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YEAR IN REVIEW: December: Council approves city administrator

A city administrator could soon be working at Mitchell City Hall, pictured here, after the City Council in December approved the addition of the position to city government's workforce. (Daily Republic file photo)

The Mitchell City Council approved a proposal in December to add a city administrator.

The council voted 5-3 in favor of the proposal at its Dec. 16 meeting at City Hall.

0 Talk about it

For months, city officials have discussed the idea of adding a city administrator, who would oversee the city’s department heads on a day-to-day basis and essentially act as an aide to the mayor.

Council President Jeff Smith, Council Vice President Dan Allen and council members Marty Barington, Steve Rice and Susan Tjarks voted in favor of the proposal. Council members Mel Olson, Phil Carlson and Randy Doescher voted in opposition.

City administrators are not the chief executive of the cities they serve and instead are accountable to the mayor. That’s a difference between the administrator position and the proposed city manager position that voters previously rejected in Mitchell. There are 20 cities in South Dakota with city administrators, according to information presented at the Oct. 7 council meeting.

Following are summaries of other local and area news from December editions of The Daily Republic, through Dec. 23 when this special section went to press.

Dec. 2: A Parkston woman died when her vehicle struck a bull. Sherry Kay Baker, 22, was driving a 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass westbound on state Highway 44 about 16 miles east of Parkston when the car struck a bull that was on the highway. During the collision, the bull struck the hood and windshield of Baker’s vehicle.

Dec. 5: Mitchell received 7.2 inches of snow during a bitterly cold winter storm that was accompanied by a power outage affecting about 4,800 NorthWestern Energy customers in Mitchell. It was at least the third time the Mitchell area suffered an outage in a week. The Daily Republic was among the affected customers. The newspaper’s A section had printed when the power went out, but printing of the B section was still in progress and had to be distributed a day late.

Dec. 7: South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced the formation of a task force to find a balance between modern agriculture practices and wildlife-oriented land conservation at the first-ever Governor’s Pheasant Habitat Summit in Huron. Daugaard said the task force, or “work group” as he labeled it, had not yet been formed and will include lawmakers, hunters and landowners. About 500 people from around the state registered to attend the summit, which included presentations from the state Department of Game, Fish & Parks; the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council; the consulting firm Strategic Conservation Solutions; and Pheasants Forever.

Dec. 9: Mitchell’s temperature on Dec. 7 set a record, falling to 18 degrees below zero. The cold shattered the city’s 105-year-old Dec. 7 record low of 12 below, set in 1908.

Dec. 10: A vote to include an American Indian honor song at Chamberlain High School’s graduation ceremony failed for the second time at a school board meeting. The song is a traditional drum song sung in native language. In this case, the request was for a Lakota honor song. The song is offered to recognize the accomplishments of individuals or a group.

Dec. 12: The State Historic Preservation Office gave its blessing to the plan to renovate the Corn Palace. In a letter received by city officials, the State Historic Preservation Office said the $7.175 million plan to renovate and expand the Corn Palace will not “damage, destroy or encroach upon historic properties.”

Dec. 17: Mitchell City council Vice President Dan Allen announced his resignation, effective Jan. 21. Allen submitted his resignation letter to Mayor Ken Tracy. He represented Ward 2 since he was appointed in May 2006. He is building a new home and plans to move out of his ward.

Dec. 18: A rural Alexandria man died when he got out of his car to put mail in his mailbox and his own vehicle ran him over. Leland LaDue, 90, was transported to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell after the accident, where he died. Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Podzimek said LaDue was with his wife during the accident. She was in the car when it struck him, ran over him and the mailbox, and then went into the ditch. The accident occurred in front of their residence, 26379 421st Ave., in rural Hanson County about seven miles south of Alexandria. “From what we gathered, he pulled into his driveway off of 421st Avenue, he got out to put mail into the mailbox and when he got out, he did not have the car in park,” Podzimek said.

Dec. 19: Nick Lawson was fully engaged in Mount Vernon/Plankinton boys’ basketball practices, something he didn’t think was possible six months ago. Lawson, who attends school in Plankinton, was shot in the chest by his friend Logan Evans, also of Plankinton, with a 9 mm pistol on June 22. Evans, who was later convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 150 days in jail, didn’t think the gun was loaded when he pointed it at Lawson and pulled the trigger.