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News from the week of December 6, 2006



Moving Day

Wheels museum welcomes St. Mark’s church building


By Seth Schmidt

Dorthey Pamp summed up the move of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in five words.

“This is quite an undertaking,” the longtime Wheels-Across-the-Prairie-Museum volunteer said.

After anchoring the corner of Second and Center streets for more than six decades, the landmark church is on a new foundation at the Wheels museum site on the northwest edge of Tracy. Thein Moving Company of Clara City moved the 22x48-foot stucco building Tuesday.

“It’s in really good condition,” said Tim Thein of the building. “It moved well.”

The structure, which Thein said weighed about 100,000 pounds, was jacked up off its foundation Monday. Six steel beams were placed underneath St. Mark’s. The building was then winched off its foundation, until wheels could be placed underneath the beams.

The move of St. Mark’s began shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. By 12:15 p.m., St. Mark’s was on the Wheels property. By late afternoon, the 50-ton church had been maneuvered over its new foundation. St. Mark’s was resting on its new foundation by noon Wednesday (Dec. 6).

“Everything went well,” said Art Peterson, a Wheels museum board member, who helped coordinate the move. He complimented Thein Movers. “They know what they are doing.”


Seven-mile route

As the crow flies, St. Mark’s was located about a mile from the Wheels museum. But a roundabout, seven-mile route was chosen to avoid power lines at the Xcel Energy sub-station at the intersection of Hwy. 14 and the Highline Road. The relocation convoy went north from Tracy two miles on County Road 11, then west a mile on a township road to the Highline Road. St. Mark’s then traveled one mile south on the Highline Road, and then another mile west, and a mile south on township roads. The final mile was eastbound on Hwy. 14, with St. Mark’s coming to Tracy and the Wheels museum from the west.

The move required ten power line drops—five from Xcel Energy and five from Lincoln-Lyon Co-op. A Lyon County Sheriff’s deputy and the Tracy Police Dept. assisted with traffic control.

Thein said that the church’s relatively low height (30 feet on wheels) and narrow width made St. Mark’s a routine move. He said the company has moved structures of more than 90-feet in height, and 375 feet long. St. Mark’s is the fourth structure Thein’s has moved onto the Wheels site. The Thein Moving Company has been in business since the 1890s

“They’ve been good to us,” said Mary Lou Ludeman, another veteran Wheels volunteer. “They don’t laugh at us when we tell them we have another building to move.”

St. Mark’s is the 12th building at the Wheel museum site. Plans are to maintain the St. Mark’s as a church museum.



Changes for St. Mark’s

The St. Mark’s Episcopal congregation disbanded in the 1960s, prompting a series of different uses for the building. LeRoy Marcotte, a Tracy High School art instructor, acquired the building and used it as an art studio. After his death in the 1970s, the building was given to the Lyon County Historical Society, which used the building as a Tracy museum. Elizabeth Hook was one of the volunteers who helped maintain the museum. In about 1984, the county historical society gave St. Mark’s and its contents to the City of Tracy. The city maintained St. Mark’s as a museum, although hours were limited to Tracy Box Car Days weekend. Wheels museum volunteers helped care for the museum.

This fall, the Wheels museum board approached the Tracy City Council about acquiring St. Mark’s from the city, and moving the church to the Wheels site. St. Mark’s on the Wheels property, board members said, would allow the church to be more accessible to the public.

Council members agreed. Ownership of St. Mark’s was transferred to the Wheels museum, and permission granted to move the structure.

It had been anticipated that St. Mark’s would be moved in 2007. Plans changed when the Thein company determined they would have time to move St. Mark’s this fall. In October, all St. Mark’s artifacts were removed. In early November, Art Peterson Construction dug and poured concrete for St. Mark’s new foundation.

On its new foundation, St. Mark’s sits somewhat lower, since the building is no longer over a basement foundation. The lack of a basement will mean that steps are no longer needed for St. Mark’s main entrance. Plans are to build a concrete ramp and walkway leading up to St. Mark’s front door.

Lights will be installed inside St. Mark’s to illuminate the church’s stained glass windows at night.


Fund drive continues

The estimated cost to move St. Mark’s and put the structure on a new foundation is estimated at $25,000. The Wheels board is continuing a campaign to raise the necessary money. People who wish to give to the St. Mark’s fund can contact Wheels treasurer Janet Randall, or any other Wheels board member: President Jon Wendorff, Vice President Anna Gene Burke, Secretary Bettie Johnston, LaVerne Holm, Peterson, Pamp, and Ludeman.


Long considered

Moving St. Mark’s Museum has long been discussed.

Serious consideration was given to moving St. Mark’s in 1990. The Tracy Jaycees, which were disbanding as an organization, gave the museum $4,000, and thought was given to using that money to move St. Mark’s. But opposition to moving St. Mark’s was voiced by some neighborhood residents, and City of Tracy leaders saw possible legal obstacles to the move. The idea was dropped. The $4,000 from the Jaycees was later used to help buy and move a 1915 switch engine and tender car from Rochester.


Spirit of ‘76

The Wheels museum group traces its roots to the U.S. bicentennial celebration in 1976, which corresponded with Tracy’s centennial celebration. People that helped organize historical displays for the centennial celebration began to talk about the need for a permanent Tracy history museum. Some of the people involved were Art Goernt, Vince Carey, Merrill Firebaugh, Merrill Starr, Andy and Martha Wixon, Faye Hatch, Arnie McDaniel, Hook, Pamp, and Ludeman.

The museum group was incorporated in 1977. A Hwy. 14 site on the northwest edge of Tracy for the new museum was decided upon when the Wixons donated 2.8 acres for the museum.

A hip-roofed barn, donated by McDaniel, was moved to the site in 1983. Plans to remodel the barn for museum displays were dashed when the barn collapsed in a windstorm. An insurance settlement allowed the museum to build a barn-shaped structure for its museum. The museum opened in 1985.

The switch engine and tender car was the first in a series of additions to the museum. St. Mark’s is the museum’s 12th building. Others include a restored Chicago & Northwestern depot, a 19th century log cabin, a one-room country school, a post office, barbershop, a little church, cottage, summer kitchen, and a large storage shed for antique farm equipment. The museum’s train added a wooden boxcar and a caboose.

Ludeman said Tuesday that it was gratifying to see the St. Mark’s move take place. She thanked new board members, for spearheading the move.

Pamp, seated in a car at the Wheels museum Tuesday as St. Mark’s was moved into place, reflected that the museum has come a long way in 30 years.

“This used to be nothing more than a sheep pasture. I guess it turned out all right.”


Extra! Extra!

Student newspaper debuts

By Valerie Scherbart Quist


Extra, extra! Read all about it: New school newspaper to be printed this week!

The first issue of the Panther Press, a four-page student newspaper, will be distributed to students and staff on Thursday. The paper was sent down to Page One Printers in Slayton on Friday for printing.

The Panther Press is the product of the Tracy Area High School journalism class, consisting of 11 students and taught by Eve Becker. There are four senior editors—Emily Gilmore, Tyler Anderson, Bekah Zens, and Blaine Edwards—who were selected by their peers. These editors are responsible for layout in addition to writing assignments. There are 10 students in the class: three sophomores and seven seniors.

This is not the first publication for the class. They had two practice runs, in the form of newsletters, to work on the basics of preparing and presenting the news.

“We’ve learned a lot from September until now,” said teacher Eve Becker.

The process of creating the first Panther Press began in early November, when students received their article assignments. This involved checking the school calendar and finding events the students could cover. The class also looked at other school newspapers to get ideas for how to do layout.

The students then prepared interview questions and conducted interviews. The next step in the process was writing and tweaking the stories. The budding reporters had a peer editing session in which they edited each others’ pieces.

Once the news gathering process was complete, it was time to lay out the newspaper. The students had about a week-and-a-half for layout.

There are various monthly features that will appear in the Panther Press. A teacher of the month is selected by students. A fun feature is the “Wreck of the Month,” an interview and picture of someone who drives what some might call a “junker” to school. “Voices in the Hall” involves asking random students and staff a question. Past questions have included “What is your favorite part of homecoming,” and “What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition and why?”

Another regular feature is a movie review. This time, students were polled to see what their top 10 favorite Christmas movies are. Also featured this month will be stories about sporting events, the DAR Good Citizen award, and American Education Week. Editorials and an original cartoon by Emily Gilmore round out the newspaper’s content.

Gilmore said one of the most difficult aspects of putting together the Panther Press was layout and trying to figure out how to put it together so it looks nice. The class covered the basics such as newspaper ethics, quoting, and plagiarism beforehand, she added.

Fellow editor Tyler Anderson agreed that they have learned much about the newspaper business, and said he has enjoyed the process.

“I love this class,” he said.

Using the program InDesign for layout has also been a learning process for the students.

“We’re still learning a lot about that,” said Becker.

Gilmore said one goal for the next issue it to better plan what will go into it, and to learn how to put boxes around specific items. Becker said the students will have more article assignments for the next issue because they ran a little short on copy for this one.

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects will be the anticipation until the Panther Press arrives back in Tracy.

“We’re really excited,” Becker said. “I think people will like it.”

• • •

The student newspaper is the first at Tracy Area High School in about 20 years. The Tracer was the victim of budget cuts in the mid-1980s.


First Tracy Nursing Home residents move to Prairie View


The first Tracy Nursing Home residents have moved to the Prairie View Healthcare Center.

Tennes Eeg, Tracy Nursing Home administrator, said Tuesday that three residents had moved to Prairie View. The Tracy Nursing Home had 17 residents remaining as of Tuesday.

On Oct. 31, an announcement was made that the Tracy Nursing Home would be closing. The company that owns and operates the Prairie View Healthcare Center is purchasing the Tracy Nursing Home’s state-certified beds.

The Tracy Nursing Home’s closure date with the Minnesota Dept. of Health is Jan. 31, although Eeg says that he expects most residents will move out before then.

The Tracy Nursing Home had 33 residents when the closing announcement was made. A week ago, the Tracy Nursing Home had 22 residents.


City workers get 3.3% raise

City of Tracy employees will receive a 3.3% wage increase in 2007.

The Tracy City Council okayed the increase Nov. 27 in ratifying a 2007 contract with its AFSCME union. Members of the union have also agreed to the contract.

The 3.3% increase is also extended to the city’s non-union department supervisors. Some 17- 20 full and part-time city employees are affected. The estimated annual cost to the city is $13,493. The new contract adds a 35-year pay increase step to the city wage schedule.

The new AFSCME contract is separate from the city’s police union.


Shetek sewer project receives low-interest loans

The Lake Shetek-area sewer project has benefited from low-interest loans awarded by the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA).

Murray County has received two separate loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and WIF programs.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan is for $11,554,549. This 20-year loan has an interest rate of 1.01 percent. The WIF loan is for $3,589,451. This 26-year loan has payments deferred for the first 20 years and has a zero-percent interest rate. Savings to the county will amount to $5 million.

Construction is currently underway on the Shetek-area sewer project and is expected to be completed next year.