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News from the week of March 21, 2007


'Mighty Minds' musical to raise money for elementary playground

It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s … Mighty Minds!

“Mighty Minds: A Musical that Makes Learning Fun!” is the theme of a March 26 production planned by Tracy Elementary School students and staff. The program will take place at 7 p.m. in the Tracy Area High School gym. Free-will donations will be accepted with all money raised going toward the Tracy Elementary School playground fund.

“Mighty Minds” will feature singing by the whole student body as well as acting by sixth grade students and eight teachers.

In the musical, students are in a panic because it is time for testing. The teacher needs help fast, and there’s only one thing to do: “Hello, Mighty Minds? Come quick!” In a whirlwind of action, the cape-clad Mighty Minds race to the rescue with clever rhyming dialogue and songs that help the students get fired up about learning. Discover how reading can be “F! U! N!”; how a little “Conga Math” can solve problems; and how knowledge is power.

Audience members are needed to participate in the program, and those who are interested should arrive at 6:50 on the evening of the program to learn the song, “We’ll Be There.”

Following the musical performance 10 staff members will be in danger of getting a pie in the face. Donations for the pie-in-the-face contest can be brought in the night of the performance or sent to the school ahead of time. Those who send in donations are reminded to indicate which bucket they’d like their donation to go into. Candidates are Ade Miller, Kristin Haugo-Jones, Scott Loeslie, Jen Kainz, Nat Boyer, Nikki Paulzine, Lisa Schaar, Lisa Dieter, Deb Maki, and Kelly McConnell.

Solutions studied for school drainage issues

By Valerie Scherbart Quist

District 417 Board of Education members could begin considering bids for a tiling project at Tracy Elementary School as early as next month.

Last week, the board heard from Ron Halgerson of Group II Architects about testing that was conducted at the school in December. A group including Halgerson, Supt. David Marlette, head custodian Jo Pyle, and Tom James of American Engineering and Testing did a walk-through of the school and grounds on Dec. 1.

The purpose of the tour was to examine floor and exterior wall surfaces where deterioration/damage was apparent. Testing done included subsurface exploration and vapor transmission testing.

Halgerson said the elementary school building basically sits on a mat layer of sand, which is surrounded by lean clay. Because clay hinders the movement of water through it, in a condition of hydrostatic pressure in the clay soils, water is drawn to and moves through the sand sub-base because this material offers the path of least resistance.

“It’s virtually like having a sponge below that building,” Halgerson said.

Another issue is that the grade has settled and water is not draining away from the building as it should. The roof has interior drains that are piped to the exterior walls, where through-wall nozzles discharge the water onto concrete splashpads and grade. The splashpads have settled and water isn’t able to flow/drain away from the building.

Halgerson said the key issues on the outside of the building are lack of slope away from the building, repair of the brick and re-tuckpointing, and sealant.

Halgerson’s recommendation is that six-inch perforated drain tile be installed at the elementary School site. He said larger tile could be installed if that is the board’s desire.

He noted that the interior walls have been repaired in two rooms so far, and recommended doing repairs on all of the interior walls at some point. One problem area inside is the staff lounge, where the paint on the walls is bubbling out at about four feet.

Halgerson said that once when moisture begins to go down in the building, the process of replacing flooring can begin. Some flooring has already been removed in the building because adhesive was seeping up through the joints. Halgerson also recommended using synthetic-backed carpeting in areas where carpeting would be replaced. He said he was unsure how long it would take for the under base to dry down, and that the situation would have to be monitored.

He said timing for the project to begin this summer is good, with the city planning a storm sewer improvements along South 4th St.

Board members and Supt. Marlette expressed some concerns with the city’s plan. Supt. Marlette said he and board member Rod Benson had met with City Administrator Audrey Koopman about the issue, and felt that the school wouldn’t gain much, if anything, from the city’s planned improvements.

The only real benefit, Marlette said, is if the school wants to run water over to the city’s planned outlet in the future. This process, which would involve bringing water to the surface and getting it over to the outlet, would be an additional cost for the district above what will be assessed to the district by the city. The district’s assessment could be over $150,000, Marlette said.

Marlette said the district could try to appeal to city council members, before a final decision is made, that the district does not feel it will gain from the project. Marlette said he would try to set up another meeting with the city. Benson and board member Eric Fultz will attend.

Another issue to consider, Marlette said, is how to finance the tiling project at the elementary school. He said there are two ways the district can finance the project.

The first option is to levy taxpayers locally through health and safety. The problem with this plan, Marlette said, is that all the money would come from the taxpayers. When health and safety dollars are used, the district has to pay for the improvements up front, and then submit them to the state. The district is reimbursed after two years. Marlette said the health and safety levy would not have to be done all in one year, but could be spread out over a number of years.

The other option is to use the facility levy money that was approved by taxpayers in the fall of 2006. The tiling project would fall under the intended use, which is capital projects, and 40 percent of the money would come from local taxpayers. The remaining 60 percent would come from the state. The district has $1.3 million coming in from the approved facility levy over the next four years.

Marlette told the board he would work on getting bids for the project for the April board meeting, and discussion will resume at that time.

Secondary report

High School Principal Chad Anderson reported that the end of the quarter was scheduled for Tuesday, March 27. He said that date may be moved back two days because of the snow days earlier this month. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for March 29 and April 2.

Anderson said testing would begin soon at the high school. Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments will begin April 16. Anderson said he would like to plan some special things to motivate students again this year.

Anderson also gave the board an updated schedule for the 2007-2008 school year. He said sixth graders were the only ones yet to register, and were scheduled to do so last week. He said some minor changes would have to be made in the schedule yet to even out some class numbers.

Elementary report

Elementary Principal Scott Loeslie reported that a Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment preparation meeting was held with teachers. Topics of discussion included giving students additional support before the tests are taken.

Conferences at Tracy Elementary are also planned March 29 and April 2.

Spring coaching assignments

The board approved spring coaching assignments. Head track coach is Monica Headlee. Assistant coaches are Al Landa, Gale Otto, and Marie Hanson. Head golf coach is Randy McIntire, and assistant coach is Roger Benson.

Paul Skoglund is the head softball coach. B-squad coach is Nicole Hedrick and junior high coach is Ashlei Carpenter. Bill Tauer is the head baseball coach, with Derek Flann coaching the B-squad and Landon Erickson the C-squad. Eighth-grade baseball coach is Rick Haberman, and with Nat Boyer serving as seventh grade coach. Thad Lessman is a volunteer baseball coach.


The board accepted, with thanks, the resignation of Russ Stobb due to retirement, effective May 31. The board also accepted, with thanks, the resignation of Jenny Kirk as co-head/assistant track coach.

Master calendar

The board accepted the FY 2008 master calendar.

Service co-op contract

The board accepted the proposed Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative contracts for 2007-2008. The contracts include membership dues of $1,221.45, cooperative purchasing for $150, health and safety management assistance for $861.75, Regional Management Information Center for $13,674.45, technology services for $1,600, special education services for $16,673.80, and E-rate coordinator services for $1,500.

Seniority list

The board approved the certified seniority list for FY 2007.


The board received a notice of desire to negotiate from the Tracy Education Association on a new master contract. The board approved a motion to begin negotiations in April.

'Free' lots have no takers

The Tracy Economic Development Authority had no takers for three “free” building lots on Union Street Monday.

The EDA had decided to offer the 100x128 foot lots south of O’Brien Court at no charge, except for a $1,000 non-refundable fee to cover closing and utility connection expenses. Buyers were required to complete a new house on the lot within 18 months or forfeit the $1,000 and title to the property. Monday was the first day that potential home builders had a chance to buy one of the free lots.

Robert Gervais, Tracy community development director, said that a number of people had expressed interest in the Union St. lots, so he was surprised that no offers were received. The lots remain for sale “on a first come, first-served” basis, he said. Besides the $1,000 fee, buyers will also need to assume about $4,400 of special assessments on each lot.

The Union Street lots had been priced at $8,000 each plus assessments. When Union Street was paved and the Eastview Addition developed in the 1990s, the Union St. lots originally had an asking price of $14,500.

Industrial park expansion studied

Tracy Economic Development Authority members are looking into costs for expanding the Tracy Industrial Park.

EDA members told Community Development Director Robert Gervais Friday to get improvement estimates after learning that a local business is interested in erecting a new building in the park. Gervais told EDA members that Kim Daniels and Keith Peterson of Daniels-Peterson Construction want to put up a new building. However, the city and EDA do not have a developed industrial park lot available to sell.

Consensus of EDA members is that it would be easiest to expand the industrial park by extending Fourth Street East to the north, and putting in sewer and water services at the same time. At minimum, a developed lot on each side of the street would then be available for development. The land is owned by the city and is already platted.

Obtaining a developed lot that the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation now uses to pile sand and gravel near its Tracy maintenance shop was also discussed. Gervais said it was possible that the DOT would be willing to trade the developed lot for an undeveloped city-owned lot that is adjacent. However, Gervais said, the city would have to improve the lot with gravel base before the state would consider a land trade. Several EDA members felt that it would be wiser to extend North Fourth St. That way, the EDA and the city would have developed lots available for immediate construction.

Other EDA business Friday included:

Hospital parking lot—Gervais reported that only one Eastview Addition property owner has signed a requested waiver to allow construction of a parking lot on two EDA-owned lots on Union Street, south of the hospital. The parking lot has been requested by hospital leaders to provide more off-street parking for hospital and clinic employees. But consent of Eastview homeowners is needed, because restrictive covenants in Eastview prohibit any uses of the land besides single-family housing construction. However, most EDA members feel that Union St. lots have limited potential for housing because of the hospital’s nearby helicopter pad.

Gervais said he will continue to seek the consent of Eastview owners for the parking area, even though one homeowner has already told him that he is opposed of the parking lot.

Rental housing—EDA members discussed what is considered a tight rental housing market in Tracy. All of the EDA-owned four-plexes are filled, Gervais said.

Aquapower—A March 23 closing is expected on the South St. building that the EDA is purchasing as the new home of Aquapower, an industrial cleaning business that is relocating in Tracy. The EDA is buying an improved 9,000 square foot warehouse from Daniels-Peterson Construction, and an adjacent lot, for $153,000. The EDA has entered into an agreement to lease the remodeled building to Aquapower. Gervais noted that Aquapower has started advertising for employees.

“They’d like to hire three or four people right away,” Gervais said.

Revolving loans—Gervais said he expects a local business to soon submit a request for an operating loan. Another business that had been delinquent in its payments has paid its loan up-to-date, he reported.

City advisory boards have unfilled positions

Tracy City Council members made appointments to five city boards last week. But vacancies remain on most city advisory boards. Appointments, and remaining vacancies, are:

Planning commission—No applications were received for two, four-year terms.

Library board—Wanda Apperson was appointed. Two, three-year terms remain open.

Police commission—Bernie Holm was appointed.

Housing Redevelopment Authority—Rhonda Fredericks was appointed to a five-year term.

Multi-purpose Center—No applications were received for two, three-year terms.

Economic Development Authority—Deb Schenkoske was appointed to a five-year term.

Hospital Community Board—Claire Hannasch was appointed to a three-year term. One position remains unfilled.

Cemetery commission—Two applications were received for one vacancy. A city committee will interview the applicants.

More information about volunteer city advisory boards is available at City Hall. The city council’s next meeting is March 26.

Students depart for Spain

12 seniors to land in Madrid Thursday

Twelve Tracy Area High School seniors are on a two-week study trip to Spain.

The group left Tracy early Wednesday afternoon (March 21) for Minneapolis/St. Paul for a flight to Madrid. The students are scheduled to return April 4.

The travelers are Brady Jackson, David McCoy, David Jones, Kyle McIntire, Logan Sanow, Levi Miller, Tyler Anderson, Jackie Haecherl, Elizabeth Rayman, Emily Gilmore, Bekah Zens and Cassie Miller. Veteran THS teacher Shorty Engel is leading the group, which will also include students from Maple Lake. The trip is arranged through the Language and Friendship travel group. All of the Tracy students are third-year Spanish students. Pam Anderson is their teacher.

After arrival in Madrid Thursday afternoon (Spanish time) the group is scheduled to take a train to Sevilla where they will stay their first night in Europe. For the next week, the students will see attractions in Sevilla, Granada, Toledo, and Segovia. On March 28, the students are to split up and begin a one-week stay with families in Segovia. On April 3, the Tracy students will reunite for an overnight hotel stay in Madrid before a return flight to the U.S. The group is scheduled to return to Minneapolis April 4 on Northwest Airlines Flight 55.