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News from the week of July 24, 2002

Plan maps coffee shop, retail space & maybe call center

A major retail development project is being planned for the former Ben Franklin/Korner Krafts building in Downtown Tracy.

Glenda Johnson and Marsha Goff hope to remodel the building into a commercial hub that will include a coffee shop and retail area. Their business plan also leaves the door open for leasing out a refurbished top floor as a call center.

The women want the vacant commercial building from the Tracy Economic Development Authority. An offer to purchase the property was presented last week.

"We're excited about this," said Goff, in explaining the project to the EDA Friday. "We think this will work."

The main-floor coffee shop would serve beverages, pastries, soups and sandwiches.

"We want to be creative and make this a destination place," said Goff. Downtown Tracy, she noted, is lacking a spot where people can gather for coffee or a light lunch.

Space adjoining the coffee shop would be remodeled for Johnson's "Baskets of Yarn." The shop is now located at 125 3rd St, where Johnson said she doesn't have enough space to carry all of the craft and art supplies that her customers want. She said that customers frequently tell her that they don't like having to drive out-of-town to buy supplies.

Kamrud returning to counselor post

Chris Kamrud is returning as the guidance counselor at Tracy Area High School.

Monday night, District 417 Board of Education members approved a request from Kamrud that his June resignation be withdrawn. The action—to rescind the board's earlier approval of the Kamrud resignation—was approved by all seven board members.

Many spectators applauded when it was announced that the action would allow Kamrud to return to the staff faculty at his former pay and seniority.

Supt. of Schools Rick Clark told board members that Kamrud's written request was received at 2 p.m. that afternoon. He said that such a request would present no problem, since it had occurred within 60 days of Kamrud's original letter of resignation and decision to accept a teacher retirement pension.

The board approved the Kamrud request at the beginning of their Monday meeting, voting without any discussion.

“I would like to commend the board on their decision,” commented Jan Otto-Arvizu, one of about 100 people attending the meeting. She said that the turnout at the meeting— and the numbers of people who had called school board members about the counselor's position— were evidence of public interest in education. She asked that future school board proceedings be televised to help keep people informed.

Shetek incorporation program draws big crowd in Currie

About 150 people attended an informational meeting Monday about the possibility of Lake Shetek area residents incorporating into a town.

There was standing room only and an overflow into the hallway at Currie Town Hall for the meeting. Christine Scotillo, director of Minnesota Boundary Adjustments, outlined the incorporation process for the group.

“It's quite a question you're asking yourselves,” she said.

Scotillo explained that the incorporation process must begin with either a resolution of the township board or a petition of 100 or more property owners. This would include all property owners, whether seasonal or year-round.

Scotillo said the proposed area must not be within any existing city, and must include land platted into lots and blocks. Notice of the proposed incorporation must be given to abutting local governments, such as neighboring towns and townships.

The petition must be submitted along with a map of the proposed municipality, proposed name, and filing fee of $600. Once the petition is received, a hearing date must be set within 30 to 60 days.

“The purpose of the hearing is to determine if there's enough factual basis to grant municipal status and that you can function on your own,” Scotillo said.


New paintball venture takes aim near Tracy

By Val Scherbart Quist

Some might call it “cops and robbers” for adults. For Jason Kainz of Tracy, paintball is a new business venture. “It's something for people to do around here,” he said. “Basically, it's tag for grown-ups.”

Kainz began planning the paintball business about two years ago. “I wanted to do something that would create a lot of interest,” he said. Kainz was first introduced to paintball by some of his students when he taught at Tracy Public Schools. “I got hooked that first time.”

The problem, said Kainz, was that there are very few places to play, especially in this area. He found that those who wanted to play had to either get a big group together and drive somewhere to play at a course, or find a grove to play in. For those who didn't have equipment, the second option presented another problem.

Kainz, who now works on the farm owned by his in-laws, Dennis and Linda Fultz, saw an opportunity to bring a paintball course to the area.

He is transforming what was pasture land and a creek bed into Foster Creek Paintball.

Who needs Yellowstone if you can vacation in Tracy?

Maryland family pinpoints Tracy as their destination

On New Year's Day, the Vince and Patricia Coates family of Frederick, Maryland picked out a destination for their 2002 family vacation.

Positioned in front of a large laminated map of North America, Patricia was blindfolded and spun around. Suitably disorientated, the Maryland mom was pointed in the map's general direction. She stuck a pin onto the board.

The family looked. The closest town on the map, just to the left of the pin, was Tracy, Minnesota.

No one in the Coates family had never heard of Tracy. They knew little about Southwest Minnesota. But the family had agreed. They'd would vacation near the spot that the pin had identified.

The plan came to fruition last week when the Maryland family vacationed in Lyon, Redwood, and Murray counties. Nine-year-old daughter Eliane, and four-year-old son Liam, accompanied mom and dad.

“It's been wonderful,” says Vince, an employment coordinator for people with disabilities, of their vacation.

“We've really enjoyed it here,” agrees Patricia, a communications professional.

But why Tracy? Why not the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone?

“It's fun to go somewhere you know nothing about,” Patricia explains.

Their unorthodox method of selecting a vacation destination, she insists, broadens their horizons, by directing them to places they might not otherwise visit.

“There is something interesting to learn anyplace you go,” Vince agrees.

Patricia began their research about Tracy on the Internet. The first source of information was the web site operated by Tracy Publishing. An e-mail request for information was forwarded to the Tracy Chamber of Commerce, which mailed the family brochures and maps.

Liam, who loves stories about trains, was thrilled by the Chamber brochure picturing the Wheel Across the Prairie's 1915 switch engine, tender car, box car, and caboose.

“That brochure has been on our refrigerator since January,” Patricia says.

Eliane was equally ecstatic by the discovery that Walnut Grove, childhood home of Laura Ingalls, is down the road from Tracy. An avid reader, Eliane had read all of the Laura Ingalls-Wilder “Little House” books.

Many of their travel arrangements were made on line.

Pool Bill Disputed

The City of Tracy and one of four major contractors for the Tracy Aquatic Center are at odds over how much money is owed the company.

An attorney for Olympic Pools has submitted a payment request to the city for $50,868. However, based upon the advice of USAquatics, the city's project coordinator, the council authorized a papyment of only $111 Monday night.

Council members agreed that they should not authorize any aquatic center payment until recommended by USAquatics.

"We are acting in the most reasonable way possible," said Mayor Claire Hannasch, of the $111 payment.

Olympic's aquatic center contract originally stood at $548,828. Prior to Monday's meeting, the city had paid Olympic $493,319. However, USAquatics is recommending that just over $80,000 be held back by the city. The held-back payments are based upon $46,400 in liquidated damages for work not being done on time, 48,350 for contract items completed by other firms, and $25,500 for incomplete work and items still on a check-off punch list.