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April 16 Edition

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Development director Rita Anderson

Community center a go

De Smet development coordinator Rita Anderson surveys the site of the soon-to-be-constructed community center in De Smet. At its April 16 meeting, the De Smet city council officially approved the 10-month project. (News photo by David Tritle)

Council approves
community center

David Tritle

“Let’s build it!” said Mayor Gary Wolkow. The De Smet Common Council voted April 9 to move forward with plans to construct a community center next to the site of the planned athletic complex. But the decision came after an agonizing final push to fund the center.

After coming in some $600,000 over budget at the bid openings at last month’s council meeting, the De Smet community center project had faced a $1,306,273 deficit, including funding shortfalls. Project organizers would now have only a month to raise the remaining money.

“We were just devastated,” development director Rita Anderson said. After years of tireless fundraising, the development board was now at a difficult crossroads. The project would need to fight simply to stay alive.

“We were going to have to cut something major,” Anderson said. Two important components of the planned center were headed toward the chopping block; the theater that many supporters saw as the best reason for building the project in the first place; and the planned wellness center, the inclusion of which provided the grant funding to start the project some two years ago.

Council considers
ice rink and baseball diamond

David Tritle

Kathy Hawkins and Natalie Palmlund updated the De Smet city council April 9 regarding the ongoing effort to reopen the city ice rink just behind Avera De Smet Memorial Hospital.

“It’s definitely a possibility,” said Mayor Gary Wolkow. “We’ll just keep working on it and see what happens.”

Palmlund had approached the council in December 2013 with the idea, but the council said it was concerned about the potential liability the city would shoulder if the rink reopened. Hawkins was asked to research the possibility from an insurance standpoint.

“It’s very doable from an insurance standpoint, but other costs would have to be considered,” Hawkins said. “Personally, I think it would be kind of fun.” The insurance quote she gave the council was $120 a year to cover the city’s liability.

What other costs would be associated with the ice rink seems to be a matter for further discussion. “We would like to see a warming shed, but that would be up to the city,” said Palmlund.

Focus on
Esmond school

Donna Palmlund

The first school in Esmond was built in 1894 and was in operation until 1909 when a new two-story wooden building was constructed. The old building was moved to a farm a mile-and-a-half east of town and used as a home. The home was torn down in 1978.

Some of the first school teachers’ last names were Sheets, Sprague, Snook, Schriver and Amble.

A few years after the school was built, a metal tube was installed as a fire escape for students to slide down from the second story. A door to the fire escape was locked to prevent children from sliding down from the inside for amusement, but they would often climb up from outside.

“On the last day of school, the teacher always let us slide down,” Esmond alumnus LaJoy (Clendening) Thompson said.

In 1935, the population of Esmond was 96. There were 27 students in the primary grades, 1-4; 18 students in the intermediate grades, 5-8; and 15 students in high school.