If there’s an ideal place to play a game of “I Spy” in Lonsdale, it’s Steve Trcka’s Union Lake Trail property.
Old farm equipment, like horse-drawn plows and McCormick tractors, align the front yard adjacent to Trcka’s house. Further down the hill is a warehouse with wall-to-wall (and ceiling) road signs, toy tractors, and miscellaneous relics. Trcka doesn’t organize these items intentionally, but each piece fits snugly into its assigned place. Even in his garage and basement, Trcka keeps a variety of collectibles to share with guests.
“I’ve had people stop and ask if they can look around,” said Trcka. He recalled one time in particular when a woman bought a used playground from him, and she asked if she could bring her children back for a tour.
Since Trcka was 16 years old, he’s enjoyed collecting artifacts that don’t belong to any one category. He’s kept up his collecting throughout the years, and all his relics can be found somewhere on the property where he and his wife, Theresa, have lived the past 30 years.
“My wife is so good, because she never complains about all this stuff,” Trcka said with a laugh.
Trcka found some of his collectibles at flea markets, garage sales and auctions. Others were listed in news advertisements or on Craigslist. The farthest he’s driven to obtain these items is two to three hours to Wisconsin, Northern Iowa or the Twin Cities. Sometimes, he’ll purchase something and bring it home to discover he already owns three of the same object.
Some of Trcka’s prized items are family heirlooms, like one of his dad’s plows. An anvil and butter churner belonged to his grandpa, and old-fashioned milk cans from the era of milk deliveries have his surname written on them.
As Trcka points to various signs, toys and decorations in his large storage shed, he recalls several of the items’ backstories, which he learned from previous owners. He owns a painting by an Alcatraz prisoner, a decorative sled crafted in England over 100 years ago, and paintings by individuals trying to earn a living during the Great Depression.
Not many of Trcka’s collectibles are Lonsdale specific, but he does have an oil storage shed from one of the former gas stations in town. He’s decorated the exterior of the shed with road and business signs.
Trcka’s collections continue in his basement. Step through the screen door, and it’s hard not to notice his working pinball machines, chalkware carnival dog prizes and Fisher-Price Chatter Phone pull toys. He keeps toy trucks from his own childhood beneath the pool table, and there’s a few religious relics included amidst the dominantly red, blue and yellow objects.
Sometimes Trcka restores the objects he collects, like old spring rider animals from playgrounds. But for the most part, Trcka admires art more than he makes his own art. Some of his most prized items are hand-painted saws, which feature landscape scenes on the blades.
Trcka said he's gone through multiple phases of collecting specific things, and sometimes one interest leads to another. One of his phases, which he shared with his wife, was collecting rocking chairs to give their grandchildren. He also develops a fondness for rare finds, like a wagon painted blue instead of red, or a yellow stop sign.
Uniquely attached to each purchase, he said, "Right now I have no favorites in particular."
Tri-City United High School’s senior class will graduate earlier than planned with the cap and gown distribution also happening sooner than expected.
TCU High School Principal Alan Fitterer informed parents and seniors of the decision to move up the TCU graduation date to Friday, May 29. The decision was made final after the Minnesota Department of Education announced students could pick up their caps and gowns on May 26 instead of June 1. Other high schools’ cap and gown orders were postponed to later in the summer, due to their later graduation dates, which allowed TCU’s order to move up.
The curbside pickup event at TCU High School allows students to retrieve their caps and gowns during one of two time slots: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 26. Students are asked to drive separately and stay in their vehicles, but siblings and/or parents are invited to join their Titan senior.
The pickup event doubles as an opportunity for students to drop off their Chromebooks and any other materials that belong to the school. Assistant Principal Jeff Eppen sent seniors lists of everything they need to return as well as a map with entrance and exit points to the school for the pickup/dropoff occasion.
The graduation ceremony itself will follow social distancing guidelines and be recorded for a virtual final product. Each Titan senior and their family will have five minutes to enter the Performing Arts Center doors and then receive their diplomas and have pictures taken on stage.
By ensuring students have enough space between them as they accept their diplomas, the entire recording process will take an estimated 10 to 11 hours. The final video, which students will receive in the form of a flash drive, will contain senior speeches, advice from administrators, and a “Pomp and Circumstance” soundtrack. Parents and seniors will receive more information about the graduation day as it becomes available.
An in-person cap toss will tentatively take place July 31 in the bleachers by the football field, if government, public health and Minnesota Department of Education protocols allow. Social distancing would be enforced, and the cap toss would be included in the final graduation video. Updates on this plan will be communicated to parents and seniors in the next couple months.
“We at Tri-City United truly hope that these cap and gown and TCU High School graduation changes are happily accepted by our Titan senior class of 2020 and their parents/guardians,” Fitterer wrote in his May 15 email to parents. “We are doing our very best to honor and celebrate this incredible group of young people as each and everyone so deserves!”
Crashes have increased on Hwy. 19 over the past few years, and the city of Lonsdale is on board with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to find solutions.
According to a report by MnDOT, the increase in crashes is in direct correlation with a significant increase in traffic on 19. A failure to yield is the primary cause of accidents, and the majority of the 15 crashes on 19/County Road 2 in the past 10 years occurred after 2016. One of them, in January this year, was fatal.
MnDOT plans to do a mill and overlay project on 19 in 2023, and the city of Lonsdale has taken the initiative to advance the planning. During the City Council’s virtual meeting Thursday, May 14, City Engineer John Powell detailed the feedback the city received on its intersection control evaluation (ICE), which was prepared last fall.
The ICE details geometric properties that could improve the way drivers maneuver their vehicles at the Highway 19/Eighth Avenue NE intersection in Lonsdale, taking traffic findings into account. One of the proposed solutions to controlling traffic was a roundabout at the intersection, but District 6 Traffic Operations deemed the idea impractical due to design constraints.
City Engineer John Powell mentioned that MnDOT does believe in establishing some method of traffic control at the intersection in 10 years, but doesn’t see a need for a roundabout at this point.
Instead of a roundabout, MnDOT is considering two alternative traffic control methods, which Powell reported. One potential solution is to extend the eastbound passing lane section so it begins 300 feet west of the Generations Building Center driveway. This would create an eastbound right turn lane for the businesses that doubles as a passing lane for traffic turning left at Eighth Avenue NE. The other idea is to extend the westbound right turn lane by about 100 feet to craft a right turn lane that also works as a bypass lane.
Believing some sort of traffic control is needed at the intersection, Mayor Tim Rud and councilors encouraged Powell to continue pushing for a proactive solution.
Powell agreed to compare and contrast Lonsdale’s situation with other areas and review discussions with MnDOT in further pursuit of a remedy.
During the discussion, Powell also briefed the council on further plans for improving Highway 19’s intersections at CSAH 2 and CSAH 4.
MnDOT does recommend a roundabout at Hwy. 19/CSAH 2 and proposed two possible methods of reducing collisions in the interim: A flashing LED stop sign on the west leg of CSAH 2 or pavement bars on both the east and west legs of CSAH 2.
As for the intersection at Highway 19 and CSAH 4, Powell said the Planning Commission reviewed two possibilities for improving the traffic flow: either a roundabout or rerouting CSAH 4 to Fifth Avenue NW and closing Highway 19’s connection to Third Avenue SW. According to Powell, the Planning Commission prefers the second option. He said the Rice County engineer was invited to attend a future Planning Commission meeting to participate in further discussions on the intersection.