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News from the week of April 11, 2007


Anticipation builds for sportsmen's show

By Val Scherbart Quist

The Fifth Annual Tracy Area Sportsmen’s Show is just over a week away, and excitement is building.

“Right now we are looking at having the biggest show we’ve ever had,” said Tracy Chamber Director Val Lubben. “It is very exciting.”

Lubben said she is receiving calls almost daily from vendors who want to be a part of the 2007 Tracy Area Sportsmen’s Show.

“This is one of our biggest Chamber events and we invite everyone to come out to the high school for the Sportsmen’s Show on Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22,” she said.

Hours for the show, to be held at Tracy Area High School, are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 22.

The headlining speaker for this year’s event is “Tackle Terry” Tuma, a professional angler and writer for Outdoor News. Tuma will be giving seminars both Saturday and Sunday.

Other seminar presenters include Jeff Berthelsen of Rock Valley Kennels & Shooting Sports, Chad Bonin of Labs Afield Kennel & Guide Service, and Dwight Speh of Hawk Creek Calls. Roger Strand will speak on successful wood duck management, and Cap’n Redbeard (Don Easley) will give seminars entitled “Fishin’ the Boundary Waters for Dummies.”

The Saratoga Archery Club will have shoots open to the public both Saturday and Sunday, and Olympic archery contender Kelsey Robinson will be giving demonstrations.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet internationally known wildlife artist James A. Meger, six-time Pheasants Forever Artist of the Year, and try out a NASCAR simulator.

Also on-site will be a kids’ safety shooting range and the Minnesota DNR Wall of Shame.

Food will be available on-site as well as at the Tracy Eagles Club. On Saturday, a pork barbecue will be held at the Eagles Club from 6 to 8 p.m. The Eagles will also have a breakfast buffet on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Closing out the Sportsmen’s Show at 4 p.m. Sunday will be the raffle drawing. Grand prize is a 2007 John Deere Trail Gator HPX 4x4, and many other prizes are available. Tickets will be available for $20 throughout the weekend.

For more information on the Tracy Area Sportsmen’s Show, visit

New events

Two new events are being planned in conjunction with this year’s Sportsmen’s Show.

The Tracy Area Sportsmen’s Car Show will be held Saturday at Tracy Area High School, and the Prairie Women’s Expo will be held Saturday at the Veterans’ Memorial Center. Admission is free to both events.

Check-in time for the car show is 9 a.m. in the high school parking lot. There is a $12 entry fee. Trophies will be awarded for first, second, and third place, as well as People’s Choice. Judging will be held at noon and prizes awarded between 4-4:30 p.m.

Entry forms are available at the Tracy Chamber office, Swen’s Fuel, and Lights and Beyond. Entries can be mailed to the Tracy Area Chamber, 317 Morgan St., prior to the show. Entries are also welcome the morning of the show. For more information, contact Leon or Sue Mumm at (507) 763-3878.

Plans are also coming along well for the Prairie Women’s Expo.

“Since this is the first time doing something like this, it’s a learning experience but it’s been fun,” said Lubben. “We are very pleased with the number of exhibitors who are choosing to participate in the Prairie Women’s Expo.”

Lubben said this is also a Chamber event, and invited all ladies to attend.

“We are giving ‘goodie bags’ to the first 200 women and the variety of exhibits will make for a very interesting day.”

Hours for the Prairie Women’s Expo are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Veterans’ Memorial Center in downtown Tracy. Shuttle service will be available between the Veterans’ Memorial Center and Tracy Area High School.

The show will feature a spring fashion show with clothing from Tracy Four Seasons, Dianne’s Dockside, Mr. Cool’s Clothing, and Midwest Supply. Those who attend will also have the opportunity to see clothing made out of 100 percent corn.

A salad luncheon catered by T-Tommy’s will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Morning coffee will be served with free-will donations going toward the Susan G. Komen cancer fund. Homemade pie will be served by the ladies of St. Mary’s Church from 2-4 p.m.

A variety of exhibitors will be on-site including computer generated hairstyles, skin care, jewelry, purses, candles, home décor, food, scrapbooking, rubber stamping, women’s health, and Jacob Wetterling child ID kits.

For more information, visit


Accident claims life of Jodi Sanders

Funeral services are planned Friday for Jodi Sanders, who died Tuesday morning from injuries sustained in a car accident south of Tracy.Sanders, 38, was taken

ambulance to Murray County Hospital in Slayton and airlifted to the Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls. She was pronounced dead at 9:15 a.m. Funeral arrangements are pending with the Almlie Funeral Home. A prayer service and visitation is planned at the Almie Funeral Home Thursday, with the funeral service at Tracy Lutheran Friday. No times had been finalized when this newspaper went to press Wednesday morning.

Sanders was a paraprofessional at Tracy Elementary School. She is survived by her husband, Paul, and two children, Darian, 13; and Hayden, 9.

“It’s devastating,” said Tracy Elementary Principal Scott Loeslie, of Sanders’ sudden death.

“In a small community like Tracy, and a small school like Tracy Elementary, it’s all about people. Jodi was a great person to have on staff.”

A school employee since the fall of 1997, Sanders was well-liked by school staff members and students alike, Loeslie said. Sanders was “very supportive” of students.

She especially shined in art-related projects, Loeslie said.

“She had a great flair for the arts,” Loeslie said “When we needed a poster done, and you put a brush and paints in her hands, she was in her element.” Special education was her main assignment this year, Loeslie said, but during her career she worked in most of the school’s educational areas.

Tracy Elementary students were told of the death at the end of the school day on Tuesday, and a letter was sent home with parents.

The daughter of LaVonne Hovde and the late Paul Hovde, Jodi was a 1986 Tracy Area High School graduate. For a number of years, Sanders was Sunday school teacher at Tracy Lutheran.


City seeks to cut pool operating loss

Season passfees increase

By Seth Schmidt

Season-pass fees at the Tracy Aquatic Center will be more expensive this summer.

The price of an individual, season pass will go from $60 to $65 for Tracy residents. A non-resident individual season pass will increase from $100 to $110. A season pass for 1-4 people will cost $110 for residents and $165 for non-Tracy residents. For 5-8 people, a season pass will cost $130 for residents and $185 for non-residents, Previously, there were no limits to the number of people who could be included in a “family” pass.

The price for a daily admission to the aquatic center will remain at $5. Coupon books with $4 daily rates will also be offered as in the past.

The rate increases, okayed by city council members Monday, are part of an effort to reduce the aquatic center’s operating deficit. In 2006, Tracy Aquatic Center operations lost $78,600. Several actions are planned for reducing the operating deficit. Even with the increases, Engel said the aquatic center remains a good value. The season-pass increases, he noted, are the first for the aquatic center since it opened in 2002.

Jan Arvizu, a member of the city’s pool committee that recommended the increases, said she tried to strike a balance between the need to increase revenue, and not making pool fees so expensive that usage declines. For that reason, Arvizu expressed satisfaction that the daily admission will remain at $5.

The committee has discussed several ideas for increasing attendance at the pool this summer, boosting revenues, and reducing costs, Arvizu and Engel indicated. Improving the profitability of the concessions department will be among the priorities.

The concession area was envisioned as an important source of revenue when the aquatic center was planned. But last summer, the concessions department lost money. Engel said that both cost-cutting measures and new products are planned for concessions.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman said that a portion of last year’s operating loss was due to one-time expenses related to re-opening the pool after being closed for two years. Those expenses included opening the pool three weeks early last May in order to test the refurbished pool and train staff. In October of last year, council members were told that about $13,000 of the $78,000 loss could be attributed to re-opening the pool.

Construction of the new Tracy Aquatic Center began in the fall of 2001, and the facility opened in July of 2002. The new pool replaced a 1951 pool. However, the new aquatic center was closed for testing after suspicious cracks and leaks were noticed during the 2002 season. The City of Tracy received $1.2 million from a pool litigation settlement in January of 2006, and an extensively refurbished aquatic center opened just in time for the 2006 swimming season.

The increased aquatic center admission rates were passed on a 6-1 vote. Mayor Steve Ferrazzano cast the dissenting vote, saying that he felt it was too soon to pass on rate increases to taxpayers, considering the past problems the city has had with the pool.

Arvizu responded, “The taxpayers will have to shoulder this (operating deficit) whether they pay at the door or not.”

A feasibility report prepared for the city by USAquatics in the year 2000 projected that a new Tracy aquatic center would show a small operating profit.


'Bean house' to be razed

CHS will build new grain bins

By Seth Schmidft

The “bean house” is coming down.

“We hope they’ll be able to start taking it down Wednesday (April 11),” said Bob Anderson, CHS manager in Tracy.

The 100-foot high wooden elevator has been a fixture along the railroad tracks in Tracy for a half century. Anderson said that the old elevator, which could hold up to 110,000 bushels of grain, will be replaced with two larger steel bins.

The new facilities, Anderson said, will have much quicker loading and unloading capabilities to go along with its increased storage. The new grain bins will also be much easier to maintain and be safer.

“It’s served its useful life,” Anderson said of the old grain bin, which was built in 1957.

A Monticello company, SMA, is the general contractor for both razing the old elevator and erecting the new bins and grain legs. Anderson said he looked for the demolition to take about three days. Completion of the new grain facilities is expected in time for the fall harvest.

The new grain bins will be built on the site of the old elevator, which is on the south side of the Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern railroad tracks and east of South Fourth St.

For most of its years, the wooden elevator has been used to store soybeans and was commonly known by farmers as “the bean house.” It has been emptied twice since the ‘06 harvest.

Anderson and three local members of the CHS board took part in a light-hearted “first swing of demolition” ceremony at the old elevator Monday morning. Anderson, and Steve Knott unleashed sludge hammer blows at the elevator while Steve Hansen and Dick Verlinde provided commentary.

As expected, the thick-walled elevator refused to budge.

Anderson said that new grain bins will give CHS about 2 million bushels of grain storage capacity in Tracy.

Investors sought for Lamberton ethanol plant

A series of informational meetings are planned for potential investors in a proposed ethanol plant in Lamberton.

The first two gatherings are Saturday, April 14, at Red Rock Central High School in Lamberton at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Highwater Ethanol, LLC, hopes to raise $45 to $60 million for the planned ethanol plant. Up to 4,614 membership units, in minimum blocks of $10,000 each, are being offered.

Highwater Ethanol plans to build a plant west of Lamberton this summer that would be capable of processing 18 million bushels of corn into 50 million gallons of ethanol annually. The plant would also produce byproducts used in livestock feed. The facility is expected to create about 35 jobs.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the stock offering last week. Last year, investors raised more than $1.6 million for development costs.

Other investor information meetings are also planned. They include an April 21, 10 a.m. meeting at the Springfield American Legion, and Tuesday, April 24, 2 p.m., at the New Ulm Microtel.

More information is available at


Casey Jones construction targeted east of Pipestone

Trail easement acquired near Walnut Grove


By Seth Schmidt


The first right-of-way for the proposed Casey Jones recreational trail between Walnut Grove and Lake Shetek is being acquired.

Mike Salmon, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources trail division manager, told the Friends of the Casey Jones Trail Association last week that a conservation easement has been worked out with a landowner for land southwest of Plum Creek Park. The right-of-way would contribute about one mile for the planned Casey Jones Trail.

“That’s important to us,” said Robert Klingle, president of the Friends of the Casey Jones Trail Association. “It’s a starting point.”

The Casey Jones State Trail is envisioned as a pathway for snowmobiling, horseback riding, biking, and hiking that someday will stretch more than 100 miles across Southwest Minnesota. A state trail designation has been granted for a dual track, multi-use trail between Split Rock Creek State Park in Pipestone County to Redwood Falls. Legislative approval is being sought to extend the state trail to Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources owns 12.5 miles of Casey Jones trail right-of-way in Pipestone County, and another two miles in Murray County near Lake Wilson. All the remaining right-of-way, except for the six-mile End-O-Line loop trail between Currie and Shetek State Park, still needs to be acquired.

The 2006 legislature appropriated $500,000 for Casey Jones right-of-way acquisition. In 2004, a $1.2 million appropriation from the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Trails was earmarked for the Casey Jones Trail.

“It’s a long process,” Klingle told the Casey Jones group. “But the end result will be worthwhile.” In the group’s newsletter, Klingle compared the process of building the Casey Jones trail to growing a tree. “It may take several generations, but it’s well worth the work.”

The exact route the Casey Jones Trail will take remains unknown.

Salmon said the availability of right-of-way will determine the route.

“The DNR only buys land from willing sellers. We do not use eminent domain,” Salmon said. For that reason, he said, the trail’s future path will be determined by where right-of-way can be acquired.

“We are really looking for local people to tell us where there are opportunities to work with a willing seller,” Salmon said.


Construction to begin

Plans have been drafted for the construction of the first five miles asphalt on the Casey Jones Trail between Pipestone and Woodstock. Estimated cost is $921,500. Hopes are that bids can be awarded by June, and construction completed this fall.

The five- mile segment, directly east of Pipestone is along abandoned railroad right-of-way. The project includes one bridge replacement, re-setting two large culverts, and rehabilitating a township bridge. Within the approximately 100-foot right-of-way, two paths would be created: a 10-foot asphalt path for biking, walking and Rollerblading, and a 10-foot wide aggregate trail for snowmobiling, and horseback riding. When a wider right-of-way isn’t possible or at a bridge or culvert crossing, the trail would have only a single path.

The DNR, and the Friends of the Casey Jones Trail, have set the completion of the19-mile Pipestone to Lake Wilson segment as its first priority since that’s where most of its existing right-of-way is located. Besides the 12.5 miles from Pipestone to the Murray County boarder, the trail has about 2 1/2 miles of right-of-way west from Lake Wilson. A gap of about 3.5 miles remains.

The second priority, Salmon said, will be the completion of the Walnut Grove to Shetek segment. The six-mile looped trail between Currie and Shetek State Park is already a part of the Casey Jones Trail.


Possible routes

Ideally, Salmon said the Casey Jones Trail will follow streambeds and scenic areas that have marginal value as farmland. In some localities, it might be possible to route the trail along the edge of wildlife management area. Sometimes, he acknowledged, it will be necessary for the trail to be built along the right-of-way of a township or county road. Trail planners do not want to disrupt farm operations, Salmon stressed.

The most scenic route from Shetek to Walnut Grove, Salmon said, would follow the Plum Creek valley. From Slayton to Shetek, he said a trail following Beaver Creek would be ideal.

Plans would be to plant trail right-of-ways with natural grasses and vegetation.

Casey Jones Trail supporters say the pathway will attract tourism and boost the area economy, provide recreational opportunities, encourage physical fitness, and preserve and create natural areas.

A completed Casey Jones Trail between Walnut Grove and Split Rock Creek (about 70 miles) would connect two state parks, the Pipestone National Monument, End-O-Line Railroad Park in Currie, headwaters of the Des Moines River, Lake Shetek, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and the Wilder Pageant Site in Walnut Grove.

If the trail were someday extended to Redwood Falls, the Casey Jones Trail could connect to a trail planned along the Minnesota River Valley.