YEAR IN REVIEW: August: A dream comes true at DWU
Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell celebrated the opening of the Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center on campus. The $11.5 million structure is named for Glenda Corrigan, a 1964 graduate of DWU. Corrigan and her husband, Fritz, were two of the major donors for the building, which was fully funded through donations.
The 48,000-square-foot facility contains chemistry, biology and physics labs; two undergraduate research labs equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for student use; four nursing simulation labs; classrooms for nursing, athletic training, the sciences and mathematics; and faculty offices.
The project began in September 2011. The Corrigans and DWU graduates Paul and Donna Christen each gifted $5 million toward the building, the biggest donations in school history. The foursome snipped the ribbon at the grand opening, which about 600 people attended.
Following are summaries of other local and area news from August editions of The Daily Republic.
Aug. 1: The Mitchell Police Division captured an escapee from the state penitentiary in a Mitchell driveway. Davis Bull Bear, 19, was on the lam from Unit C, the minimum-security unit of the Jameson Annex at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls where he was serving a five-year term for third-degree burglary. Area law enforcement set up a large perimeter around a neighborhood near DWU, fearing Bull Bear might break into a house or steal a car. A resident on the 1600 block of Thomsen Place called 911 to report Bull Bear was hiding in his back yard. When he was captured, Bull Bear was unarmed and trying to hold up his pants. DWU locked down for two hours during the incident. The foot pursuit for Bull Bear lasted about 21 minutes.
A Plankinton teenager pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for shooting a fellow teenager at point blank range. Logan Evans, 18, entered his plea in Hanson County court. The shooting caused serious, life-threatening injuries to Nick Lawson, a 17-year-old also from Plankinton. The two boys were in a car with friends driving on I-90 when driver Evans took out a pistol and accidentally shot Lawson.
Aug. 2: Armour High School was named the top rated high school in South Dakota, according to the state Department of Education. The rating was based on the state’s new accountability system. Each school in the state is scored on several areas and given a score out of a possible 100 points. Armour received a 96.17 score, nearly four points higher than the next highest rated, Wall High School.
Aug. 5: The owner of the Oscar Micheaux Center in Gregory decided to move on after years of celebrating the late black filmmaker’s legacy. Jerry Wilske, former owner of the center and organizer of the annual festival, said health issues prompted the decision. At an auction, he sold many miscellaneous items but hoped to leave the memorabilia on display in the building when a new owner took over. Area fanatics of Oscar Micheaux said they plan to bring back the festival in Colome in 2014.
Aug. 6: Dakotafest, Mitchell’s annual farm and ranch trade show, was sold to Washington, D.C.-based American Farm Bureau Federation just days before it opened this year. The deal closed July 30. The changeover allows for an increased educational component at agricultural shows. The purchase included five IDEAg branded farm shows: Dakotafest in Mitchell; Farmfest in Redwood County, Minn.; the Amarillo (Texas) Farm and Ranch Show; the Northern Illinois Farm Show in DeKalb, Ill.; and the IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference, in Altoon, Iowa.
Aug. 8: A Nebraska couple were sentenced to prison for torching their Springfield restaurant in 2010. Charles and Kimberly Johnson, who owned Libby’s Steakhouse, were each sentenced to one year in prison for arson. Judge Glen Eng staggered the sentences to allow the couple to take care of their grandchildren.
Aug. 9: A new charge was added in a double-fatal Pickstown accident. Ronald Fischer Jr., 28, Lake Andes, faced the prospect of life in prison when the Charles Mix County state’s attorney added a charge of vehicular homicide. Fischer was accused of killing Dr. Robert Klumb, 46, of Pierre, and Maegen Spindler, 25, of Cazenovia, N.Y., when his vehicle careened into a parking lot in Pickstown in July and struck the victims.
Aug. 12: Hail and heavy winds pounded the Parkston and Dimock area, causing crop and other damage. Although the rain was welcome, the small but powerful storm band struck the area with 2-inch-diameter hail between 7:30 and 8:15 p.m.
A Plankinton teenager who was shot and seriously injured in June attended his own benefit. Nick Lawson, 17, was still recovering, but was at home and hopeful to play basketball in the winter. About 250 supporters turned out for Lawson’s benefit, which helped his family pay for medical and associated expenses. Lawson spent three weeks in a Sioux Falls hospital recovering from the shooting. He was released before his birthday in July. Lawson’s mother, Mary Lawson, said she credited quick-acting physicians with saving her son’s life.
Aug. 13: The Mitchell City Council voted to increase the mayor’s salary to $30,000 per year during the first of three budget hearings. Mayor Ken Tracy’s salary went from $24,415 in 2013 to $30,000 in 2014. It was a logical step in moving the mayor’s position from part-time to full-time, said Councilman Jeff Smith.
Aug. 14: State legislator Stace Nelson tossed his hat in the ring for U.S. Senate. The seat is held by Sen. Tim Johnson, but he will retire when his term ends after 2014.
Aug. 17: A victim of a house explosion in 2010 sued his former landlord for more than $1 million in damages. Jose Aguirre suffered second- and third-degree burns on 40 percent of his body on Aug. 17, 2010, when his rental home on Hanson Avenue exploded. He had tried to ignite the stove, but instead ignited natural gas that had leaked from a pipe inside the house. Aguirre alleged Morgan Properties was negligent because it failed to act in a timely manner to inspect and repair the property even after Aguirre reported problems with the stove.
Aug. 19: The Alexandria Angels amateur baseball team won its first-ever state title. The team won the Class B state amateur baseball championship, defeating Winner/Colome 4-3.
Aug. 20: The Oacoma Town Board decided to oppose the proposal for an Indian casino within city limits. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has trust land in Oacoma and proposed to build a casino and travel plaza there. However, the town board said it doesn’t have enough information to feel comfortable supporting the project.
Aug. 26: Fewer people went to the Corn Palace Festival’s carnival this year due to extreme heat. Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said some food vendors reported not doing as well. The heat didn’t deter concert-goers. Terry Fator, a comedian/ventriloquist, drew the largest crowd with 2,536 tickets sold out of 2,600. Country Star Dwight Yoakam drew 1,825 fans.
Aug. 29: The Daily Republic won a lawsuit against the Huron School District to provide a secret agreement that directed nearly $175,000 to an ex-superintendent. Despite the decision, The Daily Republic did not receive a copy of the agreement immediately. The reason for the payments made to former superintendent Ross Opsal were presumably spelled out in the agreement, but never made public. Judge Jon Erickson ruled the district’s agreement with Opsal is a public record and should be open to inspection.