Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

Weather check: Look's like we're in for a warmer weekend. (And let's be real, it's November. Every day we go without the first snowfall is basically a miracle.)

Clock check: Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, so soak up that extra hour of sleep and do all the twice a year stuff you're supposed to do like switch clocks and check smoke alarm batteries.

Member check: I have a new way for you to support the work of Sioux Falls Simplified while keeping this site free and accessible for folks who can't afford to pay. I've introduced membership tiers starting at $5/month and ranging up to $15/month.

  • Consider contributing if you're able, and buy in to a smarter Sioux Falls by keeping local news under local ownership.

This week, I'll tell you about a new effort to pair philanthropy with public parks, a city councilor's effort to help English-language learners and a new podcast with some spooky '40s radio vibes.

And now, news:


How a private foundation aims to help public parks

Simplified: The new Sioux Falls Parks Foundation aims to be proactive in finding ways to strategically link big donors to park investments.

Kirby Dog Park

Why it matters

  • Public-private partnerships aren't new to the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation department. The Kirby Dog Park and planned Jacobson Family Plaza are two recent examples.
  • The new foundation – announced Tuesday to Sioux Falls City Council – formalizes the work of seeking out and managing these significant donations in the future.
  • A 10-person advisory board will oversee the foundation, led by Jennifer Kirby, and the foundation is an affiliate of the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation – meaning it's not a standalone nonprofit, but it is a private group separate from the city.
"We felt like we’ve been very successful in the organic process of donors coming forward and finding a project that they’re interested in funding," Parks Director Don Kearney said. "To have somebody proactively pursuing those, we think we could be a whole lot more successful in developing those public-private partnerships."

What happens next?

Learn more here, and see who's on the 10-member advisory board.


Why City Council is looking at the need for adult English classes

Simplified: Thousands of people in Sioux Falls – primarily immigrants and refugees – speak either limited English or none at all. Local nonprofits are helping, but City Councilor Janet Brekke is asking the city to take a closer look at how it might expand the services available.

Why it matters

  • The latest data shows more than 3,300 adults in Sioux Falls speak either limited English or none at all, according to information presented to the City Council Tuesday by Tim Jurgens, director of LSS' Center for New Americans.
  • The vast majority – upwards of 90 percent – of the people Jurgens said the center serves speak English at a level between Kindergarten and second grade.
  • Brekke, who asked Jurgens to present to the council, said she wants to see more resources for these adults to learn English as a way to advance their career trajectory.
"We need to do the kinds of things that not only get them up and running with those labor jobs, but put them in a position where, over time, they can work into a better job," Brekke said. "And I think English language is a huge stepping stone to that."

What are the obstacles in place?

And what are some solutions to expand access?


Here's one way to help keep South Dakotans fed this season

This is a paid piece from Silverstar Car Wash.

Simplified: Silverstar Car Wash focused on raising money and food donations for Feeding South Dakota during the month of October, and there's still time to give at any location until Nov. 8.

Why it matters

  • The pandemic dramatically increased food insecurity in the state, and Feeding South Dakota is still seeing an elevated demand, said spokeswoman Jennifer Stensaas.
  • Feeding South Dakota has also seen a big change in how it helps get food to the people who need it. The nonprofit went from using food pantries to bringing food directly to neighborhoods.
  • Fundraising efforts like what Silverstar is doing are what help the nonprofit keep South Dakotans fed.
"We've just been constantly amazed by the generosity of Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas," Stensaas said.

How can I help?

Get a full list of drop-off locations here.


Super simplified stories

  • Sioux Falls students bounce back from learning loss. Sioux Falls School District Assistant Superintendent Teresa Boysen told Sioux Falls Simplified this week that, per local test data, student scores are back to where they were pre-pandemic. Boysen declined to release specific data until after the school board sees it in its Nov. 8 meeting. Watch for more on that next week.
  • City launches mobile vaccine bus. It'll be used to bring COVID-19 vaccines throughout the city in a way to remove barriers to access. The city is calling it "Give it a shot, Sioux Falls." Find a calendar showing where the bus will be here.
  • Argus Leader to stop printing locally. Sioux Falls' longstanding local newspaper announced it'll close its local printing plant on Dec. 5 as a result of further consolidation in the newspaper industry. The paper will now be printed in Des Moines.*
  • CDC approval means vaccines now available for kids age 5-11. The news came through late Tuesday, meaning Sanford and Avera were not available for comment on when vaccine appointments will be available for kids in Sioux Falls. A spokesman for Avera did share the following statement from Dr. David Basel, vice president for Avera Medical Group Quality:
β€œYoung children can and do experience serious illness due to COVID. With the Delta variant we have seen children as young as 1 be diagnosed or admitted to the hospital with COVID-19,” Basel said. β€œVaccination is the best defense against this virus.”

*Disclosure: I spent the first five and a half years of my journalism career working at the Argus Leader.


This new podcast is looking to keep spooky season vibes going year-round

Simplified: A Sioux Falls writer is teaming up with local actors to create a monster-themed podcast in the style of 1940s radio storytelling.

Tell me more

Writer Mo Hurley had the idea for Monstrous Midwest Radio Theatre this summer while working on a play with flashbacks to a 1940s radio drama.

Hurley took that inspiration and created a podcast anthology series telling monster stories set in the Midwest.

Why it matters

  • The show taps into Sioux Falls' existing theater talent, giving actors a chance to showcase their storytelling abilities in a strictly audio format. Each episode will be voiced by a different actor.
  • Sioux Falls-based podcasters have been around for awhile, but Hurley is among the first locally to tap into the realm of fiction podcasting.
  • Though her background is writing children's books, she's created this show specifically for young adults (and adults young at heart) in the vein of '80s and '90s thrillers – but told like an old-school radio show.
"I don't think I ever grew out of the 'Goosebumps' phase," Hurley said.

What happens next?

Learn more about the first episode here.


Stuff to do:

  • Beer and bingo. Severance Brewing is hosting bingo Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the Old Skool Jersey Rippers Food Truck outside from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Little Shop of Horrors. The Good Night Theatre Collective will perform their rendition of the cult classic Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Washington Pavilion. Tickets here.
  • Downtown boutique crawl. Get a jump on Christmas shopping (or just treat yourself) and win an entry for a grand prize when you buy something at participating boutiques. Details here.
  • Meat-iversary. Look's Marketplace is celebrating its two-year anniversary all day Sunday. Watch for more specifics here.

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 photos of pets in Halloween costumes to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including Midco, the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, Selah Space and Silverstar Car Wash. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.