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News from the week of May 15, 2002

Mayor won't seek re-election

Tracy Mayor Claire Hannasch will not seek re-election this fall.

“I'm going to be 70 years old this August, and I feel that at my age, four years are enough,” Hannasch told the Headlight-Herald Monday. “It's time for someone younger to step up.”

Another factor in his decision, he said, is that his family doesn't want him to run. Hannasch said he decided not to seek re-election this January, after being lobbied by his family over the Christmas holidays.

“It is a big time commitment. This will make it easier for Lota and I to visit our children and do things with the family.” Hannasch, who was elected to a four-year term in 1998, said he is announcing his intentions now, so that others have time to consider filing for office.

The mayor feels that Tracy has progressed on several fronts over the past 3 1/2 years. “My whole goal, when I ran for mayor, was to see Tracy move forward, and I think we've been able to do that.”

The community's biggest accomplishment, he feels, is the soon-to-be opened Tracy Aquatic Center, which is replacing a pool that opened in 1951. Voters approved a $1.5 million bond referendum in February of 2001 by a nearly 3 to 1 margin.

Other positive steps for Tracy, Hannasch feels, have been a sewer separation project and street improvements. He sees good things happening from a downtown revitalization study and future grant application.

“Everything we've been able to accomplish has been because we have a good city council and good department heads,” the mayor said.

Hospital needs upgrades, council told

Tracy Area Medical Services is experiencing growing pains.

Business at the hospital and clinic continues to grow, Tracy City Council members were told Monday night. But significant building and equipment improvements are needed to accommodate both present and future needs.

“April was a record month... We continue to do extremely well in difficult times,” Dan Reiner, TAMS chief executive officer, told council members Monday. “I'm really pleased at how the community has responded to some of the specialists we have brought in.”

But, he stressed, TAMS needs to “make some strategic choices” within the next year to improve its facilities. Not addressing needs, he said, will result in a loss of market share, increased difficulty in recruiting specialists, and a failure to adequately serve area healthcare needs.

Reiner presented a $494,700 list of estimated capital improvements needed at the hospital. The administrator also raised the possibility that TAMS should pursue a major building program to improve its outreach facility.

An architect has been hired to develop a detailed “Master Facilities Plan” over the next three to six months, Reiner said. If a building plan is pursued, Reiner said it could begin as early as next spring.

Business, technology needs cited for school

By Kris Tiegs

Technology and business education were in the spotlight for Tracy Board of Education members Monday.

District 417 teachers, principals and the technology coordinator briefed board members on school district offerings.

The school board designates the first meeting of every month to hear a presentation from a different discipline within the curriculum. Board members had decided to hear from the technology area at this meeting because of the resignation of veteran Business Education Teacher Richard Brink. The board is considering not filling Brink's position as a cost saving measure to the district. Board members have also considered eliminating the Technology Coordinator position that is currently held by Nan Ladehoff.

Business classes advocated

High School Principal John Rokke expressed the opinion that Tracy needs to enhance its business education and computer education department.

“I hope by the end of my presentation, someone will make a motion to add the business ed position. You will see how far in the tank we are.” The business department has gone from 2.5 FTEs in 1990 with eight classes offered, to 1 FTE and 4 class offerings currently. Rokke compared the high school's business class offerings to neighboring districts.

Soybean planting waits for dryer soil conditions

• Most corn acres are already sown

Wet weather has put a hold on spring planting in Southwest Minnesota.

“Planting has been at a standstill because of the rain we have received,” said Lyon County Extension Educator Bob Byrnes Tuesday.

In southern Lyon County, in excess of 90 percent of corn has been planted, said Byrnes. The percentage of beans that have been planted varies throughout the county, between 30 and 40 percent.

“We had made good progress,” Byrnes added. “Generally, most of the corn is in.”

Cold temperatures over the last couple of weeks have meant very little emergence for the newly planted corn. Field inspections, Byrnes said, have revealed that although the plants have not emerged, most of the seeds are still viable. When temperatures warm up, the plants should emerge normally.

In some fields, Byrnes added, it is likely that there will be an uneven emergence due to variance in soil temperatures. If the difference only lasts a few days, that's all right, Byrnes advised. If the difference is 10 days or more, yields could be affected.

Nevertheless, Byrnes said, the impact should be less than if farmers had delayed in planting.

Assisted Living Services are now offered at Twin Circle

Twin Circle Apartments in Tracy now have assisted living services available to them.

Lutheran Social Services began providing assisted living services to Twin Circle Apartments in March. The Lutheran Social Services office is located in the Twin Circle community room building.

Lutheran Social Services currently employs three full-time and four part-time people in the Tracy office. Jan Otto-Arvizu is the team leader.

While the services provided by Lutheran Social Services are available to all residents, not everyone who lives at Twin Circle is required to use these services, said Otto-Arvizu. Three residents are now using the assisted living services.

Two grants, from the Southwest Minnesota Foundation and Minnesota Department of Human Services, were received to get the assisted living services up and running.

The goal is to get similar assisted living programs started all over the state, Otto-Arvizu said. She said there are many advantages to assisted living, such as better quality of life, illness prevention, and fiscal benefits.

Lutheran Social Services contracts with Shetek Home Health for RN services. An initial assessment is done with each client to identify specific needs and which needs can be classified as “delegated nursing.” Delegated nursing services can be provided by Lutheran Social Services staff, and include administering and monitoring medication, meal preparation, cleaning and laundry services, recreation and social activities, personal care assistance, and check-in and supervisory services. RNs make periodic visits to each client.

Each resident who utilizes assisted living services has a pendant to use in an emergency.

Rural health clinic status explored for Tracy clinic

The Tracy Area Medical Services (TAMS) Community Board of Directors has agreed to move forward in pursuing Federal Rural Health Clinic status.

The board heard a presentation from Craig Barson from the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care on FHQCs.

Prior to Barson's presentation, TAMS Administrator Dan Reiner explained that the Sioux Valley hospital system had not yet been approached with this idea, pending approval by the board. He added that if the board agreed to move forward, TAMS would conduct a financial, organizational, and regulatory review, followed by a grant-writing process.

Barson explained that there are two types of FHQCs. “330” FHQCs receive federal grant funding, while FHQC look-alikes do not.

“It's a huge program,” Barson said.

The maximum amount of funding that can be received is $650,000, Barson said. This money is intended for uninsured patients. FHQCs must provide dental, mental, and medical services in order to qualify. Other standards must also be met, based on statistics such as infant mortality rates, low birth weights, and cancer rates.