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News from the week of January 5, 2000


Tracy precipitation total drops to 19.95" in 1999

Precipitation dropped sharply in the immediate Tracy area during 1999.

The weather recording station at the Tracy water plant logged 19.95 inches of moisture during the past year, In 1998, Tracy precipitation was 26.37 inches.

Most 1999 Tracy precipitation fell in April, May and June. April showers brought 4.37 inches, followed by 3.09 inches in May and 2.6 inches in June. July, often one of the year's driest months, came through with 2.51 inches of precipitation. 1999 snowfall totaled 26 inches.

Dry conditions have prevailed since autumn. October, November and December have brought only a combined 1.03 inches of moisture.

Until last year, wet weather patterns prevailed during much of the 1990s. The 1999 precipitation total is the lowest for Tracy and the region since 1988 and 1989.

Annual precipitation totals recorded at the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center near Lamberton show 17.91 inches of moisture for 1988. The year 1989 brought 19.26 inches of precipitation. During the 1990s, until 1999, the Lamberton station never logged an annual precipitation totals of less than 24.36 inches. Annual precipitation during the decade exceeded 30 inches four times. In 1993, Lamberton received 40.79 inches of precipitation.Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

School is out for Bonnie Ludeman & Dennis Fultz

• Retiring Board of Education members served since 1980s

When the District 417 school board holds its first organizational meeting of the year 2000, two familiar faces will be missing from the table.

Veteran school board members Bonnie Ludeman and Dennis Fultz completed their final terms this month and say it's time to move on — neither sought re-election in November. Their combined years of service on the board add up to nearly 30 years. Fultz has served on the Board of Education since 1981; Ludeman since 1989.

As school board members, they've sat through countless meetings, shuffled mountains of paper and made decisions impacting thousands of students. They've welcomed new administrators, wrestled with finances and helped usher in the computer age in the classroom. During their tenures, school populations have become more ethnically mixed. Tele-media, open enrollment and post secondary enrollment options have become facts of life.

• • •

Fultz remembers what prompted him to run for election nearly 20 years ago.

“My brother Eric was receiving a state FFA award, and Jim Walker (superintendent at the time) was tapped to present it at the state convention. I called to see if I could ride along.”

Fultz, a 1965 THS grad, says the two visited, and Walker encouraged him to file for election. The year was 1981, the same year Harold Remme moved to Tracy as the district's superintendent after Walker accepted another position.

For Ludeman, the decision to run for a school board seat evolved naturally.

“I was involved as a volunteer at the elementary school when my children reached school age. Then I served as an officer of the PTC Club.”

She mulled over her decision to run, and minutes before the deadline in 1989, filed for a seat.

• • •

The two say their responsibility as school board members was to set policy, not to become involved in the day-to-day operations of the school.

“We're not micro-managers. We're not involved in day to day decisions,” says Fultz.

The most important duty of the school board, both feel , is the ability to come together and render thoughtful, clear and fair decisions that are in the best interests of District 417 students.

“It's important to have a diversity of opinions — that's the beauty of a board,” says Fultz. “But as a board member you have to take an issue and make it either black and white, even though it's gray.”

“If you come on with a burning passion, you find yourself moderating,” adds Ludeman, citing the reality of laws and mandates as well as the importance of unity.

Fultz sees himself as a conceptual person. Ludeman, on the other hand, describes herself as a detail person. “Though not with numbers. I'm also not a confrontational person.” Rather, she considers herself a peace-maker. “I want people to come together and reach a consensus.”

What's next? Both plan to take a year to catch their breaths, but want to maintain some sort of connection with the school.

“I hope to take the time I spent at school-related meetings and work in my home office during the next year. It needs it!” quips Fultz. But he adds, “I'm going to miss the people and the process.”

Concludes Ludeman, “I'd like to thank the school community for their support through the years. I hope I've made a difference.”

Joyce St. Pierre has winning recipe for 'Mystery Shopper Challenge'

Joyce St. Pierre has a thousand extra reasons to smile this week. Who can blame her?

Tuesday, the Tracy womoan was presented with a $1,000 check for winning a regional "Mystery Shopper Challenge" sponsored by Orion Food Systems. St. Pierre, Food Service Manager at Avanti Food-N-Fuel in Tracy, was recognized for operating the best site among over 1,000 locations served by Orion.

"Our regional winners are clearly the best in the nation for cleanliness, for product quality and for service. You and your team members should be proud of your score and proud of your commitment to quality and service," stated Jeff Okerlund, Orion President, in a letter to St. Pierre.

The Orion judging was based on a surprise visit to the Tracy store in October from an Orion "mystery shopper." The visitor evaluated the Food-N-Fuel take-out food department on a wide-range of criteria. The evaluation began with how cheerfully the customer was greeted when they walked through the door. The mystery shopper checked items such as the cleanliness of the facility, the neatness of displays, quality and freshness of food, freezer temperatures and product dating.

St. Pierre gives credit to the people she works with. "I've got people who know how things need to be done." The first thing she plans to do with the prize money is take her food service employees out-to-dinner.

St. Pierre and the Tracy Food-N-Fuel are now eligible for a national "Mystery Shopper Challenge" competition worth $5,000.

Chamber honors businesses

The Tracy Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors wrapped up 1999 by recognizing several Tracy businesses: Nicole Larson, CPA; Dueber's Variety Store and Enderson Clothing were presented with "First Dollar" awards. Tracy Ace Home Center was honored with a "Progress Award."

Shetek freeze-up is second latest in past 30 years

This winter's freeze-up of Lake Shetek is the second latest on record over the past 30 years.

According to records compiled by Ernie Surprenant, a long-time cabin owner on Shetek, the lake was completely frozen over on Dec. 17 of 1999. The only later freeze-up date the Tracy man has recorded over the past three decades occurred on Jan. 10 of 1981.

Surprenant has kept track of Shetek's ice-in and ice-out dates since 1970. He began the activity as a hobby. But for about the past 15 years, he has sent his dates to New York University, where a professor is compiling data for a study on global warming.

Surprenant has Shetek ice-in dates for every year except 1983.

"I can't find that. I must have slipped up that year," he explains.

A check of Headlight-Herald weather records shows that winter arrived early that year. November of 1983 brought 23.5 inches of snow in Tracy, meaning the Shetek also frozen over early that year.

Surprenant defines the Shetek ice-in date as when he can no longer see any open water. (An exception is made for the open water around the Shetek aerator, which was installed in 1975).

Chamber sets 'Spring Expo'

The Tracy Area Chamber of Commerce plans a 'spring Expo,' March 18, from 9:30am to 6:30pm at the Tracy Prairie Pavilion. The Spring Expo is a continuation of what has been a two-day March 'Farm & Home Show' sponsored by the Chamber.

"This name change allows the event to be open to more venues such as home and self-improvement, sports and recreation," explains Sara Kemp, Chamber president. The new name also reflects changing times. Kemp notes that some of the first Tracy shows were called "Farm & Electric" shows, because the products displayed had to use electricity.

This year's Spring Expo is scheduled on a Saturday. Traditionally, the two-day show has been held on a Tuesday and Wednesday. This will be the 32nd year for a Chamber sponsored spring event.