Happy Wednesday! Megan here.
This week, you'll get a look at what's coming in the new public safety campus. I've also got a preview of some of the findings from the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative – a group working to solve the childcare crisis in town. Plus, catch up on the latest city council news and a bunch of Super Simplified Stories.
And now, news:
'People have to take action': How Sioux Falls can solve its childcare crisis
Simplified: Childcare tuition is unaffordable for about 9 in every 10 Sioux Falls families who don't qualify for state childcare assistance. The Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative next week is releasing a series of possible solutions for the ongoing childcare crisis.
Why it matters
- There are about 650 more kids than available childcare spots in Sioux Falls. And that's a conservative estimate. The reality is, not all of the estimated 12,260 licensed childcare slots in town are in use because of workforce challenges, according to data from the collaborative
- Back in October, a number of community groups – including the City of Sioux Falls, United Way, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and others – worked together to fund a six-month, full-time focus on not just defining the challenges facing parents and providers but also finding solutions. This Community Childcare Initiative was led by Nicole Fluth and Rana DeBoer.
- The biggest takeaway? It’s not up to parents to fix the problem. It’s up to the broader community — including businesses, state lawmakers and educators.
- And, as collective member and Sioux Falls School District Community Partnerships Coordinator Rebecca Wimmer put it, childcare is critical infrastructure for our community.
"If we had a hole in a pipe underground ... the city would go start digging it up, figure out how to replace the pipe, figure out the funding," Wimmer said. "Childcare is just as critical as those pieces of infrastructure, and if we don't pay attention to the hole that we have now, it's eventually going to explode."
Tell me more about the problem
And what can we expect to see with proposed solutions?
What's in the new public safety training center campus?
Simplified: Sioux Falls is spending $55 million on a new state-of-the-art public safety training center set to open later this year. Here's a look at some of the features coming to the new facility.
Why it matters
- The facility is more than five years in the making – starting with a master plan for public safety back in 2018 and a $50 million bond approved in 2020. It'll house training facilities and offices for the police department, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue and the Metro Communications 911 dispatch.
- Current training facilities for firefighters are temporary structures because the V.L. Crusinberry Regional Training Center – which opened in 1978 out by the airport – was condemned a few years back.
- The new campus will have a total of six buildings and a 13-acre vehicle operation course. City officials hope the facility will also serve as a recruitment tool to attract people to work in public safety.
"Nationally, it’s really hard to recruit officers," Police Chief Jon Thum said. "And we're not immune to that. They see a move like this as a commitment to our profession and a commitment to public safety."
Tell me more about the campus
And see a video animated tour.
Super Simplified Stories
- Tea school board election decided by five votes. Voters elected incumbent Kristen Daggett, and newcomer Jay Ryan beat out incumbent Tara Johanneson by five votes. A total of 211 ballots were cast – though nearly 6,500 people are registered to vote in the Tea Area School District. That amounts to a turnout of just over 3%.
- It's official – utility costs are going up. The City Council on Tuesday passed nine different ordinances related to rate hikes for utilities over the next four years. There were a few small changes to the initial proposal (detailed by Dakota Scout here). But here's a simplified look at what the rate increases will mean for you.
- Sioux Falls area gets a new judge. And it's the first one in nearly 20 years. The state Supreme Court on Friday added a new magistrate judge to the second circuit (that's Minnehaha and Lincoln County). South Dakota Searchlight has the story.
- Leonardo's gets a glow up. The cafe in the Washington Pavilion has a new name, a new menu and an overall new vibe. The WP Cafe will feature a daily breakfast menu, market-fresh sandwiches, pastries from Oh My Cupcakes! and coffee from The Source. See the full menu or order online here.
- Liquor license decision gets deferred. The City Council was set to make a final vote Tuesday on changes to how the city distributes liquor licenses, but the council opted to defer the decision to July 5. Here's some background on those changes and why some councilors had reservations.
How the city plans to spend about $11.8M in surplus funds
Simplified: Sioux Falls City Council on Tuesday approved just under $11.8 million in spending for a variety of projects including a new downtown park, river greenway improvements and a new golf clubhouse.
Why it matters
- That funding will unlock an additional $3.25 million in donations from both the Lloyd family and T. Denny Sanford. That money will help fund Jacobson Plaza – a new park downtown – and the new Lloyd Landing on the River Greenway.
- In addition to the park improvements downtown, the money will be used to replace the clubhouse at the Elmwood Golf Course, upgrade the fire rescue alert system, acquire land and street improvements at 85th Street and Tallgrass.
- Councilors also approved 30-year naming agreements and an ordinance to accept the donations to help fund Jacobson Plaza and Lloyd Landing.
"That partnership aspect is absolutely critical," Councilor Rich Merkouris said of the public-private partnerships approved. "What a great opportunity for our tax dollars that we've got individuals that are saying, 'Hey if you come in, we're gonna come in as well,' and it encourages that generosity throughout our city."
Tell me more about what's included
Get a specific breakdown here.
THIS AND THAT
What I'm falling for this week:
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