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As reservoirs along the Missouri River continue to hold record-high levels of water, the state of South Dakota is advising residents to prepare for significant flooding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be increasing releases from Big Bend and Fort Randall dams this week. The Corps released water from the Oahe Dam north of Pierre on Tuesday and Wednesday. The state Department of Public Safety stated that the releases could last for several more weeks. Chamberlain City Engineer Greg Powell said the releases are not currently affecting area recreational spots.
As the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service considers where it will house a regional office in Mitchell, Davison County commissioners visited with a representative Tuesday about using the county's 4-H fairgrounds. Joanne Haase, district Extension director, told the commission that SDSU is looking to lease property for the office. Extension's goal is to have the best location for foot and car traffic; however, the commission advised the best place to continue Davison County's Extension service is at its current location.
TRIPP -- Residents of the Tripp-Delmont School District will vote today whether to continue a $300,000 opt-out. "I've had a few parents contact me that they are working to just make sure people are aware this is a reauthorization of the current opt-out and not an increase in taxes," said Superintendent Lynn Vlasman. He understands residents are concerned about the optout, but Vlasman said he's confident the vote will prove the majority wants the best for the district.
Avera Queen of Peace Health Services will open an urgent-care clinic in Mitchell. Avera Urgent Care will open this summer in a building that will be moved to the vacant corner of Havens Avenue and Lawler Street. The opening of the clinic will end a roughly eight-year period without an urgent-care clinic in the city. It will also fulfill a recommendation made in 2009 by Focus 2020, a volunteer group that drafted a long-range vision for the city. "I'm very excited that Avera is able to meet the need for the urgent-care facility that the 2020 health-care committee recommended.
MOUNT VERNON -- City officials are crossing their fingers that a second round of bids for reconstruction of the Mount Vernon sanitary sewer system will come in at or below cost. The project will be rebid Thursday because the original bid came in higher than the city could afford, said Mayor Jason Christensen, who broke a 3-3 tie at the last council meeting in favor of rebidding the project. "It's not that we didn't have the money, but if there were any unforeseen circumstances later on," the city wouldn't be able to pay for those, he said.
FREEMAN -- The Freeman Public Library is now open 24 hours a day for patrons who want to download a digital book. The library signed on in March with South Dakota Titles to Go, a trial digital book program through the South Dakota State Library, and already has several patrons using the option. "I'm surprised at how many have e-readers in the area," said LeAnn Kaufman, library director. "We've had pretty much all ages use the system.
Area school officials are making a concerted effort to scale back funding through staffing and supplies rather than cutting activities for the 2011-12 school year. Because of a 6.6 percent reduction in state support for K-12 education, schools in the Mitchell area are cutting anywhere from $23,000 to $327,000 for the 2011-12 year. Many superintendents and school boards have made the decision to reduce staffing and supplies, and some have cut programs such as art or driver's education. Others, like Tripp-Delmont School District, will have an election on an opt-out renewal.
The fallout from statewide budget cuts to the Cooperative Extension Service is tumbling into the laps of county commissioners throughout the Mitchell area. Tuesday, commissioners in Davison and Hutchinson counties dealt with issues arising from the cuts, which were announced earlier this year.
CHAMBERLAIN -- A gymnasium full of supportive family, friends and community members clapped and cheered at the South Dakota National Guard armory for the 200th Engineer Company on Friday prior to its departure on a one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan. The company, which also includes troops from Mobridge and Pierre, will deploy as scheduled Sunday to plan, build, monitor and disassemble bridges. Members of the Chamberlain group are leaving with heavy hearts because their fellow soldier and friend, Spc. Jared Roe, died as a result of an accident a few days ago.
CHAMBERLAIN -- Students and staff at St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain were honored Thursday for their hard work at changing nutrition and physical activity practices. Amid cheers for food service and educational staff, Roger Campbell, the South Dakota Department of Education's Indian education director, presented the HealthierUS School Challenge Silver Award to the school's president, the Rev. Stephen Huffstetter. "I just applaud St. Joseph's for making efforts to get the school in the right direction," Campbell said.