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Corn Palace fails alcohol sting

The Corn Palace. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

An employee at the city-owned Corn Palace was caught selling a bottle of wine to an underage, confidential informant in a random alcohol compliance check Tuesday.

0 Talk about it

Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling informed the Mitchell City Council of the incident at its regular meeting Tuesday night at City Hall. The council, which normally meets on the first and third Mondays of each month, met Tuesday instead of Monday due to the Presidents Day holiday.

During the compliance check, the employee asked for and inspected the informant’s identification, but made the sale anyway, Schilling said.

The employee will be fined by law enforcement for making the sale, but any additional disciplinary action on the part of the city has yet to be decided. Schilling declined to identify the employee when asked by The Daily Republic.

As a result of the incident, Schilling said he has decided to temporarily suspend the sale of wine at the Corn Palace as the facility’s management and staff review their procedures for alcohol sales. The process, Schilling said, will likely take a few weeks.

“We will go back through it and make sure what we’re doing and how we’re doing it is acceptable,” Schilling said, addressing the council.

In June, the council agreed to grant the Corn Palace an on-off sale wine license to allow for the sale of Corn Palace-labeled wine at the attraction’s gift shop.

Mayor Ken Tracy told the council that the employee who made the illegal sale had not yet received training for alcohol sales.

“We’re going to ensure that everyone receives the proper training,” Tracy said, addressing the council.

In an interview with The Daily Republic at the meeting, Schilling said he was disappointed by the incident and he plans to take the review process seriously.

“We’ll take a good, hard look at what happened,” he said.

Main Street closure approved

The Mitchell Traffic Commission approved a proposal to temporarily close the block of North Main Street west of the Corn Palace once a planned renovation and expansion of the city’s famed attraction begins.

The Traffic Commission met before the regular Mitchell City Council meeting Tuesday.

With construction slated to begin in May on a $7.175 million renovation and expansion of the Corn Palace, temporarily closing the nearby 600 block of North Main Street will be needed to keep pedestrians, motorists and workers safe once work on the project begins, said Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling, addressing the council.

The plan to revamp the Corn Palace, approved by the city last summer, calls for changes to the exterior of the Corn Palace, including new light-up domes, which will have LED lights with the ability to change color. It will also include larger murals with improved lighting and large windows that open to a walk-out balcony above the marquee, and numerous other changes.

Councilman Marty Barington, a member of the committee in charge of the Corn Palace project, said approval of the closure is necessary to finalize the architectural plans for the project.

“If it isn’t, then we have to alter our specs in a way that’s going to cost us a lot more money,” Barington said.

The proposal to close the block will still need the council’s final approval at a future meeting. Given council approval, the block will be fenced off once construction starts and will likely stay closed for the majority of the summer, accessible only to workers, Schilling said. If approved, motorists will no longer be able to drive on Main Street in front of the Corn Palace.

The front entrance of the Corn Palace will also be closed during construction, along with much of the lobby area, as workers demolish much of the existing entrance and work to install the new marquee and walk-out balcony, Schilling said. That means the attraction’s main entrance will be closed, forcing tourists and others to enter through a side entrance on the south side of the building.

City administrator

A job description for the recently created city administrator position is complete and the city will soon begin seeking applicants for the job, Mayor Ken Tracy told the council Tuesday night.

A proposal to add a city administrator to city government was adopted by the council in December. Nobody has been hired for the job, but Tracy said he expects the city will begin accepting applications in the near future.

The city administrator will manage the day-to-day affairs of city government, but will be accountable to the elected mayor. There are 20 other cities in South Dakota with city administrators, according to information presented at a past council meeting.

Consent agenda

Counc il members approved the following items as part of a consent agenda:

-The meeting agenda, council minutes from the prior meeting, various department reports and minutes from various committee meetings.

-Raffle requests from the Mitchell Technical Institute rodeo team, with the drawing to be held March 22; Dakota Wesleyan University, with the drawing to be held April 28; American Legion Post No. 18, with the drawing to be held May 4; Heartland Quilters Guild, with the drawing to be held June 14; and Rotary International District No. 5610, with the drawing to be held April 11.

-A March 3 date for a hearing on the application to transfer a retail on-sale liquor license from Ty’s Casino, 1610 S. Burr St., to Platinum Player’s Club, 719 N. Sanborn Blvd., where the license will be inactive.

-A March 3 date for hearings on the applications to transfer a retail on-off sale malt beverage license from V.V. Inc., 77 N. Harmon Drive, to Thirsty’s, 1801 N. Main St.; a retail on-sale liquor license from A-Z Gaming Inc., 1801 N. Main St., to EZ$ Pub, Thirsty’s and The Grille, 1801 N. Main St.; a retail on-sale liquor license from Thirsty’s, 1801 N. Main St., to A-Z Gaming Inc., 77 N. Harmon Drive, where the license will be inactive; and a retail on-sale liquor license from EZ$ Pub, 1801 N. Main St, to SUDZ, 508-510 E. Havens Ave., where the license will be inactive.

-A March 11 date to receive and consider bids for a stump grinder, petroleum products and rock chips, at 1:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 612 N. Main St.

-Pay estimates.

-Gas and diesel fuel bids.

-Bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires, and authorization for payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the fi nance offi cer.

Other business

In other business, council members:

-Sat as the board of adjustment and denied the application of Fred and Bonnie Shank for a conditional use permit to operate an automotive repair and sales business at 407 S. Rowley St.; and approved the application of Marci Stults (Traci Loecker property owner) for a conditional use permit to operate a daycare in her home located at 516 N. Edmunds St.

-Set a March 24 deadline for the submission of proposals to be construction manager at risk for the new city hall project.

-Adopted a resolution for the plat of lots 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B and 7B, Block 8, Sunnyside Addition to the city of Mitchell, which was tabled at the council meeting Feb. 3.

-Approved, on the fi rst of two required readings, an ordinance to re-appropriate funds from numerous city departments previously appropriated and approved, but not spent in the original year of appropriation.

-Approved, on the fi rst of two required readings, an ordinance to supplement the information technology portion of the general fund with $1,500 for vehicle repair, $1,000 for gas, oil and tires, and $1,500 for software; the health and welfare portion of the general fund with $3,445 for demolition of the Garden of Eden building; the economic development portion of the general fund with $1,100 for the payment of property taxes for property acquired for the construction of a new city hall; and the 2013 community projects portion of the debt service fund with $1,025 for bond-paying agent fee; all from property tax revenues.

-Approved the appointment of Councilman Steve Rice to the Chamber of Commerce Board, as recommended by Mayor Ken Tracy.

-Approved the appointment of Councilman Dave Tronnes to the Finance Committee, Public Properties Committee, Public Works Committee, Traffic Commission, Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Insurance Committee, as recommended by Mayor Ken Tracy.

-Approved a drainage easement agreement between the city of Mitchell and the South Dakota Department of Transportation for Williams Avenue.

-Approved the extension of fire protections services to the Mitchell Rural Fire Association for March, April, May and June, for a total of $6,666.66.

-Approved the 2014 Corn Palace Decorating Artist Contract, to Cherie Ramsdell for a total of $8,700 in 2014 and $8,950 in 2015.

-Approved the 2014 Corn Palace Decorating Product Contract, to Wade Strand for $55,000 in 2014, $57,000 in 2015 and $60,000 in 2016.

-Amended an approved transfer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ retail on-sale liquor license from its old address, 105 N. Main St., to its new address, 215 N. Main St., to be effective March 17 rather than March 1.

-Conducted a closeddoor meeting known as an “executive session” for a purpose listed on the agenda as “consulting with legal counsel or reviewing the qualifi cations, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public offi cer or employee, or prospective public officer or employee.”