing Home employees would be hired at Prairie View.

“We can’t give a good answer to that because we don’t know,” Harl said. Groff said that many variables that will affect staffing are unknown, such as resident numbers, care needs, and possible staff retirements.

All aspects of Prairie View’s future staffing needs will be reviewed, Groff said.

Tracy Nursing Home employees who want to work at Prairie View, Groff said, will need to apply.

Eeg said that the Tracy Nursing Home now has 62 employees, a figure that includes full-time, part-time and casual employees. He said that employees will be offered financial incentives to continue working at the home until the Dec. 1 changeover date. All commitments to Tracy Nursing Home employees, such as unused vacation days, will be honored, Eeg said.

As of Tuesday, the Tracy Nursing Home served 33 residents. Prairie View had 44 residents.

Economics drive change

Changing economics for nursing homes is a major factor in the planned closure of the Tracy Nursing Home and the subsequent consolidation at Prairie View.

Eeg, Harl, and Groff acknowledged that declining occupancy had affected finances at both homes. Having one nursing home in Tracy, they say, will reduce operating expenses, improve efficiencies and ultimately benefit residents.

Joe Cooreman, president of the Tracy Nursing Home board, said that over the past three years, the nursing home’s finances had been significantly impacted by a low resident count, causing the facility to lose money and draw down financial reserves. While the nursing home still had some reserves to work with, Cooreman indicated that the nursing home couldn’t sustain the existing trend.

“This is something that we felt we had to do,” Cooreman said. Historically, he said the Tracy Nursing Home has been 100% full and had a long waiting list besides. But changes in the long-term care industry, such as assisted living and home health care, Cooreman said, and state policies that are attempting to curb state nursing home expenses, have resulted in fewer admissions and shorter resident stays.

Groff said, “given the environment in the long-term care sector, we believe this (the Tracy Nursing Home-Prairie View merger) will create a stronger, more viable nursing facility and will provide assurance to the citizens of Tracy that these services will be available within the community long into the future.”

Eeg agreed. “I believe that this merger is the best option for ensuring the continuance of long-term care services in our community.”

The overall impact of the planned changes, Groff said, is positive. “We are all looking for future opportunities coming out of this.”

Expansion needs?

An expected transfusion of Tracy Nursing Home residents at Prairie View is expected to result in changes at Prairie View too.

Prairie View wouldn’t be able to accommodate all 33 Tracy Nursing Home residents, Harl acknowledged, if all wanted to come. Prairie View has 44 residents, and is certified for 67.

In the short term, Harl said Prairie View would have to change some single resident rooms back into doubles. Once it becomes clearer what the future bed needs will be, Harl said further plans can be made. Building onto Prairie View to accommodate additional residents, if state approval can be obtained, is one option, Harl said.

How large the addition would need to be, he said, is unknown, because it is unknown how many residents Prairie View will serve. However, Harl said that “his gut feeling” is that Prairie View will end up being a 70-bed facility.

The process to build onto Prairie View, Harl and Groff indicated, would be about a two-year process.



Buying beds

The agreement announced Tuesday calls for Leonard Lewis Health Care Properties, the business entity that owns the Prairie View facility, to pay the Tracy Nursing Home for its state-certified beds. Prairie View would be able to utilized those beds sometime in the future, if the state approves expansion plans at Prairie View. Leonard Lewis Health Care Properties is also purchasing some of the patient care equipment at the Tracy Nursing Home. The amount of money that the Tracy Nursing Home will receive was not announced.

Cooreman said that no decision has been made by the Tracy Nursing Home Board as to the use of that money. However, he indicated the non-profit organization must use the money for something related to health-care.

The Tracy Nursing Home building is not included in the merger agreement, Cooreman said. The nursing home board will be looking to find some other use for the property, he said, but has not made any decision.

Unlike the Tracy Nursing Home, Leonard Lewis Health Care Properties and Tealwood are for-profit businesses. Groff explained that Tealwood manages Prairie View and leases the facility from Leonard Lewis Health Care Properties.

As the owner of Prairie View, Leonard Lewis Health Care Properties is one of Tracy’s largest property taxpayers. The property taxes on Prairie View in 2006 were over $23,000.

Groff indicated that as a private business, Tealwood has to be concerned about maintaining a positive margin. But patient care is also important, he said. Groff said that two of Tealwood’s three partners have a strong background in patient care. Harl is a licensed nursing home administrator, he said, and Gail Sheridan, the third partner, is a registered nurse.

Tealwood operates 18 nursing home and 21 assisted living facilities. The business has an ownership stake in some, but not all, the facilities.


Eeg to be manager

Eeg, who has been the Tracy Nursing Home administrator since 1998, will succeed Tim Byrne as administrator at Prairie View. He came to the Tracy Nursing Home shortly after the completion of a major remodeling project at the Tracy Nursing Home.

“Tennes is going to be a good asset for Prairie View,” Cooreman said. “He’s done an outstanding job for us.”

Cooreman also praised the Tracy Nursing Home staff. Over the years, he said, the Tracy Nursing Home has enjoyed an excellent reputation for its care.

“We’ve had a lot of good people, who have been really dedicated to the residents. That’s what makes this so hard.”


Long discussions

Talks between Tealwood officials and the Tracy Nursing Home board about the possibility of creating one nursing home in Tracy have taken place for a number of years, but got more serious over the past year, Eeg, Harl, and Groff said. Several different business models were considered, including a scenario that would have had the Tracy Nursing Home buying Prairie View, they said.

The decision to close the Tracy Nursing Home, and consolidate at Prairie View, Groff indicated, was based on the fact that Prairie View is a new facility on one floor, and its location close to the hospital. The proximity of Prairie View to the hospital and clinic across the street, Groff said, is a key advantage, and holds potential for future collaborative projects. Prairie View is already providing food services for the hospital.


Saddened staff proud of tradition

By Seth Schmidt




Those are some of words Linnae Horner used when talking about the Tuesday announcement that the Tracy Nursing Home will soon be closing.

“I’ve worked half my life with some of the people at the nursing home. It’s sad,” she said.

Horner, a registered nurse, has worked for 17 years at the Tracy Nursing Home. She started as a nurse’s aide, then went back to school to become Licensed Practical Nurse before earning her RN degree.

“The majority of the staff were crying after they told us,” Horner said. “Then they were telling some of the residents about it and they were crying too.”

Joe Cooreman, chairman of the nursing home board, she said, started to read a statement to employees, but got so choked up he couldn’t finish.

Horner said that stories about a possible consolidation of Tracy’s two nursing homes had circulated for years. But it was still a shock when the announcement of the Tracy Nursing Home’s planned closing was made.

“It still hasn’t sunk in. I don’t know what to think.”

Horner said she was concerned when staff were told Tuesday that only 20 to 50% of Tracy Nursing Home employees would likely be hired at Prairie View.

“It’s scary when you are depending on a job, and you are told that in 30 days you won’t have that job. There are only so many jobs in a small town like Tracy.”

Horner says she is also concerned about the residents.

“Change is hard on all of us, but especially on an older person. This is their home.”

• • •

Joan Berry is one of the people who will need to adjust to a new home. A resident at the Tracy Nursing Home for about eight years, Berry’s private corner room is filled with momentous and family photos. Much of her time is spent at a writing desk. In good weather, she can often be seen near the nursing home’s northeast entrance feeding the birds.

“I like it here,” she said, adding that she “loves” many of the staff members.

Still, Berry said she understands why the change occurring.

“I realize that it has to be done. Neither one (Prairie View or the Tracy Nursing Home) is full and it costs too much to keep both of them running.”

While she will miss the Tracy Nursing Home, Berry says she hopes to move to Prairie View, and feels that will be fine also.

“I’ll get to know people there too,” she says. “I’ve been in many places.”

• • •

Pam Baumann has been the director of nursing for the Tracy Nursing Home since 1978, and has been a nurse since 1965. She said she has been very proud of the quality of care that the Tracy Nursing Home has provided. “We’ve always tried to put the residents first.” That attitude, and the extra efforts put forth by staff members, have given the Tracy Nursing Home an excellent reputation in the community.”

“I am just so proud of our people,” Baumann said. The atmosphere at Tracy Nursing Home over the years, she said, has been one of family, among residents, staff, and residents’ family members.

Baumann expressed concerned about her Tracy Nursing Home “family.” She said she is worried not only that many Tracy Nursing Home employees will be out of a job, but that residents will soon be in unfamiliar surroundings. Baumann said that she hopes enough Tracy Nursing Home employees will be hired at Prairie View, so that the residents who go there “at least see a familiar face.”

Baumann said she doesn’t blame anyone for the circumstances that have resulted in the planned Tracy Nursing home closing. Economics, she acknowledges, made it impossible to continue two nursing home operations in Tracy. But she expressed the hope that the best ideas and traditions from Tracy Nursing Home staff, can be combined with the best ideas and traditions of the Prairie View staff, to create the best possible home for residents.

Tracy Nursing Home traces roots to 1930s

The Tracy Nursing Home was established in 1966, but the home’s roots actually go back to the 1930s.

The building that now serves as the Tracy Nursing Home opened in 1937 as the Tracy Hospital. Dr. Walter Valentine spearheaded the hospital’s construction. Many community members donated time and money to the hospital’s construction.

A new Tracy Municipal Hospital was built in 1961, resulting in the 1965 decision of the Tracy Hospital Inc. board to convert the facility to a nursing home. With the completion of a new addition on the building’s south side, the Tracy Nursing Home began serving residents in 1966.

In the mid-1990s, a major remodeling project was completed at the Tracy Nursing Home. The remodeling included an addition with two new resident rooms, a new handicapped accessible entrance, a new elevator, and new ramps. The building also received a new roof, windows, and tuckpointing.

A non-profit corporation, the Tracy Nursing Home has been managed by a board of directors from the community. The Tracy Nursing Home’s stockholders are comprised of community members who have contributed money to the facility at $5 a share.

Present board members are Joe Cooreman (president), Dave Hicks, Pat Nelson, Glenn Surprenant, Terry Flesner, and John Visker.

• • •

The Prairie View nursing home building was opened in 1966 as the Christian Manor. The General Benevolent Association of the Churches of Christ in Minnesota built the facility and owned and operated it until 1991, when Tealwood Care Centers of Bloomington took over management.


New technology will help count votes Tuesday

Voters in the Nov. 7, 2006 general election will help usher in a new chapter in Minnesota and American democracy.

For the first time in a general election, local voters can have their ballots marked by new “AutoMark” voting machines. Also for the first time in a general election, all local voters will have their ballots counted by an optical scanner. The new equipment got its first use in the September 12 primary election.

“It worked really well,” said Tracy City Administrator Audrey Koopman. “It was nice to have a trial run before the general election.

Voting with the new “AutoMark” machine is optional. Voters can still mark their ballots in the traditional way on a paper ballot with a pen. But all voters will use the same ballots, and the vast majority of votes will be tallied with the optical scanning machine. Most voting precincts across the state will have the new balloting and counting equipment available on Nov. 7, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State office.

The AutoMark machine is designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote privately and independently. Text can be enlarge on the screen, headphones make it possible for people to listen to hear ballot choices inside of reading it. A sip-puff portal is available for voters who can’t manually press buttons. The machine is designed to detect common ballot-marking errors, and allows voters to fix errors before leaving the polling place.

Voters with disabilities can also ask another person to help them with their balloting, as was possible in the past.

Federal grant money for the new voting equipment is being provided by the federal Help America Vote Act. Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer is distributing $35 million in grants for the balloting equipment. In Lyon County, $232,000 was spent.

Voting hours in most precincts statewide are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., although some township hours will be from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.


Voter eligibility

To vote in the general election, a person must be at least 18 years old, be a U.S. citizen, and a Minnesota resident for at least 20 days. Convicted felons and individuals legally incompetent are not eligible to vote. People can register to vote on election day with proof of residency. Proof of residency includes a Minnesota driver’s license, learner permit, identification card or receipt with a current address, a student ID or registration with current address. If the ID has a former address, a current utility bill showing the current address must be shown. A registered voter in the precinct who vouches for the individual can also be used.

Voters will have their say on a variety of state, county, and local elections.

In the governor’s race, Minnesota voters will choose among incumbent Tim Pawlenty, and DFL challenger Mike Hatch, and Independence candidate Peter Hutchinson.

Republican Mark Kennedy, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, and Independence Party candidate Robert Fitzgerald are vying for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Mark Dayton.

In the Seventh Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Collin Peterson is being challenged by Republican Michael Barrett. (Lyon County is a part of the Seventh Congressional District).

The First Congressional race has incumbent Republican Gil Gutnkect being challenged by Democrat Tim Walz. (Murray County is in the First Congressional District).

Voters will also decide a transportation amendment. Passage of the amendment would dedicate sales tax proceeds from the sale of vehicles to state road and transit projects.

Area legislative races include:

Senate District 22—Incumbent DFLer Jim Vickerman and Republican Bill Weber.

House District 22A—Incumbent Republican Doug Magnus and DFLer Mike McCarvel.

Senate District 21—Incumbent Republican Dennis Frederickson, DFLer Margie Hoyt, and Independence Party candidate Brian Bretzman.

House District 21A—Incumbent Republican Marty Seifert and DFLer Pat Mellenthin.


County races

Lyon County has two contested county commissioner elections. In District One, Bob Polejewski and Rodney Stensrud are on the ballot. District 2 incumbent Bob Fenske is being challenged by Terry Chlebecek. Phil Nelson, who represents the Tracy area as the District 3 commissioner, is running unopposed. Auditor-Treasurer Paul Van Overbeke, County Recorder Jeanine Barker, Sheriff Joe Dahl, and County Attorney Richard Maes are all unopposed for reelection.

In Murray County, JoAnn Carlson and Heidi Winter are on the ballot for the office of auditor-treasurer. County Recorder Jim Johnson, Sheriff Steve Telkamp, and County Attorney Paul Malone are all running unopposed.

Sample ballots are published elsewhere in this newspaper. Information about the election is also available at the Minnesota Secretary of State website,


More power lines forecast

10% renewable energy goal seen by 2015


By Valerie Scherbart Quist

What is the future of power in Southwest Minnesota? That was the question asked last week at a public meeting sponsored by a group of utilities.

Mike Steckelberg of Great River Energy said planning is currently ongoing for the Minnesota Biennial Transmission Project to be completed by Nov. 1, 2007. The purpose of last week’s meeting held in Marshall and similar meetings held throughout the state, was to give the public an understanding of the projects that are being proposed and to collect comments on other potential problem areas.

Steckelberg said Alliant and Xcel Energy are probably the two biggest providers of electric energy in the southwest region. Other participating utilities included American Transmission Company, LLC, Dairyland Power Cooperative, East River Electric Power Cooperative, Great River Energy, Hutchinson Utilities Commission, Interstate Power and Light Company, L&O Power Cooperative, Marshall Municipal Utilities, Minnesota Power, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company, Rochester Public Utilities, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, and Willmar Municipal Utilities.

Steckelberg said the goal of all those utilities is the same: to bring power from the power plant to the substations and from there, into homes. Electricity in Minnesota is part of a free-flowing grid in order to enhance reliability. In other words, all the power is interconnected so other companies can back each other up in case of shortages. Steckelberg said this saves duplication and miles of transmission line.

One major challenge in the Southwest Minnesota over the past several years, Steckelberg said, is renewable energy and accommodating those energies to the market.

Another challenge is that the last major upgrade in this area was done in the 1980s. Since then, there hasn’t really been any growth so there was no need to do further upgrades. Now, with renewable energy being produced and several ethanol plants going up in the area, a need has suddenly arisen.

“We do have a transmission line need,” Steckelberg said.

Possible solutions include new transmission, reconductoring of existing lines, voltage upgrades of existing lines, local and distributed generation, addition of capacitors, and adding transformer capability.

Steckelberg said the goal in regards to renewable energy is to meet 10 percent of electric use with renewable generation by 2015. This includes generation from wind, hydroelectric, biomass, and solar. Transmission upgrades or new construction may be needed to meet this objective in order to connect renewable generators to the transmission system and deliver renewable electric energy from the generator to uses.

The biennial transmission projects report must be filed by Nov. 1 of each odd-numbered year. It includes input from the public and local governments, addresses present and foreseeable future inadequacies, provides alternatives in addressing inadequacies, and addresses general economic, environmental, and social issues associated with those alternatives. Past and future reports can be found at

Steckelberg said there is plenty of room for input from the public throughout the planning process for transmission projects. Potential projects must be brought to the public’s attention at least five years prior to construction.

Following Steckelberg’s presentation, opportunity was available to learn about several proposed projects in the southwest region.

Dotson Area

Problems and challenges in the Dotson area include low voltage in the Springfield area which causes outages, new ethanol plants anticipated near Springfield and Lamberton, and new wind generation projects near Storden, Jeffers, Brookville, and Morgan.

The proposed transmission solution is a new 161-kV transmission line between Heron Lake, Storden, Dotson, and New Ulm to be completed in 2010. Targeted substations are in Storden, Dotson, and New Ulm. The actual route of the line has not been decided.

“This will be a good backbone for the whole system for many years,” Steckelberg said.

Jackson area

The main issue in this area is low voltage during summer and fall peak conditions, even without outages.

It has been proposed to reconnect the Jackson municipal load to the new Xcel Energy 161-kV line between Fox Lake and Lakefield Junction. This line is needed for wind generation outlet and will be finished soon.

Butterfield, Mountain Lake, St. James & Windom areas

New ethanol plants are being proposed in these areas, where voltages are already marginal due to the slow growing load and a previous ethanol plant near Bingham Lake.

The proposed Heron Lake-Storden-Dotson-New Ulm 161-kV transmission line will bolster the system. Reconductoring lines in the Mountain Lake area and new transmission lines may be required depending on the number of new ethanol plants that are built.

Fox Lake—Fairmont area

New ethanol plant loads at Fairmont and Welcome will add significant load to the 69-kV system between the Fox Lake and Rutland substations. Additional transmission is required to prevent overloads of lines and low voltages at the substations.

Another transformer is proposed at the Rutland substation to prevent an overload of the existing transformer. A new 68-kV line will be built from the Rutland substation to the west side of the Fairmont area to serve the new loads.

Worthington area

The continued growth of Worthington and surrounding areas has resulted in electrical load levels that will soon surpass the capability of the existing system. Low voltages and transmission line overloads are expected to occur.

A story is underway to determine what transmission alternatives are feasible to serve the growing load in the Worthington area. This study will be coordinated among all of the transmission providers in the area.

Jackson County wind generation

Several small wind generation developments have taken place in Jackson County. These projects have interconnected to the 69-kV transmission line between Heron Lake and Round Lake. The capacity of this line will be exceeded during high wind periods if any additional wind interconnections are made and the line will become overloaded.

The transmission owners will be studying alternatives, including new transmission lines, to increase the capability of the system to handle additional wind interconnection requests.

Big Stone II transmission projects

A new coal-fired generator proposed at the existing Big Stone site in South Dakota is proposing new transmission in Minnesota. A certificate of need was filed for this project in September of 2005. One of the proposed parts of this project is converting the existing 115-kV transmission line between Canby and Granite Falls to a higher voltage.

The Granite Falls portion of the preferred transmission alternative is being proposed as being built at 345-kV, but only operated at 230-kV until other regional 345-kV transmission is built in the Granite Falls area.

Anticipated in-service date of the new generation is late 2011 to mid-2012.

CapX 2020

CapX 2020 is a joint initiative of transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region formed to expand the electric transmission grid to ensure electric reliability.

Group I in the CapX 2020 transmission projects includes four projects totaling approximately 600 miles of 345-kV lines, connecting Minnesota with North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and a smaller line in the Bemidji area. These four projects are estimated to cost approximately $1.3 billion.

The proposed 345-kV CapX line from Brookings, S.D. to the southeast Twin Cities area and nearby 115-kV projects will provide an outlet for 1,000 incremental megawatts of wind energy. This line is expected to span approximately 230 miles. Targeted in-service date is 2012.

Other CapX projects include the Twin Cities-Rochester-LaCrosse area, Fargo, N.D.-St. Cloud/Monticello area, and Bemidji-North Central MN area.


Tim Byrne accepts job in Faribault, resigns from council


By Seth Schmidt

It’s been a week of change for Tim Byrne.

The well-known community leader resigned from the Tracy City Council Friday. Monday, Byrne spent his last day as administrator at the Prairie View Healthcare Center in Tracy. Tuesday, he began his first full day as administrator of a nursing home in Faribault.

“I’ve enjoyed being a part of Tracy,” Byrne said Monday. “I’ve always liked small towns and that’s why I’ve liked Tracy people so much. I’m going to miss it.” He said it was especially difficult saying goodbye to the staff and residents at Tealwood Monday.

Nonetheless, Byrne, 47, said he is looking forward to his new job in Faribault, a community of 20,000 in South Central Minnesota. In Faribault, he will be the administrator at the Pleasant Manor, a 74-bed nursing home. Byrne said that he and his wife, Mary, have a number of friends who already live in the Faribault area. Another plus, Byrne said, is its location close to the Twin Cities, where other family members live.

Byrne and his family moved to Tracy the fall of 1991, shortly after Tealwood Care Centers of Bloomington purchased what was then the Christian Manor nursing home. Their daughter, Ann, is a senior at Tracy Area High School. Sons Kyle and Tim Jr. are 2002 and 2003 Tracy graduates.

Bryne said that the family will continue to live in Tracy through next summer, since this in Ann’s senior year. But because of his new job, Byrne said he will commute to Faribault.

• • •

During his 15 years in Tracy, Byrne has been involved in a host of community activities. Besides a term on Tracy City Council, Byrne has also served on the Tracy Planning Commission and the Tracy Economic Development Authority. He was Tracy Scout Master for five years, and served six years on St. Mary’s Church finance committee. Byrne has been a member of the Tracy Lions for 14 years, playing regularly on its bowling team, and served a term as its president. He is a past president of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce, and is a stockholder in Tracy Growth and Development, the group that opened the new Tracy Bakery.

The Byrne family hosted two AFS exchange students within the past three years, and both Tim and Mary served on the Tracy AFS steering committee. Tim and Mary Byrne are landlords for a Habilitative Services group home on Hollett Street East, which Mary manages.


Valhalla dike culvert replacement underway


Work continues on a large culvert replacement project on a Valhalla dike on the west-side of Lake Shetek.

The $241,000 project is replacing a 6-foot diameter metal culvert with three, parallel concrete tubes that are each five feet high. The new culvert will be 94-feet wide.

“It is being made wide enough so that if the road is ever widened, the culvert won’t have to be replaced,” explained Keith Rossow, assistant Murray County highway engineer.

The culvert replacement project is on the most westerly of two dikes that link Valhalla and Keeley Island with the mainland. Valhalla Road (Murray County 13) is built over the dikes.

The new culvert structure, by allowing more water to pass underneath the road, will minimize the potential for erosion and flooding along the dike during high water events, Rossow said. A creek drains into an inlet of Lake Shetek on the north side of the first dike. To flow into the main body of Lake Shetek, water must be able to flow through the culverts in the Valhalla Dike.

The dike has had three culverts: the six-foot structure in the center and a smaller culvert on each side. Only the central culvert is being replaced. The two smaller culverts will remain in service.

Each of the new parallel culverts being installed is made up of 19 different segments. Fifteen segments in the center are sandwiched between the two tapered aprons on each side. A crane is being used to hoist the pieces into place.

Major construction on the culvert replacement got underway last week. Nov. 3 is the targeted completion date.

A detour around the dike is in effect until the culvert replacement is complete. The detour, which swings north on Lakeview Drive, includes a short segment of temporary road built across a field.

Midwest Contracting of Marshall is the general contractor.