Mitchell City Council debates pro Corn Palace fundraiser

Members of the Mitchell City Council said Monday -- with some reservations -- that they are not opposed to hiring a professional fundraiser, but they want results.

Members of the Mitchell City Council said Monday - with some reservations - that they are not opposed to hiring a professional fundraiser, but they want results.

“My fear is that we could be throwing bad money after good,” Councilman Mel Olson said during the evening meeting at City Hall.

Olson’s feelings were reflected by others on the council who generally felt that any fundraiser had to be worth his or her pay.

In July, the council approved a $7.175 million plan for the Corn Palace, split into two phases. The city currently has $6.5 million set aside for the project to renovate the facility and expand its tourism exhibits into the adjacent City Hall. A new city hall is planned in southern downtown.

Jacki Miskimins, director of the Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimated that a feasibility study from a professional fundraising group would cost between $15,000 and $25,000. She said it could take six to eight months, by her best guess, to complete requests for proposals, select a fundraising consultant and conduct a feasibility study.


Councilman Marty Barington said city residents are being asked to donate to multiple projects. He believes the city needs to look elsewhere for large corporate or individual donations to complete the Corn Palace and possibly other projects such as the Main Street and Beyond streetscape plan for the downtown district.

Olson’s greatest fear is that any study might state the obvious.

“We know who the successful people in the Mitchell area are,” he said. “And we don’t need to spend $25,000 to pay someone to tell us something we already know.”

That said, Olson and others expressed the hope that outside fundraising could pay off big. Any money brought in that exceeded Corn Palace project costs could be put toward the streetscape and other projects, he said.

Miskimins said she will contact cities who have used professional fundraisers and report back at an upcoming meeting.

Snow gates

Mitchell resident Ken Reinesch told the council that he and many elderly residents would be willing to pay an additional $10 to $25 a month to not have to shovel windrows of snow from their driveways.

The comments were taken as part of the council’s discussion of snow gates, devices that are attached to motor graders that can block snow output temporarily when a plow reaches a driveway.


Street and Sanitation Superintendent Ron Olson said the test snow gates used in Sioux Falls were costly in time and manpower.

“They found that routes with snow gates took 23 percent longer and used 31 percent more fuel,” he said. Mitchell would require eight graders; it currently has two.

Adding the gate would increase plowing costs by 33 percent and increase plowing time from 24-30 hours to 30-36 hours.

Olson suggested compiling a list of private contractors who can clear driveways. Councilman Jeff Smith said Olson’s information was a “great start” and he urged him to investigate further. “Let’s keep moving on it.”

Capital Street lights

The council agreed that if Capital Street is not going to be closed to traffic that the city should to what it can to improve safety.

The discussion followed prior discussion on a proposal by Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves to close Capital Street between Mitchell High School and the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy, Mitchell Technical Institute’s former north campus.

“Let’s put lights up try to make the street safer, while the issue is fresh in our minds,” Councilman Randy Doescher said. “Anything we we can do to help slow down traffic there, we should do.”


Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg said the six flashing lights and signs will cost $4,500, and extra money would be needed to supplement the budget.

The council withheld final approval pending more details on the project.


The Public Works Committee discussed the city’s current five-year recycling contract with Dependable Recycling, which expires at the end of 2013. Under the current setup, all city residents are charged a $3 fee on their monthly utility bills whether or not they recycle.

E-waste, the disposal of electronic devices, and bids for “single stream recycling” - placing all recyclable items in a single collection bin for later separation at a recycling center, were also discussed.

The bottom line is that Public Works Director Tim McGannon will prepare specifications for additional bids from outside companies. Those bids would include the single-stream option and also a provision for e-waste, though the latter would not be sought as a curbside option, McGannon said. Smith directed McGannon to seek contracts no longer than three years.

Consent agenda

As part of a consent agenda, the council:


Approved raffle requests from the James Valley Community Center, with the drawing to be held Jan. 11; Pink Ladies Dart League, with the drawing to be held Jan. 18; Mitchell High School boys and girls basketball, with the drawing to be held Dec. 28.

Approved an application to transfer a package off-sale malt beverage license from LAB LLC, doing business as Arnie’s First and Foster, 1218 E. First Ave., to Niew LLC, doing business as Arnie’s, 1218 E. First Ave., as part of a business sale.

Set Nov. 18 as the date for a hearing on the application to transfer a retail onsale liquor license from Bryan A. Rickel, 421 N. Wisconsin St., to Cattleman’s Club Steakhouse, 601 E. Norway Ave., a new restaurant to be built west of McDonald’s.

Approved an application from the Palace City Lions Club for a special event malt beverage and wine license for the Kenny Rogers concert on Dec. 19 at the Corn Palace.

Approved automatic supplements to the parks and recreation special revenue fund in the amount of $6,485 from donations for the tree planting program, and $1,276 from an insurance claim reimbursement for repairs.

Approved a change order for the Capital Street project that decreases the project cost by $25,256.89, for an adjusted contract amount of $733,680.91, to H&W Contracting.

Approved a change order for the Avera Queen of Peace Hospital drainage project decreasing the project cost by $5,239.50 for an adjusted contract amount of $1,211,390.68 to Menning Backhoe.

Other business


In other business, council members:

Sitting as the board of adjustment, set a Nov. 18 date for a hearing on the application of Chris and Frank Krohmer for a variance for an oversize accessory building adding 1,320 square feet to their existing 2,112 square feet, and a side yard variance of 11 feet rather than the required 20 feet, located at 500 E. 16th Ave.; approved the application of Carmen Fischer for a conditional-use permit to operate a daycare business in her home at 601 N. Edgerton St.; and approved the application of Nathan and Erin Schlimgen for a front yard variance of 16 feet rather than the 25 feet required for an addition to their attached garage at 1500 Ridge Lane.

Postponed, until a future meeting, a discussion to add a city administrator to the city’s government.

Conducted a public hearing on a three-year hayland lease.

Adopted a resolution accepting this fiscal year’s operating agreement with Palace Transit.

Adopted a resolution to plat lots two, three and four, block six, Westview Addition in the southeast one-fourth of Section 20, Township 103 North, Range 60 West of the fifth P.M., city of Mitchell.

On second reading, approved an ordinance amending the city of Mitchell’s municipal code to accommodate electric car charging stations.

On second reading, approved an ordinance to supplement portions of the general fund, including information technology, police, traffic, fire, street, snow removal and emergency medical services, with funds from the general fund cash balance; portions of the parks and recreation special revenue fund, including aquatics, sports complexes, parks and entertainment tax; and portions of the enterprise fund, including water treatment, water distribution, airport, landfill and Corn Palace shows.


Renewed annual contracts for both 911 services and for police traffic services with Aurora, Brule, Hanson and Hutchinson counties through the Mitchell dispatch center. McCook County will take just 911 dispatch services through Mitchell and will handle its own police traffic calls.

-Note: This story has been updated from its original version to correct a name spelling and to clarify the timeline for the fundraising study.


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