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News from the week of December 3, 2003

School revenues up, operating levy down

By Val Scherbart Quist

The operating levy for Tracy Area Public Schools is going down by approximately 11 percent for the coming year.

The District 417 board of education held a Truth in Taxation meeting Tuesday evening to go over the numbers.

The total levy limitation is approximately $358,386, down from $422,608 last year. Most of this decrease is due to a reduced community service levy.

Revenues are up, said Supt. David Marlette, mainly because of the increase in child count. A conservatively estimated increase of 42 students was added into the revenue picture, amounting to nearly $200,000 of additional revenue for the district. A deficit had been projected in this area; now the district is expected to at least break. The formula allowance remained at $4,601 per student.

Expenditures are relatively unchanged from last year, and all employee groups have settled contracts.

Added into next year's budget will be $105,000 for bus and van purchases. Last month the school board approved a schedule for regular vehicle replacement.

The boiler project that was completed this year at both school buildings will continue to be paid for in the coming year's budget. About $700,000 remains to be paid on the $1.3 million project.

Other capital improvements slated for the coming year include entryway remodeling. A total of $50,000 is being set aside for this project, $25,000 of which was budgeted for last year. About $10,000 will be budgeted for track surface improvements.

Supt. Marlette said a major issue that will likely have to be addressed in the district over the coming year is the water and moisture problem. There have been numerous problems at the elementary school with water seepage that has caused damage to several floors.

All in all, Marlette is pleased with the numbers.

“I think we're in pretty good financial condition,” he said.

Emory St. house eyed as antique & gift shop

A Tracy couple wants to convert a house on Emory Street into a gift and antique shop.

Sis and Joe Beierman have applied for a special use permit to open the shop in a bungalow that they own at 312 Emory Street.

"We think it would be an asset to the town," Sis Beierman said this week. But, she stressed, their plans are not final until the city makes a decision on their permit application. "We realize that there are legal things that have to be done. We're just waiting."

The shop would offer both antiques and brand-new gift items. The shop would likely be open several days a week, Beierman said, and by appointment. A decision has not been made on a store name.

Some refurbishments are planned on the house, Beierman said, but the basic exterior would remain the same. A flower garden is planned in the back. No one would live in the house.

The Beiermans have operated the Valentine Inn Bed & Breakfast for eight years. They plan to continue operating the bed and breakfast.

Tracy grad shares art at Coffee on Third exhibit

By Val Scherbart Quist

A Tracy graduate is sharing his love for art and helping to promote the arts in Tracy through an exhibit of his photography.

“For the Love of Beauty,” an exhibit by Curt Paulsen, is currently on display at Coffee on Third. Paulsen, a 1958 Tracy High School graduate, is the son of Fylla Paulsen of Tracy.

Paulsen is a self-taught photographer. His work has most recently been displayed at the University of Minnesota Arboretum, Augsburg College, and at the Red Wing Framing Gallery.

He attended St. Olaf College, and went on to get his master's degree in social work and Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He is on the faculty at Augsburg College, in addition to having a private counseling practice with his wife, Cathy, in Minnetonka.

All of the proceeds from the exhibit, after out-of-pocket costs, will be given to the Fine Arts Council of Tracy on behalf of Coffee on Third and Cathy and Curt Paulsen.

Paulsen said he has always appreciated the ongoing relationship he has had with the Tracy community. He has watched with interest the progress that FACT has made, and has been impressed with the work they have done.

“I just think Tracy is an exciting town, and that it's the result of a lot of hard, committed work,” he said. “My exhibit is just a small effort on my part to contribute to that.”

Paulsen's photography will remain on display at Coffee on Third until mid-January.

Paulsen shared his philosophy on photography and his reasons for doing the exhibit.

Tracy, according to my mother, Fylla Paulsen, demonstrates how a community can steadily progress and become an ever-improving place for individuals, couples and families to live and grow. She credits this to the commitment and sacrifice of many people who are willing to be creative, dedicated and inspiring to one another. And, she always seems to add these words: “We have great young people in Tracy who roll up their sleeves and really work.”

As a consequence, when the folks at Coffee on Third invited me to exhibit my photography, I immediately accepted, hoping I might e another thread in this fabric of growth and progress.

Memories of loved ones shine on with holiday lights

The memories of over 100 people were honored Sunday in a tree-lighting ceremony for the Prairie Home Hospice.

"Today, we honor those who have gone on before us as lights in your lifetimes," said Father Brian Mandel.

One-hundred twenty-four people or groups were honored with one or more lights on the hospice tree near the entrance of the Tracy Prairie Pavilion. Elaine Fischer read each person's name.

Denise Brewers, Prairie Home Hospice director, said that she hoped that people will pause to remember the honorees when they see the tree's twinkling colored lights this holiday season.

The Prairie Home Hospice, based in Marshall, provides hospice care for terminally ill people in the area.

About 40 people attended the ceremony. Lights were lit in honor and memory of the following people:

Clarence Almjeld, Sue Almjeld, Harley Amundson, Mavis Amundson, Dan Anderson, Darwin Anderson, Hector "Heck" Anderson, Ivan Anderson, Ken Anderson, Lucy Anderson, John S. Andrews, Henry Basche, Douglas Biteler, Charles Boline, David Boline, Donald Boline, Harold Brekken, Tryn Brekken, Mike Brewster, Russ Brewster, Al Buck, Don Burke, Melvin Buyck, Charles Buzzell, Tim Castle.

Raymond Cooreman, Joe Cooreman Sr., Mabel Dahltorp, Theodore W. Drackley Jr., Harold Edwards, Lucille Eldredge, Paul Eldredge, John Emerson, Kenneth Emerson, William Fischer, Lyle Fredericks Sr., Albert "Bud" Haecherl, Gloria Hamilton, Blendena Hansen, Margaret E. Hansen, Roy E. Hansen, Thomas D. Holland, Mary Alice Hook, Ilen "Ike" Horn, Linda Strand Howe, Harland E. Jacobsen, Austin Jenniges, Susan Jenniges, Dale Johnson Sr., Gordon E. Johnson,

Leland Johnson, Leslie Johnson, Beverly Ann Karlstad, deceased Kiwanis members, Harold Knudson, Dennis J. Lanoue, Thomas Lasnetske, Douglas Lau, Marlys Lauden, Bill Luckhardt, Paul Ludeman, Cecil Majeres, Helen Majeres, H. Welling McClain, Robert W. McVenes, Elmer Mielke, Neva Mielke, David Mix, Hallie Moore, Ray Moore, Robert Moore, Angela Newberg, Art Newberg, Raymond O'Donnell, Edwin Paradis,

Carl C. Paulsen, Betty Peterson, Leon D. Peterson, Omer Peterson, Barbara Brewster Pingry, Ed Putte, Viola Putte, Martha Radke, Walter H. Radke, Dr. F.E. Robinson, Bertha Rolland, Mark Rowell, William Sabinske, Guy Salmon, Marllys Salmon, Nels Schjei, Gwendalyn Snyder Scott, Hazel Shaw, LeRoy Shaw, Alice Snyder, Gerald Robert Snyder, Gordon Snyder, Jolene Snyder,

Eileen St. Aubin, Cora Starken, Merrill Starr, Donald Stassen, Jerry Stoneberg, Pat Stoneberg, Donald "Bud" Strand, Emma Sykora, Grace Tofting, James Tofting, Melvin Tofting, John Vahle, Berneatta Vogel, Myron Vogel, Paul Vandendriessche, Donald Weedman, Wilfred Wendorff, Henry A. "Tim" Westphal, Gordon Wyffels, J.B. Wyffels, Nellie Wyffels.

Lights were also lit in honor of five individuals. They are: Charlotte Drackley, Del Kramer, Rose Onken, Glennis Staufacker, Mildred Wendorff.

Joe Smarzik, `symbol for lonely & forgotten,' dies at age 98

Loneliness caused Joe Smarzik to place a want ad 26 years ago.

“Wanted, one family to eat Christmas dinner with. I will furnish the turkey,” read the 1977 classified ad in the Tracy Headlight-Herald.

Yet his death last week at the age of 98 is attracting the notice of thousands of people.

Monday, Smarzik was the subject of a feature story in the Marshall Independent. The Associated Press picked up the story.

Tuesday, his death was mentioned on WCCO radio. A photo editor from the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis called Tracy Publishing to ask permission to run a Headlight-Herald photo of Smarzik taken in 1980. The Los Angeles Times wanted to use the picture too.

What prompted the interest in an otherwise ordinary man who spent much of his life doing odd jobs in the Tracy area?

It all started with the want ad.

The story of a lonely elderly man searching for friendship at the holidays touched heartstrings everywhere. The story of how Pastor Homer and Betty Dobson welcomed Smarzik into their home for Christmas dinner was picked up by newspapers, radio and televisions. In 1980, Utah songwriter wrote a song about Smarzik and the want ad. In 1997, Edwards wrote a book about Smarzik's life and the want ad, “Wanted One Family.”

Edwards told the Headllight-Herald in 1997, that she feels that Smarzik's story offers universal lessons in caring and reaching out to others.

“Joe is a symbol for people who are lonely and forgotten.” People can relate to his story, she said, because there are so many other people in similar circumstances.

Kids give to food shelf

Tracy Elementary School students weren't thinking only about Thanksgiving dinner before being dismissed for a four-day holiday weekend Wednesday.

Pupils also gave some thought to feeding the hungry. The students collected nearly 1,500 food items that they had brought to school. Wednesday, the food was gathered together and brought to the Tracy Food Shelf.

The school's student council organized the campaign. Students in grades K-6 were invited to bring items to the food shelf. A contest was held among classrooms to see who could bring the most food to school.

When students Aric Carpenter and Eddie Anderson tallied up the totals for each classroom, the grand total added up to 1,447 items. The fourth-grade class taught by Annie Syverson was the winner with 253 donated items. Fifth-graders taught by Russ Roots were second with 210 donations. Students in the winning rooms received either a pizza or popcorn party.

Student council faculty advisors are Kelly McConnell, Jenni Larson, Kris Salmon, and VerlaGayle Stoffel.