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News from the week of July 23, 2003

Band tunes up for DC trip

But first, group plans Thursday 'thank you' concert

Months of preparations are mounting to a crescendo for the Tracy Community Band this week.

The 40-member community band marches off to Washington, DC. early Monday morning, to perform in the National Festival of States concert series. While in the nation's capital, the band will perform at two of America's most hallowed shrines: The Lincoln Memorial and the Naval Memorial. Band members will also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

"It's exciting. The band members are all really looking forward to this," said Director Clint Peterson

The Mount Vernon Ladies Association invited the Tracy band to perform in the festival early last summer. Over the past year, the band has successfully raised about $40,000 for the trip. Peterson stresses that the band is grateful to the individuals and community organizations that have contributed to the campaign.

"People have been great," he said.

To show their appreciation, the band plans a "thank you" concert Thursday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Central Park bandshell. Free ice cream floats will be served to all in attendance. In case of bad weather, the concert will be moved indoors to the banquet room at the Mediterranean Restaurant.

The band will perform some of the music prepared for its Washington DC concerts.

Highline Road is getting new look

Bigger capacity line, taller poles being installed

A small part of Xcel Energy's $160 million plan to improve electric power transmission capabilities from Buffalo Ridge wind turbines is visible near Tracy.

Work has begun to upgrade the power line along the Highline Road (Lyon County Highway 73), between Tracy and Hwy. 19 east of Marshall. The upgrade is one segment of Xcel's long-range plan to better utilize the electricity generated by wind turbines along Buffalo Ridge.

According to Pam Rasmussen, a permitting analyst for Xcel, the Highline Road transmission line will be upgraded from 69 kilovolts to 115 kilovolts. The twin, 55-foot cedar power poles that have been landmarks along the Highline Road for decades are being replaced by steel utility poles that are about 85 feet high.

The work near Tracy is part of an project to upgrade the 69 kilovolt transmission line that now runs from Xcel's Chanarambie Substation near Lake Wilson, northeast to a substation near Balaton, east to a substation at Tracy, and north to a substation east of Marshall.

The upgrade is being done in phases, with the segment between the Tracy and Marshall substations scheduled for this year. Construction between the Tracy and Lake Yankton (Balaton) substations is scheduled next year.

Playground near pool is likely next year

Tracy getting $32,000 grant

Thanks to a $32,000 grant, the City of Tracy is moving ahead with plans for new playground equipment at Sebastian Park.

City Administrator Audrey Koopman has been notified by State Senator Dennis Frederickson's office, that the Tracy will qualify for the grant funding next year. Because of that news, Tracy City Council members allocated $20,000 for the project into their budget next year. Project cost is estimated at $62,000. With the grant covering more than half of the cost, the city is obligated to spending $18,820. The city must also contribute about $11,000 worth of "in-kind" services (city furnished labor and equipment).

The playground will be located on the open area southwest of the Tracy Aquatic Center. Two separate groupings of equipment are envisioned; one for older children, and the other for tots. Each playground clump has several slides and climbing devices. The plan also calls for four barbecue grills, a picnic shelter, and walkways to make the playground accessible to wheelchairs from the aquatic center parking lot. Discussions have been held to have a high school industrial trades class build the picnic shelter. The labor used to construct the shelter would be considered a part of the city's "in-kind" contribution.

Construction is expected next year.

Schreiers are 'farm family of year'

A rural Currie family is Murray County's "Farm Family of the Year."

Steve and Diane Schreier were selected for the honor by the University of Minnesota Extension. They will be recognized at "Farmfest" on August 6, and at the Minnesota State Fair August 24.

"We were really surprised," said Diane Schreier of the award.

Families were selected for the honor by University of Minnesota Extension Service staff, and county extension committees. Criteria for the award includes the family's success in food production, commitment to the agriculture field, and their community involvement.

The Schreiers' Shetek Township farming operation includes approximately 600 acres a year of soybeans, 600 acres of corn and 50 acres a year of alfalfa and oats.

Livestock includes a lamb feeding operation with a feedlot capacity of 3,500 head. They turn this facility about three times a year for a total number of 10,000 lambs a year.

With photo

Schreiers are co-owners of Great Plains Family Farms, an iso-wean production group managed by Pipestone Swine Systems. With their share they receive 4,000 to 4,200 head of iso pigs a year, which they finish on their farm. They also have some pigs that are contract fed at a site off the main farm. They market about 5,500 head of finishing pigs through a marketing group called New Horizon Farms.

Illegal dumping could result in new restrictions

Restricted hours at the City of Tracy's compost dump might be on the horizon.

Tracy City Council members are again discussing the on-going problem of non-permitted materials being dumped at the compost site. Only lawn and garden materials—grass clippings, leaves, branches, and sticks—are permitted at the site. But unlawful debris such as furniture, garbage, building materials continues to be found at the dump. Public Works Director Rick Robinson informed council members that the most recent violation was lumber from an outdoor deck. The scofflaw who left the debris is unknown.

Restricting compost site hours and hiring a monitor to watch people unload their vehicles and trailers is one of the options being considered. City Administrator Audrey Koopman told council members that it might be less expensive to hire a monitor, compared with the expense of city employees cleaning up messes left at the dump.

Council members also wondered if improving signage at the dump entrance would help. Police Chief Bryan Hillger said that people are well aware of what is permitted and what isn't. Usually, the chief said, people dumping illegal materials will drive to the backside of the brush pile and then attempt to conceal the debris.

Council member Jan Otto-Arvizu asked whether it would help to lock the dump at night. Robinson responded that the deck materials had been hauled out in broad daylight, not long after a city worker hauled brush to the site. Hillger said that if anyone was brazen enough to drive out into the dump at night, police would notice the lights and check out the activity.

Mayor Steve Ferrazzano said that the council needs to come up with a solution prior to their next meeting

Campbell Construction to build second EDA spec house

The Tracy Economic Development Authority (EDA) is building another "spec" house.

The EDA has awarded Karl Campbell Construction a $100,177 contract to build an 1,100 square foot rambler in the Eastview Addition. The rural Tracy contractor was one of three bidders on the house. True Value Home Center of Marshall and Joe Beierman Construction of Tracy submitted higher bids.

The new house will have a "visitability design" intended to make it easier for someone in a wheelchair to enter and move around the house. Entrances have no steps, and there is extra room in hallways and doorways. EDA members chose a two-bedroom design rather than three, to create bigger bedrooms and more open space in the main living areas. The house will have an attached double garage, central air conditioning, a main floor laundry, and a basement.

Rod O'Dell, Southwest Housing Partnership representative, told EDA members that Campbell is building three similar houses for the economic development authority in Windom, and said the quality and workmanship has been good.

Campbell Construction also built the EDA's first spec house, a split-level in Eastview that was completed in November of 2001. That house remained unsold until this spring. Bill Chukuske, EDA vice chair, said that there had been several minor construction flaws, such as a loose-stairway railing, that had initially detracted from the EDA's first spec house. Chukuske and other EDA members noted that Campbell had taken care of the problems on the spec problems once they were brought to his attention.