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News from the week of October 11, 2000 Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

February pool referendum set

Sink or swim?

City of Tracy voters will decide the fate of a proposed outdoor swimming pool this winter.

Tracy City Council members voted unanimously Monday night, to call a $1.5 million bond referendum for Feb. 6. The money would be used to replace the city's 49-year-old Sebastian Park pool with a new family aquatic center.

If voters approve the referendum, construction could begin as early as next fall, with completion targeted for spring of 2002. The new facility would be built on the existing Sebastian Park site, utilizing the existing bathhouse. A city swimming pool committee recommended the referendum

Mayor Claire Hannasch said he felt the committee and consulting engineers had developed a “very do-able project.” The mayor felt most people in the city recognized that “something needs to be done” to replace the city's half-century old swimming pool.

Councilman Russ Stobb said he hoped voters would approve some type of pool improvement. “If not this plan, then some other plan.”

Councilman Brad Nelson expressed concerns that the pool project is a bigger expense than Tracy can afford. But he said he supported letting the people decide the pool issue in a referendum.

Comment invited on DM&E plan

• Environmental review suggests compromise route

Public comment on the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad's proposed $1.2 billion expansion project will be accepted by a federal agency through Jan. 5, 2001.

Testimony is invited on the U.S. Surface Transportation Board's recently completed draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The 2,000 page report studies the environmental impacts of the railroad's plan to rehabilitate 600 miles of existing track and build 280 miles of new track. The improvements would allow the DM&E to haul high-grade coal from the Powder River Basin area in east Central Wyoming.

The draft EIS recommends a construction route that differs from DM&E's original proposal, primarily by avoiding sensitive environmental areas in Wyoming and South Dakota. However, the EIS rejects a “no action” alternative and an “Option D” that was favored by some opposition groups.

Radon gas testing urged for area homes

• Gas is second-leading cause of lung cancer

Public health authorities urge all area households to be tested for radon gas.

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless gas. The gas is harmless when dispersed outdoors, but can be harmful at elevated levels when trapped in buildings. According to a recent National Academy of Sciences report, radon causes between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.

“However, because you can't see or smell radon, people tend to minimize the health effects and ignore the possibility that it might exist in elevated levels in their homes,” says Jeff Moberg, of Public Health Services of Lincoln, Lyon, Murray and Pipestone counties.

The geography of Southwest Minnesota makes area residents especially at risk.

Tests conducted in the four-county area since 1988 show elevated radon levels in 68% of local homes. Nationally, only 6% of homes have elevated radon levels.

Flu vaccines urged

`At risk' patients can get flu shots beginning Monday

High-risk individuals are urged to get flu vaccines at the Tracy Medical Clinic beginning Monday, Oct. 16.

Flu vaccines for all other individuals will be available at the clinic beginning Nov. 1.

A statewide flu vaccine shortage has resulted in delays in the clinic receiving adequate supplies of the vaccine, explains Valerie Sobrack, of Tracy Area Medical Services. For this reason, flu vaccines will be made available to high-risk individuals first. High-risk patients (as defined by the Centers of Disease Control) include:

• Anyone over the age of 65.

• Anyone living in a nursing home.

• Anyone with chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes, kidney problems, blood disorders, or suppressed immune systems.

• Children and young adults who are on long-term aspirin therapy, putting them at risk for Reye's Syndrome.

New policemen expected to begin Tracy beats soon

If all goes as expected, the Tracy Police Department will have a new officer on board within two weeks, with a second policeman joining the force soon after Nov. 1.

Police Chief Bryan Hilger told city council members Monday night that efforts to hire the two officers were "on track." The police commission offered the jobs to the two candidates. Hillger said the only steps remaining before the candidates start work are the completion of background tests.

City Council members approved a starting wage of $11.78 an hour for the officers.

Students learn farm safety & science

Fourth graders from Tracy Area Elementary School and St. Mary's Catholic School participated in Fall Elementary Field Day held September 20 and 21 at the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center located near Lamberton. Approximately 500 students, teachers, and volunteers from fourteen schools took part in the educational field trip.

Student groups moved to seven different stations covering topics on agriculture, safety and the environment. Students watched in disbelief as “Earl”, the headless paper man, was pulled into the power take off in less than a split second. In addition they saw how quickly a toy person could be pulled down into an unloading gravity wagon as well as the proper clothing to wear around farm machinery. At another stop students observed the dangers associated with power lines, a hot dog fried by touching a power line left a lasting impression.