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Blizzard déja vu: 48 MPH winds

Routines slowly returned to normal Tuesday and Wednesday, in the wake of the region’s second blizzard in seven days.

Howling northwesterly winds of up to 60 MPH struck the region late Sunday afternoon, and continued until early Tuesday.

Tracy schools, like their counter parts across Southwest Minnesota, were closed Monday.  Classes began two hours late Tuesday.

Many local offices and businesses had reduced hours Monday, due to the difficulty of employees making it to work.  The state highway patrol advised no travel on Monday, and closed Hwy. 14 going out of Tracy.  Many other highways in the region were also closed, including Interstate 90.

A 60 MPH wind gust was clocked at the Huron, SD Regional Airport at 6:35 p.m. Sunday.  A 46 MPH wind gust was logged at the Tracy Airport at 7:34 a.m. Monday, with a 48 MPH wind gust recorded at 9:54 a.m. Monday.

The winds created whiteout conditions in open areas.  Conditions would have been worse if not for the storm’s relatively low amount of snowfall.   Instruments at the Tracy Airport measured less than an inch of new snow.

The storm canceled out all postal deliveries Monday.  Tracy Postmaster Sue Schreier said that no mail arrived on Monday.

The Sanford Tracy Medical Center opened two hours late Monday, and closed at 2 p.m.

The hospital remained fully staffed throughout the storm, despite travel difficulties for nurses and other staff.  Jeri Schons, Sanford Tracy director of nursing operations,  said some staff came in early Sunday, in advance of the blizzard,

“They deserve some extra kudos.  We have a very dedicated staff.   When a storm is coming, they always make sure that we are adequately staffed.”

Similar dedication was on display at Prairie View Senior Living.  Laura duCharme, Prairie View director of nursing, said that one employee drove from Currie at 6 a.m. Monday because “she didn’t want to let anyone down.”  duCharme said that she doesn’t recommend or expect an employee to travel in those conditions, but nonetheless appreciate the person’s dedication.

Other adjustments had to be made with work shifts because of people not being able to make it into work, she added, but “we pulled through.”

City Hall and the Tracy Public Library both remained open Monday and Tuesday, despite the fact that not many people were moving around.  The Tracy Liquor Store closed.

The Tracy street department plowed city streets early Tuesday, and had streets open by 8 a.m.

The storm forced Tracy Publishing to use new technology to help paginate this week’s Headlight-Herald.  Two rural employees, Alicia Swenhaugen and April DeSchepper, couldn’t make it to town because of impassable roads, but were able to compose newspaper pages remotely, by accessing software and files at the Tracy Publishing office from computers at home.  The off-site pagination marked a first in the 137-year history of Tracy newspapers.

A blizzard last week resulted in closed schools on Feb. 2-3.



VMC upgrade proposals exchanged

By Seth Schmidt


City of Tracy and District 2904 school officials continue to exchange ideas for a joint plan to improve the Veterans’ Memorial Center athletic arena.

On Jan. 25, the Tracy Public Schools Board of Education gave their blessings to a plan for the school district to pay for a new wood sports floor, replace the west bleachers with new seating, install new acoustical panels, and paint interior VMC walls.  In exchange, the school district requested the use of the gym rent-free for 10 years.  The school district now pays the city $17,500 annually to rent the arena space.

The Tracy City Council, also on Jan. 25, expressed support for the plan, but wanted to know if the school district would help with the maintenance of the new wood floor, which city leaders estimated could run as much as $4,000 a year.

Monday night, City Administrator Mike Votca updated the council on a new proposal that had been received from the school district’s building and grounds committee (Rod Benson, Matt Suprenant, and Nicole Swanson).  If the rent-free period were extended from 10 to 15 years, the school district would pay to refinish the wood sports floor every other year through 15 years.  Votca told council members that the school panel doesn’t feel the new wood floor will need to be refinished annually, with every second year being adequate.

The school’s proposal also indicated that the VMC’s roof is currently leaking, and that the school would expect roof repairs to be completed before the new floor is installed.

See this week's Headlight-Herald for more on this article.