There will be a familiar face leading Dakota Wesleyan University athletics in June. In collaboration with a ceremony honoring outgoing Athletic Director Curt Hart, the university announced the promotion of Hart’s son, Jon Hart, who is DWU’s associate athletic director and athletic development officer. Jon Hart will take over as the school’s new athletic department head, effective June 1. Jon, an Alexandria native and a former football and baseball player for the Tigers, has been in charge of many of department’s day-to-day operations. Curt Hart described Jon as a “go-to guy” for many of the school’s athletic coaches. “It means the world to me that they trust me as much as they do,” Jon said, following the event attended by about 300 people at the Sherman Center. “You’d like to see some consistency and familiarity when you’re making these hires, and we’ve been fortunate to have some of that around here in administrative roles. Not a lot of schools are like that.” The move comes after the school announced the retirement of Curt Hart on Tuesday, after seven-plus years running the athletic department but called the announcement of his son taking his job was “the best part of the day.” “Jon has been around the system for so long and I wasn’t concerned about his age,” Curt Hart said, alluding to how some of the university’s best athletic hires recently have come from people DWU trusted, rather than looking only at age or experience. “You get challenged a lot on those decisions, but those are the best decisions we’ve ended up making.” Hart, 27, will be the youngest athletic director in the 12-school Great Plains Athletic Conference and has held the job as DWU’s No. 2 athletic employee for the last four years. He admitted that nine years ago, he was graduating from Hanson High School and wasn’t sold on attending college just 13 miles from home. But on Wednesday, Hart said being the school’s athletic director is “a dream job.” “We have a lot of young coaches in place and I think I relate well with them in that regard, but regardless of that, we have coaches here that I respect a great deal and I hope that feeling is mutual,” Jon said. In his remarks to the audience, Curt Hart said he’s never been afraid of giving young people chances. With that in mind, the university wasn’t afraid to give his son the job. “When we brought Jon on, I had some concerns about eligibility items, reporting, budgeting and there were just things that I didn’t have a lot of interest in. He just took a hold of those things and did a great job. He’s taken on a different role and in the last year and a half and has taken on more and more responsibility.” Primarily, Hart has taken a lead role in helping the school raise money through its TeamMakers program and corporate sponsors, which the athletic department says is between $400,000 and $500,000 each year. He’s also been key in creating a leadership program in the athletic department, which brings athletes from different sports together to create a more cohesive student body. In addition, the university recently opened the $10.7 million DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex, which provides practice space for athletes and wellness facilities for the community and students. DWU President Amy Novak said the process of deciding on Hart as the new athletic director took about six months but has picked up in the last three months. The process included input from athletic coaches, staff, the university’s board of trustees and community members. “It became clear to me that he has the gifts to do this job exceptionally well for Dakota Wesleyan,” she said. Novak said that point was driven home by her recent interactions at the NAIA National Convention in Kansas City less than two weeks ago. She said it became clear that Jon Hart had built good relationships with other schools and organizations and they held Hart in a high regard. “His rapport with them and his professional interactions on behalf were exceptional,” Novak said. Hart received his bachelor’s degree in sports management in 2011 and his master’s degree in administration and educational policy in 2012. Prior to DWU, he worked at First National Bank South Dakota in Mitchell. The elder Hart will stay on with the university in a yet-to-be-decided role. Not many people are expecting him to be too far from the action at DWU, starting with his son. “He’s still going to be a mentor and he’s still going to be pretty involved, but this is a pretty special day for me and my family,” Jon said. “I’m pretty appreciative of the opportunities that DWU has given to our family.”
Sanborn Central science teacher Tracy Moody, smiles during the presentation of a $10,000 grant on Tuesday night at the school in Forestburg. The grant is from the America's Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund and was nominated by local farmers. Moody -- who is also an assistant volleyball coach for the Sanborn Central/Woonsocket Blackhawks -- plans to use the grant to purchase new equipment for the school's forensic science class, which was the school's most popular elective class.
Good news, pheasant hunters. Officials with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department said Thursday the pheasant count numbers are up by more than 40 percent this year compared to a year ago. The 2015 statewide pheasants per mile index of 3.80 is up from 2.68 last year and more than double the total of 2013, when the count was 1.52 pheasants per mile. The 42 percent increase is attributed to better weather, with milder winters and favorable spring weather for reproduction purposes.
Jeanie Morgan has made her life a mission with a message. And that message is the consequences and pain that come with drinking and driving can be avoided. Morgan gave an emotional speech Tuesday night at the Pepsi Cola Theatre in Mitchell in attempt to impact others and have them avoid the heartbreak she’s felt since her daughter, Iszabella “Bella” Morgan, was killed in March 2012 in a crash involving a drunk driver.
The Davison County Sheriff’s Department will pursue body cameras for its officers in the coming months. Chief Deputy Steve Harr said the county will be purchasing a set of cameras that attach to the head or hat of the officer. Those purchases were approved during the Davison County Commission meeting Tuesday at the Davison County North Offices in Mitchell. The body cameras are expected to cost about $6,000 total, or about $750 apiece for the county’s eight officers.