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News from the week of July 3, 2002

New pool opener?

Saturday just might be the day

“Patience is the kindest virtue.”

—Proverbs

Virtue is getting another test this week at the Tracy Aquatic Center, where unexpected obstacles have forced another postponement in its opening.

The long-awaited opening was expected to be Wednesday, July 3. However, delays in completing the two flume slides have pushed back the opener until this weekend.

Pool Administrator Shorty Engel said Tuesday afternoon that the projected opening time is now Saturday at 1 p.m. However, he stressed that the Saturday afternoon opening is tentative. Further updates on the aquatic center opening will be announced on area radio stations later this week, he said.

Precisely when the aquatic center opens is beyond local control. An inspector for the Minnesota Department of Health has told local authorities that the pool can not open while construction is underway on the flume slides. Two people from the Miracle Slide company have been working virtually from dawn until dusk to complete the slides. The completion on the flume slides is expected by Friday night. Once the slides pass a state inspection, the pool can open.

Many other items were completed at the pool last week, and have passed inspection.

Nonetheless, “when will the pool open?” continues to be the most asked question in Tracy. Sultry, warm weather all week made the aquatic center opening an even more pressing issue.

Flume slide construction

Hopes for an earlier completion on the flume slides were dashed Thursday, when two Miracle Slide employees unexpectedly quit. Had that not happened, the flume slides likely would have been completed by Sunday, and the aquatic center could have opened as scheduled on July 3.

This weekend, the Miracle Slide crew was down to two people and a crane operator. At one point Sunday, Tracy Public Works Director Don Polzine and Engel were pressed into action helping put the flume slide segments together.

A crane began to hoist slide sections into place last Wednesday. By Tuesday afternoon, the flume slides looked complete from a distance, but the structures are still lacking some supporting girders and beams.

The two flume slides are expected to be the signature attraction of the new aquatic center. The aqua flume slide is an enclosed tube. A gold slide has an open design.

An adjacent diving well has a drop slide and a diving board.

A shallow water “splash pool” has two small children's slides, floor bubblers, and a Starburst Fountain.

The final pool area, a lap pool, has space for open swimming.

Swim lessons to start

Swimming lessons are scheduled to begin Monday, July 8, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. All other regularly scheduled aquatic center hours will also go into effect.


Playground grant bid fails

A City of Tracy grant application to help buy playground equipment and build a picnic shelter at Sebastian Park has come up empty-handed.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman informed the Tracy Planning Commission Monday night that the city did not get any money from a 2002 LAWCON grant application. The application sought $34,643 from the federal and state matching-grant program. the City of Tracy would have matched the grant with $34,643 in local money.

Koopman said that 110 LAWCON grant applications were submitted, with just 18 receiving funding. The administrator said program officials told her that Tracy had submitted a competitive proposal, but there simply wasn't enough money for all projects. She said some of the projects that were funded had been re-submitted three to four consecutive years following earlier rejections.

"Next year, we will try again. We've got a good base to work from," Koopman said.


Pageant cast prepares for July 12 opener

Who would have dreamed?

A quarter century after an indoor play about the Charles and Caroline Ingalls was produced indoors at Walnut Grove High Schools, “Fragments of a Dream” is opening its 25th season.

The outdoor pageant, based on a script written by James Merchant, is scheduled for nine performances, July 12-14, 19-21, and 26-28, two miles southwest of Walnut Grove.

Evening practices for a 73-member cast are intensifying, as opening night draws near.

Director Bill Richards has many veteran cast members returning in the leading roles.

Beth Kleven, Westbrook, returns as the pageant's narrator, telling the Ingalls' story from the eyes of a mature Laura Ingalls-Wilder.

Errol Steffen, Walnut Grove, plays “Pa” Ingalls, opposite Connie Knott, also of Walnut Grove.

Ade Miller, Tracy, is again playing the flamboyant Mrs. Olson. Her daughter in real life, Mollie, returns to play Nellie Olson.


Band plans Washington DC trip

The Tracy Community Band has decided to accept an invitation to the National Festival of States concert series in Washington, DC.

“They definitely want to go,” said Director Clint Peterson of the community band members.

The band will perform in at least two Washington, DC. concerts. Tentative departure dates for the four-day, three-night trip via bus are July 27 or 28.

The band received a formal invitation to perform in the concert series from the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and Anthony Williams, District of Columbia mayor. Typically, a band, a choir, and an orchestra from each state are invited to perform in the concert series. The Tracy Community Band would be the Minnesota band representative.

Peterson has begun submitting information to the concert series about the band and what music the group can play.

Estimated cost of the trip for each band member is about $800. Fund-raising efforts are being considered to defray the cost for members.

Remaining summer appearances for the band are the Walnut Grove Pageant parade, Schwan's 50th anniversary parade, and the Milroy Centennial celebration.


FACT sponsoring monthly art exhibit

First exhibit opens in bank

An exhibit featuring the art of Vicki (Hayes) Vandendriessche opened in the lobby of Minnwest Bank South this week.

The display is the first in a series of monthly art exhibits sponsored by the Fine Arts Council of Tracy (FACT). Marge robinson, FACT president, says that a different area artist will be featured each month. All areas of art-from pottery and painting to sculpture and drawing-will be considered. Exhibits will be in the bank lobby, although some small item displays may be held at the Tracy Public Library.

Special displays are also planned for art created by local school children. Robinson can be contacted at 629-3114 for more information.


Raffle says `thanks' to rescuers of Shetek captives—140 years later

A special raffle is planned to raise scholarship money for descendants of the Dakota Indians who saved pioneer Shetek captives 140 years ago.

Bill Bolin, local historian, is spearheading the raffle effort.

In November of 1862, a group of young Dakota men gained the freedom of eight women and children who had been taken captive by another band of Dakota on August 20, 1862, near Shetek. At great risk to themselves, the Indians bartered personal belongings to win the freedom for the captives. The captives were later turned over to government authorities unharmed.

Called “The Fool Soldier Band” by their own people because of the risks they took, the Dakota men were never compensated for their goods or recognized for their deeds by the U.S. government.

Two prizes are being given away. A Del Iron Cloud art print “Going Home” depicting the 1862 captives and rescuers; and a star quilt made by Fool Soldier descendant Marcella LeBeau.

Raffle tickets are being sold at Minnwest Bank South and John's Drug of Tracy; Lake Shetek State Park; and Trail's Edge, the Currie State Bank of Currie, Currie Corner, and End-O-Line Railroad Park of Currie.