News from the week of August 6, 2003
Delighted with D.C.
Tracy Community Band relishes success of Washington, D. C. trip
By Valerie Scherbart Quist
Talk to any of the 40 Tracy Community Band members who traveled to Washington, D.C. last week, and you're likely to hear many of the same words used to describe the tripwords like fabulous, fantastic, excellent, and awesome. Ask their director, Clint Peterson, how the band performed, and the pride is evident.
They just did a superb job, he said. I couldn't have been more proud of the band and the way they performed. They represented Tracy and the state of Minnesota very, very well.
The band traveled as part of Music Celebrations International's National Festival of the States concert series. They were invited to participate by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.
Months of hard work spent fund-raising and practicing culminated at 1:45 on the morning of July 28 when the band boarded a motorcoach for the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Cal Ludeman, a former community band member and current Commissioner for the Department of Employee Relations under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, saw the band off from the Twin Cities. From there, they boarded a Northwest Airlines flight for Washington, D.C., where they landed at Ronald Reagan National Airport. Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, who happened to be on the same flight, came back to visit with band members. Several had their picture taken with the senator, who regretted that he would be unable to meet with them while they in D.C. because of committee meetings he had to attend.
Upon stepping foot in the airport in Washington, D.C., the band was greeted by a friendly faceCleone Richardson's brother Loren Klein, who held up a huge welcome sign. Richardson said she knew her brother was going to be in D.C. to see the band play, but didn't know she'd be seeing him so soon. When she saw the sign, she initially thought it was the tour guide.
I didn't expect him to be there, she said. Several other band members had family who came to see the group play as well.
Skilled swimmers are goal of aquatic center program
The azure-blue waters convulse into a roiling boil, and then become calm. A tow-headed grade-schooler has just dived into the pool. His aquatic peers wait their turns at pool's edge.
The youngsters take the plunge in turn. Instructor Jake Peterreins, treading water in the diving well, shouts out encouragement.
Nearby, Jordan Roots exhorts intermediate swimmers mastering their front crawl.
Jenny Otto's students, stretched out horizontally over the water, tummies down and feet back, are working on their flutter kick.
Elsewhere, Greg Carlson holds a float-board for a young girl practicing the scissors kick.
Meanwhile, the youngest swimmers of allbeginners taught by Elisabeth Fox and Anders Davidsonflail impressively across the water, breaking the surface for air with the gusto of miniature whales.
It's another day of swimming lessons at the Tracy Aquatic Center.
This summer, 281 youngsters have or are now taking Red Cross Water Safety Instruction (WSI) at the aquatic center. Three, two-week class sessions are held throughout the summer.
Jenna Tholen, the pool's WSI coordinator, said that it has been a good summer for lessons. The pool works well for lessons, she said. The two-foot area at the bottom of the aquatic center's two flume slides works well for teaching beginners. The pool's heated water (usually over 80 degrees) have made the days of shivering students and teachers an unpleasant memory from the past.
Flowers give Tracy new look
Bit by bit, bloom by bloom, a colorful new image is blossoming in Tracy.
A rainbow of impatiens flowers and lavender geraniums add zest to a new planter and bench at the corner of Center and Craig.
The triangular intersection east of Tracy Lutheran Church is awash in a sea of pink neon-rose petunias that's bordered by a row of white alyssum. More petunias and alyssum grace the flower beds at the Tracy Aquatic Center and the Tornado Tree Park.
Red geraniums and salvia adorn the west side of the Central Park tennis courts. Gold flame spirea bushes and other plantings enliven a "welcome-to-Tracy" sign on the east edge of Tracy.
The gardens are parts of an overall plan to brighten up Tracy's image with flowers and decorative plantings. The effort has been spurred by the community "revitalization" effort that began several years ago. Eagan planner Fred Sabongi, through a series of community meetings, developed a plan to improve the aesthetics of Tracy. A revitalization committee, chaired by Neil Daniels, has followed up on ideas in the plan. Two initial accomplishments have been the beautification of the Roadside Park corner at Center and Hwy. 14, and the erection of the Tracy sign on the town's east Hwy. 14 entrance.
Encouraging flowers has been a major emphasis for the committee.
"We've been very pleased with what has been done so far," said Marlene Buck, a revitalization committee member.
The new flowers have been nurtured by Bernie Holm, who is serving in his second summer as Tracy's "community gardener." The position was established and funded last summer by the Tracy City Council.
August 21 meeting to explain grant program
An informational meeting about the City of Tracy's Small Cities Development program is planned Thursday, August 21 at city hall.
The Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development announced an $803,250 grant award to Tracy this spring. Work has been underway since then to lay the administrative groundwork for the program.
Property owners within a ten-block target area are eligible to apply for loans and grants to renovate owner-occupied houses, commercial buildings, and rental housing for low and moderate-income households. The target area is bounded by Fifth St. on the west, Rowland St. on the north, Center St. on the east, and South St. on the south.
The Small Cities grant has authorized $252,450 for commercial rehabilitation loans, $198,000 for rental housing repair loans, and $352,800 for owner-occupied housing repairs.
The commercial projects require that 34% of project costs be owner financed. A 1% loan for up to 15-years is available for 33% of project costs. The remaining 33% can be financed on a 0% deferred loan for five years, with 20% of principal deferred each year if ownership does not change.
Eligible commercial improvement include exterior renovations, structural repairs, mechanical repairs or replacements, electrical repairs, new windows and doors, accessibility modifications, signage and awnings, and energy-saving improvements.
Projects involving rental properties must be occupied by low to moderate-income tenants. If vacant, the property owner must agree to rent to low and moderate income tenants. Zero-percent, interest-deferred loans are available for 80% of project costs, with 20% of the deferred loan amounts forgiven each year for five years.
Tracy seeks to be part of regional JOBZ area
The Southwest Regional Development Commission is spearheading a regional campaign to get one of Minnesota's new tax-free Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ).
The idea is for communities across Southwest Minnesota to submit a combined application that is comprised of small parcels in each community. Each JOBZ zone can be up to 5,000 acres, but does not have to be contiguous.
The Tracy Economic Development Authority is taking steps to have Tracy included in the development commission's application, which needs to be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development by Oct. 15.
Robert Gervais, Tracy community development director, briefed EDA members about a JOBZ meeting he attended recently with City Finance Director Dave Spencer. Gervais said that the "city farm" (land around the city airport) and the Tracy industrial park were logical candidates for a tax-free zone. Another potential site was east of Center Street and south of the railroad, he said.
Gervais said that he would be spending most of August working on Tracy's portion of the application. Spencer said that the good thing about the regional application was that it put all communities on equal footing, rather than having small cities compete against one another.
Saga continues in the tale of two Tracys
By Valerie Scherbart Quist
Another page has been added to the tale of two Tracys.
Over the weekend, Tracy Mayor Stephen Ferrazzano and Community Development Director Robert Gervais reciprocated the good will of our fellow Tracyites in California when they made the trek for the community's 17th annual Dry Bean Festival.
Ferrazzano and Gervais left Tracy, Minn. on Friday and returned on Monday.
We had a wonderful time, Ferrazzano told Tracy city council members Monday. I'm glad we went and I'm thankful we had the opportunity to do this.
The Dry Bean Festival celebrates the 75-year history and importance of beans in the Tracy, Calif. area. The two-day celebration, which was held Aug. 2 and 3 this year, is complete with food, entertainment, vendors, a Bean Run, car show, and a variety of other family activities.
While in Tracy, Calif., the pair stayed with Don and Shirley Yerian, who were two members of the delegation that attended Box Car Days last year. Ferrazzano and Gervais enjoyed Bean Days with their hosts during their stay.
They're fantastic people, Gervais said.