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Fairgrounds talk continues for county

The Davison County Commission's discussion on allowing alcohol at the county fairgrounds continued for the second week during its regular meeting on Tuesday at the Davison County North Offices.

Currently, those who rent the Davison County Fairgrounds are not allowed to have alcohol on site. Recently, county commissioners have discussed whether to allow parties to bring beer if they have a small event, or to allow on-sale liquor licenses for special events if the county can draw larger events.

Commissioner Gerald Weiss said the fair board approved allowing alcohol at the county site last year. But the final decision on that matter would lie with the commission, which has showed more interest in holding events there and trying to build the facility as a revenue source.

"We, as commissioners, would have to make that decision," said Weiss, who also serves on the fair board.

The county has brought in about $24,000 in revenue this year from renting out the fairgrounds building, about $5,000 more than last year compared to the same period.

Weiss said the policy of allowing beer only at 4-H buildings has worked for other counties in the area. He reiterated his stance, saying it will drawing family reunions and other similar events.

"It has worked in other places and they really haven't had any problems," he said.

"They're not selling alcohol, they're bringing their own," commissioner Randy Reider added.

Meanwhile, Commission Chairman John Claggett reported that a discussion to use the fairgrounds building as a sports practice facility has been sidelined. The idea was brought to the commission late last year by Mitchell resident Scott Houwman.

"He said he doesn't have a concrete plan and doesn't have any immediate plans," Claggett told the board.

Reider said it's probably not on a lot of people's minds with the nice weather.

"I think some of the folks who were excited last year aren't looking that far ahead," Reider said. "It's baseball season now and it's not an issue."

Commissioner Denny Kiner stood behind the previously stated position of Claggett in that he doesn't want to interfere with private businesses and their chances of landing events. But fellow commissioner Kim Weitala took the position of utilizing the large space.

"There really is not another location in the county like it, as far as indoor space goes," she said.

Auditor Susan Kiepke presented some reports from other counties and their fairgrounds policies. In Pennington County, the Central States Fair is the leaseholder and has a liquor license through the county, which is renewed every year for $1. In Codington County, their alcohol policy is similar to The Corn Palace, where it's handled on a case-by-case basis and a community organization will sponsor the special license.

Tech talk

The county's budget process continued, as the commissioners proposed small trims to some of the submitted plans, but zeroed-in on the potential cost savings for its computers plans.

The discussion regarding a technology hardware contract with TechSolutions for the county was postponed due to a conflict but the commissioners discussed the merits of the TechSolutions plan. Under the proposal, the county would be monthly for its computers and hardware and would be able to automatically upgrade its computers after a set number of years

Reider said he is skeptical, even though he acknowledged that technology likely will change in a few short years.

"I don't think they can prove to us that it's a money saver," he said. "When I look at some of that, especially when we just looked at our money that's set aside for computers (in the budget), we have some computers that work just fine now and are lasting seven to 10 years. Why would we want to spend even more? But we'll see."

Kiepke said she expects the proposal to be expensive upfront but said the county could see a cost savings in the long run.

Other business

During their regular meeting, the commissioners:

• Approved the closure of the county nurses office during the afternoon of Thursday, July 31 due to training.

• Took no action following a 26-minute executive session with Sheriff Steve Brink regarding personnel.

• Heard a report from Lifequest Director Steve Johnson, regarding his time getting acclimated in his new job.

• Heard a report from Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children (CASA) First Circuit Program Director Jackie Horton and reported they've helped 29 children and 18 families in Davison County this year. She said their services have recently expanded to Brule and Buffalo counties and reported that while 46 percent of the state's cases involve Native American tribes, they provide no financial support to CASA, which advocates for abused and neglected children on behalf of children in court. "They have money to build a casino but not to take care of the kids," Claggett said, referring to the proposed Lower Brule Sioux Tribe casino in Oacoma.

• Approved bills and previous meeting minutes.

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