Two major items stood out in the Pierre City Commission meeting, July 9. One was the introduction of the head of the Municipal Pool Capital Campaign, Ron Woodburn. The other was the passage of the location for a future municipal dog park.
Woodburn is the new chairman of a multi-group effort in raising a hoped-for $5.5 million to add to the city’s $6.5 million for a new community outdoor swimming pool. He is the retired retired director of the Capital University Center in Pierre.
The campaign officially kicks off this Sunday, July 14.
“We’ll be at the Trappers home baseball game kicking this campaign off with a lot of energy and family fun,” Woodburn said.
“Together the city and its community members built Hyde Stadium into a crown jewel of Pierre,” Woodburn continued. “Now, the city is using a public/private partnership to add another flagship amenity to the Pierre landscape.”
At the game, there will be giveaways, between-inning activities, and more information about the pool project.
“People should be prepared to get wet if they get on the field,” he said. The game starts at 4 p.m. at Hyde Stadium.
Last March, the city commission approved a plan to replace Pierre’s 90-plus-year-old outdoor pool.
According to the city, the plan includes a $6.5-million base model paid for by the city, and a fundraising initiative to pay for additional features. Final pool design is dependent on sponsorships and funds raised. A fundraising account has been established. Contributors can send checks made out to the City of Pierre ‘Pool Fund’ to City of Pierre, P.O. Box 1253, Pierre, SD 57501. For more information about the project, visit pierrepool.com.
Jokingly called the “Godfather of the pool,” Woodburn quipped back, “I just hope someone makes us an offer we can’t refuse.” He then seriously added, “In retirement, I avoid getting involved with things where I fear I may disappoint people. I will do my best to make the pool everything it should be.” Woodburn has been assembling committees to assist with the fundraising campaign.
The commission also heard lengthy testimony concerning a future fenced-in dog park.
The meeting room was more than packed with proponents and opponents. The debate was not if there should be a park; one would be a boon to the community. The debate focused on where the park should be sited — before any design, costs, or construction are to be considered.
Those favoring the park spent considerable time and effort picking a spot that had acceptable size (at least an acre), a residential buffer (minimal impact on the neighborhood), a water source (most likely city water), and availability for humans of parking, shade and restrooms. Their preference was a city-owned, park-zoned, field south of E. Sully Drive in the southeastern part of Pierre.
Meanwhile, homeowners on the north side of this street feared the possible noise of dogs and traffic, worries about children versus escaped or otherwise uncontrolled dogs, people partying in the open parking lot, loss of their open-field southerly view, turkey and deer no longer visiting the field and commercially-purchased signage going up on any fences.
However, discussion was fairly well shut down when the commission called on a newly acquired resident expert: Thomas Moore has been, for the last 41 days, the city’s new Superintendent of Park Operations.
“I have experience with three different cities putting in dog parks. It is important to listen to people, and this is only the start. The pros are not nearly has high, and the cons are not as hard as you think,” he said.”Each side will realize more of a common ground (when a park exists).”
He then added, “This is one of the best locations I have seen. Socialize dogs and socialize with people; it’s only a win/win situation.”
The commission voted, unanimously, to approve the location.
Now, work may begin on the designing of a future dog park.
On Monday, June 8, the Pierre Police Department was called out for two separate wildlife situations.
“We had a snapping turtle crossing,” said Farley Zuber, animal control officer with the department. A turtle was reported on Capital Avenue. “The crossing of turtles on the streets is not real common, one call a month probably during the summer. We take them back to the lake (Capital Lake) or to the river.”
Any incidents seem to be a little more common after a series of warmer days. “The lake becomes a little warm for the turtles, maybe, this time of year. They are probably headed (through the gullies and water runway) to the river. Sometimes they get disoriented and get up onto the road,” Zuber said.
The public should be wary of snapping turtles. “They definitely can do some damage, if they get a hold of you,” Zuber said. “Call someone, the police department, if you don’t know how, or just if you aren’t used to handling them. Honestly, I grab them by the tail. Don’t get around the head at all. And, they have sharp claws as well, and they can get you with those.”
This particular snapping turtle, a fairly young one, had an approximate 10 inch diameter shell. It was taken back and put into the lake.
Later the same day, a call came into the department concerning a possible rattlesnake.
“It was reported as a rattlesnake, but it turned out to be a large bull snake. Bull snakes are captured and transported to the country to be released. Rattlesnakes are disposed of,” Zuber said. “There are not a lot of incidents within city limits per year. Snakes are not commonly seen during the heat of the day. When they are seen in town, it is usually during a drier season, rather than when the area has had all the moisture such as with this year.”
Mark Sommars presented his annual playground inspection report to the Pierre School District Board during its July 8 meeting.
“This is something I do every year,” Sommars began, as if it was old hat, but then he launched into specific items that not only refreshed the board members’ memories, but kept their attention on newer items.
“In 2017 we began replacing pea gravel with engineered wood fibers for the schools’ play areas,” Sommars said. Since it has a smooth finish, pea gravel is regularly used for playgrounds. Pea gravel consists of small, smoothed and rounded stones; safe for children to play on. Pea gravel does have higher maintenance requirements, with more regular inspections. It also limits mobility of students with disabilities; pea gravel is not ADA compliant. It is not as good for high-height playground equipment, and it can be swallowed by very young children.
Engineered wood fiber is an economical playground surfacing that is growing in popularity. It has high impact absorbing qualities, and has a firmer slip-resistant surface that meets accessibility guidelines. The natural wood is engineered to knit together and form a surface soft enough to cushion falls and can be made firm enough for wheelchairs. Sommars said he and his crew try to keep the playground surfaces at a 12-inch depth — through raking and adding to certain areas, especially under swings and other playground equipment; or the material can be poured in-place, somewhat like a track-like soft rubber-like matting.
In other matters, two school board members — Joan Adam and Cari Leidholt — took their oaths of office, each beginning a new term. Leidholt was later voted in to take over as board president, the third time she has held the position. The previous president was Randy Hartman. Dan Cronin is the new vice president.
The board approved the final reading of the high school and the middle school student handbooks. The 79-page Special Education Comprehensive Plan — with no changes over last year — was also approved. The every-three-year mini busing service contract was approved, at $2.50 per mile with a 380 miles minimum.
A somewhat larger turnover of personnel was seen last year, with a great many of these due to retirements and teacher’s families moving out of the district. Information on the many new individual staff members will be provided in the next month. Superintendent Kelly Glodt said he was happy with the fine roster of new people.
The board meeting concluded with an executive session, covering school safety and security. No action was taken after the executive session.
Weather permitting, drivers can expect traffic disruptions and parking restrictions in Pierre on both Dakota Avenue and Capitol Avenue later this week for street maintenance operations, according to the city.
No parking will be permitted on Dakota Avenue between Crow Street and Washington Avenue for a portion of the day tomorrow, July 10.
City crews will begin chip sealing operations shortly after 8 a.m. on Dakota Avenue.
Motorists should also anticipate traffic delays during the chip sealing process. Work is expected to be complete by mid-morning. No parking signs will be removed once the parking restriction is lifted.
No parking will be permitted on Capitol Avenue between Nicollet Avenue and the east end of Capitol Lake Thursday morning, July 11.
City crews will begin chip sealing this portion of Capitol Avenue shortly after 8 a.m. on Thursday. Motorists should also anticipate traffic delays during the chip sealing process. Work is expected to be complete by mid-morning. No parking signs will be removed once the parking restriction is lifted.
Chip sealing is a construction process used to extend the life of streets. Oil is placed on the roadway to seal the surface and prevent moisture from penetrating the top layer of the road. Then a layer of rock is added to the surface to provide traction during winter driving conditions.
The city maintains 80 miles of streets in Pierre.
Each year, city staff assess the streets, in addition to utilities, sidewalks and curbs to prioritize street maintenance and reconstruction projects. About 50 blocks of Pierre’s city streets are scheduled for upgrades this summer.
The annual Prairie Winds 4-H Achievement Days are slated for August 5-6 at the Joe Schomer Barn on Stanley County Fairgrounds and the Pat Duffy Community Center, Fort Pierre.
Enter your Open Class and 4-H display exhibits on Sunday, August 4, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Pat Duffy Community Center. For Open Class general rules, visit the Stanley County website http://www.stanleycounty.org/ under Departments, then click 4H/Extension. Exhibits will be judged that evening. The exhibits are put on public display at the Pat Duffy Community Center on Monday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The pie contest is August 5. Anyone bringing a homemade pie (no cream pies or pies that need refrigeration) must enter their pie at 4 p.m. in the kitchen area at the Joe Schomer Barn on the Stanley County Fairgrounds. Prizes will be awarded to the top three placings in the youth and adult divisions. “Please bring the pies in disposable foil pie plates. The pies become the property of Prairie Winds 4-H, to be auctioned off as part of our fundraising efforts following the Small Animal Round Robin,” said Crystal Neuharth, Prairie Winds 4-H Council.
“Come out to see what our area youth have learned from the various projects they have completed,” added Neuharth.
On Monday, the livestock shows are in the Joe Schomer Barn on the Stanley County Fairgrounds beginning at 9 a.m. First is the cat showmanship, then rabbit, companion animal, and poultry shows. Barnyard Olympics are next. A petting zoo is open from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Beginning at 5 p.m., is the Small Animal Round Robin Showmanship contest. From 5 to 6:30 p.m., the Sioux Nation Ag Center hosts a free-will-offering BBQ feed, and BankWest hosts a melon feed. Also, this year, during the Small Animal Showcase, 4-H members will answer questions about their animals or 4-H in general.
On Tuesday, beginning at 8 a.m., is an open-to-the-public pancake and sausage breakfast sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America, at the Joe Schomer Barn. The swine show begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by dairy goat, meat goat, sheep, and beef shows. Beginning at 3:30 p.m., there is a Large Animal Round Robin Showmanship Contest. Also, this year, a Large Animal Show Case of the various animals will be held. 4-H members will be present to answer questions about their animals or about 4-H in general.
CHS’s complimentary open-to-the-public BBQ begins at 5 p.m. in front of the Joe Schomer Barn. The 4-H Livestock Premium Sale begins at 6 p.m. First Dakota National Bank hosts an Ice Cream Social, and gives out complimentary locally-grown sweet corn.
“We hope to see you at the Prairie Winds 4-H Achievement Days,” Neuharth said. For more information, call Neuharth at 605-685-5860 or the 4-H Office at 605-223-7730.