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News from the week of July 2, 2003

Helping hands coming to Tracy

Youth-in-Action to assist 40 area families

A modern-day version of the Biblical Good Samaritan story is about to unfold in the Tri-County area.

Two-hundred-fifty volunteers from across the country will spend the next week in Tracy repairing and improving houses for about 40-area families. The workers—participants in a Youth-in-Action work camp program—will arrive in Tracy Sunday and stay until Saturday.

"This is such a neat program," said Vivien Swaddling of Berea, Ohio, who was in Tracy Tuesday, ironing out details for the Sunday arrival.

The Youth-in-Action volunteers will be based at Tracy Area High School, sleeping on floors and eating breakfast and supper in the high school cafeteria. During the day, volunteers will wield hammers, paint brushes, saws and drills at the 40 pre-selected houses. The home repair sites were selected through the Western Community Action office in Marshall.

The goal of the program, she explained, is to not only provide needed housing improvements to low-income, elderly, or disabled people, but also to foster a spirit of Christian service among young people.

"These people are paying $350 for the privilege of sleeping on the floor, for the joy of helping others," she said, noting that all Youth-in-Action volunteers are paying their own food, lodging, and travel expenses. The adult supervisors, who are also unpaid, are using their own vacation time to participate in the work camp.

Prized stitches: Quilt sells for $2,600

A rose, is a rose, is a rose...unless it's a flower hand-made quilt created women at Amo Lutheran Church.

A 96x107 inch "Heart of Roses" quilt from Amo Lutheran sold for a petal-popping $2,600 Saturday at the annual Shetek Lutheran Ministries quilt auction. The $2,600 sale price was the highest ever in the quilt auction's 17-year history.

"We were all crying when it sold for that much," said Arlene Meyer, one of the Amo Lutheran quilters. "To think that our quilt brought that much money, and that the camp is getting that money. We were just thrilled."

All told, the Saturday quilt auction raised about $24,000 for Shetek Lutheran Ministries, a Bible camp located on the west side of Lake Shetek. "It was a wonderful day," said Linda Swan, director of development for Shetek Lutheran Ministries. "It was one of our better auctions."

The sale of about 200 quilts and other hand-made craft items brought about $18,000. Another $6,000 was raised through a pork dinner, country store and matching funds from Thrivent.

The Amo Lutheran quilt was hand quilted almost entirely by six women. Mary Weiland, Blanche Meyer, Lucy Lovell, Margaret Yackel-Jueen, and Caroline Bondhus were the other principal quilters. Arlene Meyer said that she has "no idea" how many hours were put into the quilt. But when pressed to make a guess, she estimated "at least 250 hours." Most of the quilting was done cooperatively in the basement of Amo Lutheran Church.

"Quilting is something that we all love to do," Arlene Meyer said. "And we all like getting together and talking. It's good therapy."

The design—red roses on a white background—was discovered by one of the women, who stopped at a quilting museum in Paducah, Kentucky. The roses on the Amo Lutheran quilt, were made in small pieces and sewn on by hand, making the blooms look real enough for a flower shop.

The Amo quilters, Mrs. Meyer said, strive to make one high-quality quilt each year, maintaining a quilting tradition in their church that goes back decades. "We were fortunate to have these older women in our church who taught us everything that they know about quilting," she said. The current Amo quilters, she said, can quilt only because of mentors such as Karna Pulcher, Martha Hallum, and Aleeta Johnson.

Data on regional prison to be presented Tuesday

Officials from an 18-county area have been invited to a meeting in Tracy Tuesday to discuss the feasibility of a regional prison for county inmates.

Two officials from Corrections Corps of America, are flying into Minnesota from Nashville, Tennessee, for the gathering. Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) is organizing the meeting.

"What we are trying to do, is determine if there is interest in developing a regional corrections facility for counties," Seifert said.

Corrections Corps of American representatives, which operates a prison in Appleton, have been invited to make a presentation. Seifert's staff will present data about state jail space trends from the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Judges, county commissioners, prosecutors, sheriffs, and state legislators from 14 Southwest Minnesota counties—plus four border South Dakota counties—have been invited to the Tuesday meeting. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Mediterranean Restaurant's banquet hall. A buffet supper will be available beginning at 5 p.m.

Whether or not a regional, privately-operated prison makes sense for area counties is an unanswered question, Seifert said. A key unknown is whether the demand for jail space is great enough.

"It is my understanding that the smallest unit they (Corrections Corps) have built is 300 beds. I just don't know that if you add up all the needs in 14 counties, that it adds up to that (300 beds). That is why we are trying to get the South Dakota people."

Minnehaha, one of the four invited South Dakota counties, includes Sioux Falls, the largest city in South Dakota.

The Marshall lawmaker said that he has heard much anecdotal evidence of cell shortages in Southwest Minnesota. Lyon and Redwood county jails, he said, are "basically full". On the other hand, Nobles County is building a large jail on its own. That facility could offer jail space to other counties.

EDA nails down plans for new 'spec' house

The Tracy Economic Development Authority is moving ahead with the construction of a new "spec" house.

The board is seeking construction bids for a two-bedroom rambler in the Eastview Addition. The one-level house will have about 1,100 square feet of living space and an attached double garage. The structure will be built on the south side of Sunrise Drive. It's design calls for no ground-level steps entering the homes, and extra-wide doorways and hallways.

Bids will be accepted until July 10. The Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership will finance the construction project until the house can be sold.

EDA members authorized the advertisement for construction bids at their June 20 meeting.

In other business, the EDA:

• Accepted a request from Tracy Area Medical Services, to extend a right-of-first-refusal purchase option on five Eastview Addition lots from August 31 to Oct. 31.

The option is for five lots south of the hospital and O'Brien Court along Union Street. The lots could be used if the TAMS pursues a building project that expands the hospital-clinic-O'Brien Court complex. TAMS has agreed to pay a $200 refundable deposit on the five lots, for the right to match any other purchase offer that TAMS might receive for the lots.

Pool festivities resume Thursday

Grand opening festivities for the Tracy Aquatic Center are set to resume Thursday, July 3. Activities were held over from a June 21 grand opening that was cut short by rain and thunderstorms.

Free root beer floats will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. Barbecued pork and been sandwiches will be served for a nominal fee. A short 5 p.m. program will recognize people who were instrumental in the planning and construction of the pool. A radio DJ will provide special music from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Special pool games for children are planned during the afternoon.

The $1.7 million aquatic center opened in July of 2002. The pool complex has two large flume slides, a drop slide, diving well, lap swimming area, two floating rafts, a children's play pool, sand play lot, and a concession building. The Sebastian Park facility replaced a 50-year-old outdoor pool that opened in 1951.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new pool was held June 21.

Busy Bees get national award

The Amiret Busy Bees 4-H Club has won a national award.

The club's community pride project was chosen from more than 2,000 entries nationwide to be awarded the $100 fourth prize in the National 4-H Council division of the “Colgate Youth for America” campaign. The Busy Bees were recognized for their work benefiting the Tracy Area Food Shelf.

“We're really happy to get this,” said club leader Cheryl Lenertz. “Anytime you get a national award, it is a nice honor.”

Winning awards isn't exactly a new experience for the Busy Bees. For 11 of the past 12 years, the Busy Bees have been named Lyon County's “4-H Club of the Year.”

The club's food shelf project provided volunteers for an all-town food shelf drive, creating a local donation drop site at the Amiret Grain Elevator.

Busy Bees also volunteered on Mondays throughout the summer of 2002 to sort donations, stock shelves, repackaged food for distribution and assist food shelf patrons in carrying boxes to their vehicles. The Busy Bees also solicited food shelf donations from members at their monthly meetings.