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YEAR IN REVIEW: May: Trouble at the old Longhorn Bar

The Longhorn Bar is pictured in May during its demolition, next to the VFW building on Main Street in Mitchell. (Daily Republic file photo)

A shared wall between the partly demolished remains of the old Longhorn Bar and Veterans of Foreign Wars building was found to be in danger of collapsing in mid-May, leaving city officials and VFW members in a precarious situation.

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The old Longhorn — which was believed to be the oldest surviving building in Mitchell — was deemed unsafe after a wall collapse in November 2011. The city bought the building for $1 from the owner, who said he couldn’t afford to repair or demolish the building on his own. He moved his business across the street.

Demolition of the old Longhorn began May 14 but was halted two days later when it was discovered the shared wall with the VFW building was unstable. Both buildings are located on Mitchell’s Main Street.

The poor condition of the shared wall came as no surprise to the contractor hired by the city to demolish the old Longhorn, Jared Balvin, owner of Ironman Construction in Tyndall. Balvin described the wall’s condition as “rocks stacked on top of pixie dust or powder.”

The VFW was forced to close for more than a month as a result of the situation.

The city eventually agreed to buy the damaged VFW building for $175,000, with the intention of demolishing the building, which is located near the proposed site of a new city hall. The VFW plans to move its business to another location.

Following are summaries of other local and area news from May editions of The Daily Republic.

May 2: A 30-year-old Gregory woman denied embezzling more than $17,000 from the Gregory Farmers Elevator. Melissa Vosika, a former employee at the elevator, pleaded not guilty to seven counts of embezzlement, three counts of altering corporate records, three counts of forgery and one count of attempted embezzlement.

May 6: Mitchell senior Kerri Young was named this year’s South Dakota Miss Basketball Award winner. Young, who helped the Kernels to a runner-up finish at the state tournament in March, was selected as the winner in a field of 13 nominated players.

May 7: Hundreds of residents of Parkston and the surrounding area mourned at the funeral for 7-year-old Landon Bueber, who died following a lengthy battle with aplastic anemia. Bueber endured a liver transplant and months of treatment at the Mayo Clinic before he succumbed to his illness.

May 9: A Parkston woman, 64-year-old Kathie Neal, died in a house fire. Neal, known for her artfully decorated cakes and enthusiastic personality, taught kindergarten through 12th grade art in the Parkston School District for many years. The cause of the fire was later deemed accidental and electrical in nature after an investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

May 14: The Chamberlain Board of Education voted 6-1 against allowing American Indian students to be recognized with an honor song during Chamberlain High School’s graduation ceremony.

May 16: Hunter Bork, an inspirational amputee athlete from Mount Vernon, died. Bork, 23, competed for Dakota Wesleyan University’s track and field team and battled osteosarcoma bone cancer since the day before his 18th birthday. Bork lost his left leg to the disease and had multiple surgeries to remove tumors, which spread to his neck and spine. Bork, who graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 2009, was still able to compete athletically because he used a special running prosthesis.

May 21: The Mitchell City Council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would allow the sale of wine on sidewalks in downtown Mitchell.

May 24: The four candidates vying for two spots on the Mitchell Board of Education debated the school district’s fiscal policy and planning during a noon luncheon forum. Candidates Rick Johnson and Deb Olson would go on to defeat candidates Tara Volesky and Rod Hall in the June election.

May 28: Shane Murphy resigned as the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball coach. Murphy left the school to take a job in medical sales with Zimmer Davis in Sioux Falls. Murphy coached the Tigers for three seasons and compiled a 53-41 record.

May 30: Mitchell choral teacher Chris Miller was nominated for an award from the group that presents the Grammys. He was one of 217 quarterfinalists for the first-ever Music Educator Award, presented by The Recording Academy and The Grammy Foundation.