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Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling resigns following audit

Mark Schilling

Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling resigned Monday due to findings in an as-yet unreleased state audit of Mitchell’s city-owned attraction, according to Mayor Ken Tracy.

Tracy announced Schilling’s resignation around 11 p.m. -- too late for the news to make The Daily Republic’s A section deadline -- following a lengthy closed meeting known as an “executive session” near the end of Monday night’s regular Mitchell City Council meeting at City Hall.

Schilling, who was not present for any of Monday night’s council meeting, had submitted his resignation earlier Monday.

The city requested the audit be performed by the South Dakota Department of Legislative Audit after Tracy was informed by “various sources” who told him there were certain procedures at the Corn Palace that needed review. Tracy has reviewed a preliminary version of the department’s audit report, but declined to divulge any specifics in an interview with members of the media following Monday night’s council meeting.

“To say there were no findings would not be an accurate statement,” Tracy said. “There were some policies and procedures that they uncovered and they have made significant recommendations as to what changes should be made as we go forward.”

A final version of the audit report is expected to be received by the city in the near future, and Tracy said it will then be released in open session at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for March 17.

Assistant Corn Palace Director Jeri Mickelson has assumed Schilling’s role on an interim basis pending further decisions yet to be made about hiring a new director for the Corn Palace, Tracy said.

“I haven’t made any final decisions as to how we will proceed,” Tracy said. “I certainly will work with the council as we move forward.”