Happy Monday! Megan here.
Weather check: Very January-y
Status check: It's 2024! I've got some big goals for 2024, including a big giveaway. Keep an eye out for Friday's issue when I'll share how you can win a three-night stay (a more than $2,200 value) at a literal castle in the Black Hills over Presidents Day weekend – but spoiler: you have to be a paying member of Sioux Falls Simplified to be eligible to win.
This week, I've got a lot of city news for you – including the latest on the ongoing childcare discussions and the long-term plans for McKennan Park. Plus, find lots of Super Simplified Stories, as well as a roundup of what I feel are the best stories from 2023.
And now, news:
How an app could help connect parents with childcare
Simplified: A number of city councilors on Tuesday expressed interest in helping the Helpline Center create an app that would give parents an easy way to see which childcare providers in the state have openings.
Why it matters
- The Regulatory Oversight Committee – a group of councilors chaired by Councilor Alex Jensen – met Tuesday afternoon to get a more in-depth look at the childcare crisis in Sioux Falls.
- The recent almost-closure of Apple Tree childcare centers added a sense of urgency and importance to the meeting. At one point, Jensen remarked, "We should've done this five years ago," in the context of talking about developing the app to share childcare openings.
- The Helpline Center shared its work on developing an app in which providers can share openings, and parents can get real-time information. Additionally, Michelle Erpenbach, representing the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative, shared a number of other specific ways the city could be a part of solving the ongoing crisis.
"At this point, we can't wait," Erpenbach said. "We have to, as a city, as a community, we have to come up with solutions of our own."
Get a look at long-term plans for McKennan park
Simplified: The Sioux Falls City Council on Tuesday got a look at the latest master plan for McKennan Park, which is set to get a new wading pool in the next year. Here's a look at what else may be on the horizon.
Why it matters
- On Tuesday, councilors got a look at new master plans for McKennan Park, including a new zero-depth entry wading pool with more shade features. They also got to see updated future plans, including a refrigerated ice rink, a fire feature and more walking paths connecting the park to the neighborhood. Councilors also got an updated look at the plans for Family Park.
- The updated design also includes plans for a new pool house/warming house, as well as plans to create an unrefrigerated ice rink until the money is in place for a refrigerated ice rink – which could cost as much as $6 million, Parks Director Don Kearney said.
- McKennan Park's master plan was last updated in 2020. Parks staff worked closely with the neighborhood to develop the master plan, Park Development Specialist Mike Patten told councilors.
"A key point that came out of McKennan was that the history of the park is very important to the neighborhood, and so preserving and reflecting that history was very important," Patten said.
Super Simplified Stories
- Extremely good news. The Sioux Falls Area Humane Society set an adoption record in 2023 with 3,776 adoptions. That's the most adoptions in a single year in the entire 119 year history of the organization, and also a marked increase from the 2,801 adoptions in 2022. Get a little more background on the organization and what it did differently this year in this story. (Side note: Did you adopt a pet you saw on my "what I'm falling for"?? Please let me know, because I would love to tell that story...)
- Juvenile Justice Center gets official price tag. The Minnehaha County Commission on Tuesday voted to authorize the guaranteed maximum price of $50 million for the new juvenile justice center. More background on that project here.
- Minnehaha County Commission selects new leadership. The Minnehaha County Commission voted on Tuesday to select Dean Karsky as its new chair and Gerald Beninga as vice chair. Commissioners also voted to give themselves a 5% pay raise.
- Ain't no party like a pad party. Because a pad party helps combat period poverty and provide menstrual products to women in need. The 14th Annual Pad Party period product drive runs Jan. 6 through 15. Get more details on how to donate here.
THIS AND THAT
What I'm falling for this week
- A Perch pop-up
- Linus and Lucy
- Actual copies of city contracts are now included in the council's online consent agenda – a big win for transparency (to view: click item 6 on the agenda and view the supporting documents)
What made headlines last year (aka my favorite/best reporting of 2023)
In community news:
In city news:
In school news:
In regional/county news:
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