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Corn Palace construction could mean one-block closure on Main Street

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A proposal to temporarily close the block of North Main Street west of the Corn Palace during a planned renovation and expansion of the city's attraction is on the Mitchell Traffic Commission's agenda Tuesday night.

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The Traffic Commission meeting will begin at 7:15 p.m. and will precede a 7:30 p.m. Mitchell City Council meeting. Both meetings will take place in Council Chambers at City Hall, 612 N. Main St. The council, which normally meets on the first and third Mondays of each month, will meet tonight instead of Monday due to the President's Day holiday.

With construction expected to begin this summer on a $7.175 million renovation and expansion of the Corn Palace, temporarily closing the nearby 600 block of North Main Street will likely be needed to keep pedestrians, motorists and workers safe once work on the project begins, said Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling in an interview Monday with The Daily Republic.

"We just want to make sure all the people that come visit the Corn Palace or come across that street are safe," Schilling said.

The plan to revamp the Corn Palace, approved by the city last summer, calls for changes to the exterior of the Corn Palace, including new light-up domes, which will have LED lights with the ability to change color. It will also include larger murals with improved lighting and large windows that open to a walk-out balcony above the marquee, and numerous other changes.

If approved tonight by the Traffic Commission, the proposal to close the block will still need the council's approval at a future meeting. Given council approval, the block will be fenced off once construction starts and will likely stay closed for the majority of the summer, accessible only to workers, Schilling said. If approved, motorists will no longer be able to drive on Main Street in front of the Corn Palace.

"We want to make sure that area is large enough so they can do their work and everyone is safe," he said.

The front entrance of the Corn Palace will also be closed during construction, along with much of the lobby area, as workers demolish much of the existing entrance and work to install the new marquee and walk-out balcony, Schilling said.

"Everyone will actually be entering on Sixth Street, through one of our side entrances," he said.

Pedestrian access to City Hall, which is attached to the north side of the Corn Palace, would not be affected by the proposed closure, nor would pedestrian access to nearby shops, Schilling said.

In a later phase of the project, the existing City Hall building will be vacated and renovated to include exhibits and a theater. A new city hall will be built in southern downtown Mitchell.

City administrator

The council will discuss a job description for the recently created city administrator position at tonight's meeting.

Mayor Ken Tracy said he does not expect the job description will require any formal approval from the council.

A proposal to add a city administrator to city government was adopted by the council in December. Nobody has been hired for the job, but Tracy said he expects the city will begin accepting applications in the near future.

The city administrator will manage the day-to-day affairs of city government, but will be accountable to the elected mayor. There are 20 other cities in South Dakota with city administrators, according to information presented at a past council meeting.

Consent agenda

Council members plan to consider approving the following items as part of a consent agenda:

• The meeting agenda, council minutes from the prior meeting, various department reports and minutes from various committee meetings.

• Raffle requests from the Mitchell Technical Institute rodeo team, with the drawing to be held March 22; Dakota Wesleyan University, with the drawing to be held April 28; American Legion Post No. 18, with the drawing to be held May 4; Heartland Quilters Guild, with the drawing to be held June 14; and Rotary International District No. 5610, with the drawing to be held April 11.

• Set a March 3 date for a hearing on the application to transfer a retail on-sale liquor license from Ty's Casino, 1610 S. Burr St., to Platinum Player's Club, 719 N. Sanborn Blvd., license will be inactive.

• Set a March 3 date for hearings on the applications to transfer a retail on-off sale malt beverage license from V.V. Inc., 77 N. Harmon Drive, to Thirsty's, 1801 N. Main St.; a retail on-sale liquor license from A-Z Gaming Inc., 1801 N. Main St., to EZ$ Pub, Thirsty's and The Grille, 1801 N. Main St.; a retail on-sale liquor license from Thirsty's, 1801 N. Main St., to A-Z Gaming Inc., 77 N. Harmon Drive, license will be inactive; and a retail on-sale liquor license from EZ$ Pub, 1801 N. Main St, to SUDZ, 508-510 E. Havens Ave., license will be inactive.

• Set a March 11 date to receive and consider bids for a stump grinder, petroleum products and rock chips, at 1:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 612 N. Main St.

• Pay estimates

• Gas and diesel fuel bids.

• Bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires, and authorization for payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

In scheduled business tonight, council members plan to:

• Sit as the board of adjustment and conduct a hearing on the application of Fred and Bonnie Shank for a conditional use permit to operate an automotive repair and sales business at 407 S. Rowley St.; and conduct a hearing on the application of Marci Stults (Traci Loecker property owner) for a conditional use permit to operate a day care in her home located at 516 N. Edmunds St.

• Set a March 24 deadline for the submission of proposals to be construction manager at risk for the new city hall project.

• Consider adopting a resolution for the plat of lots 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B and 7B, Block 8, Sunnyside Addition to the city of Mitchell, which was tabled at the council meeting Feb. 3.

• Conduct the first of two required readings of an ordinance to re-appropriate funds from numerous city departments previously appropriated and approved, but not spent in the original year of appropriation.

• Conduct the first of two required readings of an ordinance to supplement information technology portion of the general fund with $1,500 for vehicle repair, $1,000 for gas, oil and tires, and $1,500 for software; the health and welfare portion of the general fund with $3,445 for building demolition; the economic development portion of the general fund with $1,100 for building acquisition; and the 2013 community projects portion of the debt service fund with $1,025 for bond-paying agent fee; all from property tax revenues.

• Consider approving the appointment of Councilman Steve Rice to the Chamber of Commerce Board, as recommended by Mayor Ken Tracy.

• Consider approving the appointment of Councilman Dave Tronnes to the Finance Committee, Public Properties Committee, Public Works Committee, Traffic Commission, Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Insurance Committee, as recommended by Mayor Ken Tracy.

• Consider approving a drainage easement agreement between the city of Mitchell and the South Dakota Department of Transportation for Williams Avenue.

• Consider approving the extension of fire protections services to the Mitchell Rural Fire Association for March, April, May and June, for $6,666.66.

• Consider approving the 2014 Corn Palace Decorating Artist Contract.

• Consider approving the 2014 Corn Palace Decorating Product Contract.

• Conduct an executive session for the purpose of consulting with legal counsel or reviewing the qualifications, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public officer or employee, or prospective public officer or employee.

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