Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

I have incredible news, and I can't wait to share it. Remember Koko, the dog at the Sioux Falls Humane Society who was in the shelter as a puppy and returned as an adult? SHE GOT ADOPTED THIS WEEKEND!

Now, let's find a home for Rue, the cat.

I'll also tell you this week about how a 40-year-old Sioux Falls cold case is coming to an end, what's in Mayor Paul TenHaken's budget address, vaccination requirements and a new approach to managing stormwater in a housing development.

And now, news.


This housing project is testing sustainable development

Simplified: The City of Sioux Falls is teaming up with Habitat for Humanity on a pilot project to see if low-impact development – development with a focus on a more sustainable, environmental approach to water management – could work on a broader scale.

Snapshot of Millard Acres from Mayor Paul TenHaken's budget address.

Why it matters

  • The northeast Sioux Falls housing development will bring not only low-impact, but also affordable housing with 13 twin homes on a 4.5-acre parcel on East 34th Street North just west of Interstate 229, according to Rocky Welker, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Greater Sioux Falls.
  • The housing project comes when the city is in the midst of developing a sustainability master plan, and Mayor Paul TenHaken touted this project in his budget address last week as one example of how the city is working toward more sustainable practices.
  • It also gives the city an opportunity to pilot low-impact development and test its effectiveness at reducing site runoff and pollutants.
"If it's successful, we would add some of these aspects of low-impact development into our design standards," said Andy Berg, environmental and stormwater manager for the city.

Learn more

What is low-impact development, and what happens next with the pilot project?


How a 40-year cold case could resolve by year's end

Simplified: An infant – later named "Baby Andrew John Doe" – was found dead on the side of a Sioux Falls road on a February morning in 1981. The case went cold for decades. Now, the woman charged in with the baby's death is scheduled to change her initial "not guilty" plea and face sentencing by the end of the year, per court schedules.

Why it matters

  • Police arrested Theresa Rose Bentaas in March 2019 after connecting her to Baby Andrew using a tool to connect people through DNA and genealogy.
  • They found Bentaas' DNA – a match to the baby's – on a water bottle, beer can and cigarette butts taken from a trash can outside her home during a "trash pull" a month before her arrest. The DNA match was later confirmed with further testing after Bentaas was interviewed by police, per court documents.
  • The case was scheduled to go to a jury trial on several different occasions, most recently in April, but each time was postponed or canceled. Now, it appears a jury won't weigh in on Bentaas's case.
  • Prosecuting attorneys in the Minnehaha County State's Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case. Bentaas's defense attorneys also could not be reached for comment.

Learn more

What does the change of plea hearing mean, and what happens next?


How Hartford is planning for future growth

This is a paid piece from the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.

Simplified: Hartford is not only growing but also planning for future growth. Here's what to keep your eye on as new businesses, homes and planning efforts come to fruition.

"Hartford's strategic planning will ensure new homes, businesses and industry fit together in a seamless way," said Jesse Fonkert, president and CEO of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. "Their focus on downtown will also help attract new businesses and create a vibrant community in the city's core."

Why it matters

  • Hartford has put a renewed focus on economic development in recent years, and that's coming to light in the town's master planning processes.
  • Hartford currently has both a citywide master plan and a downtown-specific master plan in the process
  • As part of that growth, Hartford is seeing new homes going up, new businesses coming in and existing businesses moving to new spots.
  • Economic Development Director Amy Farr is at the helm making sure the town is hitting its goals to bring in new businesses and being strategic in the process of planning for the future.
"We want to be able to build on Hartford in a systematic way," Farr said.

Learn more

See some new (and relocating) businesses in Hartford.

Stuff to watch:

  • Local Olympians. There's a 'Yote taking Tokyo as University of South Dakota grad Chris Nilsen competes on Team USA as a pole vaulter. There are also a few Canaries players competing for other countries as well as a couple others with South Dakota ties in the Olympics.
  • Blood donations. The American Red Cross has declared a severe blood shortage and added incentives like a $10 Amazon gift card for people who donate through July 31. You can also find local drives through the Community Blood Bank.
  • The joint committee. A committee looking at medical marijuana rules for the City of Sioux Falls, Lincoln and Minnehahah Counties wrapped its final meeting last week. The Argus Leader has an early look at what time, place and manner restrictions each entity is looking at adopting.


Why Sanford is requiring employees to vaccinate

Simplified: Sanford Health announced last week it would require employees to have the COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1. Here's a closer look at the reasons behind and context surrounding the decision.

Why it matters

  • The decision comes amid increasing national concern over the delta variant, as well as increasing support for vaccine mandates among hospitals nationwide. The day before Sanford's announcement, the National Hospital Association released a statement in support of vaccine mandates.
  • The timing also comes a month after a federal judge in Texas dismissed a lawsuit over a vaccine mandate from employees at a Houston hospital system – though Vice President for Sanford Clinic Dr. Joshua Crabtree said the Sioux Falls health system's decision was an individual one.
  • Sanford is likely the first employer in South Dakota – a state that emphasized personal freedoms over mandates throughout the pandemic – to mandate the vaccine.
"It's important that we all just take a look at ourselves individually and ask, do I want my healthcare provider to provide a safe place for me to come and get my care?" Crabtree said. "If you would want that for yourself, then I think that answers the question as to why we should do this and why it's the right thing to do."

Learn more

What's the response been from employees and the community? What happens next? And what are other hospital systems in the area doing?


Why to consider adding reiki to your routine (also, what is reiki?)

This is a paid piece from Selah Space.

Simplified: Reiki is a form of energy healing. At Selah Space, owner Jada Dobesh works to help you connect with how your emotional experiences are showing up within your body so you can work toward finding peace and balance.

Why it matters

  • Dobesh believes that sometimes you need to take the "self" out of "self-care" and learn to rely on others in your wellness journey. Reiki is a way to do just that.
  • Reiki and spiritual direction go hand-in-hand at Selah Space. In fact, some reiki sessions never make it to the table to practice because the conversation and spiritual direction is more important or needed at that moment, Dobesh said.
  • Selah Space client Megan Niemeyer said her first reiki session was the most relaxed she's been in her adult life.
"Not very often am I fully mindful about truly quieting my thoughts, but during a reiki session that is just what I focus most on," Niemeyer said.

Learn more

What does a reiki session look like? And how do I get started?


What TenHaken's proposed $654 million budget means for you

Simplified: Mayor Paul TenHaken pitched a $654 million budget for next year, the largest in city history. But, TenHaken said the growing budget is needed to manage a growing city.

Why it matters

  • The 2022 budget proposal shows about a 10 percent increase in spending compared to the current year. It's also a more than 30 percent increase from TenHaken's first budget proposal as mayor, which at the time was the largest budget in city history.
  • With the increased spending comes an increase in projected revenues from taxes, charges for goods and services, investments and other financing. Total projected revenue is just under $660 million.
  • Overall, TenHaken describes it as a "meat and potatoes" budget with the largest chunks of change going to water reclamation, roads and public safety.
"There's a lot of other fun things, quite honestly, I'd love to spend money on than a wastewater plant and record spending on roads," TenHaken said. "But those are the critical things, and there's a little bit of catch-up that we have to do to make sure we're ready for this growth."

Learn more

What's behind the big numbers, and what specific projects are on the table as the City Council takes over the decision-making process?


What I'm falling for this week:

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