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YEAR IN REVIEW: July: City Council approves Corn Palace plan

This architect's drawing shows what the Corn Palace could look like following a renovation project approved in July by the Mitchell City Council. (Image courtesy of the city of Mitchell)

The Mitchell City Council unanimously approved on July 15 a $7.175 million plan to renovate the Corn Palace. The plan was split into two phases, the first of which would cost $4.2 million.

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It includes new light-up domes with the ability to change colors, larger murals with improved lighting and large windows that open to a walk-out balcony above the marquee.

Phase two will include renovating the existing and attached City Hall building to include tourist exhibits, which will cost about $3 million. A new city hall is expected to be built in southern downtown Mitchell.

The city had earmarked $6.5 million in bonds to pay for the Corn Palace project.

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

July 1: Mitchell native Tessa Dee was named Miss South Dakota during the 2013 competition in Hot Springs. The University of South Dakota graduate used her platform “Project Bookworm” and her gymnastics talent to outperform the other contestants.

July 3: A Mitchell man pleaded not guilty to voting twice in an election. Craig Guymon appeared during circuit court in Mitchell and was uncharacteristically quiet. He was accused of voting once by absentee ballot at the Davison County Courthouse on June 4 and once by regular ballot at the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy the same day.

July 5: Petitioners who didn’t want an ordinance to allow wine sales at cafes on downtown sidewalks successfully gathered enough signatures to put the matter to a vote. The Mitchell City Council voted in June to allow wine sales on sidewalks. The Rev. Carroll Torberson did not agree with the council and decided to start a petition, which garnered him 587 valid signatures. He only needed 486 to make the petition valid. An election is scheduled for June 2014.

July 6: A man dozed off and shot himself while sitting in a lawn chair on his back porch on the 400 block of East Ninth Avenue. The man suffered minor flesh wounds as a result, but was still able to transport himself to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. The man’s name was not released because there were no criminal charges filed. The man told police he removed the gun from his vehicle after a long day at work. Before putting the gun away, he sat down with a glass of water and a cigarette, and dozed off.

July 10: Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees were killed in a vehicle-pedestrian crash in Pickstown. Ronald Fischer Jr., 28, allegedly drove a mini-van through a stop sign at the T-intersection of Highway 46 and traveled into the Dakota Inn parking lot, where the vehicle struck and killed Dr. Robert Klumb, 46, of Pierre, and Maegen Spindler, 25, of Cazenovia, N.Y. The two were in the area doing field work on the Missouri River and had been packing their boat when Fischer careened into the parking lot. Fischer was seriously injured and eventually taken to Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls. He was allegedly drunk at the time of the incident and is still being prosecuted.

July 12: A Mitchell native directed the filming of a short movie in and around Mitchell about the North Dakota oil boom. Charlie Buhler, 25, used locations in Mitchell and a farmhouse in rural Delmont that belongs to her grandfather. Buhler hoped to submit the film, called “Aegis,” to film festivals including Sundance and Tribeca.

July 13: A woman whose daughter was killed in March talked about finding the body and trying to go on. Agnes Clement, of Chamberlain, found her daughter, Crystal Schulz, dead in an outbuilding on her farmstead. Clement said she was convinced Schulz’s fiancé Kent Davidson killed her. Clement also spoke with The Daily Republic about her dispute with the state regarding victim compensation. She said she applied in April for compensation, but did not receive anything. Instead, Clement said Schulz’s life insurance policy paid for the funeral and a headstone, plus other expenses related to the incident. Officials said payment from the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund can only be made if there is no other source of payment.

Mitchell High School volleyball player Taylor Alm verbally committed to Pepperdine University for the fall of 2014. The 6-foot-4 middle hitter was the first Kernel volleyball player to be offered a full Division I scholarship.

July 17: Mitchell native Mike Miller was dropped by the Miami Heat. Miller, 33, was designated as the team’s amnesty player. Miller said he suspected the move was coming, stating he understood the business side of basketball.

Digital conversion forced the closure of the Starlite Drive-In Theater on the outskirts of Mitchell. Owner Jeff Logan said the switch from 35 mm film to a digital projector would be cost prohibitive — $70,000 for the projector alone.

July 18: Mitchell’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Board unanimously voted to not renew a lease with Camp Arroya Inc., which ran city-owned Camp Arroya on the northern shore of Lake Mitchell for 25 years. The dollar-a-year lease allowed the nonprofit to be in charge of operating and maintaining the camp. The board concluded Camp Arroya would get more use if the city managed it.

July 19: Mitchell native Mike Miller, former with NBA’s Miami Heat, became a free agent, meaning he was free to sign with the team of his choice but could not return to Miami until after June 2015. The team thanked Miller by purchasing a full page ad in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. It read, “You are a champion on and off the court. It is an honor to have you as a part of our Miami Heat family forever.”

July 20: Five people were injured when a house exploded in Winner. Authorities said the explosion happened around 6:30 a.m. and was likely caused by a propane line in the upstairs part of the home, which was virtually leveled. Audrey Ferguson, 66, Ardith Perry, 37, David Frank, 50s (exact age was unknown), William Schroeder, 14, and Angel Frank, 7 months, were all hospitalized with burns and other injuries. Ferguson remained at the Winner Regional Healthcare Center, but the other four were transported to a burn unit in Minneapolis.

July 22: Two Mitchell 12-and-under baseball teams took state titles at Cadwell Park Sports Complex. Mitchell Magic and Mitchell Sluggers Black repeated as state champions in a three-day tournament, which hosted 50 teams and 95 games. The Magic shut out the Rapid City Canyon Lake All Stars 2-0 in the AA Majors division championship. The Sluggers defeated Rapid City Boys of Summer 6-3 for the AA Minors title. Both teams went 5-0 over the weekend.

July 23: A report filed in the murder case against Kent Davidson showed he allegedly lured Crystal Schulz, 26, of Mitchell, into a shed to show her kittens. He is accused of shooting her with a shotgun in the shed, where Schulz’s body was found on March 14. Davidson and Schulz were engaged, but Schulz planned to end the relationship, according to authorities, which allegedly prompted Davidson to kill Schulz. Davidson was suicidal, but could not go through with killing himself, according to court documents, so “his mind switched and he wanted to hurt someone else.”

A house explosion in Winner that injured five people was ruled accidental. Four of the people — Ardith Perry, 37, David Frank, 49, William Schroeder, 14, and Angel Frank, 7 months — were still in a burn unit in Minneapolis. Perry suffered burns over 75 percent of her body and was on a breathing tube. Angel Frank was still on a breathing tube and using a feeding tube.

July 24: A Lake Andes man was arrested for vehicular homicide. Ronald Fischer Jr., 28, voluntarily surrendered himself to the Charles Mix County sheriff after a warrant had been issued for his arrest for the fatal crash in Pickstown earlier in the month. The crash killed Dr. Robert Klumb, 46, of Pierre, and Maegen Spindler, 25, of Cazenovia, N.Y. The Highway Patrol said Fischer’s blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal driving limit, which is 0.08.

July 26: A local man accused of voting twice in a Mitchell school board election planned to change his plea to guilty. Craig Guymon, 54, agreed to the change of plea in exchange for the state not making a recommendation at Guymon’s sentencing.

July 30: Mitchell Main Street & Beyond announced a $5.8 million plan to transform Mitchell’s historic downtown. Years of research and planning went into a vision to create an outdoor plaza in the public parking lot across from The Depot, replacing traffic lights with stop signs at Second, Third, Fourth and Sixth avenues, and creating a more pedestrian-friendly Main Street.

July 31: Craig Guymon, 54, of Mitchell, pleaded guilty to voting twice in an election. The charge stemmed from the June 4 Mitchell school board election when he was accused of voting once by absentee ballot and once by regular ballot.

The Memphis Grizzlies announced a deal with Mitchell native Mike Miller, who became a free agent earlier in the month after being amnestied by the Miami Heat.