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Mitchell City Council decides historic home should go

The Mitchell City Council has decided there are no feasible alternatives to demolishing one of the city's oldest surviving houses.

With a 7-0 vote at a regular meeting Monday night at City Hall, the council voted in favor of a resolution declaring there are no alternatives to demolishing a house at 205 N. Duff St, which was built in about 1883 but was damaged by fire in 2002 and later declared a public nuisance by the city.

Council President Jeff Smith abstained from the vote because he was absent from a special meeting last week, during which the council heard hours of testimony about the possible demolition. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so state law requires the city take specific steps before the house can be demolished.

The house is owned by Clarence and Lauretta Larsen, who are not currently living at the home due to its condition. They appeared at Monday night's meeting, but did not address the council. Lauretta Larsen told the council at the special meeting last week she opposes the demolition because she and her husband are still working to restore the house to the condition it was in before the fire.

Councilman Mel Olson said based on the testimony at the special meeting last week, he believes the Larsens lack the time, money and ability to properly restore the house.

"Despite their desire and love for the home, Mr. and Mrs. Larsen do not have the skill to restore the home," he said.

Councilwoman Susan Tjarks agreed, adding the testimony of Dan Beukelman, a neighbor who lives at 209 N. Duff St., at the special meeting last week helped her come to a decision. In his testimony, Beukelman described an incident about two years ago in which a piece of metal siding blew off of the Larsens' house in a windstorm and broke a window on his home.

Councilman Dave Tronnes said he feels the city has given the issue enough consideration.

"It's not like it's a shotgun effort," Tronnes said. "It's been a time consuming, methodical process."

After the council's vote, Clarence and Lauretta Larsen stood up and quietly left Monday night's meeting.

Consent agenda

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

• The agenda, minutes from prior council meetings, minutes from various committee meetings and reports from various city departments.

• The appointment of Jarred DeBoer, Greg McCurry and Joe Kramer to the Mitchell Parks and Recreation Board, as recommended by Mayor Ken Tracy, effective July 1.

• A July 7 date for a hearing on the application of the Palace City Lions Club for a special event malt beverage and wine license for the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo July 17-20 at Horseman's Sports Arena.

• An automatic supplement of $3,500 from donated funds to the Parks and Recreation special revenue fund for handicap push button doors at the Rec Center.

• An automatic supplement of $6,400 from an insurance claim reimbursement to the water distribution enterprise fund for roof repair because of hail damage.

• The application of the OutKast Car Show for a bandstand with live entertainment from noon to 4 p.m. at Fourth Avenue and Main Street, a car show from First Avenue to Sixth Avenue on Main Street, and a half block on either side of Main Street, on Sept. 20.

• Gas and diesel bids.

• A list of pay estimates.

• Bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires, and authorization for payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

In scheduled business tonight, council members:

• Approved, during a 6:40 p.m. Public Health and Safety Committee meeting, a fireworks permit for RES Specialty Pyrotechnics, of Belle Plaine, Minn., for the Fourth of July fireworks display at Lake Mitchell; and recommended the council consider approving a new fire code.

• Approved, during a 7:15 p.m. Traffic Commission meeting, a request for a parade permit for the Second Annual Neil Epp Memorial Poker Run at 10 a.m. June 28; a parade permit for the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo parade at 10:30 a.m. July 19; a parade permit for the Outkast Car Club, which will start in the 1800 block of North Main Street and join Dakota Wesleyan University's parade at 10 a.m. Sept. 20, and the closure of North Main Street from Railroad Street to Sixth Avenue for the Outkast Car Show.

• Approved a July 7 date for a hearing on the application of the Mitchell Exchange Club for a special event malt beverage and wine license for the Bull Bash Aug. 20 at Horseman's Sports Arena.

• Approved the application of the Mitchell Exchange Club for a special event malt beverage and wine license for the state amateur baseball tournament Aug. 6-17 at Cadwell Park.

• Conducted a hearing and approved a resolution for the collection of special assessments for sidewalk construction and nuisance abatements for 2013.

• Awarded a bid for the North Arrowhead Pass storm sewer project to First Rate Excavate, of Sioux Falls, for $93,306.16; awarded a bid for shoreline stabilization for the north side of the Lake Mitchell spillway; and awarded bids for custom furniture, equipment and appliances for the Mitchell Public Library.

• Approved a resolution updating the functional classifications of certain roads and urban boundaries in the city of Mitchell based on recommendations from the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

• Approved a resolution to retain Dennis Maloney, a labor law attorney, to lead negotiations with unions for the city, at a rate of $125 per hour, and appoint the city's human resources director, city attorney and city administrator to the negotiating team.

• Approved a resolution authorizing the filing of an application for a grant under Section 5311 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.

• Approved a resolution to set the fee for the permit allowing outdoor wine service at downtown businesses at $25.

• Approved a resolution to cancel outstanding checks issued by the city, including a $6 check issued to Mega Wash; a $8 check issued to Dylan Richey; a $25 check issued to Taylor Callies; a $25 check issued to Joe Morgan; a $15 check issued to Sheila Stevens; and a $1.80 check issued to Abby Hubbard.

• Approved the first of two required readings of an ordinance to supplement the city administrator portion of the general fund with $49,000 for salaries, $3,750 for OASI, $2,950 for retirement, $7,325 for group insurance, $2,500 for professional fees and services, $1,500 for repair and maintenance, $1,500 for supplies and materials, $500 for uniforms, $2,500 for travel, conferences and dues, $1,500 for computer software and support and $7,500 for office furniture and equipment; the storm drainage portion of the general fund with $30,000 for municipal storm drainage; and $29,085 for building demolition; all from from the general fund cash balance; and the water treatment portion of the enterprise fund with $3,733 from the water fund cash balance for professional services.

• Approved an amendment to the city of Mitchell's lease for the Lake Mitchell Campground, deleting a provision having to do with insurance, as the city already carries coverage for the buildings.

• Awarded a contract to Cunningham Recreation for playground equipment at Pioneer Park in the amount of $34,999.92.

• Approved a change order from Mueller Lumber Company for the Corn Palace renovation in the amount of $3,155 for crow's nest revisions, for an adjusted contract amount of $3,624,501.

• Approved additions to the Corn Palace renovation project, including a quote for control room renovations in the amount of $5,780 from Daktronics, and a quote to relocate equipment to projection room in the amount of $3,634 from Mid States Audio & Video.