Happy Wednesday! Megan here.
Weather check: Warm and rainy
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This week, you'll get a look at Sioux Falls school board election results. I've also got the final recommendations from a task force who looked at the future of the fairgrounds. Plus, catch some Super Simplified Stories and an update on a new elementary school coming to Sioux Falls.
And now, news:
Why the fairgrounds' future still can't be decided
Simplified: The task force convened to create a future vision for the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds has found that the county doesn't have enough information to decide the next steps for the aging facility. The biggest obstacle? The strings attached to the land gifted more than 80 years ago.
Why it matters
- It's no secret the fairgrounds' future is complicated. When Winona Axtell Lyon donated the nearly 50-acre plot of land in 1938, the gift came with lots of strings attached – including a stipulation that if the land isn't used for the fair, its ownership goes back to Lyons's heirs.
- The task force's final recommendations to the Minnehaha County Commission – presented at a meeting Tuesday – focused on determining the value of the existing property and getting clarity on what exactly can be done on the site.
- In the meantime, the task force findings show the county is missing out on regional events coming here because of the substandard facilities the fairgrounds have right now.
- Commissioner Dean Karsky said he wants to figure out a way for the county to get a clear title to the land, and the time to take action is now.
"The iron is hot, and we need to keep striking at the metal and forge it the way it needs to be done properly," Karsky said. "I do not intend to put this on a shelf."
What else was in the task force's final report? And what happens next?
Meet your new school board member
Simplified: Dawn Marie Johnson is the newest member of the five-member board overseeing the Sioux Falls School District.
Why it matters
- Johnson is the first woman of color elected to the Sioux Falls school board. She will take the seat vacated by Cynthia Mickelson, who did not seek reelection after her second term.
- Voter turnout was just over 6%. It's low, but it does continue an upward trend of voter participation in standalone school board elections in the last few years. Turnout in 2021 was 5.13%, and in 2019 it was 3.86%.
- Johnson won handily Tuesday night with more than two-thirds of the vote. Brian Mattson – the only other candidate actively campaigning – earned just over 2,200 of the more than 7,600 ballots cast in the election.
- Neither Johnson nor Mattson responded immediately to a request for comment when final results rolled in around 11 p.m. Tuesday night. We'll catch up with them for Friday's issue.
What happens next?
Johnson will join the board when Mickelson's term ends at the end of June.
Super Simplified Stories
- City Council elects new leaders. Marshall Selberg and Rich Merkouris are the new chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Sioux Falls City Council after unanimous approval Tuesday night.
- Mini pitch gets green light. The Sioux Falls City Council on Tuesday also voted to approve funding to turn a Terrace Park tennis court into a mini pitch soccer field. Learn more on the increasing popularity of soccer here.
- Free food for kids. The Sioux Falls School District announced locations of free meals for all kids ages 18 and under during June and July. Find a list of dates and locations here.
- Heads up on hydrants. The City of Sioux Falls' Water Division team is flushing fire hydrants this week. They started on the north side of town Monday, and it'll take about eight weeks to make it through town. Slow down if you see crews out while driving, and if you see your tap water discolored, just let it run for a few minutes. There is no health threat – sometimes water discoloration just happens as part of the flushing process.
- New splash pad opening. Hayward Park's renovation is complete, and to celebrate, the city is hosting a grand opening Friday afternoon to officially kick off summer with the "first splash" on the park's new splash pad. Here's a sneak peek:
This new school marks the last project in historic $180M bond
Simplified: The Sioux Falls School District is ready to go to bid on the final project funded by a historic $180 million bond approved by voters in 2018. Here's what you need to know about a new elementary school planned for northwest Sioux Falls.
Why it matters
- The bond secured funding for new school buildings at each level (elementary, middle and high), as well as various other improvement projects for existing schools in the district. Ben Reifel Middle School and Jefferson High School both opened in the fall of 2021.
- District officials put the elementary school project on the back burner for a bit when enrollment slowed during the pandemic, but last fall, conversations about the need for a new school reignited with plans to build on the same campus as George McGovern Middle School, west of Marion Road on Maple Street.
- Rising construction costs in recent years mean the district will likely be paying $4 to $5 million more than planned for the school, but Director of Operational Services Jeff Kreiter said he's seen close to $7 million in savings so far with bond-funded projects that'll be able to bridge the gap.
"We have a little bit of money to play with," Kreiter said.
... about the new school.
THIS AND THAT
What I'm falling for this week:
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