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News from the week of September 24, 2003

Governor lends sympathetic ear to regional initiative

Gervais pitches Pawlenty about Tracy projects

By Val Scherbart Quist

The Job Opportunity Building Zone (JOBZ) initiative won't likely be a “magic answer” for Greater Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty told rural leaders last week.

But the governor does believe it's worth a shot.

“If we're not willing to take some risks, what's the scenario?”

The governor stopped in Slayton Thursday as part of a two-day tour around the state to get a feel for how the JOBZ application process is going. The applications are due Oct. 15.

Ten JOBZones of up to 5,000 acres each will be chosen throughout the state. The chosen zones will contain tax-exempt subzones intended to boose economic growth in rural Minnesota. The zones can remain tax-free for up to 12 years.

While in Slayton, Pawlenty and Matt Kramer, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic development, heard ideas from local leaders on how the JOBZones could affect their communities. Among those who spoke was Tracy Economic Development Director Robert Gervais.

Pawlenty commended the representatives of the 45 communities and 13 counties for their cooperation on the JOBZ application.

“What we're seeing here is a great by-product of this bill. You're all coming together, and that's a really great thing.”

Farmers measure drought effects as harvest begins

With the 2003 harvest off to an early start, farmers no longer need to speculate about how a late summer drought and a soybean aphid infestation affected their crops.

They know.

Bob Byrnes, extension educator for Lyon and Lincoln counties, said yield reductions varies from area to area. But overall, corn yields are somewhat better than expected and soybean yields are somewhat worse than expected. A yield loss of 30 percent was expected for both crops.

“All yield expectations are lower than normal,” he said.

Over the past five years, he said, local corn yields have averaged 140 bushels an acre. Beans have averaged 39 bushels an acre.

Soybean numbers so far show yields in the high-20s to low-30s. Byrnes said early-maturing varieties tended to fare better, while later-maturing varieties suffered because they began to reach their peak at the same time the moisture dried up.

Soybean aphids and soybean cyst nematodes may also affect soybean yields this fall, said Byrnes. Again, the damage from these two pests varies. Many farmers, through timely treatment, were able to curb damage from soybean aphids.

“The indication is that this was a good economic decision,” he said.

Back from Iraq

Robert Miller appreciates everyday life in America

By Seth Schmidt

A jumbo cheeseburger.

A hot shower.

A clean, comfortable bed.

As he hunkered down in the Middle Eastern desert, the simple pleasures of everyday life were what Robert Miller missed most.

His company—Fox Company, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Second Battalion, First Marine Division—was the first Marine unit to cross the Iraq border when the American-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein's regime began March 21. He and his comrades remained in combat or on alert until the fall of Baghdad and the final collapse of the Iraq military in late April.

The 1999 Tracy High School grad is back home after completing a four-year stint in the United States Marine Corps. He was honorably discharged in July with the rank of corporal.

On his way home in Hawaii, he went to a restaurant with his father, Pastor Edsel Miller, and brother Levi, who had flown out to meet him. A deluxe cheeseburger and chili fries were placed in front of him.

"I just sat and looked at it for a while before munching it down," Miller remembers. "When you are sitting in the worst place you have ever been, those are the things you dream about. When you finally get it, it's hard to believe you have them. "

Brian Buysse pictures are October fine arts display

Photographs and computer designs created by Brian Buysse will be the October art display at MinnWest Bank South in Tracy. Right: Brian Buysse displays samples of his art.

The Fine Arts Council of Tracy sponsors the monthly exhibit. Brian is the son of Dan and Deb Buysse of rural Tracy.

Brian wrote this about his art:

"After being diagnosed with a brain tumor in December, I became unable to perform at my job as a diesel mechanic. I'm not the kind of person that can sit around doing nothing, so I had to find something to occupy me."

"I have always enjoyed photography and I figured it was a good time to experiment with it. I purchased a digital camera in February that I could operate using only my right hand since I didn't have use of my left hand. I began taking pictures and experimenting with printing.

"I started by matting 8 x 10 prints into 11 x 14 frames. I now make prints any size up to 8 x 10s. I also make magnets, wallet cards, bookmarks, business cards and holiday window clings. I've even done some special projects and designs.

"Anyone requesting special projects, wanting to see my complete collection, or wishing to purchase anything can contact me at 629-4845."

Fifth St. East suggested as new housing development

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, Tracy Economic Development Authority members were wondering how to encourage lot sales and move an unsold "spec" house in the Eastview Addition.

Last week, the EDA discussed where the city should develop its next housing addition.

The consideration of developing more residential building lots has been sparked by four new housing starts and three lot sales this year in the Eastview Addition. The EDA's spec house has been sold and at least one more new housing start is expected in Eastview this year. Tracy Area Medical Services has taken out an option to purchase five Eastview lots directly south of O'Brien Court and Tracy Hospital.

If the hospital lot purchase does go through, the EDA would have just four developed lots remaining in Eastview—two on Sunrise Drive and two on East Second Street. The EDA also owns six platted, but undeveloped lots on what would be eastern extensions of Sunrise Drive and Union Street.

Robert Gervais, Tracy community development director, suggested that they look for land for another residential development, so that new building lots are available once Eastview has sold out. He said that he has had preliminary discussions with Tracy resident John Glaser, about the possibility of purchasing land on the northeast edge of Tracy. The Glaser land has already been platted as Fifth Street East, but has never been developed with a street or utilities.

Homecoming coronation planned Monday night

Coronation ceremonies kick-off homecoming festivities at Tracy Area High School Monday.

The coronation is Monday, Sept. 29, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the high school gym.

Senior candidates are Jacob Gervais, Ross Ladehoff, Matthew Persons, Eric Peterson, and Kyle Stibbe.

Megan Anderson, JeRae Kathman, Stephanie Kaup, Kasey Loeslie, and Emily Rayman are the senior queen candidates.

A homecoming parade through Downtown Tracy is scheduled Friday, Oct. 3 at 4:30 p.m. The homecoming football game against BOLD begins at 7 p.m. Friday. A junior high homecoming dance at the high school follows the game.

In keeping with the homecoming spirit, each day next week has a special "dress up" theme.