Fort Pierre Mayor Gloria Hanson opened the Monday, May 18 meeting with her report.
“First of all, I’d like to wish our Stanley County graduates a congratulations and best wishes for a bright future, and we’ll be looking forward to see what all they can achieve,” Hanson said. “I think a special shout out needs to go to the school administration for working so hard to make a special graduation in a time that is completely abnormal.”
She said the parade for the graduates was a splendid event.
“Even when we don’t have COVID,” Hanson said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Hanson said she participated in the statewide mayors’ phone call with Gov. Kristi Noem earlier Monday to discuss the state’s $1.25 billion portion of the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act.
“That’s with a ‘b’,” Hanson said.
Noem is trying to convince the U.S. Department of Treasury and others in President Donald Trump’s administration to allow states to be a little creative and allow for flexibility on the use of the funds for response to coronavirus, Hanson said.
Hanson and Noem agreed the biggest impact for municipalities across the state will be economic, Hanson said. For now, municipal leaders are being told to track any costs incurred as a result of the coronavirus, such as the purchase of laptop computers so folks can work from home, personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and renovations to adjust for making things safe.
Officials then considered agenda Item 7d: whether to open the swimming pools this year. City officials are talking about trying to figure out how to reopen their pools, with restrictions and safety measures in place, Hanson said.
Hanson said she understands Sioux Falls and Rapid City are not going to open their public pools this year.
City Finance Officer Roxanne Heezen said she was included on a group email with a total of 27 South Dakota city finance officers to discuss the topic of reopening pools. The officers are asking around what different cities are doing.
Of the 27, at least 16 are opening, Heezen said. It is a tough decision in an unprecedented situation for all the municipalities to make, she said.
Some items mentioned to consider about opening were limiting people in the pool house and also limiting the number of guests. Events such as swim lessons would probably not happen, Heezen said.
Concessions would be offered through the window, instead of the pool house could be another adjustment the city makes, they said. As well, it might be advised for parents to open tab accounts with small amounts of money instead of having children carrying cash, which could become infected with the virus.
It’s a normal part of summer life for kids in Fort Pierre and feels like she would like to be able to offer the opportunity to them, Heezen said.
City Councilman Robert Ricketts believes officials should open the pool to “keep kids out of trouble,” he said.
Another council member made the point others have made. If opened, officials will need to monitor the situation closely and carefully with the knowledge they may be forced to close it again.
The only thing not mentioned, though the word lifeguard was used because officials said they had returning staff members who were curious about working again, was cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR. Saving a life will require more than closing the social distance, if it is required.
Noem, meanwhile, wants all cities and municipalities to continue to follow Centers for Disease Control guidance regarding businesses to open and activities to provide during the summer, she said during her news conference on Thursday, May 21.
Each facility, as with each township in the state, looks different and Noem will continue to let those on the ground make decisions for their communities, she said.
“When it comes to CPR, my encouragement would be that if they get into that situation, to save that person’s life,” Noem said. “And worry about the virus later. Especially for children.”
Children have shown reactions to the virus that are generally less severe than as for the older population. Noem said passing the infection would not be as bad as watching someone die for lack of oxygen.
Fort Pierre officials voted to move forward with a plan to open the pool.
While some things will be different, some will be the same in Fort Pierre, according to Councilman Larry Cronin.
“I spoke to the Fort Pierre Fire Chief Justin Jones and that the fireworks will go on as usual on the Fourth of July. Whether there’s a rodeo or parade or not, that has yet to be determined,” Cronin said. “The fireworks will go on as it always has.”
It would be a good time to let everyone know folks can still get out in their yards and in the street, celebrate and let their hair down and enjoy things, he said.
Hanson still wants a parade, she said, though no candy tossing. She had thought perhaps they could pass out hand sanitizer, but thought better of it because people would still be making contact.