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News from the week of November 21, 2001 Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

DM&E plan clears another crossing

Federal report makes 2003 construction appear likely

A proposed $1.5 billion upgrade and expansion of the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad moved a stop closer to reality this week.

A federal review board issued a final environmental review that backed railroad positions on most key issues. The report rejected requests that bypasses be built around Rochester, Brookings, S.D. and Pierre, S.D. Railroad officials had contended that the bypasses would kill the project. The 34-mile bypass around Rochester has an estimated $150 million price tag

At a press conference in Sioux Falls Monday, DM&E President Kevin Schieffer said he did not see anything in the Surface Transportation Board's environmental impact report that “would be a cost prohibitive show-stopper.” He said the report “sends a fundamental message that the public benefits of the project outweigh the costs.”

Schieffer indicated he expected final approval from the Surface Transportation Board within two months, and other federal approvals to follow. Construction could begin in 2003.

Ambulance Service moving into new building

The Tracy Ambulance Service is getting settled in its new home this week.

A ribbon-cutting for the new ambulance garage was held Thursday, Nov. 15.

Among those who congratulated the ambulance service and the city of Tracy at the ribbon-cutting was Senator Jim Vickerman of Tracy.

Vickerman complimented the ambulance service on the new garage, adding that he is happy to live within four miles of the new building.

“All the credit goes to the people who work and run this ambulance service,” Vickerman said.

Tracy Ambulance Service President Charlie DeSchepper thanked those who helped to make the new garage possible on behalf of the ambulance service.

Shane Hastings of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development said he was pleased to be involved in helping the community develop.

Monday public hearing set on Tracy revitalization plan

A public hearing is set Monday, Nov. 26, to consider a proposed Downtown Revitalization plan for Tracy. The hearing begins at 7:15 p.m.

The Sabongi Consulting Group of Eagan developed the plan. Four community meetings were held to help develop ideas for the plan. Copies of the plan were delivered to the city earlier this month.

The plan outlines detailed guidelines for renovations to existing buildings and new construction. Suggestions are made for improving highly visible points in the community.

The plan advocates restoring downtown buildings to a look of the late 1800s or early 1900s, when many of the buildings were constructed. The downtown, the report says, should establish a distinct identity by adopting uniform architectural and streetscape improvements, better landscaping and theme lighting. Among its suggestions are fabric awnings and replacement of boarded up second-floor window openings with new windows or storm windows. Suggestions are also made for creating identifying gateways at city entrances and improving signage, especially along Craig Ave. and South Street.

“Historic preservation of downtown Tracy requires the community to reconcile opposing viewpoints about preserving its architectural legacy. Like every town which goes through the process of downtown revitalization, the community of Tracy may want to preserve its architectural heritage, while, at the same time, it may have a comparably strong commitment to allow the marketplace to determine whether and how historic structures should be used.”

Teacher-of-year honorees cited for dedication, rapport with students

Eileen Schimming and Janice Landa are the 2001 “Teacher of the Year” recipients for Tracy Public Schools.

The selections were announced at the American Education Week awards program at Tracy Area High School Thursday night. Schimming, the junior and senior high school selection, is an English teacher and Knowledge Bowl advisor. Landa, a third grade instructor, is the Tracy Elementary School honoree.

A graduate of Augustana College, Landa has taught at Tracy Elementary since 1977, teaching third graders for virtually her entire 23-year tenure. Miller credited Landa with having “a keen interest in bettering her teaching skills using computer technology.” She is one of two advisors on the student council.

Landa, introduced by Student Council President Molly Miller, was described as a teacher who “has a soft spot for all her students,” but “fully expects each to give their best effort.”

Schimming is a native of Sheldon, Iowa, who was graduated from high school in Rock Rapids, Iowa. After earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa at Cedar Falls, she began her teaching career in Tacoma, Washington. After getting married and starting a family, she gave up full-time teaching so she could care for her children. She resumed teaching in Tracy, working first as a substitute and then becoming a full-time secondary English teacher.

“She has worked in literally every area, from elementary school classrooms to high school metal shop,” said high school student council president Brady Averill, who introduced the teacher-of-the-year award.

Now the Knowledge Bowl advisor, Schimming was the Teton yearbook advisor for several years.

New signs reflect bank changes

New signage at Minnwest Bank South in Tracy reflects a name change that took effect six months ago.

A four-man crew from Sioux Falls replaced an outdoor Tracy State Bank logo that was affixed to the time and temperature clock on the corner of Third and Rowland streets. An additional blue Minnwest logo was affixed to the west side of the bank. Improved signage was also erected at the bank parking lot entrance and near the drive-up teller driveway.

The bank's name was changed from Tracy State Bank to Minnwest Bank South May 19 following a merger with Minnwest Bank South of Slayton.

Downtown panel recommends 12-block redevelopment zone

Tracy's Downtown Revitalization steering committee is recommending that a housing rehabilitation project be included in a grant application to revitalize the downtown area.

Committee members agreed with a recommendation from a Southwest Regional Development Commission grant writer, to tie housing rehabilitation to the downtown redevelopment in order to improve chances of obtaining grant funding for the downtown. The committee met for the first time last Wednesday.

The committee proposed a 12-block redevelopment district that includes the entire downtown business area, plus a neighborhood east of downtown. The Tracy City Council will consider the recommendation soon. The redevelopment area would be included in a Small Cities grant application planned for next year.

The proposed redevelopment district is bounded by Rowland Street on the north, Center Street on the east, South Street on the south, and Fifth Street on the west. If the grant application is successful, property owners within the district would qualify for a variety of matching grants and loans for improving their property.

The area was selected because of three factors: 1) The age and condition of many buildings within the zone; 2) The assumption that a high percentage of neighborhood residents fall within state and federal low and moderate income guidelines; 3) The 12-block area is contiguous and includes the downtown business district.