Senate 'green-lights' NSU, USD projects

PIERRE -- The state Senate gave final approval Wednesday for construction projects at Northern State University in Aberdeen and University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

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South Dakota State Capitol

PIERRE - The state Senate gave final approval Wednesday for construction projects at Northern State University in Aberdeen and University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

The five pieces of legislation now head to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for his review. He is expected to sign them into law.

USD wants to spend $26.3 million on the Dakota Dome complex in Vermillion. Senators voted 33-2 for HB 1060.

It is South Dakota's only enclosed stadium large enough to host football games.

Built in 1969, the Dakota Dome needs significant updates, according to Senate Democratic Leader Billie Sutton, of Burke.


Sen. Art Rusch, R-Vermillion, said some people suggested the stadium should be torn down and a new one built.

"Spending $26 million to renovate is a good South Dakota solution to this problem," Rusch said.

Bonding would cover $14.5 million of changes, USD would contribute $6.4 million and the regents would provide $5.4 million from the higher education facility fund.

Senators likewise voted 33-2 for renovations and expanded classroom space at the National Music Museum in Vermillion.

HB1065 calls for $7.7 million from donors and $1.5 million from the HEF financing program.

Sen. Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings, said the museum opened in 1973 and has 14,800 different instruments. A master degree in music history also is offered, he said.

"It's one of the few master's in the nation," Tidemann said.

There have been about 10,000 visitors in recent years, including many from high school music programs, he said.


Rusch said the museum is in the university's old library. "Most of it's going to be paid by donors they have already lined up," he said.

Northern State is in line for artificial turf on a soccer field the women's team can use for practices and games; a new football practice field with artificial turf; and a two-story pavilion and restrooms servicing them.

Sen. Jim White, R-Huron, said construction is scheduled for completion by this fall. "Therefore, ready for the football season," White said.

The vote was 33-2 for HB 1061. Donations will pay $6 million toward the two fields and pavilion. Northern State plans to provide the final $303,314 from the university's budget.

The previous football practice field will be home for the new regional science education center the Legislature approved last year.

The other significant project for Northern State is construction of a new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, said there is some concern about moving across campus.

"They're going to be entering a whole new world. That does pose a risk of the unknown," Greenfield said.


But, Greenfield added, this is "certainly a worthy project."

Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, said more than luck put the school on the same campus as what then was a college and now is a university.

Adults training to be teachers can work in the school with the young students, he said.

"That was a plan, and a purpose," Novstrup said. He called the situation "a win-win."

He added, "The donors need to be thanked."

Novstrup said their generosity means "a burden being removed from the taxpayers of South Dakota."

Senators voted 34-1 for HB 1071. Private donations would cover the $13.6 million estimated cost for the new school complex and provide $243,775 to tear down Jerde Hall.

Senators also approved the state Board of Regents purchasing from the Northern State foundation a narrow strip of land valued at $25,500 for construction of a parking lot. The vote was 33-2 for HB 1062.

The strip between the university and the school is about nine-tenths of an acre. "It's an abandoned railroad," said Sen. Justin Cronin, R-Gettysburg.

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