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As Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood prepare for another slate of concerts in Sioux Falls, some Mitchell residents have taken to Facebook and Twitter to bring the pair of country music stars to their hometown. The World's Only Corn Palace kicked off a social media campaign on Monday to try getting the two country music stars to help hang up some corn on the attraction's signature corn murals.
Mitchell's Parks and Recreation director has undertaken the ambitious task of recovering more costs to operate department facilities, and he was met with several questions Monday night. Department Director Nathan Powell took to the Mitchell City Council's Finance Committee at City Hall to seek a recommendation on departmental rates and fees, and it caused what Councilman Jeff Smith called "spirited discussion" among board members.
Downtown Mitchell will look a little different in the coming years if the city's 2018 budget is approved as is on Monday. Citizens and council members will have their final crack at weighing in on the $38,608,416 budget at Monday's City Council meeting. According to city documents, the expenses in the city's budget represent a $3.5 million increase — or 9.9 percent — over the 2017 budget, and includes funding for features that would overhaul the appearance to downtown Mitchell.
Only two of South Dakota's 10 largest cities saw sales tax spikes during the state's last fiscal year, and Mitchell wasn't one of them. From July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, Mitchell saw the biggest decrease in taxable sales of the 10 top cities in the state, as the Mitchell Area Development Corporation (MADC) recently reported. Of the top cities, only Sioux Falls and Brookings had increases in taxable sales.
The fate of a new and improved Main Street revitalization plan is now in the hands of downtown businesses. On Friday, Mitchell Main Street & Beyond (MMS&B) formally announced a proposal to slightly shift its plan to tax downtown property owners by adding a grant program that would support exterior building improvements in the historic downtown district. The grant plan has been in discussions for months and was mentioned publicly as early as April, when it was unveiled in a Mitchell City Council work session.
A membership to the Mitchell Recreation Center could soon be a bigger burden on users' budgets. The Mitchell Parks and Recreation Board voted Thursday to recommend raising facility use fees for the Mitchell Recreation Center in an effort to recover 79 percent of costs to operate the building. But those increased fees, which are set to rise across the board, will come with a significant bonus. And Councilman Marty Barington, who serves as City Council representative on the Parks and Recreation Board, is interested to hear the city's reaction to the jump in fees.
Corn production is expected to drop 16 percent in South Dakota this year, but there is a silver lining. After a brutally dry summer, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said Tuesday that South Dakota's corn yield is forecast at 696 million bushels, with the average bushels per acre expected to drop to 145. But a few months ago, Will Walter expected worse. "In July, it's no secret we wouldn't have given our corn crop much hope," Walter said. "And these August rains have really pushed these soybeans along. I mean, they could be really good in our state."
The Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee hopes a new conservation post could make programs more accessible to landowners along the Firesteel Creek. An employee funded through four agencies could be soon increase conservation efforts in Davison County, efforts which would then help improve water quality at algae-ridden Lake Mitchell. But the funding for the new post, which would be hired by the South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts and supported by three other agencies, hinges on final authorization before it can move forward.
One of Mitchell's most prominent new features hosted no public performances all summer, but a school board member who supported the project doesn't expect that to hold true next year. The Mitchell School District's performing arts center went unused for public performances while students were off for the summer, according to district Technology and School Security Director Dan Muck. Muck said no revenue was generated at the site this summer, and he said none was expected. But much of the new $15.3 million center, which opened this year, was used by students.
Big-time baseball talent took one more step toward arriving in Mitchell. The Northwoods League, a college wood-bat summer league, has exercised its option agreement with the city of Mitchell, according to Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell. The league will pay the city $10,000 for the ability to play 39 games at Drake Field next season, Powell said, but exercising the option doesn't mean a new Mitchell franchise will be established. "So are they coming, I don't know," Powell said.