banner.gif (15051 bytes)

News from the week of February 8, 2006


More than 40 partners invest in enterprise

By Val Scherbart Quist

For months, the sign has said “coming soon.” This week the wait was over as the long-awaited Shetek Bend Banquet, Bar & Grill opened its doors to the public. Shetek Bend officially opened on Monday.

The restaurant offered two “soft openings” last week, said Neil Daniels, Shetek Bend president. One of the openings was for the people who worked to make the restaurant ready for its opening, and the other was for Shetek Bend investors. The purpose of the soft openings, said Daniels, was to find out what worked and what didn’t before opening to the public.

The restaurant was closed over the weekend to prepare for the Monday opening.

The new restaurant, located in the former Minntronix building, has two main areas. The first area is a sports bar, which seats about 80 people. A banquet hall, complete with dance floor and stage area, will accommodate up to 450 people for weddings and other large group gatherings.

Shetek Bend is currently accepting bookings for the coming year. Catering for larger events will be provided by T-Tommy’s, which has restaurants in Currie and Dovray. Daniels said that in addition to evening and weekend events, Shetek Bend will do dinner events during the day by appointment.

Daniels said the menu at Shetek Bend will start smaller, and work its way up as the restaurant gets on its feet. The regular menu includes favorites such as burgers and steaks.

“We’re starting out with a nice selection,” he said.

One planned menu addition is pizza, which Daniels expects to be online 30 to 60 days down the road.

“We’re going to do a few things right first,” he explained.

In addition to dine-in service, Shetek Bend will also offer carry-out service for chicken and other items.

The restaurant will be open seven days a week, at 4 p.m.


Group effort

Shetek Bend was created by a group of partners who pooled money and resources to open the new restaurant. More than 40 people have invested in the enterprise. Many of those who have invested in the restaurant have also done remodeling work.

Remodeling efforts began in September.

Leaders remain upbeat about prospects

By Seth Schmidt

Tracy Kid’s World leaders remain confident that the proposed day care center will become a reality, despite a recent federal denial of a $1.4 million loan application.

“I think that our project can still more forward,” said Mark Priegnitz, Tracy Kid’s World board chairman. “The USDA (U. S. Department of Agriculture) has a cookie-cutter mold for daycare centers and some guy sitting at a desk in Washington decided that our project doesn’t meet their guidelines for a community this size. We need to meet with them and figure out what we have to do to get our project to fit the guidelines.”

Priegnitz said that he remained “absolutely” confident that the Kid’s World will be built in Tracy. Construction is still possible in 2006, he said.

The Tracy Kid’s World project had previously received USDA-Rural Development approval at the state level.

District 21A legislator Rep. Marty Seifert has promised to help Kid’s World seek a solution from Rural Development, and is working to arrange a meeting of Kid’s World leaders and Rural Development officials.

The frustrating part about the initial federal rejection, Priegnitz said, is that state Rural Development officials never mentioned the federal daycare guidelines.

The goal remains to get the Tracy Kid’s World project approved as originally proposed, Priegnitz indicated. But if necessary, consideration will be given to a smaller project, he said. Possibly the daycare could be built in phases.

Priegnitz remains convinced about the merits of the Tracy Kid’s World application.”

“You can talk to anyone with small children. There is a huge need for more daycare in Tracy.”

Louise Noomen, who has been spearheading the Tracy Kid’s World application, is hopeful that the Rural Development issue will be resolved soon.

“We’ll keep plugging away. It’s just some more hoops to jump through.”

• • •

Tracy Kid’s World is a non-profit community organization that was formed several years ago with the goal of getting a new daycare center built in Tracy. The group has drafted plans for an 11,500 square-foot facility that would be licensed o serve up to 104 children. Seventy-four daycare slots would be available for children infant through age 12. Before and after school programs could serve an additional 30 children. As many as 15 to 17 people would be employed. The District 417 school board has offered to donate four acres of school land east of Tracy Elementary School as a site for Kid’s World.

Estimated cost is $1.4 million. The Tracy Kid’s World application seeks an $860,000 Rural Development loan, amortized over 40 years at 4%, plus a $500,000 bank loan guaranteed by the federal government.

Dr. Don Hicks is state 'vet of year'

By Seth Schmidt

“Doc” Hicks was a little miffed Friday, when his wife, Olga Mae, insisted that he wear a suit and tie to a Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association Convention luncheon.

But the “Sunday best” attire looked picture-perfect hours later, when Dr. Don Hicks was honored with the association’s coveted “Veterinarian of the Year” award.

“I was shocked,” Dr. Hicks said later, of the presentation at the Duluth Convention Center. “I had no idea.”

The honor of receiving the state award turned into overwhelming emotions when the long-time Tracy veterinarian discovered that all four of his children had secretly arrived at the convention hall to see him get the award.

“When I saw them, that’s when I lost it,” Dr. Hicks said. “It was quite a thing.”

One of the children, Sara, had traveled all the way from San Diego, California, to see the awards presentation. His other three children are Naomi, Mary, and


Tom. Three grandchildren—Laura, Karl, and Trevor—were also able to see the awards presentation.

Nominees for the veterinarian of the year award must be “outstanding in their field,” and have a history of noteworthy contributions to both their profession and community.

Local veterinarians Drs. William Brockway, Harlan Manguson, and Kathy Brown nominated Dr. Hicks for the award. They wrote in their nomination:

“To those of us who know Don, he is inspiring because he hasn’t seemed to suffer from the dreaded ‘burnout’ associated with our profession. He’s stayed engaged and enthusiastic about veterinary medicine, his community, and his family,”

• • •

A 1951 graduate of the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Hicks has maintained an interest in veterinary medicine for more than a half century.

His education began with grade school in Milroy. He earned his high school diploma at Pillsbury Academy in Owatonna in 1944. He served one year in the ROTC program at South Dakota State University at Brookings, S.D., before attending Iowa State University at Ames, Iowa, for two years.

After earning his veterinary degree at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Hicks moved back to Southwest Minnesota, purchasing Dr. Remington’s Tracy veterinary practice. He served area farmers until 1974, when he sold his practice to Dr. Bill Brockway. From 1975 until 1994, Dr. Hicks was an area veterinarian for the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

Dr. Hicks was a Tracy school board member from 1967 to 1973. During his years on the school board, f two new schools were built, and the district adjusted to the loss of its Rowland St. elementary school. Dr. Hicks was on the Tracy Fire Dept. for 20 years (1955-75), and served as fire chief in the early 1970s. He served one term at the Tracy City Council in the 1970s, and is a past-president of the Tracy Masonic Lodge. Other local civic involvement has included the Shriners, Tracy Methodist Church, and a Marshall HAM Radio Club. He recently retired as a volunteer driver for Western Community Action, and as an EMT with the Tracy Ambulance Service. He still serves on the local ambulance board, and enjoys taking classes at Southwest Minnesota State University’s Senior College.

A life member of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Hicks has served on the group’s public health committee and is still a member of the association’s governmental affairs panel. He was the official state veterinarian at the Minnesota State Fair for 27 years.

For the past five years, Dr. Hicks has been a member of the South Dakota Veterinary Medical Reserve Officers Corps. In 2003, he spent six weeks in California working on an exotic disease task force. He was an alternate for serving in Great Britain during a recent Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak.

Dr. Hicks Olga Mae following the death of his first wife, Janet, in the late 1980s.


'Outstanding Citizen'

Chamber honors Sen. Jim Vickerman

Senator Jim Vickerman is the Tracy Chamber of Commerce’s “outstanding citizen” for 2006.

“This is really something. I wasn’t expecting this,” Vickerman, a 1949 Tracy High School graduate, told the crowd at the Tracy Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet Saturday.

The Tracy native said that Tracy has been, and always will be, special to him. He recalled how as a high school football player, he had broken his nose playing for the Scrappers against Marshall.

“Tracy isn’t in my district anymore, but I still think of myself as representing Tracy.”

A former Murray County commissioner, Vickerman lives in Shetek Township. He has served in the Minnesota Senate since 1986. He said that he has received many awards from many different groups, but he said that he considered the Chamber award as one of the highest honors he had ever received

“Tracy is a super town,” he said.

• • •

The outstanding citizen presentation was just one highlight of the Chamber banquet, which was attended by 130 people at Key Largo.

Ivan Van Essen, president of Minnewest Bank South, was honored as the Chamber’s “Boss of the Year.”

“I’ve truly been blessed with the staff I have,” Van Essen said.

Larry Buysse was named the Chamber’s “Distinguished Farmer.”

“Thank you. This is a great honor,” said Buysse, who gave credit to his wife, Bonnie.

Dr. Mark Evers was honored as the Chamber’s “outstanding volunteer.”

“We love the community. We plan to raise our kid here and life a long life here,” he said, adding that he and his wife, Denise, were expecting their first child.

• • •

Lori Hebig, the Chamber’s president for the past year, said that 2005 had not been without challenges. However the end result, she said, has been a stronger organization.

“I’m inclined to believe we’ve become better, stronger, and more unified through the changes. We’ve become more committed to the success of our Chamber.”

The Chamber, she said, is but one link that makes Tracy a good place to life. Each community link is important.

“Without each link the chain begins to weaken. We must continue to work together through our many organizations. It’s vital to support our local health care facilities, our schools and our businesses because if one entity fails, we all lose out…We are fortunate to have such a great community with its many amenities.”

Hebig paid tribute to the volunteers who make Tracy a better place to live.

“We’re each a link in the chain of people who have joined together, striving for the betterment of our communities, our churches, hospitals, schools, and our businesses.” Hebig offered a special tribute to those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“There are citizens in this room, and some who are absent, who have fought and continue to fight in foreign lands. They fight for our freedom here at home.”

Hebig said that she was thankful to have served “on a board with the best of the best.” Chamber members, she concluded, have “an exciting year ahead of us.”

• • •

Lary Parker, the Chamber’s new president for 2006, thanked Hebig for doing a “phenomenal” job as president this past year. During the two times the Chamber had been without a manager this past year, Parker said that Hebig did many extra things for the Chamber.

He challenged community people to not just “come along for the ride,” but “be a part of the ride. Help out. Volunteer for a committee. It takes a lot of people to put on an event.”

Parker said that Tracy has many positive things happening.

“It’s impressive what I see happening here. I tell people, come and take a look at Tracy.” But the most impressive thing about Tracy, he said, is its people.

“The real magic is you. Come be a part of the magic.”

Good idea?

Opinions sought on proposed school addition

People in the Tracy school district will have the opportunity to give their opinions on a proposed addition to Tracy Area High School.

The meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in the high school choir room. The regular board meeting will follow.

Over the past few months, the board has begun discussions about an addition to the high school building. Possible uses include a theater, gym, wrestling room, locker rooms, and weight room.

Superintendent David Marlette said the purpose of the meeting is for the board to hear from the community on whether there is interest in the project.

“We would like to make welcome anyone who would like to come in and just visit about the possibility,” Marlette said. “This is just a starting place to get communication going between the board and the public.” He emphasized that there has definitely not been a decision by the board to proceed with the project at this time.

At the board’s January meeting, Marlette presented rough numbers to the board on what such a facility might cost. Estimated cost was about $4-$5 million, the majority or the whole of which would have to come from a taxpayer-approved referendum.

Dr. Fazal resigns

Recruitment efforts begin

Dr. Javed Fazal has announced plans to leave Sioux Valley Tracy Medical Center in April.

A letter of resignation, submitted to SVTMC administration last week, indicated that he was regretfully stepping down from his position in order to pursue other career options.

In his letter, Dr. Fazal stated:

“I have spent five years at the facility, most of which as the Chief of Staff. The institution has been very kind to my family and self and I am sure we will keep in touch. I will also be rest assured knowing that the facility is in capable hands.”

Dr. Fazal’s last day of seeing patients in Tracy is Friday, April 21.

Rick Nordahl, chief executive officer for SVTMC, accepted the resignation with regrets.

“He will leave some big shoes to fill, there is no doubt about that,” Nordahl said.

The administrator said that Dr. Fazal had “provided superior care for Tracy Medical Clinic patients. His expertise and wealth of knowledge in the latest protocols of healthcare delivery have been an exceptional asset to both clinic and hospital patients. His leadership as chief of staff has always been supportive as new technologies have been initiated in our facilities. Dr. Fazal’s contribution to the community’s health care will be missed.”

Claire Hannasch, chairman of the SVTVC advisory board, met with Dr. Fazal following the resignation.

“I appreciated his positive comments on the time he has been a part of our medical staff. I respect his need to move on with his life and pursue other career options and wish him well in future endeavors”.

• • •

Efforts to recruit a physician to succeed Dr. Fazal are underway, according to Nordahl. If a permanent replacement can not be found by April 20, the CEO said, he anticipates that doctors from the Sioux Valley system will fill in at Tracy temporarily.

“We will do what ever we have to do to make sure that people’s medical needs are taken care,” Nordahl said.

An open house honoring Dr. Fazal is being planned, but a date has not been decided upon.