Happy Wednesday! Megan here.
First things first, this issue is sponsored by Sioux Empire United Way.
- Sioux Empire United Way kicks off its 2024 fundraising campaign, "Thanks to You," next week. The funds raised through this campaign will support dozens of nonprofits in the coming year throughout the Sioux Empire. See how you can get involved in kickoff week and help support your community.
Weather check: Sweaters in the morning, shorts in the afternoon
A huge thank you! We raised $635 and collected 150 pounds of food through the Sioux Falls Simplified and Startup Sioux Falls food drive last week! Thank you to everyone who donated to help keep our region fed!
- Still want to help? You can make a financial contribution here.
This week, we'll take a look at a number of changes coming for Metro Communications – including some creative staffing. You'll also find an update on the city budget and what ultimately made the cut, as well as some helpful stories from our sponsors and a look at how the city may be bringing back open gym.
And now, news:
Why firefighters are helping fill gaps in the short-staffed 911 dispatch
Simplified: It's a year of big changes for Metro Communications – Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County's 911 dispatch center – including a new building and a new home within city government. But one of the lesser-discussed changes is a unique partnership that's helping address staffing shortages.
Why it matters
- Staffing is a consistent challenge, said Division Chief Mike Gramlick, who has worked as interim director since this spring. About 3 in every 4 people hired at metro quit in the first five years.
- Some of the recruitment challenges will be helped by Metro's move from acting as an independent agency to being part of Sioux Falls city government — a change announced last week that’ll take effect in January 2024.
- But in the meantime, and likely to continue into the future, firefighters are getting trained to be able to pick up shifts as 911 dispatchers. The goal is to minimize the need for mandatory overtime, prevent burnout and improve the overall work culture at metro.
“Our teams have always been close, but now a firefighter sitting at a dispatch panel really understands what's happening when he's on the other side of the radio," Gramlick said.
What City Council added to next year’s budget (and what didn’t make the cut)
Simplified: The Sioux Falls City Council approved a record high $800 million budget Tuesday night. Here’s a look at what councilors added that wasn’t in mayor Paul TenHaken’s original proposal.
Why it matters
- TenHaken proposed a $790 million budget for 2024 earlier this year. Councilors have spent the last six weeks hearing from each city department and putting together the final pieces of the budget. On Tuesday, a total of 11 amendments were brought, nine of which passed.
- The council added nearly $300,000 to support the arts, $1 million for “neighborhood revitalization,” and $2 million for affordable housing, but one item that didn’t make the cut was $100,000 proposed to start an Office of Child and Youth Development (one of the specific recommendations to help solve the childcare crisis.)
- The public did weigh in on the budget, but because amendments were added after the public input was finished, there was no opportunity for input on the various amendments. Regardless, most councilors said they were happy with the process.
"The sausage making definitely isn’t pretty, but that doesn’t mean it has to be nasty," Councilor Marshall Selberg said. "And I think generally … we’ve had good discussions."
How Drug Court participants are finding recovery through peer support
This is a paid piece from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.
Simplified: A recent grant from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation is helping create a network of peers to help Drug Court participants navigate the path to recovery.
Why it matters
- Drug Court provides a recovery-focused alternative to incarceration for people who've committed nonviolent, drug-related crimes. Since it started in 2011, the Minnehaha County Drug Court has graduated 138 people, and the voluntary program continues to grow by about 22% each year, according to statistics from the county.
- Peer support is a critical component to addiction recovery, and there's real power in having someone who can say, "I've been in your shoes," said Retired Circuit Court Judge Patricia Riepel, who presides over Drug Court.
- A strong peer support network will be a game-changer in helping people who suffer from drug addictions, advocates say. Graduates of Drug Court who wish to become certified peer support specialists can enroll in a training program to learn how to use their lived experiences to help others.
“This will move Drug Court participants forward in their treatment and in their recovery much faster, and more successfully, and it will ensure they have a sense of community around them so they don’t feel so lost,” said Dez Kincaid, coordinator for the Second Judicial Circuit Drug Court. “That’s a major factor of relapse. We can get people sober, but staying sober without a community around you is really difficult.”
Super Simplified Stories
- Sanford levels up. Sanford Health announced this week its verification as a Level I Adult Trauma Center – the highest level of trauma care – which means the hospital system is capable of providing total care for every aspect of an injury from prevention to rehabilitation. Sanford is the only health care system in the state to achieve this designation.
- Breaking ground in Hartford. The City of Hartford will break ground next week on a new $23.5 million wastewater treatment facility, which is set to be completed in 2025. The facility will replace the current wastewater lagoon system that's been in place since 2002.
- Take a look at the new mini-pitch. Sioux Falls first mini-pitch soccer field officially opened this week at Terrace Park. This project was made possible with a $180,000 public-private partnership.
Moving soon? Ask these internet questions
This is a paid piece from Midco.
Simplified: Between warm weather, school starting soon and the summer coming to an end, it's one of the most popular times of year to move. And as you look for a new place, Midco is sharing exactly what to know to get the best internet service available.
Why it matters
- Internet access is almost as essential to daily life as other basic utilities like water and electricity. It's often one of the first things people ensure is set up and running before moving into a new apartment.
- Each apartment complex or other multi-dwelling unit has its own setup for managing tenant internet access – whether their internet is provided as an amenity or they need to find their own service provider – and more and more are partnering with Midco Properties for the former.
"Nobody in today's world wants to move into a place and go without internet," said Chris Carson, senior sales manager of Midco Properties. "Most property owners are getting questions about internet before they get questions about water or garbage or other utilities."
How the city is looking to bring back open gym
Simplified: The Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department has a plan for bringing back open gym on the weekends now that it's no longer available at community centers. Here's more on an option presented to City Council on Tuesday.
Why it matters
- City Council earlier this year tasked the parks department with finding options for indoor meeting space and indoor recreation. The request came after the Sioux Falls School District took over responsibility for community centers as part of citywide changes to after-school programming.
- On Tuesday, Recreation Manager Jackie Nelson shared a number of indoor event space options community members can rent for birthday parties, family reunions, etc. She also shared a proposal to extend the city's existing partnership with the YMCA to include funding the staffing needed to host an open gym on both the east and west sides of town.
- It's likely this would only be a temporary agreement because the city is looking at the possibility of building an indoor pool and recreation center as part of ongoing conversations about the need for a quality of life bond.
"There's lots of affordable options (for indoor recreation), but there's definitely a need for more – especially with our exit from the (community) centers until we have our indoor recreation space," Nelson said.
THIS AND THAT
What I'm falling for this week:
More recent stories
Become a member
Has Sioux Falls Simplified made you feel smarter about where you live? Consider buying into a smarter Sioux Falls by becoming a member and offering financial support to the no B.S. journalism you've been reading here.