Happy Wednesday! Megan here.
Weather check: No crazy storms, no crazy heat. Can we really complain? (of course, we're Midwesterners)
This week, it's a newsy one! First, you'll see why the future of the fairgrounds is ... complicated. Then, I've got a look at how city departments are working together to plan where Sioux Falls is growing. And Olivia's got the latest on how an Augustana project is poised to change the city's beekeeping ordinance.
And now, news:
Why the future of the fairgrounds is more complicated than 'keep or sell'
Simplified: Any way you slice it, the future of the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds is complicated. Here's a look at the barriers facing county commissioners regardless of the future path they choose for the fairgrounds.
Why it matters
- Let's start with a little history. Winona A. Lyon donated the nearly 50-acre fairgrounds (with several strings attached) in 1938. Since then, it's been the site of the annual Sioux Empire Fair along with various other events.
- That gift agreement is important because if the strict rules of the agreement aren't followed – namely, ensuring it's the continued site of a fair – the land goes back to Lyons's heirs.
- Where it gets tricky is the gift agreement creates barriers to the county selling the land, and the county's limited budget creates barriers to funding improvements to the existing site. And, in both cases, county commissioners say they just don't have enough information right now.
"We don't have a chicken or an egg, so we don't know which one comes first," Commissioner Dean Karsky said.
What do we know about the options moving forward?
How city leaders are coming together to plan future land purchases
Simplified: A group of city leaders from a wide variety of departments have been working together over the last year to look at where to buy land for new city facilities as Sioux Falls grows. It's called the Strategic Land Acquisition Team (SLAT). Here's what you need to know.
Why it matters
- SLAT began last year after a series of meetings that brought dozens of city employees together to talk about scaling services as the town grows.
- Now, they meet every few weeks and share plans across departments for five, 10 and even 20+-year growth needs, said Kevin Smith, assistant director of planning and development services.
- Much of the growth plan is dictated by where sewer and other utilities will be expanded, but SLAT is working to help ensure that – as other resources like roads, libraries, parks, etc. move into new areas – the city is being as efficient as possible and working together.
"We need to plan for those needs together, so we can potentially share land acquisitions, share construction dollars and share the actual facilities to benefit the public," Smith said.
What kinds of things does SLAT work on?
How a utility company is helping regional communities with economic development
This is a paid piece from the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.
Simplified: Sioux Valley Energy created a new position focused on helping the communities it serves further their economic development. Meet Brandon Lane, the electric cooperative's new economic development and community relations executive.
Why it matters
- Lane has spent his career up to this point working with nonprofits, for the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, and, most recently, leading Harrisburg's chamber and economic development group.
- Now, in his new role, he's going boots on the ground in regional communities to build relationships with city leaders, better understand the local cultures and, ultimately, help them grow.
- Lane said his position is a great complement to the work being done by the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance and other regional economic development groups.
"It's exciting seeing utility companies like Sioux Valley Energy playing a role in helping our region grow," said Jesse Fonkert, president and CEO of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. "It takes a village to make big wins happen in these communities, and this is a great example of that type of cooperation."
Tell me more about this new position
Super simplified stories
- Dept. of the Interior assistant secretary to visit Sioux Falls. Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo will be in the area Wednesday for two separate events: a ribbon cutting for a Lewis & Clark Rural Water System project and the official handover of the Landsat 9 satellite from NASA to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) control.
- DSS hosts listening sessions re: childcare. The state Department of Social Services was in Sioux Falls this week hosting the first of several listening sessions scheduled statewide (and virtually) for any community members with a "vested interest" in childcare. If you missed the Sioux Falls in-person session, there are still a few chances to join virtually. Find a schedule here.
Campus bees? Thanks to a group of Augustana students, probably yes.
By Olivia Bertino
Simplified: Augustana students wanted to bring beekeeping to campus, but city ordinances didn't allow for hives on those types of properties. Now, two city councilors are bringing a proposal that would allow for hobby beekeeping at the university and similarly zoned properties.
Why it matters
- Augustana students brought bees to campus in May of this year, but didn't have the proper applications and permits to house bees on campus thanks to the existing zoning rules of the beekeeping ordinances. The hives were moved off campus and into Hartford.
- Students in charge of the beekeeping project worked with City Councilors Greg Neitzert and Sarah Cole to rewrite the language of the ordinances that govern hobby beekeeping. They were also helped by Animal Control, an Iowa beekeeper and Southeast Technical Institute.
- City Council voted 8-0 on Tuesday to pass the first reading of the changes, and if the measure passes a second reading next week, students from middle school to postsecondary institutions could bring beekeeping to their school campuses.
"In each case, [we're] trying to teach students that sustainability needs to be concerned not just with protecting the planet, but also with creating the opportunity for profit, something that will create prosperity for them and their community," Augustana Professor David O'Hara said.
Why the push for bees at Augustana?
And what would change in the city beekeeping ordinance? More here.
THIS AND THAT
Stuff to do
- Check Friday's issue! We're doing a little moving and shaking with some newsletter segments. :) 🚧
What I'm falling for this week:
- Keloland's series on missing and murdered Indigenous women
- A little baby cow at the fair
- New episodes of "Bluey" (parents of toddlers – I see you.)
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