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News from the week of November 3, 2004

Lyon County, Tracy voters favor Bush

Seifert, Magnus easiy win House races, 3 incumbent commissioners lose

If the presidential election had been solely up to Lyon County voters, George W. Bush would have been re-elected in a landslide.

Lyon County voters favored the president by nearly 2,000 votes. Unofficial totals Wednesday morning showed Bush carrying Lyon County by a 56.9 to 41.8 percent margin. The Republican president received 7,202 votes compared with 5,292 for Democrat challenger Senator John Kerry.

Nationally, when this newspaper went to press at 8 a.m. Wednesday, the presidential election was still in doubt. President Bush held a small lead in both the popular and electoral vote count. But a close race in Ohio had prevented most observers from declaring a winner in the Bush-Kerry race.

Voting in Tracy reflected the tightness of the presidential race across the country. Tracy voters were almost evenly split over Bush and Kerry. Bush received 486 votes, with Kerry netting 475.

Chukuske, Rettmer, Snyder win

Three new people will take seats on the Tracy City Council this January.

Bill Chukuske, Sandi Rettmer, and Charles Snyder all were elected to four-year terms on the council Tuesday by topping an eight-candidate field. Incumbents Robert Caron and Greg Torkelson fell short in re-election bids.

Chukuske topped the field with 491 votes. Rettmer was second with 440 votes. Snyder claimed the third open council seat with 391 votes. Anthony Peterson fell 15 votes shy of a council spot with a total of 377 votes. Greg Torkelson, who had been appointed to fill out the unexpired term of Dave Berndt, was fifth with 309 votes. Caron followed with 281 votes. Marvin Van Acker received 196 votes.

Mike Fraser, the third council incumbent with a term expiring, did not file for re-election.

At last! Panther football qualifies for dome game

Advancing to an indoor play-off game at "The Dome" has been a goal of a generation of Scrapper and Panther football teams. None succeeded until this week.

No, the team isn't playing in the Metrodome, home of the Twins and Vikings, in Downtown Minneapolis. But Tracy/Milroy/Balaton will be playing indoors at the Fargo Dome in Fargo, N.D., for the Section 6AA championship Friday. Kick-off time against 212 Conference rival Yellow Medicine East is 5:30 p.m.

Section 6AA customarily holds its football title game in the Fargo Dome. TMB, in its fourth season in Section 6AA football, has never played in the Fargo Dome. Previously, TMB competed in Section 3AA, where the football title games have been played outdoors on the home field of the highest-rated opponent.

The distant playoff game in Fargo will result in an early dismissal for Tracy schools Friday. St. Mary's and Tracy Elementary schools are both letting out at 12:20 p.m. High school students will be dismissed at 12:30 p.m. Buses will run normal routes. But parents picking up students are asked to stop at the east parking lot at the elementary school, and the north parking lot at the high school.

The Panther football team leaves the high school at 10:30 a.m., with a band bus slated to leave at 11:30 a.m. A charter fan bus is scheduled to leave the high school at 12:30 p.m. Call the Activities Office at 629-5510 for more information on the fan bus.

Should TMB win Friday, the Panthers would host a Nov. 12 play-off game in Tracy against the Section 5AA champion, either Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City or Eden Valley-Watkins.

o o o

The Panthers, whose team motto this year has been "expect to win," is attempting to be the first local football team in 20 years to win a regional championship. The last time that happened was 1984, prior to any Tracy, Milroy or Balaton athletic pairing. The Tracy Scrappers that year were 4-4 on the season, but won three straight play-off games to win the section title. The '84 team finished the season with a 7-5 record.

Since 1984, the Panthers have advanced to the section football championship game four times—in 1992, 1997, 1999, and 2000—but have come up short each time.

The Panther football team, 7-3 on the year, has rebounded from a 1-7 record in 2003. In the 2001 and 2002 seasons, the Panthers also struggled with 2-7 and 1-8 records.

DM&E railroad executive is upbeat about future

Tracy leaders who hope to hitch a ride on the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad for greater community prosperity had plenty to feel optimistic about last week.

Lynn Anderson, DM&E vice president, told local business and civic leaders that the railroad is doing well and that he sees a host of economic spin-offs from growing railroad operations. The railroad executive said that he sees Tracy as a "logical" center for upcoming construction projects, and that he would work with local people in attracting railroad-related businesses to the Tracy area.

"We will talk up Tracy. This would be a good location (for business expansion)."

Many rail improvements

2004 has been a record year for railroad improvements.

"This year, $65 million is being put into the line," Anderson said, about four times what the railroad has typically spent on railroad improvements.

Six sidings—including a new mile-long siding in and east of Tracy, have been either built or improved this year. New rail has been installed from Garvin to Lake Benton and Verdi, he said. All told about 100 miles of new rail installed on the DM&E. A total of 146 bridges are being upgraded.

"This has allowed us to become a more efficient railroad," Anderson said. For example, portions of the replaced rail were so old that trains were limited to about 10 miles per hour. The new rail is allowing speeds of 40 miles MPH.

"A run to Huron (S.D) that used to take us 11 hours will be four to five hours," said Anderson.

Expansion still planned

Anderson expressed optimism that the DM&E long-planned $2 billion Powder River expansion project into the coal fields of northeastern Wyoming will clear its last hurdles soon.

"There are very few issues left to be resolved," Anderson said. "We hope that by the second quarter of next year that will be behind us." Under a best case scenario, Anderson said, "a year from now we will be turning some dirt" on the Powder River project" and that "we will be up and running in four years."

"We are going to be looking for people," he said, adding that "a tremendous amount" of construction material will be moved in.

Anderson said it was "premature" for him to outline what role Tracy would play in the construction. But did say that "this is a logical place for us to stage some construction. We think there will be a lot of activity in this area." Tracy's location, its facilities, and availability of land all made it a good candidate for as a construction hub, he indicated.

However, at this point, Anderson said, there isn't anything that Tracy can do to assist the railroad in making its plans for the construction phase.

The vice president said he is well aware of Tracy's heritage of a railroad center that once employed over 200 people.

"There were lots of trains here and lots of people. I can't tell you we are going to get back to that level, but we could see a lot of activity here."

New medical phone service increases access to experts

By Robin Madson
Tracy Area Medical Services

Tracy Area Medical Services is committed to providing the highest quality local health care and access to specialized care as quickly as possible. To that end, in partnership with Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System, Tracy Area Medical Services recently installed the Sioux Valley NOW phones in our nurses station.

The Sioux Valley NOW phone is the newest tool available to Sioux Valley Regional Health Services medical facilities and their physicians and staff to help care for patients in need of air transport and/or emergency specialty physician consultation or referral.

The bright blue "hot-line" phone is easily identified and user friendly. By simply picking up the receiver of the Sioux Valley NOW phone, our Emergency Department physicians and staff are immediately connected to a toll-free priority line at the Sioux Valley Intensive Air Communications Center. At the Center, specially trained staff will facilitate immediate air transport dispatch and/or referral/consultation with the appropriate specialty physician.
The Sioux Valley NOW phones are provided at no cost to emergency departments and /or nursing stations of regional hospitals. These phones link facility physicians and staff with the comprehensive health care organization’s specialty staff and transport teams who are ready at a moment’s notice to support the care already being provided locally.
"We immediately took advantage of this opportunity as it allows us to meet the needs of our patients in the shortest time possible by not only providing excellent local emergency care, but also having access Sioux Valley resources, when necessary," said Jeri Schons, assistant administrator patient care services, Tracy Area Medical Services.
Tracy Area Medical Services, is a member of Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System.

Murder mystery takes aim on fun

Al Capone likely would have felt right at home at a "murder mystery' staged by the Tracy Chamber of Commerce Saturday. The slap-stick drama, written and directed by Lary Parker, portrayed two rival gangster families at a wedding. An audience of about 85 people at the Mediterranean restaurant ballroom was able to interact with the cast members and guess who had cmmitted a devious murder. Who-dunnit? Lalina Gambino, portrayed by Deb Schenkoske, was the guilty party.