Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

Weather check: Hot and humid

This week, I asked the important questions about the swarms of mosquitoes, like, "Are they trying to take over?" and "Why?" and "Is this the end of times?" You'll also find the latest on the Riverline District and discussions about bringing a convention center downtown. Plus, catch some Super Simplified Stories and a round-up of events.

And now, news:


Why consultants say a downtown convention center is a good idea

Simplified: A new convention center at the Riverline District would be "feasible" and "supported by the market," a Chicago-based consulting group told the Sioux Falls City Council on Tuesday. Here's a look at their rationale.

Why it matters

  • The city earlier this year agreed to pay just over $200,000 to C.H. Johnson Consulting to look at whether Sioux Falls could support a downtown convention center, what the city should do with the existing space and how to fund the whole shebang.
  • The report to council on Tuesday addressed only the first component of that agreement, and the conclusion was, essentially, yes. Consultant Charlie Johnson told councilors that it's actually a benefit that Sioux Falls is "a little late in the game for downtown convention centers," because it means the city can enter the market with a brand new product.
  • The report shows that the existing convention center is potentially losing out as much as $3 million per year. It's worth noting, though, that the City Council has yet to see what the potential cost would be to construct a brand new facility downtown.
    • The land purchase alone is estimated at $8.1 million in next year's proposed budget.
“Johnson Consulting is validating what Experience Sioux Falls hears over and over again from current and prospective clients—our convention center is too small, it’s not walkable to dining and retail experiences, and another full-service hotel is needed to support the convention center,” Teri Schmidt, CEO of Experience Sioux Falls, said in a news release.

How did we get here?


What the #!$% is going on with all the mosquitoes?

Simplified: There are more mosquitoes in Sioux Falls this week than have been seen in at any one point in least a decade, according to the city team trying to kill them. Here's what we know.

Why it matters

  • Sioux Falls has also seen more rain this year than it has in quite some time, and Environmental Health Manager Dominic Miller said even a half of a cup of standing water is enough to become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. And with the life cycle of a mosquito, it makes sense that we're seeing so many now, a few weeks after all of the rain and flooding.
  • The good news is the vast majority of mosquitoes are what Miller called "nuisance" mosquitoes – as in, just annoying and not carrying diseases. While there have been a few of the types of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile Virus, none of the ones in Sioux Falls have actually been carrying the virus.
  • The less good news is that the spike in demand for all types of mosquito repellent (and anti-itch creams) is leaving some retail shelves empty across the city. Jody Bell, director of sales and operations for Nyberg's Ace, said they've seen demand for those types of products increase "tenfold."
"We've done everything we can to keep inventory in stock," Bell said, noting that they're pulling from several different warehouses to bring more bug spray into town. "We're restocking daily."

What is the city doing about all this?


Super Simplified Stories

  • 911 outage. 911 was off and on Tuesday night in South Dakota, and an initial emergency alert sent out around 8:30 p.m. also briefly crashed the City of Sioux Falls website, according to city spokeswoman Vanessa Gomez. The 911 service was back up around 9:30 p.m., off again around 10:50 p.m. and then restored as of 4 a.m. Wednesday.
  • Legal drama over legals. The Argus Leader's parent company, Gannett, is suing the City of Sioux Falls over its decision to print legal notices with newer, locally owned newspaper, The Dakota Scout. The city pays tens of thousands of dollars each year to run those notices in a newspaper as required by state law. Dakota News Now has more on that story.
    • Meanwhile, Monday night, the Sioux Falls School Board voted unanimously to approve The Scout as the official newspaper for the district.
  • Tea for TIF, and TIF for Tea. Lincoln County Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a new $15 tax-increment financing district near 85th Street and Interstate 29 – the Bakker Landing development. Dakota Scout has the full story.

More Simplified Stories

  • United Way names new CEO. Lisa Romkema will take over as CEO of Sioux Empire United Way at the end of this month. Romkema previously worked for the organization as campaign director from 2010 to 2015 and most recently worked as a consultant for Maximizing Excellence.
  • Sioux Falls School Board approves budget. The district is seeing fewer revenues and higher expenses as pandemic relief funds expire in next year's budget, which totals about $490 million. That said, teacher salaries are up about 5% next year, and the impact on taxpayers is a less than 1% increase in school property taxes. You can get a closer look at the budget here.
  • New school board leadership. Sioux Falls School Board members voted on Monday to elect Carly Reiter as board president and Dawn Marie Johnson as board vice president.


Stuff to do: July 10-16

  • Buzz around. Laurel Ridge Barn is hosting the inaugural Honey Bee Festival starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Learn about all things bee-related, from vendors to speakers to bee education. Details here.
  • Zip around. It's Zippity Zoo Day at the Great Plains Zoo on Saturday. In addition to checking out the new lion exhibit and the new splash pad, you can also find inflatables, scavenger hunts and character visits from Simply Ever After. Note: special pricing is in effect that day, but you can get your tickets ahead of time here.
  • Skate around. The new Barb Iverson Skate Plaza is opening this week! Tickets are sold out for the family picnic on Friday, but you can still catch the groundbreaking celebration Thursday or participate in the "First Skate" event on Saturday. Details here.
  • Shop around. Local HGTV stars Chelsea and Cole DeBoer are celebrating the grand opening of their new store in Tea, Down Home by DeBoers. On Saturday evening, catch all kinds of local vendors from ice cream to a flower bar to charcuterie and a live DJ. Details and tickets here.
  • Splash around. The city is hosting a hydrant party at Morningside Park from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday. Cool off, splash, play games, see fire trucks and more. More details here.
  • Celebrate theater (around?). It's the fifth annual Sioux Falls Stage Awards on Thursday, and tickets are nearly sold out. Celebrate local performers in theater, dance, comedy and music, while also raising money to support more of their performances in the future. Learn more here.


What I'm falling for this week:


More Simplified Stories

What’s in the mayor’s five-year spending plan?
TenHaken’s proposed capital spending plan totals $1.1 billion – the second year in a row the city has seen a plan exceed $1 billion.
Where to find free summer fun in Sioux Falls
School’s out, and summer is in full swing. Here’s a roundup of fun things you can do in town without spending a dime.
This $25 million gift is a ‘game changer’ for the zoo’s future plans
The Great Plains Zoo took a big step closer to bringing a new aquarium, education center and butterfly rainforest to its campus thanks to a $25 million gift announced Thursday from billionaire philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.


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Reach out

What story do you want to see simplified? Falling for something local? Send any news tips, attaboys, missed typos or bug spray to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including Dakota Adventure Supply, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Panther Premier Print Solutions, Barre3 Sioux Falls, the Great Plains Zoo, and the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.