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News from the week of December 6, 2000

City okays downtown redevelopment planning

A planning process intended to spark redevelopment efforts in Downtown Tracy is moving forward.

Monday night, the Tracy City Council unanimously approved an $18,000 contract with an Eagan firm to develop the plan. Sabongi Consulting Group is to develop a master “revitalization” plan for Downtown Tracy and other commercial districts. Once complete, the redevelopment plan would be used to seek money from a Minnesota Small Cities grant program.

City and community representatives met several times this fall with Fred Sabongi, company president, to discuss the redevelopment plan. Communities that Sabongi has worked with include: Alexandria, Austin, Cannon Falls, Chisago City, Fairfax, Granite Falls, Hector, Jordan, Long Prairie, Madelia, Madison, Minneapolis, Montevideo, Olivia, Pipestone, Red Wing, St. Cloud, St. James, Sandstone, Sherburn, Sleepy Eye, Wabasha, Waseca, Windom. City representatives have received many favorable comments from towns that have worked with Sabongi.

Competitive speech program continues explosive growth

Extra coach recommended to handle increased numbers

The extra-curricular speech program at Tracy Area High School (TAHS) continues to grow.

And grow. And grow.

Seventy students turned out for a informational speech meeting recently. Last year, 36 students participated in competitive speech at TAHS. A year earlier, speech had 12 participants. Three years ago, a competitive speech program didn't exist at the high school.

English teacher Steve Jones, the speech team's head coach, is pleased with the growth. However, he told Tracy school board members last week that the mushrooming numbers do present some challenges.

“For whatever reason, the program has become popular with students. Now we have to be able to find a way to accommodate all of the kids.”

Grant funding, new building eyed for ambulance service

The Tracy Ambulance Service is seeking grant funding to build a new ambulance garage.

Tracy City Council members gave their blessings to the effort, agreeing to donate the land for the ambulance garage if the grant funding is obtained.

Ambulance Service President Charles DeSchepper asked council members for the cost of purchasing vacant city land on the corner of South and Center Streets. He said he was pursuing two funding sources for the construction of a garage. Money to operate the garage would come from existing ambulance serviced funds.

Paychecks are part of life for many TAHS students

70% seniors in survey report holding job

For many Tracy Area High School (TAHS) students, jobs are as much a part of life as homework.

Seventy percent of students in this year's senior class have a job, according to a recent survey. In the same survey, 56% of TAHS juniors said they worked, while 51% of sophomores said they had a job. Jobs are also relatively common among ninth graders, even though most students are too young to drive. About one in four freshman said they had a job.

“It's amazing,” says Principal John Rokke of the survey. The administrator, who shared survey results with Tracy school board members last week, said that teachers were surprised by the survey. Teachers, he indicated, realize many students work, but were surprised by the numbers of students with jobs and hours worked.

The voluntary survey was distributed among TAHS English classes in grades 9-12 this October. Sixty-seven of 98 seniors returned the survey. 70 of 100 juniors, 61 of 76 sophomores and 66 of 76 ninth graders also returned surveys.

A composer of note

Augsburg Fortress publishes Pam Gervais piano music

Move over Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news!

Accomplished Tracy pianist and composer Pam Gervais has a new book of published music.

“From the Heart,” published recently by Augsburg Fortress, contains four original compositions by Gervais and five piano solo hymn arrangements. Five of Gervais' songs were previously published in a book of hymn accompaniments called “Let It Rip at the Piano.”

The Tracy farm wife and mother of three began studying the piano five years ago with Jeannie Cotter, a nationally-known pianist. Cotter encouraged Gervais to work on composing her own music, and in the fall of 1999 Gervais began writing some new pieces and revising some that she had already written.

Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition of giving for three area churches

175 people attend free holiday feast

Congregations from Lake Sarah, Dovray, and Willow Lake Lutheran churches prepared a very special Thanksgiving dinner last week.

Each year, the Dovray-Garvin Parish Youth Group, through a youth service project, cooks up a free Thanksgiving Day dinner.

The Thanksgiving Day dinner got its start six years ago when Pastor Wayne and Kathy Vote were serving the Lake Sarah Lutheran Church in Garvin. Julie Stewart, who helps organize the dinner, said Kathy connected the church with the Aid Association for Lutherans.

With money from the AAL, the church decided to put on a Thanksgiving dinner.

“There are lots of people who have nobody to spend Thanksgiving dinner,” Stewart said. She added that anyone can attend the dinner.