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News from the week of March 1, 2006


Celia Brockway is state ExCel winner

By Val Scherbart Quist

Tracy Area High School junior Celia Brockway has been selected as one of 25 state ExCEL (Excellence in Community Education and Leadership) award winners.

Brockway learned of the honor last week.

“I was excited,” Brockway said. She added that recipients were supposed to be notified in January, but she hadn’t heard anything. Then last Thursday, Principal Chad Anderson called her into Activities Director Bill Tauer’s office.

The daughter of Bill and Kathy Brockway will be recognized during a girls’ state tournament game on March 18 along with the other state winners. The ExCEL award is given out annually by the Minnesota State High School League.

Brockway has been active during her high school career.

“I take a lot of opportunities that are presented to me—sometimes too many—but it’s paid off,” she said. “I’m really glad I got this. It’s sort of recognition for all the hard work I’ve done.”

Brockway participates in cross country and track. Her involvement in music extends to both school and the community. In school, she is in both band and choir, and has received both “excellent” and “superior” ratings at music contests. She has also been involved in school and community musicals, Minnesota State 4-H Arts program, state FFA choir, and National Catholic Youth Choir. Her fine arts activities also include piano lessons and speech.

An academic letter-winner for two straight years, Brockway is a National Honor Society member and participates in FFA, peer helpers, and student council. This summer, she was selected to represent the state of Minnesota at the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) World Leadership Conference.

Community activities are also important to Brockway, who is active in 4-H, Big Buddies, and St. Mary’s Church. She volunteers her time to the food shelf, meals on wheels, International Human Rights Initiative, and local nursing homes. Over the summer, she was music instructor for her church’s vacation Bible school program.

She enjoys being a volunteer.

“I feel good when I volunteer,” she said.

Brockway added that she has also worked hard to keep her grades up. Her future plans include attending a four-year college. Careers in either music or medicine appeal to her, she said.

Celia isn’t the first in her family to achieve this honor. Her sister, Lynn, was a state winner two years ago.


CHS reaps black ink

Cenex-Harvest States, Marshall Regional, posted a strong bottom line for its 2004-05 fiscal year.

“We had a very good year,” said Manager Todd Reif, at the cooperative’s annual patron meeting held in Tracy Friday night.

The cooperative’s financial report showed local earnings of $1,503,632, on a total volume of $10,047,580. Patronage dividends were an additional $152,530.

The co-op’s $10 million plus of business was broken down as grain, $2,784,118; feed, $1,989,445; agronomy, $3,942,118; and energy, $1,331,899.

The Marshall Regional operation for Cenex-Harvest States includes facilities in Tracy, Marshall, Balaton, Tyler, Lake Benton, Arco, Ruthton, and Pipestone. The financial report is for the 12-month period that ended August 31, 2005.

Rates paid out to patrons, based upon bushel or dollar of business, were:

spring wheat, .014 per bushel; oats, .056 per bushel; soybeans, .029 per bushel; corn, .024 per bushel; feed, .001 per $1; seed, .058 per $1; fertilizer, .037 per $1; crop protection, .08 per $1; petroleum, .019 per $1.

• • •

Reif said that the cooperative did much work this year in “branding” its products and services, which he said is important. But Reif said that “our brand isn’t a sign or a building or a business card…”that isn’t what keeps our customers coming back.” Effective branding, he said, is service that goes the extra mile or the sound business advice that takes your clients a little further ahead of what they are expecting…personalized service and profitable solutions. It’s that simple.”

Reif said that the cooperative’s “major investments” in its Tracy feed mill were paying off. “That turned out wonderfully,” he said. Grain, Reif continued, will be the cooperative’s “next area of focus.”

Harlan Peterson, Marshall Regional board president, said he was gratified by the co-op’s financial performance.

“As you can see, we have had a very nice year. There is a certain satisfaction as we sit as a board that we are headed down the right road.” He said that he was proud of how the company is being run.

“Another thing that pops into my mind is integrity, and that is how this company does business, and that comes right from the management.”

• • •

About 280 people attended the annual meeting, which was held at Shetek Bend Banquet Bar & Grill. Peterson and Secretary Steve Knott were re-elected to the board. Joe Van De Putte was elected as a new board member, succeeding Don Vandendriessche, who served on the board for 17 years.

Food shelf campaign planned

A month-long campaign for the Tracy area food shelf is planned during March.

Drop-off sites for food shelf donations have been set up at Minnwest Bank South, Tracy Food Pride, and local churches. Cash donations can be dropped off at the food shelf on Mondays from 9:30 a.m. to noon, or mailed to food shelf treasurer Barb Purves. Her address is 10628 160th St., Tracy. Mn. 56175. Food shelf checks can also be given to any local pastor. Food shelf donations are tax-deductible.

The food shelf, which was re-named this year as “The Kitchen Table,” has traditionally conducted a major drive in March. In recent years, door-to-door solicitations were conducted in Tracy. This year, food shelf leaders are focusing on the month-long drop boxes instead of the door-to-door dive.

Kitchen Shelf volunteers report that food shelf usage is increasing.

In 2005, 170 different people used the food shelf. Fifty-seven were first-time food shelf users. Food shelf visits last year totaled 520, an average of 43 each month.

Pool case to be heard March 27

A March 27 hearing has been scheduled in Lyon County District Court about the City of Tracy’s aquatic center litigation against an insurance company.

The City is seeking $556,560 in damages from the United Fire and Casualty. The firm insured USAquatics, the chief designer, engineer and construction manager during the aquatic center’s 2001-02 construction. United Fire and Casualty contends that their policy with USAquatics does not cover the city’s aquatic center claims. Judge George Harrelson is scheduled to hear the case.

In January, the City of Tracy received $1,206,206 to settle claims with Olympic Pools, Inc., the contractor for the original aquatic center pool areas and mechanical room; Allman & Associates, the designer for the original aquatic center mechanical equipment; and Mid-State Surety Company, Olympic’s bonding company; and USAquatics. When the out-of-court settlement was announced, City of Tracy representatives said that they would continue to pursue $556,560 in damages from United Fire & Casualty.

City of Tracy leaders have contended that faulty workmanship and design in the original aquatic center construction forced the City to embark on a $1.2 million aquatic center repair program. The renovated aquatic center is expected to re-open this summer after being closed in the summers of 2004 and 2005. The aquatic center opened in July of 2002. The facility replaced a 50-year-old outdoor pool.

The March 27 hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.


Rural imagery comes to life for 'Music & Muse'

What words might describe the Fine Arts Council of Tracy’s “Music & Muse” program Sunday afternoon?

Holy Cow!

“We had Catholic cows,” poet and teacher Vince Wixon reflected, as he addressed 125 people at Tracy Lutheran Church. Each evening at 6:30 p.m., as the Wixon family milked cows in their cozy dairy barn, a KMHL radio broadcast of the Catholic rosary blared over a scratchy portable AM radio.

Wixon, a 1962 Tracy High School graduate, shared vignettes of growing up in Tracy while reading selections from his new book of poetry, The Square Grove. The book’s title refers to the farmstead on the northwest edge of Tracy where he grew up. The neat-as-a-pin red barn, which is featured on the book’s cover, is still a landmark along the Highline Road.

Wixon, who was honored as Oregon’s teacher-of-the-year in 1988, shared poems about both growing up in Tracy and life in Oregon. But in some respects, Wixon said that it is easier for him to write about past events and places that he knew years ago compared with contemporary happenings.

Ruth Craig, Wixon’s aunt, was one of the friends and former neighbors who turned out for the poetry reading. Wixon said that Ruth, and her late husband, Bill, were like a second set of parents to him.

• • •

Wixon’s poetry readings were sandwiched between three songs composed by Pam Gervais of Tracy. Gervais played the piano, while vocalist Shirlee Gilmore sang.

The songs—Maxine Kumin’s “After the Heat Wave.” Donald Hall’s “The Farm” and Larry Gavin’s “A Woman-A River-Evening”—each had a rural theme.

“Each piece is personal to Pam and Shirlee because of their experience with such scenes throughout their lives in rural Southwest Minnesota,” a program note explained.

The Fine Arts Council of Tracy sponsored the event.

Eagles' expansion nears completion

The Tracy Eagles Club is undergoing an expansion project.

The club bought the vacant building next door, last used as a dental office, several years ago, said Steve Meyer, club treasurer. The building was in poor condition, and was gutted at the start of the project. Work on the building began in the summer of 2004.

The expansion will include handicapped accessible bathrooms, and space for a pool table. Moving a pool table in this area will free up additional space in the main building, Meyer said. A wall between the two buildings will be torn down, making the expansion area open to the rest of the club. The expansion is 20 by 16 feet in size.

Club members have done much of the work, with G&R doing the electrical work and Swish’s doing the plumbing. It is hoped that the expansion project will be completed by the end of March.