Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

Weather check: Might be looking at two years in a row of rainy Fourth of July celebrations

A Little Help update: WE DID IT! You lovely people raised a grand total of $5,180 for Journey of Hope! Thank you for making our inaugural A Little Help campaign a smashing success. We'll do it again next year with a different nonprofit (more details to come in early 2025!)

A quick programming note: You won't see an issue this Friday because of the holiday. I'll be back in your inbox next Wednesday! (Or on Monday if you're a paying member – want in on that bonus news?)

This week, you'll hear more about what's next for Journey of Hope after a successful fundraiser. I'll also give you a simplified look at the mayor's 5-year spending plan, a round-up of local events, a Q&A about the zoo's new lion exhibit, and you'll meet one of Barre3's instructors.

And now, news:


What your support means for Journey of Hope

Simplified: Sioux Falls Simplified readers raised more than $5,000 for local nonprofit Journey of Hope during the month of June as part of the inaugural 'A Little Help' give-back campaign. We sat down with Journey of Hope to ask, what's next?

Why it matters

  • Sioux Falls Simplified selected Journey of Hope as the recipient of the inaugural 'A Little Help' give-back campaign because of the nonprofit's straightforward approach to meeting people where they are and the simple act of providing hygiene products to those in need.
  • The funds raised last month will help provide 3,000 hygiene products, or about 600 hygiene kits, to folks who need them. For context, last year the nonprofit distributed a total of 18,000 hygiene products.
  • Additionally, about half of the $5,180 raised will be earmarked for art as therapy programming. That's enough to fund more than 25 hours of art instruction for kids at the juvenile detention center.
"It was very heartwarming to know the community is here to support their sisters and brothers," said Kari Palmer, who founded Journey of Hope with her husband, Darin. "I don't think people always see it that way, but we're all here to support one another. That was beautiful to me."

So, what happens next?


What's in the mayor's five-year spending plan?

Simplified: It's budget season at the City of Sioux Falls. While the City Council will ultimately decide how money gets spent, Mayor Paul TenHaken's administration is providing lots of ideas – including a five-year capital spending plan released Friday. Here's a look at what's included.

Why it matters

  • 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. The city's annual five-year spending plan has more than doubled over the last decade.
  • This year's plan follows a trend in TenHaken's administration of prioritizing funding for roads – a nearly $500 million chunk of the budget. For context, then-Mayor Mike Huether's entire five-year spending plan in 2014 was less than $500 million.
  • The proposed five-year plan also includes funding for parks, for purchasing land to build a future downtown convention center, for a new fire station and for a new report-to-work station for police.
“Just like our residents continually reprioritize where they spend their money based on their personal circumstances, the city follows the same practice to stay fiscally responsible as stewards of the community’s tax dollars," Mayor Paul TenHaken said in a statement.

Tell me more about what's in the plan


Everything you need to know about the zoo's new lion exhibit

This is a paid piece from the Great Plains Zoo.

Simplified: The Great Plains Zoo welcomed two African lions to a brand new habitat earlier this year, and as the exhibit opens to the public, zookeepers sat down with Sioux Falls Simplified to answer all of your lion-related questions.

Why it matters

  • Sioux Falls' zoo is home to lions for the first time in 30 years. Lions Simba and Amahle made their public debut last week in their brand new, 7,000-square-foot habitat.
  • The habitat is built with a future family of lion cubs in mind if the two lions should decide to mate. It's also built with Simba's allergies in mind – using specific grasses, trees and plants that shouldn't trigger a reaction, according to Angie Blommer, carnivore supervisor for the zoo.
  • While the outdoor portion of the habitat that's visible to zoo guests is not quite yet ready for the lions to enjoy, the animals do have both indoor-outdoor access throughout the day, and zookeepers are also working to get the two animals used to one another so they can share space at some point, too.
"As we renovate this zoo, the lion exhibit is a great example of species-specific habitats we want to create that will exceed AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) standards," said Denise DePaolo, PR and marketing director.

Tell me more about the habitat

And get all your lion questions answered.


Q&A: Meet Barre3 instructor Miranda Velgersdyk

This is a paid piece from Barre3 Sioux Falls.

Simplified: Miranda Velgersdyk first discovered Barre3 Sioux Falls after her sister introduced her to the classes. Seven years later, she's a long-time instructor with an ever-growing expertise in helping people move their bodies with intention. She sat down with Sioux Falls Simplified to chat about her role, Barre3, and the importance of a good playlist.

Answers are edited for length and clarity. Responses are quotes from Velgersdyk.

What initially drew you to Barre3?

My sister is the one that got me started there, so I have to give her a shoutout.

I've always been very active and involved in sports – in college, I ran track – so I've always enjoyed working out.

Once I graduated college, I started to come to Barre3 more religiously and just fell in love with it and everything it's about.

How long have you been a Barre3 instructor? And what drew you to the role?

It'll be six years in October.

I was initially very reluctant about it – just because I've never been one to be in the limelight. I hate public speaking, and they were asking me to do that while I was moving on beat and remembering the choreography.

  • It was very overwhelming to me at first, but Kennan (Barber-Ensz, who initially brought the franchise to Sioux Falls) kept convincing me and was so encouraging throughout the entire process.

It started to make me think, 'Maybe I can do this. Maybe this is something I could enjoy.' So I went for it.

What's kept you going as an instructor all this time?

(The workout) never gets easier. There's always a new challenge around the corner.

I love that Barre3 corporate as a whole does a really good job of refining the workout and fine-tuning it.

  • It's evolved over the years, and now we've added extensions like strength and cardio classes. Adding those classes has really made us

See the full interview here.

And get $5 classes all week next week as Barre3 celebrates its birthday!


Stuff to do: July 3-9

  • See a parade. The city's annual Fourth of July parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at 13th Street and Phillips Avenue. It'll travel north to Sixth Street and end at the Levitt Shell where there'll be a picnic waiting with a free hot dog lunch for the first 3,000 attendees.
  • Catch a band. The municipal band will perform during the Independence Day picnic at the Levitt starting at 11 a.m. Thursday, and then Mogen's Heroes take the stage at noon. See a full list of city events here.
  • Hang out downtown. It's First Friday, which means this weekend is time for another Eastbank Block Party downtown at 8th and Railroad. See a full lineup of food, beer, entertainment and more here.
  • See a Shakespeare show. Bare Bodkins is bringing its 27th annual Shakespeare performance to Falls Park with a production of Twelfth Night. The show is free to attend, and starts at 7 p.m. at the Queen Bee Mill Ruins. Performances run July 5-7 and 10-14.
  • Celebrate small-town style. There are several Fourth of July celebrations in the Sioux Metro – including the famous Lennox celebration. Find a round-up of those events here.


What I'm falling for this week:


More Simplified Stories

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.
How to celebrate the Fourth of July in the Sioux Metro
From parades to hot dogs to fireworks, here’s a look at how the region is celebrating this year.
Don’t want your kid staring at screens all day? This is the group for you.
A group of parents are advocating for a more low-tech approach to education both in and out of the classroom.


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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.