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News from the week of February 7, 2007


Hospital has new name

'Ripple effect' seen for $400 million Sanford gift to parent organization

By Seth Schmidt

Sioux Valley Tracy Medical Center has a new name, thanks to a $400 million donation to the Sioux Valley Health System.

Tracy’s health and clinic campus is now known as Sanford Health, Tracy. The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sioux Valley Health System is now called Sanford Health. The new names are the result of a $400 million donation to Sioux Valley from South Dakota businessman T. Denny Sanford.

The Tracy hospital and medical clinic has been leased and managed by the Sioux Valley organization since June of 1997.

Rick Nordahl, Tracy hospital administrator, said Tuesday that the Sanford donation is enormously good news. While it is not known how the Sanford gift could impact the Tracy medical campus, the administrator said the additional resources will undoubtedly help the entire system.

“We couldn’t be happier about the gift,” he said.

In a prepared statement sent to news organizations Monday, Nordahl explained his thoughts:

“We won’t see instant changes on a local level as the result of this gift. However, as the plan for clinical research and service development is carried out, our entire integrated system will be ultimately impacted by this gift.”

The $400 million gift will position Sanford Health to be “a national healthcare leader,” Nordahl said, and attract “top-tier talent” to the organization. Local physician recruitment and medical outreach programs will be enhanced by the Sanford gift, he said.

“There is a strong ripple effect that can be felt throughout an organization when something like this happens,” said Nordahl. “Our community is fortunate to have such world class healthcare and research available so close to home. There could not be a more exciting time for our organization to be a part of Sanford Health.”

Administrators in the Sioux Valley system were briefed on the Sanford gift on Friday. A public announcement was made at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls Saturday.

Local hospital and clinic employees were invited to the gathering, but weren’t told what would be announced.

Carol “Cookie” Cooreman, community relations’ specialist at the hospital, watched the announcement with about ten other staff members over an Internet video link.

“We were just stunned. The size of the gift blew me away. I still can’t really comprehend how much money $400 million is. It’s unbelievable.”


Sanford initiatives

The $400 million will be used for further “Sanford Initiatives” in health research and care, according to a Sioux Valley statement Saturday. The initiative areas, as described by Sanford Health, are:

Investment in children— “The gift will ensure the development of services and facilities and the recruitment of physicians specifically focused on children for generations. Five pediatric clinics will be established in areas of need across the country. In time, this model may be expanded internationally. Each of these facilities will have outreach resources via Sanford Children’s Hospital, the state-of-the-art facility slated to open in Sioux Falls, S.D. in 2009.”

Sanford Research—”Sanford Research currently conducts research in five key areas, including cardiology and cancer and provides support and services to other studies within Sanford Health. The gift will allow significant growth and will include the creation of the Sanford Pediatric Research Institute, which will focus on the health research needs of children.”

The Sanford Project—”As has been demonstrated many times, focus, resolve, and resource allocation to one priority area can accomplish world-changing results. The Sanford Project will apply such focus to identify and then resolve one of the most pressing health issues of our day. To accomplish this, a committee of leading scientists will be retained to select the are for focused research and Sanford Health will assemble a team of top researchers to work on the project.”

Sanford Health Care Campus of the Future—”The integration of patient care, research, and education, along with advances in technology, has created a demand for a whole new approach to health care campus and facility design. Sanford Health will meld these components by providing dedicated development zones for each distinct, yet related activity. While clearly providing a state of the art foundation for patient care, research and education, the campus will also be an important catalyst for economic development in the region.”


Aquapower plans Tracy site

By Seth Schmidt

It’s official.

Aquapower Inc. is a part of the Tracy business community.

“We have a phone number for sales in our Tracy office,” reported Melvin Rolfe, in a telephone interview Monday. For now, calls to 507-629-3311 will be forwarded to Aquapower’s office in Eveleth. But eventually the phone number will ring at Aquapower’s future location at 436 South St. in Tracy.

“We would love to be in there (Tracy) by the middle of March,” said Rolfe, Aquapower’s director of operations. He added that the date Aquapower opens its Tracy location, will depend upon when the remodeling for its new building can be completed.

Aquapower and the Tracy Economic Development Authority have agreed to a three-year lease on an 8,800 square foot building on South Street. The EDA is purchasing the former Tracy Bottling Company warehouse from Kim Daniels and Keith Peterson of Daniels/Peterson Construction. Plans are to remodel the building to Aquapower’s specifications.

Robert Gervais, Tracy economic development director, said Monday that the purchase agreement documents have been signed and that a signed lease is “in the mail.”

Rolfe said he has already begun working out details for opening the Tracy site, and that he hopes to finalize a remodeling timetable with Daniels and Peterson soon.

Aquapower Inc. was founded in the 1980s to provide services for the mining industry on the Iron Range. The company has expanded to offer industrial cleaning services for ethanol production facilities.

Rolfe said that one of the company’s main supervisors will be moving his family to Tracy soon. The supervisor, and other experienced Aquapower employees, will provide the initial workforce for Tracy Aquapower operations. Additional employees will be hired and trained as needed, Rolfe said, after the Tracy location becomes established. Rolfe said that Aquapower intended to do as much business in Tracy as possible.

In a Jan. 24 letter to Gervais and the EDA, Rolfe expressed gratitude for efforts of Tracy leaders in helping bring Aquapower to Tracy.

“…I would like to thank you, the other EDA members, and city council, for your professionalism and dedication to this process. We already feel welcome and very eager to get the doors open on our new site in Tracy. Our roots are from a small town that is not that much different from yours and we understand the dynamics of what it takes to gain the confidence of the community.…”

• • •

The EDA’s purchase agreement with Daniels and Peterson includes a small adjacent block building that fronts Fifth St. For just over $154,000, the EDA will obtain the remodeled South St. building and the Fifth St. property with the block building razed. The Fifth St. land will be available as a parking area for Aquapower. Peterson and Daniels are donating about $10,000 worth of labor for the remodeling.

Aquapower’s future home on South Street will be insulated, outfitted with large overhead exterior doors, and upgraded with a larger capacity electrical service. A portion of the building will be remodeled with office space and a bathroom. The EDA will be responsible for digging water and sewer service lines to the building.

Aquapower’s lease provides the company with a building at no rent charges for a year. Rent will be $2,000 a month for the second and third years of the lease, with Aquapower eligible for rent credits based upon how many people are employed at the Tracy location. At the end of the three years, Aquapower has the option of purchasing the property for just over $154,000 or paying a monthly $2,000 lease payment

The EDA is responsible for property taxes and insurance costs the first year of the lease, and Aquapower responsible for property taxes and insurance expenses the second and third years.


Chamber celebrates

Carol “Cookie” Cooreman assumed leadership of the Tracy Area Chamber Saturday.

“She’s a mover and shaker,” said past Chamber chair Lary Parker, as he passed the president’s gavel to Cooreman.

Cooreman said she was proud of Tracy, and eager to promote all the community has to offer.

“Tracy is so fortunate…Let’s go Tracy! Come along for the ride.”

Parker challenged local people to be involved in community affairs. “You’re the ones here today who will guide Tracy to what it will be in 15-20 years.”

The Saturday night banquet at Shetek Bend attracted 150 people.

Jan LaVoy and Matt Knakmuhs were elected to the Chamber Board of Directors, succeeding Chris Schons and Lori Hebig. Mark Priegnitz was re-elected to another term. An annual financial report showed the Chamber posted a $4,703 loss for the year.

The Roaring Lyons motorcycle club was honored with the Diamond Award, a new Chamber award that will be given each year to a local non-profit organization. Tracy Sportsmen’s Show representatives were honored for having the best float in the 2006 Tracy Box Car Days parade.

Other Chamber awards presented were Outstanding Chamber member-Lori Hebig; Distinguished Farmer-Dr. Harlan Manguson; Boss of the Year-Ken Schiller; Outstanding Citizen-Seth Schmidt.


Outstanding member

Lori Hebig is an owner and manager at Lights and Beyond in Tracy.

“Lori is so deserving of this award,” said Parker.

Hebig was credited for the extra Chamber volunteer work she did over the past two years, when she served as the organization’s president and past-president. During that period, Hebig was instrumental in keeping the Chamber going through several changes and vacancies in the Chamber manager position.

She and her husband, George, have three children: Stefanie, Drew, and Haley.


Boss of Year

A 1968 graduate of Sanborn High School, Schiller has been apart the Tracy area business and farm community for more than 30 years.

After earning a degree in agriculture education from North Dakota State University in 1973, Schiller began teaching, first at Marietta and then for four years at Tracy Area High School. He switched to the ag finance field in 1977, serving as a loan officer and branch manager for the Production Credit Association in Marshall from 1977-84. From 1984 to 1993, Schiller served as farm and commercial lending officer for Tracy State Bank, becoming a vice president by the time he left the bank.

Since 1993, Schiller has been a partner with Myron Trulock in the ownership and operation of Midwest Supply stores in Tracy and Slayton.

Schiller served on the Tracy Fire Department for 16 years, and the Lyon County Fair Board for seven years. Community involvement includes St. Mary’s and Tracy Lutheran churches, United Way, Tracy Growth and Development, Tracy Eagles, Tracy FFA, and the Chamber.

He and his wife, Colleen, have two children: Stephanie and David.


Distinguished Farmer

Dr. Manguson, a 1957 graduate of Tracy High School, grew up on a farm north of Tracy. After earning his degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota, he worked in South Dakota for ten years. He operated a veterinary partnership in Groton, S.D, and served as assistant state veterinarian in Pierre, S.D.

After returning to Tracy, Manguson formed a partnership with a brother in 1973 to raise Charolais cattle and grain. In 1975, he filled in for Dr. Don Hicks’ Tracy veterinary practice when Dr. Hicks accepted a State of Minnesota job.

Dr. Manguson has been a member of the Lyon County water planning commission member for 25 years, and is a former member of the Loyon County Planning and Zoning Board and the county board of equalization. He is a member of the South Dakota Veterinary Medical Association, and a sponsor of the South Dakota Veterinary Foundation that provides scholarships to veterinary medicine students. He belongs to the South Dakota Task Force for bio-terrorism and exotic foreign diseases.


Outstanding Citizen

Schmidt has been editor and publisher of the Tracy Headlight-Herald since 1985. He and his wife Betsy have five children: Daisy, Raleigh, Brady, Johanna, and Maria.

A native of Brownton, Schmidt grew up in Morris. He moved with his family to Westbrook when his father, Pastor Victor Schmidt, accepted a call to serve Trinity Lutheran Church in Westbrook. A 1972 graduate of Westbrook High School, Schmidt earned a degree in history at the University of Minnesota, Morris, in 1975, and accepted a newspaper job at the Cottonwood County Citizen in Windom. From 1980-82, he worked at newspapers in Watertown, Mound and Wayzata, before returning to the region in 1982 to buy an interest in the Murray County Herald in Slayton.

In 1985, he sold his interest in the Slayton newspaper and become a partner in Tracy Publishing Inc. In 1997, he and his partner, Jim Keul, purchased the Balaton Press-Tribune.

Schmidt is a past president of the Chamber and the Tracy Kiwanis, a member of Tracy Lutheran Church, and a board member for the Tracy AFS Chapter, and the Fine Arts Council of Tracy.


Downtown lighting hearing is Monday

A public hearing is planned Monday, Feb. 12, to consider lighting and sidewalk improvements for Downtown Tracy.

The hearing begins at 6:45 p.m.

The proposed project would replace the downtown’s1950s-era street lights and poles with 40 to 43 new fixtures. With needed sidewalk repairs, the estimated cost is $230,000. Many of the downtown’s existing lights are in poor condition.

Single-light, 14 to 18-foot light poles with an early 20th century look are being considered. The new light fixtures would be similar to the lights installed in Tracy’s Central Park. The new fixtures would be installed on Third and Fourth streets, between Rowland and South, and on Morgan and South streets, between Fourth and Second. Hearing notices were sent to all abutting property owners, but proposed assessments have not been calculated.

If the city council okays the improvements and follows past assessment policy, 25% of costs would be assessed to abutting property owners, with the remaining 75% put on general property tax rolls.


Frigid temps frost farm fire


Firemen from ten departments battled both flames and sub-zero temperatures at a farmstead northwest of Walnut Grove Saturday.

A large house on the Wayne Truedson farmstead sustained heavy damage, but no one was hurt.

Walnut Grove Fire Chief Mike Anderson said the blaze, which was reported at about 1:30 p.m., most likely began with a chimney fire. Intense heat from the fire caused a central portion of the structure’s roof to collapse. The house had a wood-burning stove that was in use at the time of the fire, Anderson indicated.

Truedson was at home at the time of the fire, and was uninjured.

Besides Walnut Grove firemen, firefighters were also on the scene from the Tracy, Milroy, Lucan, Wabasso, Garvin, Lamberton, Balaton, Seaforth, and Marshall fire departments. The neighboring fire departments especially needed to haul water to fight the fire, Anderson said. As many as 13 water tankers were involved in hauling water to the site.

The fire’s elevated location in the roof and attic areas made it difficult for firemen initially to get at the blaze, said Anderson. The arrival of bucket truck from the Marshall Dept. between 4 and 5 p.m. gave firemen the ability to fight the fire from above.

With temperatures hovering at near minus ten degrees, firemen were rotated in and out of the front lines, to ambulances where hot coffee and food was available.

Walnut Grove firemen were on the scene until shortly before 8 p.m., with Tracy firemen staying at the fire almost as long.

Anderson said that the main two levels of the house weren’t damaged too badly, and that Truedson was able to salvage “a lot of” household items.

The fire was in Gales Township, one mile west of Walnut Grove on Hwy. 14, and 5 1/2 miles north on Crown Ave.


Caped crusaders curl up with Mighty Reader capers


By Seth Schmidt

Look…down the hallway!

It’s a second grader…No, it’s Mrs. Miller…

No, it’s Mighty Reader!

Move over, Super Man! There’s a new kind of Super Hero at Tracy Elementary School these days. School walls are plastered with pictures of bright-eyed super hero characters who resemble ordinary grade schoolers.

Lisa Schaar, Tracy Elementary reading specialist, explains:

“We have a Super Hero theme for ‘I Love to Read Month.’ All of the kids have a Super Hero poster with their own picture superimposed on the head.”

Students earn new items for their Super Hero’s outfit—boots, a belt, a mask, and an emblem—by attaining reading goals. Reading a book of poetry, a book about animals, a non-fiction book, and a work by their favorite author are some of the targets. Bookmarkers, pencils, buttons, and a Mighty Reader folder are other rewards young readers can earn.

The development of reading skills is always a priority at Tracy Elementary, Schaar says. But during February “I Love to Read” month, school staff have added activities to stress the importance and fun of reading even more, she adds.

Children have learned a “Give Me a Book” theme song in music class. Once each day, a “Drop Everything and Read” announcement is made over the school’s intercom system. Students are then free to read a book they’ve chosen for the next 10 or 15 minutes.

On Feb. 22, children’s author Paula J. Miller will come to Tracy Elementary and talk about her books and what it is like to be a writer.

“I Love to Read Month” activities have been planned by a teacher committee that includes Schaar, Nancy Jones, Deb Maki, Sandy Stobb, Kris Salmon, Marlene Soupir, and Janel Rau.

“Reading is a big push for us, because we know how important it is for the kids no matter what they do,” Schaar comments. “We are trying to promote literacy and at the same time make it fun.”

But Schaar acknowledges that children growing up today face many distractions that can interfere with reading skills.

“It’s hard. We are fighting a lot of demons that kids didn’t always have. Kids want to watch TV. They like to watch videos. They like to play Nintendo. They want to be on the computer.”

Parents can help by encouraging reading at home, Schaar says, and reading to children at a young age.

“Read alongs are so important. Hearing stories read aloud are so important for children learning smooth reading skills. But a lot of kids don’t get that because it is such a fast-paced world.”

• • •

So far during the 2006-07 school year, Tracy Elementary students have read 8,285 books in the school’s Accelerated Reader program. Library assistant Deb Miller reports that the most popular books are anything about dinosaurs, and the following series: “Goosebumps,” “My First Little House,” “Star Wars,” “Captain Underpants,” and “Magic Tree House.”

• • •

The lyrics to Tracy Elementary’s theme song, “Give Me a Book” by John Jacobson and Cristi Miller, touches on the fun and importance of reading.

If you want to go exploring, but never leave your chair

Or learn to run a radio or fly up in the air;

If you need to use a recipe or find your place in history

Or plan to plant a tree,

Give me a book, a book, a real good book.


If you want a great adventure but you haven’t got a dime,

It doesn’t cost a cent to go ‘once upon a time.’

If you want a tale of glory or a scary ghostly story,

Or read something really gory, give me a book.


You can soar though outer space.

Find anything you need.

But to travel any place,

You better learn to read!