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News from the week of December 26, 2001 Headlight Herald - Serving Tracy, Minnesota, since 1880

Carleton College student, nurse, world traveler & favorite aunt celebrates 100th birthday

By Val Scherbart-Quist

Many years ago, Erma Burgess' sister asked her how long she'd like to live. Burgess' reply was that she thought 45 sounded about right.

Last week Burgess surpassed that goal by 55 years, as she celebrated her 100th birthday with her family and reflected on a remarkable life.

How long is 100 years? When Burgess was 40-years-old, she was a nurse working on Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941.

Burgess' nieces, Helen Johnson and Jean Heller, and nephews Don Hicks and Dave Hicks, have many fond memories of their Aunt Erma.

All of the family members who helped celebrate her birthday on Friday remarked that she was always someone who kept in touch with her family and friends, no matter how far away she traveled.

Burgess always remembered birthdays, even those of distant relatives, with a card. She was also a great letter-writer, known for getting up early in the morning to write letters, and always responding immediately to letters she received.

“She remembered everything about everyone,” Heller said.

Burgess was the definition of an independent woman, and spent much of her life traveling.

Poll says binge teen drinking is common

36% of seniors report heavy drinking episodes

This is the second in a series of stories about the Minnesota Student Survey, which was taken by last year's Tracy Public School sixth, ninth, and twelfth graders.

By Val Scherbert-Quist

Binge drinking is a dangerous, and sometimes deadly, trend among today's youth—a trend that has increased among Tracy teens as well.

Thirty-six percent of 2001 Tracy Area High School seniors who took the Minnesota Student Survey said they frequently binge drink (typically drink five or more drinks at a time on 10 or more occasions during the past year). Thirty-six percent said they generally drink six or more cans, glasses, or drinks at one time, compared to 17 percent in 1998.

Thirty percent of last year's seniors said they did not use alcohol at all in the past 12 months, down from 40 percent in 1998. Of those who admitted to drinking in the past year, 20 percent said they drank on 40 or more occasions during that period of time, compared to nine percent in 1998.

Thirty-seven percent said they did not drink alcoholic beverages in the past month, compared to 52 percent in 1998. Twenty-nine percent said they drank alcoholic beverages once or twice in the past month.

When asked how much beer, wine, wine coolers, or hard liquor they drink at one time, 33 percent of seniors said they did not drink any of those types of alcohol. Forty-two percent said they generally drink five or more cans, glasses, or drinks at one time.

Early January phone survey planned for proposed Tracy Telework Center

The Tracy Economic Development Authority (EDA) will be calling over 600 households in and around the Tracy area.

The group is conducting a phone survey of workers and potential workers for a possible Telework Center planned for the community.

The survey will take about 10 minutes and will be conducted over the phone from 6 to 9 p.m. starting Monday, Jan. 7 and running through Friday, Jan. 11.

The goal of the survey is to identify labor force skills in and around Tracy. With this information, a profile will be compiled that will help shape the client outreach for the Telework Center.

Members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) will be staffing the phones at a phone bank facility at Southwest State University. Each day the group will be traveling to and from Tracy to Marshall to conduct the phone survey.

Bus drivers shift into park

Gussie Shaw, Bob Hatch retire

Two long-time Tracy bus drivers turned in their keys for the last time Friday.

“Gussie” Shaw and Bob Hatch arrived at their retirement party Friday in style—a limousine picked each of them up and delivered them to the bus garage.

Shaw began working as a bus driver in 1966. At the time, her husband, Clint, was working at Standard Oil, and had to give up his bus route. He suggested that his wife take over.

“He said to me, `Why don't you take over my route?'” Shaw said. “I said, `Are you crazy?'”

Thirty-five years later, Shaw is retiring from the job she wasn't sure she wanted.

“It kind of gets in your blood, I think,” she said.

Shaw said she's really enjoyed her years as a bus driver, and has always liked the kids. She commented that she should have started a book when she started, because it would be fun to look back now at everything she experienced over the years.

Bob Hatch's retirement party wouldn't have been complete without his favorite passenger, Cassie Ziemke.

When Hatch first began driving bus, he started with a farm route. He was later asked if he would consider driving the wheel-chair accessible bus. He said “yes.”

At the time, Ziemke was in second grade. She's now a senior.

Dale Krog: `People have been wonderful'

By Valerie Scherbart Quist

Dale Krog is retiring from his life's work when the year draws to a close next week.

Over the years, the business now known as Tracy Insurance Agency saw many changes, but Krog remained a constant in the mix.

Prior to coming to Tracy, Krog worked in the insurance business in Ivanhoe for 13 years.

Krog first came to Tracy in 1968 to work for Norwest Bank Group. In 1985, the insurance portion of the business was split from the banking end, and Krog remained employed by Norwest Financial. In January of 1987, the banking end of the business was sold, but the insurance end did not go along with it. Then, in June of 1987, the insurance business was sold to Kerry Knakmuhs.

Krog has served as manager of the agency, has been involved in the operation aspect of the business, and has worked in sales of all kinds of insurance.

“It's all I've done my working career,” he said.

In addition to his years in the insurance business, Krog was president of the Independent Insurance Agents' Association from 1990-1991, and was on the Tracy city council for nine and a half years. He has also served as president of the Tracy Area Development Corporation, and on the board of Tracy Area Housing.

Krog and his wife, Karen, plan to remain in the Tracy area after his retirement. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Thursday open house set for Dr. Don Waletzko

Retiring dentistbegan career in `63

So why is a young-looking fellow like Dr. Don Waletzko retiring from a successful dentistry practice?

The Marshall and Tracy dentist smiles at the question, but doesn't hesitate with the answer.

“In January, I had my second coronary bypass surgery. That's reason enough that I should slow down a little,” says Dr. Waletzko, 65.

The dentist “still enjoys the people. I still enjoy what I do.” But he also feels that, as the years go by, the physical demands of dentistry are becoming more difficult.

“When you are working in someone's mouth, you need to be at 110% all the time. I can still do the work. But I am finding that as I get older, it's getting harder for me to stay at that level all day. I don't ever want to do a mediocre job.”

A retirement open house for Dr. Waletzko is planned at the Tracy Dental Health Center Thursday, Dec. 27, from 3 to 6 p.m.