banner.gif (15051 bytes)

News from the week of April 4, 2007


Planning commission supports linkage plan for hospital, Prairie View

Vacated 5th St. East sought

By Seth Schmidt

A proposal to connect Sanford Tracy Medical Center and the Prairie View Healthcare Center in a future building project cleared a potential hurdle Monday.

The Tracy Planning Commission gave their blessings to a Sanford and Prairie View request to vacate Fifth Street East as a part of a possible joint hospital and nursing home building project. The planning commission’s recommendation to grant the street vacation now goes to the Tracy City Council.

“Let me stress that these plans are very, very preliminary,” Rick Nordahl, Sanford Tracy administrator, told the planning commission Monday. “There are a lot of hoops that have to be gone through.” But, Nordahl said, leaders from both the Prairie View and Sanford Tracy Medical Center agree that physically connecting the nursing home and medical center would have significant advantages. Vacating Fifth Street East, Nordahl said, would be necessary to connect the two facilities.

Nordahl presented the street vacation request with Tennes Eeg, Prairie View administrator. Both Sanford Tracy and Prairie View have been studying plans to enlarge and remodel their facilities.

Preliminary plans shown to planning commission members called for an addition built from the northwest corner of Prairie View’s property. The addition would be physically connected to the Sanford Medical Center complex, across what is now Fifth St. East. State Street would end in a cul-de-sac at what is now Fifth St. East.The southerly end of what is now Fifth St. East would become a central parking area.

Consensus of planning commission members was that since the nursing home and hospital are both important to Tracy, the city shouldn’t oppose a project that will benefit both. Dan Anderson, planning commission chair, added one caveat to his support, sayinig he didn’t like the fact that the current plan would result in both State and Union becoming dead end streets. Anderson indicated he would prefer that consideration be given to extending one or both of the streets. The city does have right-of-way to extend both Union and State streets further east, the commission was told.

Planning commission members, in their recommendation, also specified that vacating the street should occur only if the hospital-nursing home building projects move forward. City Administrator Audrey Koopman advised that the process for vacating a street would take about 60 days.

Nordahl told the commission that the street vacation request was being made now, so that hospital and nursing home leaders would know if their proposed linkage plan can be pursued further.

Koopman told the planning commission that if Fifth St. East was vacated, a water main underneath the street would need to be re-routed, probably in a loop around the east side of Prairie View. A sewage lift station and electric generator near the intersection of East Fifth and Union would also likely need to be moved further south on city right-of-way, she said.


Churches plan Holy Week events

A host of Holy Week services are planned in coming days by local churches. Holy Week events commemorate the Christian belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago in Palestine. Palm Sunday began Holy Week on April 1 and ends on Easter Sunday April 8.

“On Easter we rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus the Christ and ponder the times in which we have witnessed new birth in the ordinary, everyday events of our lives,” writes Pastor Kaye Brandt in the Tracy United Methodist Church’s April newsletter. “Just as certainly as the tulips peek up and the dead trees turn green again, Easter comes with the promise that death does not have the final word. Christ is risen and alive in our world. Easter is the day that the Lord has made.”

Holy Week at local churches are all open to the public. Events and times include:

Tracy Christian Alliance—Good Friday worship, 7 p.m.; Easter Sunday breakfast 8:30 a.m., Easter Sunday worship 10 30 a.m., no Sunday school.

Tracy United Methodist—Maundy Thursday service 7 p.m., Easter Sunday 9 a.m. worship, breakfast 10:30 a.m., worship 10:30 a.m.

Zion Lutheran—Wednesday Lenten service 7 p.m.; Easter Sunday 10:15 worship.

Lake Sarah Lutheran (Garvin)—Maundy Thursday service 7 p.m.; Easter Sunday worship 7 a.m.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church—Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, noon; Holy Saturday Easter vigil, 8:30 p.m.; Easter Sunday 10:30 a.m. Mass.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church (Currie)—Easter Sunday 8 a.m. Mass.

Tracy Lutheran—Maundy Thursday worship 7 p.m.; Good Friday service 7 p.m.; Easter Sunday sunrise worship 7 a.m.; Easter breakfast 8 a.m. 9 a.m. worship.

St. Michael’s Catholic Church (Milroy)—Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion 3 p.m., Easter Sunday 8:45 a.m. Mass.

Our Savior’s Lutheran (Milroy)—Easter Sunday 7 a.m. worship.

Lake Sarah Baptist—Maundy Thursday service 7 p.m.

First Presbyterian—Easter Sunday 9 a.m. worship.

Lake Shetek Presbyterian (Currie)—Easter Sunday 10:30 a.m. worship.

First Congregational (Garvin)—Good Friday service 7 p.m., Easter Sunday breakfast 7:45 a.m. Easter Sunday worship 9 a.

'Kids Against Hunger' plans event

Volunteers, cash sought for April 11 food packaging

Local people have an opportunity to help feed hungry people around the world.

Area churches are sponsoring a “Kids Against Hunger” drive next week. At least 100 volunteers are needed to help fill and package Kids Against Hunger Meals Wednesday, April 11, at the Tracy United Methodist Church, from 4 to 8 p.m. Cash contributions are also invited to purchase food materials.

Kids Against Hunger is a grassroots, international food relief organization that was founded by several people in Stewart, Minnesota, in 2003. Since its founding, the organization has packaged and distributed 10 million nutritionally balanced meals worldwide.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of thousands of caring volunteers,” said John Neisen, Kids Against Hunger volunteer coordinator in Stewart.

The Kids Against Hunger organization packages fortified rice and soy meals for distribution overseas.

Volunteers who turn out at the Methodist Church will set up an assembly line for mixing soybean and rice products with minerals and vitamins. After meals are weighed and packaged, meals will be shipped back to Stewart for distribution to needy people overseas.

The cost for each meal is about 10 cents, meaning a $100 donation is enough to buy 1,000 Kids Against Hunger meals. Cash donations pay for the food ingredients, packaging, and transportation costs of Kids Against Hunger meals.

“What we are hoping is that people who turn out to work a couple of hours, will also consider contributing money to cover the cost of the meals,” Neisen said. All money, he stressed, goes toward providing food for the hunger. No one in the Kids Against Hunger organization gets paid.

Tanzania, Romania, Columbia, Sri Lanka, Honduras, Liberia, and Somalia are among the places where Kids Against Hunger Meals have been distributed. But the organization also distributed food in Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Committee members planning the Tracy Kids Against Hunger event are Perry Fales, Harold Deal, Janet Randall, Laurie Ziemke, Seth Schmidt, Les Onken, Goldie Wilking, Pastor Elton Jorde, and Carlene Edwards.

Kids Against Hunger donations can be sent to Kids Against Hunger, Goldie Wilking, 309 E. Craig Ave., Tracy, MN 56175. Thrivent Financial is providing matching grant money for the event.

The Tracy Kids Against Hunger event is one of 11 planned by the organization in April. The others are in Stewart, Ramsey, Lafayette, Belview, Litchfield, Olivia, and Waconia, MN, and Cassville, WI, Albuquerque, NM, and Peoria, AZ

Money still needed for St. Mark's move

By Seth Schmidt

The Wheels Across the Prairie Museum has raised about $10,000 to cover the expenses of moving the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church building to the museum.

“We’re grateful for the gifts we’ve received so far. But we’d like to raise about $10,000 more,” reports Janet Randall, Wheels museum treasurer.

The St. Mark’s project will end up costing about $20,000, Randall said. The cost of moving St. Mark’s from its old location at Second and Center streets in Tracy, and placing it on a new foundation at the Wheels museum was just over $18,000, Randall said. An additional $1,400 expense was incurred for electric and lighting improvements at St. Mark’s. The new lighting has made it possible to light up the museum’s stained glass windows at night.

Yet to be completed is a ramp for St. Mark’s front entry, and flooring to cover an old stairwell in the church’s narthex.

Randall said she hopes that additional contributions will be received to cover the remaining $10,000 in St. Mark’s expenses, because the museum has other needs. The installation of a concrete pad underneath the museum’s signature steam switch engine is one looming needed. The 1915 training engine and tender car have bent the railroad tracks where it was set in 1990. Museum volunteers hope to build a concrete slab and install new rails underneath the engine. To do that, additional track will have to be laid so the museum’s four-unit freight train can be pulled off the bent rails while repairs are made. It is hoped that the tracks can be repaired “in the immediate future,” but Randall doubts that the work will be done this year.

An open house to commemorate the completion of the St. Mark’s project is planned this summer. Plans are to maintain the sanctuary as a church. The church building will be available for wedding rentals. A garden, in honor of the late Mary Lou Ludeman, the museum’s longtime curator, is planned east of St. Mark’s.

The Wheels Across the Prairie Museum plans its annual meeting Tuesday, May 15. All interested people are invited. Museum board members, in addition to Randall, are President Jon Wendorff, Vice President Anna Gene Burke, Secretary Bettie Johnston, Dorthey Pamp, Art Peterson, LaVern Holm, Charlie Snyder.

Donations for the St. Mark’s project can be sent to Wheels Across the Prairie Museum, Box 1132, Tracy, MN. 56175.

• • •

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was originally located on the Southwest corner of Rowland and Fourth streets. The church was moved to the corner of Second and Center streets in 1937, when it was extensively remodeled. The St. Mark’s congregation disbanded in the 1960s and the church was sold to high school art teacher Leroy Marcotte, who used a portion of the building for a studio. After Marcotte’s death, the former church was given to the Lyon County Historical Society, who turned it into a museum. In 1984, the historical society gave St. Mark’s to the City of Tracy. The Wheels Across the Prairie Museum acquired the building this fall, and moved it to the Hwy. 14 museum on Dec. 5.

Church of Christ has new pastor

By Valerie Scherbart Quist

A new minister is settling in at the Church of Christ.

Pastor Mike Johnston had his first service at the church on March 25. Johnston comes to the Church of Christ after having worked for Greater Minnesota Family Services doing home-based counseling. He also worked for Pipestone County Family Services.

Prior to accepting those positions, he was in the pastoral ministry for 25 years in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa.

Johnston and his wife, Gail, are no strangers to the church. They have been attending church there and he has been doing some preaching there. Johnston said the church had been looking for a new pastor for the past year and a half and had asked him to consider accepting the position. Recently, there were some changes in his job and he decided to accept.

“It all just came together,” he said.

Johnston said coming to Tracy was a natural choice for he and his wife, Gail, a teacher at Tracy Area High School.

“It just feels to be a good fit,” he said.

Because they already know and had worked with many people in the congregation, the Johnstons are already feeling comfortable in their new roles.

“We have been attending and worshipping with them,” Johnston said. “We were able to transition smoothly.”

Johnston was raised on a farm in Cherokee County, Iowa, about 100 miles southwest of Tracy. He attended Willow Community School and graduated in 1967. He then attended Minnesota Bible College, now Crossroads Christian College, graduating in 1972 with a bachelor of theology degree. He went on to get his master of science degree in counseling from Winona State University.

The Johnstons have been married for nearly 37 years and have two children. Christy lives in Sioux Falls and Cory lives in Mankato.

“We’re really excited about being in the community and working with the people,” Johnston said.

Council meeting on patio question is cancelled

A special Tracy City Council meeting to consider the Tracy Liquor Store patio project Tuesday was cancelled.

Council members set the April 3 meeting on March 26 after several council members expressed concern about an unfinished south patio wall that was not included in a $66,581 contract that was awarded last September. Several council members expressed concern that the patio would not be completed on time this spring, and said they didn’t know the south wall had not been included in the contracted awarded last fall.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman said Monday that minutes of the Sept. 18 meeting show that the project architect did inform the city that the south wall was not included in the project. Plans and cost estimates will be presented at the council’s planned April 9 meeting.