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News from the week of November 11, 2006


$1.9 million city bond considered

By Seth Schmidt

A $1.9 million bond issue to pay for proposed street, utility, and lighting improvements is being considered by City of Tracy leaders.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman presented a $1.9 million improvement plan to Tracy City Council members Monday. She stressed that the plan’s financial estimates are “very preliminary.” The plan, Koopman indicated, is a starting point for discussing needed city projects and how the improvements can be paid for.

A memo from Koopman to city council members outlines $769,200 of utility improvements, $950,000 in street projects, and $230,000 to replace downtown streetlights. The plan proposes that the city borrow $1.9 million through the sale of a city-backed bond. Principal and interest on the bond would be re-paid over a 15-20-year period by sewer and water rate increases, property tax levies, and special assessments to benefiting property owners.

“We are faced with major problems,” Koopman told council members. “There has been such an extended period of time that these things have not been done, and things are catching up with us.”

Several council members expressed support for Koopman’s plan.

“This stuff has got to get done,” said Mayor Steve Ferrazzano.

Councilman Charlie Snyder agreed. “We really have no options. It’s got to get done.”

But council members stopped short of moving ahead with the proposed improvements and the bonding plan.

Public Works Director Rick Robinson told the council that a $118,000 sewage lift station in the plan must be completed before the planned Tracy Wellness Center opens. The approach of cold winter weather, he said, means the city faces a tight deadline to get concrete poured for the 25-foot deep structure. December, Robinson indicated, is likely the latest a lift station structure can be constructed if it is to be operational in March. Pumps needed for the lift station, he added, should be ordered two to three months in advance.

“We have some major decisions to make,” Koopman told council members. “Time is of the essence.”



Proposed improvements

Most of the proposed projects outlined in Koopman’s memo follow priorities identified by council members. Utility projects account for an estimated $769,200 in costs. Street projects are estimated at $950,000. Replacement of downtown streetlights and related sidewalk repairs has an estimated $230,000 cost. A breakdown of each improvement and its estimated costs are:


Utility projects

• Mapping, $20,000.

• Engineering for water treatment improvements, $35,000.

• Eastview lift station, $118,000.

• South Tracy drainage improvements, $318,000.

• Land acquisition, South Tracy drainage improvements, $124,000.

• Safety equipment, $5,000.

• Backhoe purchase, $28,000.

• Fire hydrant replacement, $42,000.

• Eastview groundwater improvements, $50,000.

• Project administration, $29,200.



Street projects

Reconstruction of 7.8 blocks of city streets, and crack fill and seal coating for 8.6 blocks.

Total estimated cost: $950,000.

The work is considered the first two phases in the city’s new five-phase pavement management program.



Downtown lights

Koopman said that the $230,000 estimate is based on information from Xcel Energy.

The downtown’s 1950s era streetlights, many of which don’t work, would be replaced with decorative fixtures. Sidewalks would be repaired and replaced as necessary.

The scope of the project would include replacing streetlights on Third St., between South and Rowland; Fourth St., between South and Rowland, South between Fourth and Second; and Morgan between Fourth and Second.

The Tracy Planning Commission has recommended improved downtown lights, with a portion of the cost to be assessed against property owners. The commission also recommends that the street light replacement also be considered along Hwy. 14. Hwy. 14 is not included in the $230,000.

Koopman told council members that the replacement of downtown lights should not be considered a frill. During Box Car Day weekend, people remarked that many of the downtown lights along the midway were not working. Some sections of downtown sidewalks are a hazard, with two to three inch elevation gaps visible in some areas of sidewalk.

Koopman indicated that she intends to meet with business owners, to get their opinions on a light replacement project.


Paying the bill

Koopman proposes that increased rates and fee be imposed to pay for the bulk of the $770,000 worth of utility projects.

A $4 increase in water rates, and a $4 increase in sewer rates would generate about $89,000 annually. A $2 monthly increase in the utility surcharge fee would generate an additional $22,000 annually.

The utility rate increases, Koopman said, would not only help repay the city’s bond obligation, but also help replenish the city’s depleted utility fund. Assessments paid by benefiting property owners would help pay for the South Tracy drainage and Eastview groundwater projects.

The street and downtown lighting improvements would require an estimated annual $55,760 bond payment over a 15-year period. Assessments paid by benefiting property owners would reduce the amount that would have to be put on the general tax rolls each year.

If the city does move forward by borrowing money through the sale of a bond in 2007, Koopman indicated that the city would start levying for the bond in 2008. Tracy taxpayers would start paying for the bond for taxes payable in 2009.

The new bond payment would coincide with the pay-off of a current bonded debt obligation. A 1996 street project, which has an annual payment of $85,000, is scheduled to have its last payment in 2008.


What’s next?

For any street, utility, or lighting projects to move ahead, the city council most “order in” the projects and call for plans and specifications. Once plans are drafted, the city could seek bids from contractors, and eventually award contracts to have the work done.

The South drainage improvement project is dependent upon purchasing a portion of the former Central Livestock property.

Public hearings would be need to be held before any assessments could be levied against property owners benefiting from improvements.

The proposed utility rates increases could be go into affect only through an amendment to city ordinance. The amendment process would require a public hearing.


Military honors

Ken Sletten, Art Holstein, Dr. Hyland are recognized


Three World War II and Korean War veterans were honored at a Tracy Veterans’ Day ceremony Thursday.

Bob Ladehoff, high school social studies teacher, introduced Art Holstein, Ken Sletten, and Dr. Odein Hyland.

“Thank you, for serving your country,” he said to each.

Ladehoff compiled an account of each man’s military service, and read the biography at the program.

Seaman 1st Class Kenneth Sletten

“Kenneth Sletten graduated from the. 8th grade in Toronto, South Dakota. After a period of time, Kenneth went to work, with the Civilian Conservation Corps. The major project that they worked on was laying a water line through the Badlands of South Dakota,

“In 1942 with World War II going strong, Kenneth was to be drafted but decided to sign up for the Navy instead. On November 28, he reported to Great Lakes Naval Training Base for ‘basic training’, He was trained to be a “gunner”.

“His first assignment was to report to the New York area and be on board a ship carrying high explosives and ammunition for the European Theater of Operations. His ship had to stay a number of miles away from the other ships in the convoy so that if his ship was hit by enemy subs, they wouldn’t damage other ships in the convoy. As the ship neared Europe, the main prop fell off and they were towed to North Africa. After unloading, it was back to New York,

Soon thereafter, Kenneth was to report to a base in Alabama and was assigned to be a gunner on an Army ship whose job was to help or salvage damaged B-29 Bombers. His ship went through the Panama Canal and to the Pacific Theater of Operations. While in the Pacific, his ship was attacked many times. As a Seaman 1st Class, his job was to be a “gunner” at the stern of the ship and shoot at Japanese planes as they attacked. Kenneth remembers the one attack where a Japanese plane was coming straight at the ship at water level and as he hit, the plane and it exploded, parts from the wreckage tore his lifejacket right off of him. They downed many Japanese airplanes.

“Kenneth’s ship was off the coast of Iwo Jima at the time of the famous flag raising. He is not sure if he saw the first or the second flag raising through his binoculars.

“Kenneth was Honorably Discharged from the Navy and arrived at home on Christmas Eve of 1945.

After the war, Kenneth tried his hand at farming in the Toronto area. In 1947, he married Eileen and they had five children: Kenneth, Steven, Kevin, Susan and Stacy. Many of you are aware of the Sletten Award, which is given to a senior boy and girl for outstanding achievement in academics, athletics and religious involvement. This is in honor of his oldest son, Kenneth, who died of cancer while attending Tracy High School.

“Kenneth and Eileen moved to Tracy in the late 50s where Ken worked as a TV and radio repairman and then for the City of Tracy, retiring in 1989.”


Army Sergeant Arthur Holstein

“Arthur Holstein is a 1937 graduate of Tracy High School. After graduating, Arthur started farming and married Lucille (who was better known as Pete) in 1941. In August of 1942, Arthur joined the Army, leaving his wife and infant daughter on the farm

“Basic training was in Fresno, California. While there, he made the military basketball team. After basic, he was sent to five different Air Bases to learn engineering. Much of his early training dealt with camouflaging airplanes and airports, They also worked on building bridges, making and repairing runways. Arthur was attached to the 937th Engineering Battalion.

“His unit crossed the English Channel on D-Day, plus 21. His unit spent their time in France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and finally in Germany. Once the Allied offensive was on the move, most of their work was repairing damage inflicted by German warplanes.

“As Arthur’s Battalion followed the front lines, it was not uncommon for GI’s in his unit to step on land mines, which had not been cleared. The German’s last offensive was the Battle of the Bulge. His unit was camped just outside of Bastogne as the Germans delivered their last offensive of World War II, Thankfully, the Allies held.

“Arthur was discharged from the Army in October of 1945. He returned to Tracy and farmed till 1982. He and his wife “Pete” had two daughters; Mary Ann and Linda. Arthur was very active in community affairs down through the years. He was an avid bowler and can still be found out on the golf course.”


Lt. Odein Hyland

“In 1946, Odein Hyland graduated from Claremont High School (which is near Rochester). Upon graduating, Odein decided to work for a year or two and then would go to college. After two years of college and the Korean War starting, Uncle Sam wanted to draft Odein. After getting his draft notice, Odein decided to join the U.S. Air Force in August of 1950.

“Basic Training was at San Antonio, Texas. Odein was sent to Mississippi, then to South Carolina, then to Texas to learn electronics. In 1952, Odein earned his “Wings” and was Commissioned as a Second Lt. He was then sent to Paine Field, in the state of Washington to work with F-89 Interceptors. After arriving in Washington, the F-89 was grounded and his squadron was deactivated.

Odein and a friend both enjoyed hunting and fishing and wanted to stay in the Washington area. Their plan was become Air Traffic Controllers and be stationed at Callville, Washington.

“Odein at this time decided to marry his high school sweetheart, Marge. Their first date in high school was the Junior-Senior. Prom. In 1953, Odein drove back to Minnesota and was married to Marge. As a part of their honeymoon, they drove back to the state of Washington so Odein could start his Air Traffic Controller job. Upon arriving at Washington, the military told him that he had to go to Florida for more training. So back into the car and drive to Florida..

“As an Air Traffic Controller, Odein watched the skies of the Pacific Northwest during the Korean War. In time of war, we are concerned with the possibility of being invaded by the enemy. After 911, we were very concerned with being attacked. The same is true of the Korean War and the Air Traffic Controllers played an important role in protecting our country.

“After five years and four months of being in the Air Force, Odein was honorably discharged from the Air Force.

“After his Tour of duty, Odein went to the U. of Minnesota, School of Dentistry. In 1965, Odein and his wife Marge moved to Tracy where they have lived ever since, In 1993, Odein retired from his dental career, Odein and Marge have been avid supporters of Panther activities. Odein still enjoys hunting, fishing and shooting trap,”

Speaker remembers brother, Charles Pamp

Veterans cited for role in preserving U.S freedoms

By Seth Schmidt


Veterans’ Day had extra poignancy for Doug Pamp last week.

The keynote speaker at a Tracy Area High School program gave a special tribute to his older brother, the late Charles Curtis Pamp. His brother, a Vietnam War era veteran who died suddenly in the summer of 2005, was a well-known member of the Tracy American Legion color guard. Pamp– a 1963 Tracy High School grad and the son of Dorthey and William Pamp—rarely missed a request for a military salute at a funeral.

“I am here to honor a veteran who asked me several years ago if I would consider being a speaker on Memorial Day,” Doug Pamp said. “After some discussion, and a lot of thought, I agreed.…Today I honor him along with all others who have served in the military. Today would have been his 61st birthday.”

Pamp traced the historical roots of Veterans Day, which was originally called Armistice Day, in honor of the end of World War I.

“The original Armistice Day was Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. The truce or armistice was signed officially ending World War I. The 11th hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month. Over time and after World War II, Armistice Day was change to Veterans Day by an act of Congress to honor all American veterans who have served their country.

Pamp, who has a doctorate degree in animal nutrition, cited some statistics about American veterans.

• Over 43 million men and women have served in the U.S. military during a time of war. (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, WW I, WW II, Korea War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, War in Iraq and Afghanistan.

• More than one million servicemen have lost their lives in battle and in service during a time of war.

• America has over 25 million living veterans.”

“We all owe them our gratitude and respect.”



Veterans Day & freedom

Pamp linked Veterans Day and the liberties that Americans enjoy.

“Of all the things that I can think of, freedom is the greatest gift that these veterans have given me. Freedoms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, he pointed out, include freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right of peaceable assembly, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to keep and bear arms.

“We are meeting today, in this building of higher education, without fear of government control. I am able to converse with you…without fear of imprisonment. There are few people, or countries in the world, where we could do what we are doing today. What are the people in Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan doing today? Certainly, they are not practicing the freedoms we enjoy. When we voted on Tuesday, we did so without fear of reprisal or death.”

All the freedoms listed in the Constitution, Pamp said, would not be possible without “a regulated militia-that’s the military-that is necessary to the security of a free state.”

Pamp challenged students to take advantage of their individual freedoms by participating in community and school events, becoming a part of the political process, and practicing “whatever religion you choose.”

Students, he said, “are what you think-be positive, be involved, be freed.

For America’s heritage of individual liberties to continue, all people need to “act on opportunities, participate, and stand up for what we believe to be true. Stand up for America. Participate in life and practice those freedoms that more than 43 million veterans have helped protect for you and every American.”


Break-in sparks camera review

By Valerie Scherbart Quist


A weekend break-in at Tracy Area High School has District 417 administrators and school board members reconsidering the installation of security cameras.

Superintendent Dave Marlette informed the board of education Monday about the break-in. He said the break-in or series of break-ins occurred sometime over the long weekend. There was no school Friday at Tracy Area Public Schools.

High School Principal Chad Anderson said it is suspected that the break-in occurred late Thursday night or early Friday morning. One teacher found a laptop computer missing when he stopped into his office mid-day Friday.

Inventories are still being done, but so far it has been discovered that four laptop computers are missing, along with an overhead projector and cash from several areas of the building. Marlette said authorities are investigating the break-in and the district’s insurance company has been notified. Marlette said it is not believed that the laptops that were stolen contained any important student data.

It is also believed that the individual or individuals who broke into the school had a set of keys. This is suspected because there was no sign of forcible entry and several rooms throughout the school building were entered. Staff members are being encouraged to keep a running inventory of what is in their room and to lock up any valuables at night.

As a result of the break-in, talk of changing locks and installing security cameras ensued.

Marlette said the master keys at the school have not been changed in many years. While the issuance of keys is watched over very closely now, past practice may not have been as careful. Marlette said it would be ideal to swap the current locks out and install ones that use swipe cards, but to do that would be very expensive. If a swipe card is lost or stolen, the door can easily be reprogrammed so that card no longer works.

Anderson reminded the board that they have talked about installing security cameras in the past. He said it might be a good idea to install at least a few cameras for the time being.

“I believe we need to think and talk more about it,” he said.

Elementary repairs

Prior to the regular meeting, the board took a tour of Tracy Elementary School. The walk-through included looking at water drainage problems, floor covering problems, tuck-point requirements, and general construction ideas.

Supt. Marlette said any project could not be submitted for Health & Safety dollars unless an engineer and/or architect are hired. Health & Safety dollars also cannot be used for outdoor projects.

Marlette said he would like to move forward and arrange to have more information for the board at the December meeting.


Activities Director Bill Tauer told the board that the scoreboards at the Veterans’ Memorial Center are in dire need of replacement. He said that if they were not replaced, a junior high tournament on Dec. 9 would likely have to be canceled.

He said the Booster Club had expressed willingness to purchase one scoreboard if the district would purchase the other. The city has previously indicated that they are not willing to put any money into the center.

The board agreed to put $3,500 toward the purchase of one scoreboard with the understanding that both boards will belong to the school district and not to the city. The district will maintain the boards and if the district builds a new facility, the scoreboards will be taken out of the Veterans’ Memorial Center.

After-school programs

Letters will be sent out this week regarding the after-school program. After-school programs will soon begin once again at both the high school and elementary school. Cost is $5 per student for the year and the fee can be waived if a student cannot afford it. Elementary students also need a permission slip in order to participate.


Elementary Principal Scott Loeslie reported that parent-teacher conferences went well last week, with 96 percent attending. Loeslie said he was pleased with the turnout.


The board approved hiring Paul Skoglund as head girls’ softball coach and Monica Headlee as head track coach.


Principal Anderson gave the board a copy of the testing schedule for the upcoming months. He said testing would really get going in January and continue through May. He said there are many tests that students have to take, and expressed dismay that ESL students would be required to take additional tests this year.

Tests include the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, and Basic Standards Tests, in addition to special tests for ESL students and re-takes of tests.


Growth & Development lists bakery business


Wanted: An entrepreneur interested in an exciting opportunity to own and run own business in Tracy. Established business comes with modern equipment, updated building, profitable track record, and potential for more. Affordably priced.


This “for sale” ad won’t be found in the classifieds for this newspaper, but it could have been. The Tracy Bakery was officially listed “for sale” this week, and the bakery’s present owners say an excellent business opportunity is available to the right person.

“This was our goal when we opened the bakery,” said George Hebig, a board member for Tracy Growth & Development. “We wanted to keep a bakery in town, get it running, and then sell it to someone who wanted to have their own business.”

The Tracy Bakery is marking its first anniversary this month. Tracy Growth & Development Inc. opened the business in the former Rignell Hardware building after extensive remodeling. Ray Hay closed a former Tracy Bakery operation in September of 2005.

“We feel like we’ve been successful getting the bakery this far,” said Ken Schiller, another Tracy Growth & Development board member. Now, he added, the business is to the point where it would benefit from having its own owner/manager. Tracy Growth & Development stockholders, he said, don’t have the time to develop the business to its full potential.

“We all have our own businesses to run,” said Schiller.

Since opening, the bakery has enjoyed some notable successes, Schiller said. For example, the bakery has gotten big commercial accounts from schools in Tracy and Walnut Grove/Westbrook. “There’s more out there. We haven’t even tapped the potential of Marshall.”

The Tracy Bakery building has about 3,200 square feet on its main floor. Improvements in the 2005 remodeling included new plumbing new wiring, new flooring, roofing, and equipment. The operation has 11 (mostly part-time) employees.

Schiller and Hebig said that they met with employees Monday morning about their plans to sell the business.

Hebig said that it is Tracy Growth & Development’s goal to sell the business for what stockholders have invested. Any profits, he stressed, will be put toward future projects.

“We didn’t do this to make a lot of money. We did this to keep a business in town.”

Tracy Growth & Development is comprised of “10 to 12” local stockholders, Hebig said. Other board members include Claire Hannasch, Deb Schenkoske, and Nicole Larson.


Drive begins for St. Mark's relocation

The Wheels Across the Prairie Museum has launched a fund-raising appeal to pay for the planned move of the former St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Moving the building, and preparing a new foundation for St. Mark’s at the Wheels museum site, has an estimated cost of $20,000 to $25,000.

“We hope you will help us meet this challenge,” a letter signed by Wheels officers Jon Wendorff, Anna Gene Burke, Bette Johnston, and Janet Randall states.

The Thein Moving Company of Clara City has been contracted to move St. Mark’s. Plans are to move the St. Mark’s soon, possibly before Thanksgiving.

Earlier this fall, the Tracy City Council agreed to transfer ownership of St. Mark’s to the Wheels organization, and granted permission to move the structure. The Wheels volunteers say that the church and its contents will be more accessible at the Hwy. 14 museum site.

To prepare for the move, all St. Mark’s artifacts have been boxed up and relocated to the Wheels site. Concrete footings were poured last week on St. Mark’s new location. The church building will be placed east of the museum’s log cabin.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church has stood at the intersection of Second and Center streets since 1937. It was originally constructed in 1901 at the corner of Rowland and Fourth streets. The St. Mark’s congregation disbanded in the 1960s. For a time, the building was a museum operated by the Lyon County Historical Society. In the early 1980s, the historical society gave the building too the City of Tracy.

Wheels Across the Prairie Museum volunteers had originally expected the move to occur next year.

Morgan St. townhouses okayed

A $300,0000 townhouse project in Tracy received final approval from the City of Tracy Monday.

Tracy City Council members unanimously accepted a planning commission recommendation to grant a special use permit and side yard variance for a planned four-unit townhouse project near the Tracy United Methodist Church. North Star Modular Building Systems of Tracy and Marshall is the project developer.

Dan Anderson, North Star president, has said that North Star would begin construction on the project soon.

The two-bedroom rental townhouse units will each have a garage with access onto Morgan Street.