City approves new Parks and Recreation director

PHOTO BY BENJAMIN CHASE/PLAINSMAN Mayor Gary Harrington (left) presents Huron Water/Sewer Department Superintendent Rob Rieger a certificate honoring the city for 20 years of safe drinking water compliance.

HURON — The final agenda item Monday evening for the Huron City Commission had potentially the largest community impact as replacing a longtime public servant like LaRon Klock was no easy task. After consideration and interviews, Human Resource Director Nathan Hofer presented the Parks & Recreation board’s top choice, Chad Schroder, on recommendation for hire.

Commissioner Rich Bragg, who represents the commission on the Parks & Recreation board, stated that Chad had been working hard in the time since LaRon’s departure and was a great fit for the role, allowing for an internal promotion to be the best fit. Parks & Rec board president Steven Gohn echoed Bragg’s comments, stating that he felt “really good” about the hire.

Commissioners unanimously approved Schroder as Parks & Recreation director.

The meeting opened with the commission convened as the city board of adjustment to review a variance request presented by Roger and Sharon Styer at 757 Lincoln Ave. S.W. The Styers requested a variance to put an addition on their home that would extend the home to within 16 feet of the public sidewalk, rather than the 30 feet required by code. After discussion with city planner Barry Cranston, this was approved.

Once reconvened as commission, Cranston spoke to a Home Occupation Permit filed by Demaris Arevalo to operate a clothing store business in a residence. Consideration was given to the business just getting going after COVID-19 by commissioners, but the commissioners did request that a one-year follow-up be conducted to ensure the business had not outgrown the residence. With this provision, the permit was approved.

City Engineer Brett Runge presented two items to the commission Monday night. The first was a change order by Gridor Construction, Inc. for the wastewater treatment facility for a net increase of $31,638. Runge explained that increased cost of PVC pipe caused clauses in the bid contract to kick in, which required renegotiation of material costs.

The most crucial elements of Phase I of the facility construction required approximately 1/4 of the total PVC piping needed for the entire job. To purchase all the piping for the entire job on priority pricing at this time would cost more then $260,000. Instead, Runge explained, the most crucial elements were chosen and the cost for the PVC for that piping was split between the city and Gridor Construction, Inc.

This was approved.

Runge also presented a proposal to upgrade existing street lights to LED fixtures using COVID funds. He explained that the savings from LED lighting to the city would pay off the cost of the project within 6-7 years. This was approved.

Laurie Shelton, president and CEO of the Huron Chamber and Visitors Bureau, presented the Chamber’s annual report to the commission. She noted that certain industries in Huron are doing notably better after the pandemic with lodging and restaurant revenue up more than 60% over the same time in 2020.

For emphasis, she noted that restaurant revenues are up 15% over the same time in 2019 as well.

One area that Shelton noted was still struggling was Huron area bars, which are up 24% over where numbers were in 2020, but still lag more than 20% behind 2019 numbers at the same date.

Shelton reported that the city website remains a good resource for the city to market for both future residents and for tourism. She did note that while the calendar page exists on the site, many within the community don’t realize it is there when looking for something to do.

Looking forward, Shelton noted that the construction of the new World’s Largest Pheasant should be completed in September of this year. That will be just in time for pheasant hunting season in October.

The city was recognized for the 20th year by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) for excellence in safe drinking water. Huron was awarded a Secretary’s Award for Drinking Water Excellence.

The system’s operations specialists named by DANR in the recognition include Superintendent Rob Rieger, Leigh Smith, Chad Bogh, David Lentz, Bruce Hartley, David Lemke, Mark Luckhurst, Andrew Manolis, Zachary Olson, Aaron Rogers, Eugene Katz, Travis Oxandaburu, Robert Hentzi, Matthew Bowen, Todd Larsen, and Garrett Welch.

Commissioners also:
• Accepted Ralph Borkowsky as a city volunteer during the United Way Day of Caring program.
• Approved the hire of Sheldon Strote as a police officer.

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