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Posts for February 2015

State of the City, Part Three

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Mueller Center – Chris Kattke

As many of you know it has been a busy past few years here at the Mueller Center, with many new exciting events and community programs. We are coming into our third season of being home to the wonderful Southern Hills Community Theater, the Southern Hills Concert Association continues to be a community favorite as well as our famous Miss South Dakota Pageant, all of which are a big hit and well attended. Another new addition that has been well received is our opening of the gym during the daytime for people to escape the weather and cold to walk and exercise. This has been appreciated by our Seniors as they are unable to get walking exercise outdoors at this time. We also hold Open Gym from March thru October. Civic Events are another top priority for us at the Mueller Center, remember that City Council is every first and third Monday of the month in our annex. If you’re in search of employment, Job Service is also here the second and fourth Wednesday, be sure to stop in then for assistance. Our Holiday season is filled with great events like The Annual Wine and Wreaths fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club and Christmas In the Hills. Not to mention all of the wonderful events our Chamber Of Commerce puts on throughout the year here at the Center. Going forward we have several great ideas to get the community out and involved here at the Mueller Center. One of which will hopefully be winter evening movies once a month. Thank you all for the great Community support and we look forward to working with you all in the future.

Plunge – Theodore Schmidt

Evans Plunge has just finished its first full year under city ownership. In the last year we have made a lot of improvements, and while we are proud of all the changes – we don’t plan on slowing down in 2015! Evans Plunge will be closed February 1 – 12 to do general maintenance and upgrades that cannot be done during regular business hours. We are going to be installing a new Point of Sales System, certifying our whole staff in CPR/AED/First Aid, replacing the Sauna and Steam-room ceilings, re-designing the lobby, getting our Locker Rooms up to par, and fixing a laundry list of small “to do” projects. We are also working on updating the look and feel of the lobby and locker rooms. With the improvements from the past, present, and very near future – we are looking at a very promising year!

Police Department – Chief Mike Close

In 2015 the Hot Springs Police Department will undergo significant changes. This will include a new look for our Department including new badges and decals for our patrol vehicles. This will ensure they are not only more recognizable to the public, but are also distinct from the Fall River Sherriff Department.

The officers will become more visible in the schools as we work to develop a better relationship with the youth of our community. Along with the mayor and school superintendent, we are planning to attend the Fall River County Commission meeting on February 17 to request their support for a School Resource Officer.

Additionally, we will be making ourselves more accessible to the general public, beginning with quarterly public safety forums. These forums will be designed to allow the public to voice their concerns about general safety issues while also enabling our Department to provide information to the public. More details regarding the forums will be made available soon. The police department now has a Facebook account that you can “Like” for up to the minute status on police department information, and to help find the owners of lost and found items. Check us out at:

The Hot Springs Police Department will continue to honorably serve the great citizens of this community.

Streets, Parks, Cemetery – Billy Morrow

In 2015 the Streets, Parks, and Cemetery will have a very busy year. The Street department will continue to trim trees in alleys and on the streets. Many of the city’s alleys will be bladed and will receive more gravel or asphalt millings. Street crews will be busy patching pot holes, crack sealing, and chip sealing. Crews will also complete several projects dealing with drainage, such as Hickory Street and the 11th hole at Southern Hills Golf Course. Not to mention, street sweeping, mowing ditches, and helping the other City departments finish their projects. The Parks department will be busy seeding and aerating all of the parks, fixing fences, repairing and replacing sprinkler lines, cutting trees, upgrading playground equipment, and making improvements along the Freedom Trail. Evergreen Cemetery will see road improvement; tree cutting, fence improvement, headstone leveling, gate repair and, the many sunken graves will be filled in and re-seeded.

We hope to accomplish many great things within our beautiful city in 2015!


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State of the City, Part Two

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Finance Department – Misty Summers-Walton

Wow! What an exciting roller coaster the last couple months have been. The Finance Office of City Hall has been very busy with daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks. I am doing my best to learn “the ropes” as quickly as possible. I am honored to work with the following individuals who have an accumulated 59 years of service to the City of Hot Springs; Debbie Romey, Assistant Finance Officer has served your City for 36 years, Barb Benson, Administrative Secretary has served 14 years and Mary Hardy, Administrative Secretary has served 9 years. Barb and Mary greet and assist customers as they call or come in our door. Their duties and responsibilities are varied and they both juggle a number of tasks each and every day. Debbie has been tasked not only with training me, but also managing the varied finance office tasks. I cannot say enough about her patience, professionalism and work ethic. Last month we successfully passed a new Personnel Policy and Safety Manual, we have hired and begun working with accountants at Ketel Thorstensen and an audit firm, Donna Denker & Associates to get our financials reconciled and audited. I have enrolled in and will be attending a workshop to learn how to prepare the City’s Annual Financial Reports in January and will be attending a Finance Officers’ school in July. For me, 2015 will be a year of learning, for Debbie, Barb and Mary it will be business as usual.

Southern Hills Golf Course – Jason Happe

With another year complete, I can’t help but to look back at some of the highlights from 2014.

For the second time we hosted the Boys State “A” Golf Tournament at SHGC. This is big event because it tells the community that people regard Southern Hills as one of the better courses in the state. Let’s face it, state tournaments are not just drawn out of a hat. They choose locations with great people and great courses.

The Father’s Day tournament is always great tournament. Not just because it marked the 50th anniversary, but because the excitement the golfers get prior to the tournament, and then of course the drama that follows. People talk about it for days.

One of the other achievements is the work done on the Master Plan. As parts of the course have come to end, and the changes that have occurred within the game golf, it is important that we move forward with a plan. With all that was achieved in 2014, I am looking forward to 2015. The main focus will be on the future improvements of the golf course and the preparation of tournaments. We have a lot of work ahead of us but I’m confident that each year we are making the course better.

Library - Cindy Messenger

In addition to the usual Library events: Poetry Night, One Book Read Discussion, Summer Reading, Fall Concert, computer classes, story time and movies, we have also hosted Lego Days, a Junk Drawer Robot workshop, and started a Teen Book Club which has been well received by the local youth. Dawn Johnson presented Teen Book Club as a workshop at the State Library Conference.

The Friends of the Library support the Library with the Fall Carnival, Book Sales, and Triathlon.

The Library closed 2014 by receiving Exemplary Tier Accreditation from the South Dakota State Library. The people of City of Hot Springs and Fall River County help to make the Library what it is today and along with the staff celebrate the library facilities and resources.

Preserve: The Library looks into 2015 with plans to begin digitizing the Black Notebooks containing local history in the Helen Magee Heritage Room. The result will be protecting and enhancing the contents of the local history notebooks, donated to the Library by Barbara Trumbull, niece of Helen Magee.

Upgrade: The Children’s Room is being upgraded with two computers and reading materials.

Inform: It is a goal of the Library to make known to all, the meaning behind the slogan, Books and beyond. Please contact the Library to arrange for an informative session with your service club or group.

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State of the City, Part One

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Mayor's Office - Mayor Cindy Donnell

It has been my pleasure to hold the Mayor’s office in our beautiful city of Hot Springs, South Dakota for the last six months. There have been many challenges in learning my new position. The largest was losing the City Administrator/Finance Director Harley Lux seven short weeks after I took office. The part-time mayoral position soon became a full-time position, and more. Doing our best to rise to the challenges, the staff at City Hall stepped up and kept the City running smoothly. This also gave me the opportunity to learn much more about our City in a very short time.

Clearly, some rookie mistakes have been made, however, I see these as great opportunities to learn from and improve. There are so many good things going on, and we have great city and staff making it all happen.

Please enjoy reading the first of our three-part series about each city department’s accomplishments of the past year and plans for 2015.

It is my goal to ensure we have a highly productive city in 2015, and that we continue to work on our deferred maintenance projects and community programs to create a city that we all can be proud to call Home.

Airport – Ed Jensen

The Hot Springs Regional (HSR) airport is a busy place. There are 35 based aircraft, and all hangas are full. In 2014, a new Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) plane was based in HSR. This plane is used for fire management in the Southern Hills. The purpose of this plane is to drop fire retardant. Stop out to the airport this summer to see the SEAT plane, it is unique! A new hanger was added to the airport in 2014. This hanger is leased to the Rapid City Glider club. During 2015, an old sliding door will be replaced with a new hydraulic door. The paved runway will be re-sealed to help extend the life of the runway and ramps. This project will primarily be paid for by FAA and DOT. Future projects might include a parallel taxiway.

Building and Zoning Department – Scott Simianer

Building permits for 2014 were down from 2013, but new residential construction bounced up a bit with building permits issued for three new houses. Other mentionable construction was the large Mammoth Site theater addition, additions on both sides of the carwash on Galveston Avenue, the flagpole cell phone tower, and the facelift given to our downtown Ace Hardware. There were a total of 34 building permits issued with a total estimated finished product valuation of $2,341,991. Though the 2014 numbers are down from last year development and construction activity over the last two years has increased in comparison to 2011 and 2012.

In 2014 this office was asked to participate in the VA Environmental Impact Study Workshops in Hot Springs and Pine Ridge as a member of the consulting party in regard to the proposed closing of the Hot Springs VA Campus. As part of my testimony I submitted a letter of concern for the Hot Springs Historic District and for the economic stability of the community if the VA were to close the Hot Springs campus. I provided a building permit spreadsheet that reflects just how the December 12, 2011 announcement regarding the closing of the Hot Springs VA facility negatively impacted the local economy. The 2012 construction season was essentially non-existent, there was no new residential construction in Hot Springs for the first time in recent memory, and the overall project valuations for the year were $2,998.000.00 below the previous three-year average.

Engineer /Public Works– Tracy Bastian

The Public Works operations, including engineering and utilities cover a wide range of the city’s operations and services that are provided to the public. During the past year there were numerous projects that resulted in improvements to our utilities and streets. The most notable project was the 2014 Water Main Replacement Project that completely replaced the old water main on 4th Street and South 19th Street as well as some side blocks in the South 4th Street area. The goal of ultimately replacing all of the old iron mains is becoming much closer. Out of a total of over 30 miles of water mains, roughly 2.5 miles of old pipe remains. There will be further replacements of mains during 2015, bringing us even closer to this goal. According to “city legend”, when the City first acquired the water system in the mid 1970’s there were 300 water main breaks in the first year. We now see 2 or 3 breaks in a year.

The wastewater plant will have a significant improvement with the upcoming replacement of the trickling filter which is currently being fabricated and will be installed in the early spring. During that time the wet well will be renovated with wall coatings to stabilize the walls in the well.

There are several drainage and street improvement projects that are underway or will be started in the spring including Hickory Street and Valley View Drive. We are also awaiting outcome of ongoing discussions related to the paving of streets in the Boulder Falls area at the golf course. This would represent almost three miles of new paved streets.

Other 2015 projects that are anticipated include Freedom trail expansions, lighting improvements in the downtown area, restoration of the city hall arch as well as potential sewer main replacements and expansions.

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