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News from the week of November 12, 2003

How bad is pool? Demolition is option

Aquatic Center tests uncover defects in walls

By Seth Schmidt

Tests at the Tracy Aquatic Center this fall have uncovered significant structural problems in the center's pool basins. The defects are considered so serious that demolition of the aquatic center's concrete pool shell is one of two options being suggested by consulting engineers.

Extensive repairs to the two-year-old aquatic center are also an option. But consultants say that it is difficult to predict how well the repairs will work.

Tracy City Council members heard about the aquatic center's dire condition in a report from report from Braun Intertec Monday night. The Minneapolis firm was hired by the city to test the pool after extensive cracking was noticed on pool surfaces this summer. To conduct the tests, the pool's Diamond Brite topcoat and about two-inches of plaster material have been removed from the aquatic center's concrete shell. Test borings of concrete were also conducted.

"The more we've looked, the more difficulties we see," said Steven Flaten, architect for Braun Intertec.

"Is what we have now salvageable?" asked Mayor Steve Ferrazzano.

"There are repair procedures that we could proceed with," said Alfred Gardiner, principal materials engineer for Braun. However, Gardiner continued, because it is unknown how extensive the defects are, there are no guarantees how well the repairs would work.

Rick Robinson, Tracy Public Works director, said that the pool was losing about 6,000 gallons of water daily last summer. Natural water losses from evaporation should have been about 2,000 gallons a day.

Council members accepted a suggestion from the Braun representatives, to get opinions from a qualified pool contractor, and a structural engineer, before deciding how to proceed with the pool.

Braun Intertec's testing identified a host of "voids" in pool walls, and turned up evidence of foreign substances embedded in the concrete. The report also said that the pool's Diamond Brite surface had not been applied to the depth recommended by the product manufacturer.

TMB considers new conference possiblity

Tracy Area Public Schools could be playing in a new conference in the not-too-distant future.

The district received a letter from Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (ACGC) Activities Director David Oehrlein stating that they are considering the possibility of moving from the 212 Conference to the West Central Conference. The letter stated, “In looking at the future of our conference I feel that it would be best to look at other options. If a change of conferences were to occur, the fall of 2005 or 2006 would be the target dates.”

TAPS Athletic Director Bill Tauer asked the District 417 school board Monday for direction on the issue. He said that if the 212 Conference is in danger of folding, action needs to be taken soon to find another conference.

Tauer said he had been in contact with the Camden Conference, and that they had expressed interest in having TAPS in their conference. In the past, he said, the Camden Conference was not interested in TAPS because the district was “too big” compared to other schools in the conference.

Camden Conference schools include Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Canby, Lake Benton, Minneota, Lincoln HI (Hendricks-Ivanhoe), and Lakeview (Cottonwood). TAPS would be the biggest school in this conference, Tauer pointed out. A bonus, he added, would be much less traveling for athletic teams.

For football, the Camden Conference is part of the Little Sioux, a group of conferences that have merged for football only.

Tauer will further explore conference options for the district.

Moisture plagues elementary

The Tracy school district is facing a soggy issue

Board members got a first-hand look Monday night at the water problems that continue to plague the elementary school building. Head custodian Jo Pyle pointed out several areas affected, including the workroom area between the office and the media center, the nurses' office, the kindergarten room, and the gymnasium.

All of the affected areas have new tile flooring, which was installed before the 2002-2003 school year. In the workroom, that floor has since had to be taken up because of water and glue coming up through the seams in the tile. The glue coming up through the seams was evident in several areas, despite the fact that they are cleaned frequently by custodial staff. The water has also caused the tiled areas to look bumpy, and seams to begin to buckle.

Later in the meeting, the board decided to get bids for repairing the water problem. Several board members expressed that there really was no point in boring a hole, since they already know that there is water. Instead, they decided to focus on how much it would cost to do tile work to solve the problem.

Musical? Wish granted!

Students, Prairie Fire Theatre are staging Alladin & His Magic Lamp

Two performances of Alladin and His Magic Lamp are planned Friday and Saturday at Tracy Area High School.

Curtain time for the Nov. 14-15 musical is 7 p.m. on the high school gym stage.

A cast of about 50 local students, grades 3-12, will join two actors from the Prairie Fire Children's Theatre for the production. The Tracy Fine Arts Council is sponsoring the event and providing financial support.

Students have been practicing about four hours after school this week to prepare for the production. The cast was selected Monday.

Alladin an original Prairie Fire Children's Theatre musical, is based on the classic tale from The Arabian Nights. The plot revolves around Alladin's accidental discovery of the powers of a magic lamp. The once-poor Alladin is transformed into the richest person in the world who marries the Sultan's daughter. Possessing everything the world has to offer, Alladin falls victim to the evils of money and power, demanding more and more of the Genie of the Lamp. He realizes the mistake of his greed, but must then ward off the Evil African Magician and regain the respect of his family and friends.

The Prairie Fire directors are a husband-wife team from Wichita, Kansas. Jeremy Moritz recently was graduated from Wichita State University with a bachelor's degree in musical theatre. Christine Moritz has been a dance instructor and has been an intern for theater camps. This is their second season with Prairie Fire.

Tracy, Slayton, Westbrook people gather to discuss health-care 'action plan'

Fifty people from the Tracy, Slayton, and Westbrook areas met at Shetek Lutheran Ministries on Keeley Island Tuesday night to share ideas about future health-care needs and opportunities.

David Nelson, a University of Minnesota Extension economist based in Renville County, led the discussion. The gathering was the third in a series. An initial meeting in late October focused on the economic impact of the health care industry in each community. A second gathering was held Nov 4 at Shetek Lutheran Ministries. Participants were asked to list positives and negatives of current cooperative health-care efforts involving the Tracy, Westbrook and Slayton hospitals and medical clinics.

The purpose of this week's meeting, Nelson explained, was to gather ideas about what issues people want addressed in community health-care "action plan." The ideas, Nelson continued, can be helpful to boards and administrators in developing long-range "strategic plans" that include specific goals, deadlines, and financial models.

Dan Reiner, chief executive officer for "Shetek Hospitals" in Tracy, Slayton, and Westbrook, said that the process of developing a long-range strategic plan involving all three communities has proven to be a complex process.

"We are not quite sure where we are headed," he said.

Reiner reminded people of the effort that began early this year to develop a master facility plan for the three communities. This summer, he said, the decision was made to also hire a consultant to develop financial models for the different health-care facility scenarios.

Data from the financial analysis will be shared with advisory and governing board in each community within three weeks, Reiner said. Following that, some "very strong communications" will be shared with the public.

Leadership from the Sioux Valley Health System, Reiner said, will also be involved in the meetings. Any facility improvements among the Shetek group of hospitals would be "very difficult to accomplish without financial help from Sioux Valley," Reiner said.

Retired educators honored in Veterans' Day program

Seven Tracy area men were honored for their service as educators and in the military Tuesday.

Honored at a Veterans' Day program at Tracy High School were: Sgt. Vernon Grinde, Capt. Leo Sebastian, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Knutson, Sgt. 3rd Class Keith Stanton, First Sgt. John Garrett, Capt. Arthur Marben, and Tech 4 Ralph Werner.

The seven men, noted Supt. Dave Marlette, gave a combined 229 years to the Tracy school district. Their military service took place during the World War II and/or Korean War eras.

Matted pictures of the servicemen—displayed at Tuesday's program—will be permenently displayed at the school.

Vernon Grinde: Grinde has three children, Katherine, Todd, and Lee. His second wife is Doris. He graduated from Tracy High School and Mankato State University.

He spent four years teaching in the area and then 34 years in Tracy, two as a sixth grade teacher and 32 as principal.

His service in the army from 1942-1946 included 28 months in Europe, most of it working in a hospital in France.

Leo Sebastian: Sebastian and his late wife, Dos, have two sons, David and Mark. He is a graduate of Postville, Iowa, high school and Luther College.

He taught social studies in Tracy for 36 years, also serving many years as a coach and athletic director.

A member of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942-1945, he served in the Pacific theater of operation, and docked in San Diego on Nov. 11, 1945.

Kenneth Knutson: He and his wife, Joanne, have four children, Kim, Jodi, Joe, and Leslie.

Knutson is a graduate of Logan High School in LaCrosse, Wis., and of Gustavus Adolphus College. He taught 29 years in Tracy and also coached many years.

He was in the Air Force from 1942-1945 and spent more of his time as a tailgunner in a bomber over Europe.

Keith Stanton: Stanton and his wife Jeanne are parents to Michelle, Toni, Brenda, Conan, Meredith, Jamie, Marshall, and Heather.

He is a graduate of Huron High School in South Dakota and Valley City Teachers College. He spent 33 years as a math teacher in the Tracy district.

From 1943-1946, he was in the Navy, where he served as a signalman aboard the SS Pampero and at Cape St. Elias during WWII.

John Garrett: Garret and his wife Mavis are parents to Marcus and Mykl.

He is a graduate of Moorhead High School and North Dakota State University. He taught for three years in Cottonwood and then 32 years in Tracy teaching science and industrial arts. He also spent many years coaching basketball and track.

He spent six years in the National Guard and two years and 10 months of active duty in the Korean Conflict. At first he was infantry and then went to an engineering unit.

Arthur Marben: Marben and his wife Carmen have three children, Kurt, Brenda, and Michael.

He graduated from Lamberton High School and Augsburg College. After three years of teaching in his hometown of Lamberton, he spent 30 years in Tracy, many of those years as principal. He also spent many years coaching.

He was in the service from 1941-1946 and again from 1951-1953. He served his WWII time in the Pacific as a rifle platoon leader on Okinawa. He also spent time in China after the war, and was called back into active service during the Korean Conflict.

Ralph Werner: Ralph Werner died in 1990. He and his wife, Bonnie, had two children, Mary and Paul.

He was graduated from New Ulm High School and Gustavus Adolphus College. He taught English in Tracy for 35 years. He also spent many years on the yearbook, newspaper, and speech, and was known for being active in the MEA and TEA.

He was in the service from 1944-1945 and his time in the army was spent in Europe. He was involved in the liberation of Berlin at the end of the war.

Major General (retired) Paul Rehkamp of Marshall delivered the keynote address at the Tracy Veterans' Day program Tuesday morning.

Rehkamp spoke about the importance of Veterans' Day and how not only veterans from long ago are honored, but also those who are serving today.

“This is particularly true when America is at war. And make no mistake—America is at war,” Rehkamp said.

He said people often confuse the purpose of Memorial Day and Veterans' Day, and emphasized that Veterans' Day is a day to celebrate and honor all those who have served our country.