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News from the week of May 18, 2005

New postmaster is eager to meet people

A Marshall woman has been appointed as Tracy’s new postmaster.

“I love the community,” said Lynn VanDenBroeke. “Everyone’s been wonderful; the reception’s been wonderful. I look forward to meeting everyone in Tracy.”

As postmaster, she is in charge of all the operations in the post office in addition to having three rural routes and two city routes. She succeeds John Schuh, who retired as Tracy postmaster earlier this year.

VanDenBroeke grew up in Randall, a town with a population of only about 500. She lives in Marshall with her husband, Lee, and their two-year-old son Spencer.

Prior to her Tracy appointment, VanDeBroeke served as the postmaster in Westbrook for three years. She joined the postal service in 1989 after taking a postal exam. She took the test, she remembers, because she “thought it would be cool to work with the public and deliver mail.”

Her first job in Long Prairie only guaranteed her two hours of work a day, so from four years, she also had to work as a bartender/waitress and for a printing company.

Tracy’s new postmaster says what she loves most about her job is dealing with the public. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing, walking, cooking, and biking.

Walleye tourney looks for big turnout

More than 100 boats of fishermen are expected for the 14th annual Lake Shetek Area Improvement Association’s walleye fishing tournament.

The tournament begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at Key Largo Restaurant, Valhalla Island. Weigh-in begins at 3 p.m.

The “catch and release” fishing tourney offers more than $3,500 in prize money. Up to $1,500 will be awarded to the boat of anglers bringing in the heaviest limit of walleye. Cash prizes will be given to the top ten boats of walleye fishermen. An additional $75 will be awarded for the largest walleye, and $65 for the heaviest stringer of 15 panfish. (Awards are based on a 100-boat tournament). Last year, the tournament booked a record 127 boats.

A $60 entry fee is being charged for each two-man boat. Advance registration can be made at area businesses, including JNB Originals and Swen’s Fuel & Tackle in Tracy; Rooster’s and Ruppert Oil in Currie; This Ol’ Place in Garvin; Captain Bly’s on Valhalla Road; and Key Largo. Registration the morning of the tournament is welcome at Key Largo.

Tournament proceeds are designated for lake improvement projects supported by the Shetek association. The group plans a check-presentation ceremony after the weigh-in the mark a successful drive to raise money for an aeration system on the southern end of Lake Shetek. The new system is expected to be in operation next morning.

A raffle is giving away a two-day guided trip to Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota.

Joe DeSchepper is chairman of the Lake Shetek Area Improvement Association fishing tournament committee. Other committee members are: Nancy Beech, Leon and Sue Mumm, Mike and June Mumm, Mandy Mumm, Jamie Thomazin, Andy Hoffman, Dean McDaniel, Russ Reed, Kristin and Matt Loftness, April Schettler, and Steve Illg,

Historic Currie church headed to End-O-Line

The First Presbyterian Church of Currie will soon disappear from Currie’s Church Street in Currie.

The 19th-century wood frame church is scheduled to be moved to the End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum sometime next week.

“It depends on the weather exactly when they move it,” explained End-O-Line Curator Louise Gervais.

The traditional, bell-tower church will be set on concrete footings south of the one-room school house at End-O-Line. Some restoration work on the church will follow.

The $65,000 move and restoration will be paid for by a gift from Currie native Zorada (Silvernale) Hoge. A ceremony to mark the move and restoration is planned during Currie’s Fourth of July weekend celebration.

The move does not mark the end of the Currie Presbyterian congregation. Church members will continue to use the church for services during the summer, through an arrangement approved by the Murray County Commissioners. The congregation will be responsible for cleaning the church.

Otherwise, the church will be open to the public as a church museum. A display of historical artifacts is planned in one area of the church.

The church will no longer have a basement at End-O-Line. But, Gervais said, the new foundation will be set off the ground enough to prevent moisture problems.

The First Presbyterian Church of Currie, founded in 1871, is the longest-established congregation in Murray County. The church building was built in the 1880s.

The process of moving the church is expected to take three days: one day to lift and loan the structure, one day to move, and one day to set down at its new location.

For Sale: Cheap
Values slashed for tax-forfeited parcels

The values of 24-tax-forfeited real estate parcels in Tracy have been reduced significantly in an effort get the properties back on tax rolls.

The reduced tax values, recommended by Lyon County Assessor Dean Champine, were approved recently by the county commissioners. The lower values will be used as starting points at an auction of tax-forfeited properties in Lyon County this summer.

Dramatic reductions were made on many parcels of tax-forfeited Tracy real estate. The former P Plus Asian Grocery building in Downtown Tracy has had its value reduced from $20,000 to $8,000. The former Stassen Photography building at 130 Third St. was cut from $6,300 to $2,500. A third downtown property, the former Coast-to-Coast building, has had its value dropped from $7,700 to $1,500. The former Red Alexander house at 131 Morgan was reduced from $6,000 to $2,500. A vacant house at 451 Sixth St. has been reduced from $5,000 to $500.

The effort to decrease the tax-forfeited values was instigated by Robert Gervais, Tracy community development director. The goal, Gervais said, is to encourage someone to buy the tax-forfeited land and return them to a productive use. Many of the properties have been on Lyon County’s tax-forfeited list for years.

Champine recommended the value reductions, after inspecting the list of tax-forfeited properties with Gervais.

Tax assessments

Some of the tax-forfeited properties have unpaid special assessments, which would ordinarily become the responsibility of the new buyer. For example, the Alexander property is encumbered by $3,441 in special assessments.

Gervais asked Tracy City Council members last week to consider reducing the special assessments to make the tax-forfeited properties even more attractive to potential buyers. Council members took no specific action, except to ask for more information about assessments for each parcel. Council members indicated a willingness to consider reduced assessments on a case by case basis.

A date for Lyon County’s next real estate tax forfeiture auction has not been set. Once commissioners set a date, Lyon County will publish public notices regarding the auction and the values of the tax-forfeited properties.

The new values, Champine said, do not become effective until the Lyon County tax-forfeiture auction. Until then, an individual who wished to purchase a tax-forfeited property would have to pay the previously established price.

Buyers of tax-forfeited property receive a deed from the State of Minnesota, which does not warrant that there are no other legal claims against the property.


Many bare lots

The 24-taxforfeited properties in Tracy represent 75% of Lyon County’s 32 tax-forfeited parcels. The tax-forfeit Tracy real estate parcels include:

• Vacant lot 78 Morgan.. Reduced from $10 to no charge. Special assessments: $1,340.

• Vacant lot 124 South St. Reduced from $100 to no charge. Assessments: $431.

• Vacant lot corner of South St. & Second St. Reduced from $10 to no charge. Assessments: $3,409.

• Vacant lot corner of Second and Morgan. Reduced from $50 to no charge. Assessments: $4,816.

• Vacant house 131 Morgan St. Reduced from $6,000 to $2,500. Assessments: $3,441.

• Vacant lot adjacent to 131 Morgan St. property. Reduced from $400 to no charge. Special assessments: $1,314.

• Former P Plus store, (136 Third St).. Reduced from $20,000 to $8,000. Assessments: $127.

• Former Stassen’s Photography (130 Third St.). Reduced from $6,350 to $2,500. Assessments: $134.

• Former Coast-to-Coast building. Reduced from $7,700 to $1,500. Assessments: $242.

• Vacant lot 354 South St. Reduced from $50 to no charge. Assessments: $22.

• Vacant lot north of State Farm building on Fourth St., Reduced from $10 to no charge. Assessments: $191.

• Vacant lot at 477 Morgan St... Reduced from $50 to no charge. Special assessments: $110.

• Vacant lot at 336 Sixth St.) Reduced from $1,200 to $100. Assessments: $10,030.

• 16x60-foot corner of 336 Sixth St. property. Reduced from $10 to no charge. Assessments: $79.

• Vacant house at461 Sixth St. Reduced from $5,000 to $500. Assessments: $2,394.

• Vacant lot at corner of Emory and Center. Reduced from $800 to $100. Assessments: $35.

• Vacant Lot at corner of Emory and Third. (formerly 424 Emory) Reduced from $10 to no charge. Special assessments: $2,209.

• Vacant house at 451 Sixth St. Reduced from $5,000 to $500. Assessments: $2,394.

• Vacant lot at 573 Third St. Reduced from $10 to no charge. Special assessments: $1,485.

• Vacant house at 301 Sixth St. Reduced from $5,000 to $500. Assessments: $936• Vacant house at 174 Center St. Reduced from $8,500 to $1,000. Assessments: $326.

• Vacant house 200 Morgan St. Reduced from $6,400 to $2,000.

Dr. Apostol ending three decades of service to Tracy

The summer that a young doctor named Wilfredo Apostol came to Tracy, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, Jaws was a No. 1 best-seller, and Hank Aaron set a new Major League home run record.

“Thirty-one years. Can you believe it?” Dr. Apostol said last week, as he thought about his 1974 arrival in Tracy. Smiling broadly, he soon erupted into signature laugh, as if he couldn’t quite believe either that the years had gone by so quickly.

Dr. Apostol, 64, is retiring next month. He will see his last patients on June 15.

“This retirement has been two years in the making,” Dr. Apostol said. “I have been thinking about it that long.”

Why retire?

“I can do as I please,” he said. Retirement, he explained, will give him more to spend time with family and friends, travel, and hunt and fish.

“It’s time,” he said.

• • •

When Alice and Dr. Apostol arrived in Tracy with their three young children, they had no idea that they would establish deep roots in Tracy. A string of brutal Minnesota winters in the 1970s almost convinced the family to relocate to a warmer climate.

But as the years passed, Dr. Apostol said, winter weather seemed to get milder. The Apostol children—Meah, John, and Iris—made close friends and became immersed in school and community activities. Iris became a Miss Tracy, and Meah became a Miss Tracy first runner-up. John, the class valedictorian in 1988, was part of a record-setting track relay team.

“Once the kids, are in school, you don’t move,” Dr. Apostol.

An avid outdoorsman, who loves to hunt and fish, Dr. Apostol also came to appreciate the quality of life in Southwest Minnesota, and its people. He loved the pheasant, duck, and deer hunting opportunities that the area presented. He learned to catch walleyes on Lake Shetek. A friendship with Tracy teacher John Coulter opened up new paths for elk and sheep hunting out west, and big-game African safaris.

“You develop friendships, and you get to know your patients,” he said.

Some of the babies Dr. Apostol delivered in the 1970s and 1980s have grown up and had children of their own. He’s watched young people become middle aged and middle-age people grow old.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know my patients,” he said, in a way that is only possible in a long-term practice. “That is an advantage. You can follow up with the patients.”

• • •

A native of the Philippines, Dr. Apostol was valedictorian of his high school class in 1957. He graduated from medical school in Quezon City, Philippines in July of 1965, and decided to emigrate to the United States.

He served in a rotating internship in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1967, and in 1968 had a family practice residency in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Specialty and surgery residencies followed in Danbury, Connecticut, (1968-69) and Eaglewood, New Jersey (1969-1973).

The young physician came to Minnesota in 1973, serving as a surgeon and general practitioner in Heron Lake, Lakefield, and Jackson.

Dr. Ernesto Lee recruited him to come to Tracy in 1974.

Dr. Apostol initially saw patients at a clinic on Third St. in Downtown Tracy, but moved to the new clinic built adjacent to the hospital in the late 1970s. For many years Dr. Apostol also operated a clinic in Walnut Grove.

During most of his career in Tracy, Dr. Apostol operated his own private medical practice. He became an employee of the Sioux Valley Hospitals system “ten or 12 years ago” after Tracy Hospital became affiliated with the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based health-system.

For ten years, Dr. Apostol served in the United States Air Force National Guard as a flight surgeon. He was called to active duty during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and served the 934th Tactical Air Command Hospital as a Lt. Colonel. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1987, an event that he feels is among the most significant of his life.

Although proud of his American citizenship, the physician has not forgotten his roots. He has returned to the Philippines several times to offer medical care to the poor, and plans another trip next year. A Fellow of the American Society of Philippine Surgeons in America, Dr. Apostol is active in the Lyon-Lincoln Medical Society, and has held memberships in the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Philippine Minnesota Medical Association.

• • •

The health care field, Dr. Apostol said, has undergone many changes during his career One of the biggest is that more sophisticated diagnostic tools make it possible for more services to be performed locally,

When he first came to Tracy, Rochester Mayo was the No.1 choice for referrals. Now, Sioux Valley Hospital is the top referral choice, he said.

How many babies has Dr. Apostol delivered during his career?

The physician said he hasn’t kept count. Before Tracy Hospital discontinued its baby delivery department in he early 1990s, there were typically 50 to 60 births each year at the hospital.

Dr. Apostol has worked at Tracy Hospital longer than all but five current employees. Brenda Mentjes, Barb Surprenant, Lois Johnson, Becky Luft, and Marianne Boerboom are the only current workers at the hospital who were on staff when Dr. Apostol arrived in 1974.

• • •

Alice and Dr. Apostol’s immediate family all live in Minnesota.

Meah Willard, who has a Master’s degree in psychology, lives with her family in Hutchinson. She and her husband, Dan, have three children

Iris Roberts is a pharmacist at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. She and her husband Michael live in Savage with their two children. John Apostol is a physician at Columbia Park Clinic in the Twin Cities. He and his wife Angela have two children. The family lives in Shoreview.

• • •

Tracy Area Medical Services is planning retirement open house for Dr. Apostol early this summer. Details will be announced at a later date.

Seniors recognized with college music scholarships

Two Tracy Area High School seniors have won college music scholarships.

Nicole Haecherl and Emily Baumann won the scholarships after music auditions at their respective colleges.

Haecherl was awarded a $1,000 music scholarship at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, where she is considering a minor in music. Her scholarship will pay for private piano lessons and is renewable each year. She will serve as a piano accompanist as part of her scholarship requirement.

To earn the scholarship, Haecherl had to send a performing music application, a recommendation form from Jane Roots, her piano teacher, and an audio tape of her playing two memorized piano pieces of contrasting styles. She was then selected to play her pieces live on campus, where she got the chance to meet with the piano professors.

Haecherl plays the flute and has studied under Chris Miller, Amanda Madson, and Jane Roots for music lessons. She is the daughter of Jon and Tammy Haecherl.

Baumann will be attending Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, where she is planning to major in music education. Baumann received a vocal scholarship worth $650 which will pay for private voice lessons, as well as a $1,900 music class scholarship that will cover the cost of three credits of music class.

To earn these scholarships, Baumann had to fill out a performing music application, recommendation forms from Shirlee Gilmore, her choir director, and Roots, her piano teacher. She also had to send a videotape of her performing two contrasting vocal pieces, and two contrasting piano solos.

Baumann plays the clarinet and has studied under Miller, Mike Peterson, Clint Peterson, Roots, and Gilmore. She is the daughter of Karl and Gloria Baumann.