Happy Friday! Megan here.

First things first: This issue is sponsored by DoTerra Wellness Advocate Michelle O'Connor.

  • Michelle O'Connor helps people with health, wellness and toxin-free living, primarily through essential oils and supplements. She offers plant-based solutions with backed science, and proven results. She's offering sample packs to Sioux Falls Simplified readers that message "Sample Pack" to @essentiallywellmichelle on Instagram or request via her website.

Weather check: cleans glasses is ... is it ... is it spring??

Tote-ally helpful: Huge thanks to the 300+ of you who've filled out our reader survey! That feedback helps us tremendously to serve you better, so thank you! I would love to see even more responses – and as a thank you, you'll be entered in a drawing for a limited edition Sioux Falls Simplified tote bag AND a $25 gift card to the local coffee shop of your choice.

This weekend, you'll get smart about the resources available for those who've experienced suicide loss. I've also got a look at road construction to watch for – because once the snow disappears, the traffic cones pop right on up. And catch an update on a new program to recruit police officers. Plus, don't miss some Super Simplified Stories and our weekly events guide.

And now, news:


Get smart about resources for suicide loss with Wendy Mamer

Wendy Mamer is the Suicide Loss and Support Coordinator for the Helpline Center, which means she helps people statewide who have been affected by suicide. She sat down with Sioux Falls Simplified to chat about her job, as well as a new website aimed at helping those grieving someone who died by suicide.

Answers are edited for length and clarity, but all responses are direct quotes from Mamer.

What in your background prepared you for your job with the Helpline Center?

I studied psychology in college with the intention to become a counselor. When I was in college my dad got sick and diagnosed with depression and anxiety and so that kind of altered the trajectory I had laid out for myself.

  • I worked in psychiatric residential treatment center for youth. And while there, I found a way to balance what was going on in my personal life with my career in the mental health field.

After working there six months, my dad died by suicide.

  • Hearing suicidal ideation from residents was difficult when I had experienced a suicide in my own life. (Coworkers) encouraged me to call 211 Helpline Center and get in touch with the resources they had there.

I didn’t call. I was too scared.

  • Instead, I made the decision to leave that job because it was too heavy. I went to Augustana in higher education for four years and really got to the point where I was ready to be back in the mental health field.
  • I am now in this role that I was once too afraid to call and get those resources for support.

I provide that support that I was so afraid of when I'd lost my dad.

Suicide loss is anything but a “simple” topic, but if you only had 10 words to describe the Helpline Center’s new suicide loss resources, what would you say?

The Helpline Center provides compassionate and empathetic support during an incredibly lonely time.

See the full interview here.

And go directly to the Helpline Center suicide loss resource website here.


These are the big street construction projects this year

Simplified: It's officially construction season. Here's a look at big projects the city is tackling this year.

Construction site barricades
Photo by Matthew Hamilton / Unsplash

Why it matters

  • The city's public works department has a number of big projects on the docket this year, and it'll also be working on maintenance projects like filling pot holes.
  • As the city grows, road expansion projects are needed to meet the needs of drivers looking to get around town, City Engineer Andy Berg said in a press release.
  • Sioux Falls' roadways exceed the national average "Pavement Condition Index," with a score of 70 out of 100 as of the most recent data in 2020.
“We understand having orange cones along your commute can mean a few extra minutes,” Berg said. “Residents should consider alternate routes, when possible, and please slow down when driving through construction zones."

Tell me more: See new and continuing projects happening

Get a list (and timelines for completion) here.


Super Simplified Stories

  • Temporary tax cut is coming your way. Gov. Kristi Noem this week signed a plan to temporarily reduce the sales tax in the state from 4.5% to 4.2%. That'll be in effect from July 1, 2023 until 2027, but Noem told The Dakota Scout she'll push to make the tax cut permanent.
  • The T. Denny Sanford transparency battle continues. Attorneys for billionaire philanthropist T. Denny Sanford want to keep affidavits used to authorize search warrants into a 2020 child pornography investigation under seal. But ProPublica and the Argus Leader are fighting – and have been for two years – to see the affidavits released to the public. Annie Todd with the Argus Leader has the full story.
  • Read alongside the whole city. Siouxland Libraries' annual One Book Siouxland kicks off with a sustainability expo event on April 1. This year's book is "Accidental Rancher" by South Dakota author Eliza Blue. Get the details and find more One Book Siouxland events here.
  • There's a new way to pay your utility bill. The city recently redid its website for accepting online utility payments. Pigeon605 has the details.


How Sioux Falls police are leveraging community partnerships to recruit officers

Simplified: The Sioux Falls Police Department has a new program to help remove barriers for people who want to become police officers. Here's what you need to know about "Career Cadets."

Why it matters

  • It's getting harder to find applicants for open police officer jobs, Police Chief Jon Thum said Thursday at a press conference announcing the new program.
  • Through community partnerships, the Career Cadets program offers help not only with higher education, but also with health and child care for people who qualify.
  • Cadets also receive mentorship from someone within the police department to learn about the various jobs available to them – and, they can also learn about roles in other city departments as well.
"We want to create a path for folks who have a heart for the profession but may have some obstacles to overcome to make it happen," Thum said.

Tell me more: How does the Career Cadet program work?

Get the details here.


Stuff to do: March 24-30

  • Find flea market fun. Shop the Crooks Flea Market on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free, and so is hosting a booth. Details here.  
  • Garden like a master. Start your growing season off with presentations, giveaways and demonstrations from the Minnehaha County Master Gardeners and horticulture students from SDSU. Tickets for the Saturday event have to be reserved beforehand, and you can find those here.
  • Smile, it's spring. On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Empire mall will host a spring party with crafts, coloring activities, games, snacks, beverages and more. You can also get a photo with the Easter Bunny. Details here.
  • Ride the model rails. Stop by the Multi-cultural Center on Saturday or Sunday starting at 1o a.m. to see model train railroads and displays. Some selling, trading and consignments will be available. Tickets and details here.
  • Craft and mingle. Shop a craft fair on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Prairie View Event Hall. Admission is free, and you can drink while you shop. Details here.
  • Paints and pints. Create your own door sign at Buffalo Ridge Brewing on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Drink and snack while you paint your own spring-themed door hanger. Supplies are $35, and you can reserve those here.


Become a member

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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 movie recommendations to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Barre3 Sioux Falls, Midco, the Great Plains Zoo, the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, Selah Space and Silverstar Car Wash. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.

Special thanks to Michelle O'Connor!

Don't forget to reach out about your sample pack – her options include: oil basics, sleep, stress relief, digestion help, or toxin free cleaners. Just message "Sample Pack" to @essentiallywellmichelle on Instagram or request via her website.