Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

Weather check: Warming back up to the 50s in the next couple days.

This week, I've got a look at the master plan for the zoo – including bringing the aquarium and butterfly house on the existing campus. You'll also find the next installment of the election guide ahead of the April 9 city/school election, as well as our weekly event guide. More to come later this week on the city's latest childcare discussion, as well as the next installment of the school board election guide.

And now, news:


Get a first look at the zoo's big plans for growth

Simplified: Lions, sharks and butterflies, oh my! The Great Plains Zoo shared a first look at its long-term master plan this week, and it includes some major changes aimed at bringing a better experience to animals and guests alike.

Why it matters

  • Last year, the Great Plains Zoo officially merged with the Butterfly House and Aquarium. Soon after, leaders of the now-combined organizations set out to plan what the next 10 to 15 years will look like.
  • The master plan looked at the entire zoo campus and the neighboring parks, and major plans include turning what was previously the Delbridge Museum into an indoor aquarium, butterfly rainforest, more dining opportunities, a reimagined display of the Brockhouse taxidermy collection and lots of improvements to animal habitats.
  • The plan also takes into account the business needs of the zoo with a look at how the zoo can bring in more visitors (and money) to support its long-term sustainability. CEO Becky Dewitz said she'd like to raise $70 million over the next 10 years to help fund the master plan.
"This is our time to create something we're all very proud of," CEO Becky Dewitz said. "This is our opportunity to really make our mark on Sioux Falls, draw more tourism dollars and enhance the quality of life."

Tell me more about the master plan


What candidates have to say about childcare, housing and quality of life investments

Editor's note: These stories are the next installment in a multi-part series on the 2024 city and school board election. Find all the coverage that's been done so far right here.

Simplified: Sioux Falls Simplified sat down with each of the eight candidates hoping to have a seat on the City Council. Candidates were all asked (approximately) the same set of questions. Here's what they had to say about childcare, housing and quality of life investments.

Why it matters

  • It costs more in one year to send your kid to a childcare center in Sioux Falls than it would to send them to a South Dakota state university. City Councilors earlier this year began talking about ways the city can help.
  • On the topic of housing, the greatest shortage is among those who make 30% or less the area median income (AMI) – which is $17,350 for an individual and $26,500 for a family of four. The city is also working on addressing those needs.
  • Another decision the City Council will likely make in the coming weeks or months is regarding a bond to fund quality of life projects like new outdoor pools and a new indoor aquatic and recreation center.

Hear from the candidates

Find thoughts from all eight candidates on all three of these topics.


Meet the woman behind your broadband customer support

This is a paid piece from Midco.

Simplified: Director of Customer Experience Operations Noelle Tieszen, the dynamic force behind Midco's Customer Care team, works daily to meet customers' needs in a way that's personal, efficient and done right the first time, every time.

Why it matters

  • Customer Care is the second-largest department at Midco – trailing only Field Operations – with around 250 people, all of whom work under Tieszen's leadership.
  • Midco invests in local customer service, which sets the company apart from other broadband competitors, Chief Operating Officer Benjamin Dold said. People on the team are committed to being warm, inviting and getting things right the first time.
  • In addition to her work in supporting the folks who directly support customers, Tieszen has found creative ways to make customers and team members feel special.
  • She's also an Officer of Belonging at Midco, the company's diversity, equity and inclusion council, and her team of Customer Care leaders is itself incredibly talented and diverse.
"We don't have people reading scripts," Tieszen said. "We genuinely want our team to be their true and authentic selves when they're interacting with customers. We want the customer to feel like, I’m talking to my neighbor, my friend – I’m talking to somebody who lives in my community and truly cares."

Tell me more about Tieszen


Stuff to do: March 27-April 2

  • Catch a (mystery) movie. The State Theatre is hosting its annual "Mystery Movie" on Monday, which also happens to be April Fools Day. The only details they're sharing is that the movie is rated R and was released at some point between 1980 and 2024. No hints, no clues, no refunds. Get tickets here.
  • Do an egg hunt. There are several options for hunting eggs in the area this weekend, including downtown, the zoo, Sioux Falls First, Rustic Hills Community Church and the Good Samaritan in Canton.
  • Treat yo' self. Midnight Spark Permanent Jewelry is hosting a "spark, sip and spa" party Saturday morning. Have a chance to get permanent jewelry, sip drinks, get free samples of non-toxic products and mini-massages from Kinesio Care Center. Details here.
  • Decorate Easter eggs. Rose & Eugene Presents is hosting an egg decorating class on Saturday. Kids ages 5 and up can sign up and decorate five refillable paper mache eggs. Choose your time slot here.
  • Take a hike. Join folks at the Outdoor Campus – as well as a team of pediatric occupational therapists – for a sensory friendly nature hike on Thursday. Hikers will explore the different sensations on plants, tap into the smells of the outdoors, use their eyes to explore the different colors and shapes, use their ears to hear the various sounds and more. Kids under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. More details here.


More Simplified Stories

As suicide rates rise, here’s where to find help and how to be helpful
There is both help out there for folks who need it and ways that you can be helpful in preventing suicides in our community.
What Sioux Falls school board candidates have to say about teacher pay
South Dakota has historically been ranked last (or very close to last) in the nation when it comes to teacher pay.
The next big high school sport? Video games.
South Dakota’s first-ever esports state tournament takes place this weekend, and it’ll be a fully sanctioned sport starting in the fall.


What I'm falling for this week:


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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 jelly beans 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, Midco, the Great Plains Zoo, and the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.