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News from the week of November 8, 2006



Voters contribute to Pawlenty, Klobuchar & Walz wins

Peterson, Seifert, Vickerman, Frederickson, Magnus cruise to reelection


Area voters showed their independence Tuesday.

Lyon, Redwood, and Murray County citizens strongly supported Republican governor Tim Pawlenty who narrowly won reelection. But in a day that saw congressional and gubernatorial gains for Democrats across the country, local voters also backed Democrat Amy Klobuchar for the U.S. Senate, and Democrats Tim Walz in the First District Congressional race and Collin Peterson in the Seventh District. Republican legislative candidates fared better locally, winning all state House races in District 21 and District 22, and retaining the Senate District 21 seat. District 22 Senator Jim Vickerman, Tracy, was the only area Democrat to win a state legislative race.

Statewide, Pawlenty had a 1% margin over Mike Hatch. But in Lyon County, Pawlenty was favored by a wide margin, polling 5,243 votes, to 3,673 for Hatch. Independence Party candidate Peter Hutchinson got 464 votes.

In Redwood County, Pawlenty got 3,697 votes, Hatch 2,312, and Hutchinson 424. In Murray County, it was Pawlenty 1,918, Hatch 1,827, and Hutchinson 123.

Klobuchar, who will become Minnesota’s first female U.S. Senator, carried Lyon and Redwood counties. Klobuchar out-polled Republican Mark Kennedy 4,719 to 4,414 in Lyon County, and 2,103 to 1,670 in Murray. Kennedy bucked the Klobuchar victory in Redwood County, which he carried with 3,159 votes to 3,070 for Klobuchar.

Walz, who upset incumbent Republican Gutknecht in District One, narrowly carried Murray County 1,981 to 1,929.

Peterson easily won reelection to Congress with 70% of the vote in District Seven, outpolling Republican Michael Barrett 5,800 to 3,439 in Lyon County, and 3,944 to 2,3210 in Redwood County.

Vickerman, a 20-year veteran in the state senate, beat Republican challenger Bill Weber by a 17,402 to 13,591 margin in Senate District 22 over DFLer Margie Hoyt’s 9,798.

Republican Marty Seifert won reelection for a sixth term, defeating Pat Mellenthin by an 8,416 to 5,427 margin. Brad Finstad was reelected in District 21B, beating DFLer Robert Killings by a 8,460 to 6,986 margin. Republican Rod Hamilton won a tight race in District 22B, defeating DFLer Richard Peterson 7,713 to 7,249. House District incumbent Doug Magnus fended off a challenge from DFLer Mike McCarvel by a 8.427 to 6,668 margin.

County races

Heidi Winter will be the new Auditor/Treasurer in Murray County. Winter received 2,424 votes to 1,444 for JoAnn Carlson. Murray County Commissioner races had Jon Giese beating Al Gertsma 592 to 483, and Gerald Magnus topping Jake Stoel 358 to 336.

In Lyon County, Commissioner Bob Fenske was reelected in District 2, outpolling Terry Chlebecek 847 to 582. Rodney Stenrud topped Bob Polejewski for the District One commissioner seat by a 1,168 to 839 margin. Phil Nelson, running unopposed in District 3, received 1,706 votes.

A Constitutional Amendment to dedicate the sales tax on vehicle sales to road and transit projects passed by about a 60 to 40% margin statewide. A majority of voters favored the measure in House District 21A, 21B and 22B. A two-vote margin of voters disapproved the measure in District 22B


Ferrazzano reelected mayor

Stobb, Peterson, Martin win council posts


Steve Ferrazzano easily won reelection as Tracy mayor Tuesday.

The incumbent earned another four-year term by gathering 63.7% of the vote in a three-person race. Ferrazzano received 494 votes. Sandi Rettmer received 189 votes, and Marv Van Acker received 89 votes. Rettmer is a first-term city council member with two years left in her term.

Russ Stobb, Tony Peterson, and Michael Martin were the choice of voters in the city council elections. Stobb, a three-term incumbent, topped all candidates with 593 votes to earn another four-year term. Peterson, with 411 votes, and Martin, with 392 votes, also earned council terms.

Jan Arvizu, a 23-year council veteran, fell 23 votes short of reelection with 369 votes. Lary Parker, the fifth candidate, garnered 327 votes. There were ten write-in votes cast.

A total of 772 people voted in the Tracy city election.


Three 'Wall of Fame' selections announced

By Valerie Scherbart Quist


Three Tracy High School graduates will be inducted into the Wall of Fame next week. Thomas Carey, Doris (Halfmann) Zwach, and J. Richard Johnston have been selected as this year’s Wall of Fame inductees.

The three will be inducted next Thursday, Nov. 16 during the Tracy American Education Week banquet. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Shetek Bend. Tickets are $9 and are available at Tracy Elementary, Tracy Area High School, St. Mary’s School, and the Tracy Chamber office. Tickets should be purchased by Wednesday, Nov. 15 at noon.

Thomas E. Carey

Thomas Carey of Anchorage, Alaska, graduated from Tracy High School in 1943.

Upon graduation Tom enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He flew 39 missions in B-17s and B-25s over enemy territory. For action over “Truk” in the Central Pacific he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for Gallantry in Action.

Academics were particularly hard for Tom. Earning passing grades was a struggle, due probably to a later in life diagnosis of dyslexia. Motivation in high school propelled him into college, and he graduated in 1950.

In 1951 he moved to Alaska and has called it home ever since. He immediately sought employment, which took him to Kodiak Island and Anchorage.

Carey Trailer Sales was started in 1952, later referred to as Carey Homes, Inc. He is regarded as a pioneer in the manufactured home industry. He has also developed, with hands-on expertise, two mobile home communities that, combined, have space for over 600 homes. Tom is presently retired although he does stay abreast of serious business matters.

Within the community Tom realized a severe housing shortage for low to moderate income families especially following the earthquake of 1964, a flood in 1967, and tornado force winds in 1980.

Tom was appointed by the Governor of Alaska to serve on the State Patrol Board. The Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Alaska Manufactured Housing Association and athletic booster clubs attached to the University of Alaska have comprised some of his civic activities. His faith community has also been important to him and he has been active in several local, state, and national faith organizations. He has served on financial and building committees for newly formed churches within the city.

With his wife of 47 years, Natalie, Tom raised eight children, two of whom are now deceased.

Tom’s philosophy in life has included a deep personal faith for God, family, and country. He was an active citizen in community and state affairs, and has endeavored to improve people’s lives when necessity demands it.

Doris Halfmann Zwach

Wife, mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer. Those are the words used to describe Doris Halfmann Zwach in her nomination for the Wall of Fame.

Zwach is a 1948 graduate of Tracy High School. She believes her education in Tracy laid a solid foundation for community service and learning how to cope with daily living. She was inducted into the National Honor Society and participated in the Drum and Bugle Corps. She was the Miss Fireman candidate for Miss Tracy.

After graduation she worked for approximately two years as the bookkeeper at Tri-County Co-op in Tracy. She married Robert Zwach in 1951 and they raised six children on the family farm northeast of Tracy. She is retired and presently lives in Milroy.

Doris was the first woman to serve on the Milroy School Board, and served for 12 years. While on the board she held the office of clerk. She has held several offices as an American Legion Auxiliary member. In her church she has serves as head of the Altar Society, served on the parish council, as president of the Marshall Deanery of Catholic Women, as CCD teacher, on the finance committee and as a lay minister leading weekday church services.

In Redwood County and the surrounding counties she has serves as secretary of the National Farmers’ Organization writing a newsletter and speaking at various meetings.

Other civic activities have included being chairperson and home counselor in the Westline Extension Group; religious education teacher; secretary of the Milroy Senior Citizens, and member of the 2002 Milroy Centennial Committee.

Zwach’s philosophy on life is: “What importance does anyplace really have, but the people who live there? What good or use are we, if we don’t help each other?”

J. Richard Johnston

The late J. Richard Johnston was a member of the Tracy High School class of 1941. In 1940 he was Master of Ceremonies at the junior/senior prom, which had a Hawaiian theme. Later he would choose Hawaii as his home.

He graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Engineering as an architect and then served honorably as an officer in the U.S. Navy in the Atlantic Fleet.

Following his service in the armed forces he accepted an architectural position in Minneapolis, where he was employed on a number of projects including private homes, schools, large buildings in the Twin Cities area, and work on the then Wold-Chamberlain Airport (now known as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport).

In California, he served as chief architect for the Braun Construction Company that constructed oil installations throughout Arabia as well as the rest of the world. He then became the chief architect for the Aerojet Corporation designing special installations for the United States Space Program (Cape Kennedy, Point Magu, Hudson’s Bay).

He later managed the Adrian Wilson Associates office in Orange County and then moved to Hawaii to manage their office in Honolulu. In his retirement, he did some work for Parsons, an international architectural firm.

Projects he designed and engineered include the Strategic Air Command High Speed Motion Picture Laboratory, Vandenburg Air Force Base Pacific Range Control and Tracking Center, Fort Churchill (Canada) Rocket Launcher for International Geophysical Year, Redstone Arsenal Missile Acceptance and Test Facility, Honolulu International Center, Vista del Mar Condominium, Alii Villas Condominium, Waihee Valley Master Plan, and Essex House Apartment.

Johnston died in 1996. He has three daughters.


20 years ago, 605,000 voted for Cal


By Seth Schmidt

The year is 1986…

President Ronald Reagan unveils a restored Statue of Liberty.

Mike Tyson is a 20-year-old heavyweight boxing champion, and Whitney Houston is the reigning diva of American pop music.

Video movie rentals are a new phenomenon, and gasoline is less then $1 a gallon. Apple is marketing a new computer called the Macintosh. Few people realize that they could make a fortune buying shares in Microsoft.

In Minnesota, lake lots at Lake Shetek and Sarah sell for about $10,000, and good farmland can be bought for less than $1,000 an acre. Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett are young stars on the perennially losing Minnesota Twins, and Gov. Rudy Perpich is seeking re-election as Minnesota’s governor. Cal Ludeman, a 1969 Tracy High School graduate, is Perpich’s Independent-Republican opponent.

“That seems like a lifetime ago,” said Ludeman, when asked about his 1986 gubernatorial campaign. Today, Ludeman, 55, is the Acting Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed him to the post in July after a 3 1/2 year stint as commissioner of the Minnesota Dept. of Employee Relations.

“(It’s) as interesting as anything I’ve done,” Ludeman said last week. The department that Ludeman oversees is Minnesota’s largest agency, with a two-year budget of 18 billion dollars and 7,000 employees. It serves about a million Minnesotans each year.

As a member of state cabinet, Ludeman implements policy established by the governor and legislature.

“What’s not fun about that?…this is a real workout every day,” he said.

Ludeman’s philosophy in managing the department reflects a theme from his 1986 run for governor.

“Government should know its place, do its job well, and be honest with the people it serves.”

Ludeman received just over 600,000 votes or 45% of the ballots cast in the ‘86 gubernatorial election. Perpich won. but Ludeman supporters could take solace that their man had gotten more votes than Wheelock Whitney in 1982 against Perpich. On election night 1986, an undaunted Ludeman told cheering supporters at the Radisson South Hotel in Bloomington that their campaign had helped change the agenda for state government.


State legislator

A standout student and athlete at THS in the late 1960s, Ludeman earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Wyoming before returning to Amiret and Monroe townships and SanMarBro Farms. He was elected to the Minnesota House in 1978 and served in the House for three terms, becoming House Minority Whip. He did not to seek reelection in 1984, instead leading a statewide campaign to win an I-R majority in the Minnesota House.

for the first time in 14 years. Ludeman returned to Tracy. But his interest in state government remained..

“By that summer, (1985) a lot of conversations were underway regarding the governor’s race,” Ludeman recalled. :”I decided to run in the early fall of 1985, mostly because of what I learned and people I met on the campaigns of 1984 when I was not a candidate.”

Ludeman felt that state government had become too big, too costly, and was hindering individual opportunity. “Minnesota …maintained a very high tax structure, a very heavy regulation burden, and nearly every family, community, and business issues was in the political arena.” Minnesota’s “business climate,” he said, was the overriding issue of the campaign, with high taxes the concern of average citizens.

Following a grassroots, statewide campaign with I-R delegates, Ludeman won the I-R party’s gubernatorial endorsement from a field that included House Majority Leader Dave Jennings that June.

“It was no accident. (The delegates) were all people I had already met,” Ludeman said. “The rush of attention and decision-making right after the endorsement felt like an expected event.”

. Ludeman remembered being confident amidst the hoopla and crowds of the convention. Thousands of people heard his convention address

“The main issue was effective and efficient communication. The main speech was crucial and a hit.” After the endorsement, he looked forward to the campaign.

“I only prayed I was up to the challenge. Now a lot of people and issues relied on me, for months I had been relying on them.”


Non-stop campaign

The 1986 gubernatorial campaign was a merry-go-round of coffee-shop handshaking, media interviews, after-dinner speeches, parade walks, strategy sessions, and town meetings. Some days, Ludeman made as many as 22 campaign appearances.

“The campaign was non-stop,” Ludeman recalled. “I enjoyed it so much the schedule was always overbooked and the days long, but ‘retail’ politics was my strength.…Not once did I think it was not worth it. Minnesota is truly a great state with great people with stories to tell. A real part of governing is listening to those stories.”

Some moments from the campaign still stand out in Ludeman’s memory.

Once, a woman in the elevator looked at Ludeman with a mix of puzzlement and surprise.

“If you were just a little bit older, you’d look just like that Cal Ludeman running for governor,” the lady said.

The candidate responded, “Thanks, I hear he’s a good man, and I’m working on the getting older part fast as I can.”

Ludeman also remembers arriving in El Rosa in Stearns County at the end of a long day. Before stepping to the podium to address 400 “well conditioned” citizens, Ludeman followed the advice of a local organizer, who said all Ludeman needed to say was ‘Ich bein ein Deutsche’ (I am German).

“After a loud microphone introduction, I got up and said that…nothing more. The crowd cheered, never stopped, and no more was said ‘til I left. I did very well in Stearns County.”

Tracy’s favorite son said he still runs into people who can sing the 1986 jingle “Cal Loooodeman, he’s vonderbar!”


Uphill battle

Ludeman entered the governor’s race with no illusions. Rudy Perpich, he said, would be hard to beat.

“I always knew how high the mountain was , and we would need circumstantial assistance, not just hard work, to win” Ludeman said. In 1986, Democrats didn’t make any major mistakes. “Where was John Kerry and Judy Dutcher when I needed them?” he joked, referring to gaffes made by prominent Democrats in the last week the 2006 campaign.

In 1986, Perpich’s popularity was boosted by a rapidly improving national economy, Ludeman said, “In summary, there was no war, no scandal, no easy way to make the case for change.”

The improved economy Ludeman said, made it easier for the public to overlook quirks in Perpich’s leadership style, and the underlying problems being cause by state policy.

“As long as the economic chart appeared upward, his strange actions and words were only news fodder,” Ludeman said.

Some political insiders, Ludeman said, advised that the governor would win unless “Perpich was seen as causing pain to the state or people.” A series of negative ads against Perpich were produced.. But Ludeman didn’t like the ads and cancelled them. The public never saw the ads.

In 1986, the “pain” that Perpich’s policies were creating, Ludeman said, was mostly in the future. Those problems would lead to jobs leaving the state and a tax increase proposed three weeks after the election.

“These all led to his defeat in 1990, not 1986,” Ludeman said.

Speaking directly to the people was one of his strengths in the 1986 campaign, Ludeman felt, but the “wholesale” aspects of politics— packaging and advertising—were not.

Wholesale politics, Ludeman said, required different skills simply delivering a good speech.

“I was less efficient in conveying the right stuff, at the right time, with few words, to some, like reporters, or on TV spots. This one-liner skill is very important.”

Ludeman acknowledged Perpich’s political appeal.

“Rudy Perpich was almost like a Lyndon Johnson, he was for everything, all the time.” Minnesotans had a taste of budget restraint in 1982-83, Ludeman said, and hadn’t liked it.

Knowing the difficulties of running against Perpich in 1986, Ludeman said that three I-R candidates, including future governor Arne Carlson, dropped out of the endorsement hunt before the convention.


Few regrets

Ludeman doesn’t second-guess the campaign.

“All in all, we wouldn’t have done much differently.”

The governor’s race that year had only two debates in 1986. Many political pundits at the time gave the challenger good reviews. The second Ludeman-Perpich debate produced a memorable line from Ludeman, in which he challenged the governor to “look me in the eye” and say that he didn’t plan to raise taxes.

The debates were also a learning experience, Several minutes before the first debate started, Ludeman, sweating under the bright TV studio lights, unthinkingly wiped his brow. An alert St. Paul Pioneer Press photographer snapped a photo. The picture ran the next day, with the inference that young Ludeman was apparently unable to withstand the pressure of debating the governor. The newspaper apologized for the inference the next day, but published the photo again along with the apology.

“So much for getting even with the press,” Ludeman said.

Perpich made an issue of Ludeman’s age, and what he termed the challenger’s “inexperience.” But Ludeman didn’t feel that his age was a disadvantage.

“I’ve been fortunate to meet 11 Minnesota governors. The two youngest elected—Harold Stassen and C. Elmer Anderson—confided that they always believe at the right time, youth and even inexperience was a positive for them politically.”


Family involved too

At the time of the gubernatorial run, Cal and Deb Ludeman had three young children. Ben was 12, Hilary 10, and Grant was 8. Deb usually stayed home with the children, but there were also frequent occasions when she hit the campaign trail with Cal.

“It was crazy,” Deb Ludeman said. She said that the family had no idea how time-consuming the statewide campaign would be.

But, she said, the family “had some fun with it.” The children got involved in some of the more special events, such as the state I-R convention, and had some unique experiences because of the campaign. Deb Ludeman said she has no regrets.

“It was interesting. Now, it seems like it happened so long ago, and then it doesn’t seem like long ago at all.”


Almost a candidate

In 1990, after scandal caused Republican nominee Jon Grunseth to exit the race in October, Ludeman almost became the party’s 11th-hour candidate. Ludeman was secretly brought to a hotel where he was to be announced as I-R party’s replacement candidate for governor. Instead, party leaders selected Arne Carlson, who went on to beat Perpich.

“Suffice it to say that 1990 was an ugly experience in the governor’s race,” Ludeman said. “For a few hours in October, it was the will of many to put me on the ballot to save the party and to offer a sustainable choice by election day. But for a few insiders it would have happened.”

Becoming the I-R party’s candidate for governor in 1990, Ludeman said, “was not an urgent ambition” of his, but simply an willingness to serve and give the party a credible candidate.


No more campaigns

Has Ludeman ever thought about running for elective office again?

The son of Sander and Mary Lou Ludeman answers the question simply: “No.”

He expresses satisfaction with both the past and the present.

“I’ve been blessed with busy opportunities in family, business, and once again, public service.”

What would Minnesota be like today if there had been a Governor Ludeman?”

“If elected, we were prepared to begin a new era of government accountability,” Ludeman said. “While legislative sessions always end up spending lots of money, the question must always be, ‘more, for what?’

“Taxes would have been lower, simpler, and more predictable, and the relationship between state and local government made clearer. I’d like to believe Great Minnesota would be an even stronger economic force. Government would be somewhat smaller than today, and non-governmental solutions to problems would be promoted and affirmed.”


Morgan St. four-plex gets commission OK


The Tracy Planning Commission has given its blessings to a $300,000 townhouse project on Morgan Street.

Monday night, the commission recommended that the Tracy City Council grant a special use permit and a side-yard variance for the proposed construction. The council is expected to act on the planning commission’s recommendations Monday.

The four-unit townhouse complex is to be built on a 175x175-foot parcel of bare land southeast of the Tracy United Methodist Church. North Star Building Systems of Tracy and Marshall is the developer.

Each unit will have two bedrooms and 1,220 square feet of living space. Each apartment will have a double attached garage with access onto Morgan and face north.

Dan Anderson, North Star president, said the housing is designed to meet a community need for quality rental housing.

Marv Van Acker and Homer Dobson, two nearby property owners, voiced support for the project at a public hearing Monday night. Dobson said that the new construction “would do nothing but improve the neighborhood.” The location—near churches and the downtown—will appeal to prospective renters, he said. Van Acker said he “was all for” the project, as long as the townhome garages don’t have access from First Street. Anderson assured him that the garage driveways would only exit onto Morgan.

Anderson indicated that he would like to begin concrete work on the project as soon as possible,

North Star is buying the townhouse construction site from PC& B Properties. The firm, which is comprised of Bill Chukuske, Dick Boerboom of Tracy and Brian Pfeiffer of Marshall, purchased the Morgan St. property at a Lyon County tax forfeit real estate auction and subsequently razed a dilapidated house on the site.

Both Anderson, who is chairman of the planning commission, and Chukuske, who is a planning commission member, abstained from voting on the special use permit and side yard variance requests.

The special use permit is necessary under city ordinance to allow multi-family housing construction in an R-1 (single family) zone. The variances requested were for a 7 1/2 feet on First Street and six inches on the alley.

Commission members noted that even with the side-yard variance, the eastern edge of the townhouse building will align with houses further north on First St.

Gary Garrels, city building inspector, told the commission that the warehouse to the south of the construction site had been built up to the lot line.


There's something fishy about Tracy priority list

Council seeks to quantify most pressing needs


By Seth Schmidt

What do gold fish and a backhoe have in common?

Both are points of discussion in a process to establish priorities for the City of Tracy.

Eliminating the gold fish in Swift Lake and obtaining a backhoe are two of the 27 objectives that Public Works Director Rick Robinson has identified for Tracy City Council members. Council members reviewed the list at a special goal-setting session last week.

The backhoe acquisition— which Robinson feels will allow city workers to do more underground utility work and save taxpayers money—is one of nine “high priorities.” Eliminating the gold fish and restocking Swift Lake with game fish is one of 11 “low priorities.”

City Administrator Audrey Koopman was instructed to get additional cost estimates on some of the needs identified by Robinson. Those estimates will be presented to the council at a later date.

Council consensus is that the city can’t afford to tackle all potential city projects at once. Koopman said that money will need to be borrowed to finance the improvements that the city does undertake, and that utility rate increases will also need to be considered.

Robinson was asked to develop his list or priorities as part of a general council goal of establishing a comprehensive list of city priorities.


Top priority needs.

The improvement projects identified by Robinson as “high priorities” (in no special order) are:

Wastewater treatment ponds— The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has notified the city that the city’s waste water treatment lagoons are leaking, inadequate to handle peak flows, and not in compliance with state law. Engineers have been hired by the city to study the problem and make recommendations. Robinson said that state officials will likely not fine the city for non-compliance as long as progress is made on solving the problems. The MPCA will want to “see something done” within four years, he said.

Preliminary cost estimates for new treatment ponds exceed $1,000,0000.

South Tracy drainage—A plan to drain surface water more rapidly from land around the high school and the Greenwood Addition with storm sewer and retention ponds has an estimated construction cost of $250,000 to $278,000. Additional money will be needed to buy land. A Nov. 27 public hearing has been scheduled to consider the improvements.

Mapping—Accurate maps showing the location of utilities, and continually updating those maps as changes occur, would be invaluable, Robinson said. Existing city maps are “poor at best” Robinson told council members, adding “mapping is the key to everything we do at public works.” New mapping technology, he explained, uses Global Positioning Technology. $20,000 was budgeted for city mapping in 2006, but the project was postponed because the money needed to be spent for repairs at the city water plant.

Streets—A newly completed engineering report recommends $1.7 million of street repairs in five phases. The first phase calls for the reconstruction of 7.8 blocks at an estimated cost of $577,200. Robinson said that the city has historically done a street project every two years, but none have been done since 2002 because of the time that had to be devoted to the repair of the aquatic center.

Water main valve replacement—An estimated 36 shut-off valves need to be replaced. The shutoffs are needed when a water main breaks, and service to a section of town needs to shut down while repairs are made. Having large numbers of non-operational valves means that water service must be shut off to larger and larger areas of town during breaks. If the trend continues, Robinson said Tracy could be in the position of having to shut off water to the entire town from the main valve at the water tower.

Robinson recommends that 40 new valves be installed over a period of time so that “zones” of the city could be shut off. If the city had its own backhoe and city employees could do the work, the cost would be about $52,000 for 40 valves. Doing the work with city crews, Robinson estimates, would save about $1,000 a valve.

The city hasn’t had a water valve replacement program since the late 1970s, according to Robinson, meaning the newest valves are 30 years old. About 20 shut-off valves failed during a fire hydrant replacement program this fall, he said.

Water meter replacement—A $40,000 water meter replacement program approved by the council this year should be only the first phase of a water meter replacement program, in Robinson’s opinion. Inaccurate, old water meters that don’t measure all the water going through a meter, Robinson feels, and are contributing to a loss of $90,000 to $110,000 in unbilled water annually. At present, Robinson indicated, 28% of the water produced at the water plant is not billed. A loss rate of 10% would be acceptable.

Eastview lift station upgrade—An estimated $96,000 upgrade of the sewage lift station near the corner of Union and Fifth Street East is recommended. In Robinson’s opinion, the lift station needs to be upgraded before the Tracy Wellness Center is completed or more housing is built in the area.

Safety equipment—The city does not own proper safety equipment when workers need to enter manholes. The city now borrows equipment from other towns.

Purchase or rent backhoe—Robinson says that the city saved money by fixing water main breaks and installing new fire hydrants with city employees and a rented backhoe. The city could save additional money if it owned its own backhoe.


Continuous priorities

Robinson listed four “continuous” city priorities: water plant, municipal wells, wastewater collection system, and reducing “inflow and infiltration” (clear water) getting into the sanitary system.

The city’s 1989 water plant has had two recent upgrades: rebuilt filters and rebuilt controls. Corrosion control improvements were added in 2006. With an estimated useful life of 20 to 30 years, the plant, although in good condition, is at the halfway point of its life, Robinson feels. A significant preventive maintenance project is planned in 2007.

Of the city’s two 1990 wells, one is in good condition and the other has shown signs of “screen trouble.” The city’s 500,000-gallon water tower was cleaned inside and out in 2006, and should be free of major problems for at least ten years, Robinson said.


Medium priority

Building maintenance, water main replacement and street signage are listed as medium priority projects.

Water main replacement—Old water mains, of which there are many in Tracy, have a disproportionate number of water main breaks. Ten blocks where breaks occur most frequently should be replaced first, preferably during a street reconstruction project.

Buildings—Roof leaks in city shop, and heating system is in poor condition. Robinson would like to heat the building with corn, and use the old system as a backup. A heating system in the old state shop building is also in poor condition, and the service pad asphalt is beyond repair.

Signage—Some city street signs were replaced this year, but an estimated $5,000 more signs are recommended for replacement.


Low priority

Needs that Robinson rates as lower priorities are park and airport improvements, new decorative lights for the downtown area, new trees for city parks and boulevards, sidewalks, drainage upgrades for city-owned farmland, crushing concrete at the compost site, cemetery roads and trees, sidewalks, the airport, and Christmas decorations.