Mayor Harding

Pierre Mayor Steve Harding listens to comments during the Tuesday City Commission meeting.

During the Tuesday City Commission meeting, Pierre Mayor Steve Harding said many are asking him about the COVID-19 vaccine and when it will be available.

Harding said he reviewed the South Dakota Department of Health COVID vaccination plan and shared an infographic from the department displaying each of the different vaccine priority groups as well as a chart showing which health care providers are in charge of distribution in each county.

In Pierre, Avera Health is the vaccine provider, as officials there are currently in Phase 1c of vaccination efforts. Group 1c includes other health care workers, EMS workers, public health workers, law enforcement and correctional officers.

If everything goes according to plan, Harding said the 1d priority group — people with underlying medical conditions, people 65 years or older, people living in congregate settings, teachers, and funeral service workers — will start to receive vaccinations in February.

“We are seeing the active cases trending down in Hughes County, which is encouraging,” Harding said, and “by April, everyone should be able to get the vaccination...based on the availability.”

Harding encouraged residents to continue social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and staying home when sick until the entire population can get vaccinated. He said overall, people in Pierre are “trying to do the right thing to protect themselves and their families,” and he hopes by the summer life will return to some sense of normalcy.

The rest of the agenda was dedicated to two requests by Jeff Runyan, operations manager for the city’s utilities, to purchase new equipment.

The first request was to purchase a new soil compactor for the Water Department, to replace an old compactor that will be surplused. The cost is $97,299.59, and the compactor is a budgeted item. The request was approved unanimously by the commission.

The second request was to purchase two new trucks with side dumps, one for the Water Department and one for the Street Department, to replace two older trucks. The total to replace each is $119,890 at $93,900 per truck. An additional $25,990 is budgeted for the side dump kits. The two trucks were again budgeted items and are both deemed primary use equipment. The commission approved the purchase unanimously.

The commission also voted to surplus the Golf Department’s old John Deere Terrain Cut Mower and 1980 International Truck. The truck has already been removed from service and there are plans to replace the mower. City Finance Officer Twila Hight said officials are still working on selling them in order to get the best return on their investment.

During the dialogue period at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Vona Johnson discussed the City Rec Fun Day that will take place from 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday in the city rec facility attached to the Boys and Girls Club. For $5 per person per session, children aged 8-12 can try out the city’s new recreational equipment. From 9-10 a.m., children can play floor hockey or soccer darts, and from 10:30-11:30 a.m., they can participate in a Nerf war or play dodgeball. Registration is required at cityofpierre.org.

“It looks like a fun thing to do on a Saturday,” Johnson said.

Also, Commissioner Jamie Huizenga welcomed South Dakota legislators to town, as Tuesday marked the first day of the 96th legislative session.

“[With] the COVID-19 situation, things are a little different this year, but the process of governing our state must go on, so they are in town and we welcome them and, hopefully, it’s a good session,” Huizenga said.

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