Might be a ‘little town’ but there’s a lot going on

Crowd gathers to update each other on community activity and progress


On Tues., June 14, the De Smet Development Corporation sponsored De Smet’s semi-annual community meeting at 7 a.m. at the Oxbow Restaurant. The room was full of government officials, business owners, community leaders and residents, all gathered to hear about De Smet happenings.


Mayor Gary Wolkow proclaimed June 14 as Cardiac Readiness Community Day in De Smet. De Smet is the second community in South Dakota to achieve the status of a Cardiac Readiness Community designated by the SD Department of Health. The Wellness Coalition has been working to get more AEDs in the community, more people trained in CPR and more preventative information out to the public.

According to Certified Nurse Practitioner Jodi Jung,, De Smet currently has about 30 AEDs located throughout De Smet, and the Coalition has made significant advances in training people in CPR. De Smet went from less than 5% of the population to over 26% of the population now trained in CPR. The goal is to train over 50%.


Kristy Hubbard with the Wellness Coalition listed some of the many areas the group has worked on to benefit De Smet, which includes offering transit in the area, providing breakfast in the elementary school, setting up a mock accident before prom and ice skating in the park. Hubbard also informed the group that Klinklel’s III is now open for a youth hang-out in the back area of the business Wednesday and Saturday nights. Adult supervision is provided, and the Coalition is always seeking volunteers. They have organized another bike safety event on July 19, when Cycle America comes through town.


Doug Kazmerzak with the Kingsbury County Commissioners said they have been very busy in several areas including roads and the courthouse. He was happy to share that a road project would be starting soon for 200th Street between Highways 25 and 81. The street will be getting a new black top. Kazmerzak shared improvements on courthouse appearance and suggested that everyone drive by to check out the tree planting, tuck pointing and painting.


The pageant grounds continue to host about 4,000 guests per year. Kazmerzak commented that an adequate number of volunteers help during the pageant, but they can always use more. He also mentioned that the pageant board is working to obtain funding for a new set on the pageant grounds.

The De Smet Community Women will again be holding a craft fair at the Event and Wellness Center during the pageant. Also, cemetery tours will be offered on each Saturday, and church services will be held at 3 p.m. on the pageant grounds each Sunday.


Ann Lesch first discussed the Ingalls Homestead, saying it is back to normal business hours, and people are excited to get out and traveling again. The Homestead has redone the parking lot and improved the grade for drainage. They have been busy working on a bathroom project as well. The biggest problem for tourism, currently, is limited restaurant services.

“I have heard many people are packing their own lunches when they travel now, because many small communities are also struggling to keep things open,” said Lesch.


Mayor Gary Wolkow mentioned that De Smet has a Main Street project in the works, which will be the first step in upgrading water and sewer lines that are over 100 years old. The city has applied for funding and is anxious to get a plan in place.


Scott Finck, Director of ROCS Transit, has been focused on applying for federal and state grants and also helping to manage all the requirements for transit. The transit sees ridership for about 450 every month, and they were excited to announce that they will be getting a new bus for De Smet.


Sheriff Steve Strande asked everyone to get the word out, especially to tourists, that the east side of the sheriff’s office is always unlocked and available for shelter.

“We’ve been out storm watching more this spring than probably the last year and a half,” said Strande.

He also mentioned that he’s continuing to work on upgrades in communication, but even basic radios in cars are over $4000 each.


Superintendent Abi Van Regenmorter briefly described the elementary building project and invited anyone who wanted to check out the conditions of the current building. She is anxious to see how the vote turns out, so they can move forward with plans. Van Regenmorter also informed those in attendance that they have hired a new middle/high school principal and athletic director who has 22-years of experience in Minnesota. She said all positions at the school are currently full, but they are always looking for substitute bus drivers.


Bob and Nancy Montross shared their dream and ideas for the Highway 14 Trail and asked for input from the community. Many tourists ask about Silver Lake, and the Highway 14 Trail members believe this could do a lot for tourism in town. Rita Anderson stated that many people come to city hall asking where Silver Lake is located, and she would rather tell them about a new trail through the area than have to tell tourists to “start by heading out to the rendering plant.” A 20% match is needed in order to get any federal funds, and they are hoping to find donors to help get things going.


Stacie Gruenhagen shared that Valley Fibercom just received grant money to help get service to more people.

“It costs $10,000 a mile for fiber alone,” she said. “That doesn’t include construction labor or installation. It’s like when rural water came through. You either got in on it early or ended up paying dearly later.”

She’s hoping that many people take advantage of the extra help now from grants.


Old Settlers Day went very well this year with more parade participants and onlookers, a bigger car show and food sales that cleaned out every one of the food vendors serving. Now the Chamber is working on their upcoming Wings ‘N Things event at Washington Park, where they have opened up the cooking to beyond just wings. People can bring in any other meat they’d like to cook, from fish to chislic to squirrel.


Marina Garcia spoke about an upcoming camp, the elements of theatre, to keep the arts momentum going after the pageant ends. It will be a 4-day camp with three days of classes, including acting, directing and how things work backstage. The students will perform on the final day. It’s set to run July 27-30. Saturday evening would be a mystery theatre. Garcia plans on having Priscilla Barnes and Richard Kline from the TV show Three’s Company teach classes and possibly offer a Q & A panel.


The newspaper is always looking for volunteers to help in various positions, but they could really use help in finding someone to work part-time writing about Lake Preston. Training is available for anyone interested. The staff also mentioned they welcome pictures and stories from anyone who wants to contribute to the paper.


Matt Kees mentioned that Rita Anderson will be retiring from her position of director, but they have found someone from Arizona to take her place.


Casey Crabtree will be holding his 2nd term in the Senate. He said he was proud to serve Kingsbury County and was impressed that about 40 people attended a meeting at 7:30 a.m.

House Representative John Mills said he was impressed by De Smet and especially the De Smet Event Center which he sees as “a real icon for what this community is all about: coming together to do good things.”

Tim Reisch was also present and will be joining the House of Representatives in January.


• Todd Kays, Executive Director with the First District Association of Governments, discussed some of his work with local government units including helping with water and sewer projects. Lake Preston and Arlington were able to get over $5 million in funding for water projects.

• Nancy Montross with De Smet Concert Series, is continuing to work on lining up bands. “We’re 99% sure we have The Diamonds with the song ‘The Stroll’ coming next summer.”

• The Village currently has two rooms available, and they are looking for a full-time nightshift team member along with volunteers to read scripture, help with afternoon crafts or bring in a pet to visit the residents.

• The De Smet Legion has new officers and is planning on having more Bingo days in the near future.

• Kingsbury Electric is extremely busy right now with projects booked out for 4-6 months.

• Kristy Hubbard with the Event & Wellness Center/City Rec. Dept. said the Event Center is almost completely booked for the year with only three weekends open.

• Cycle America will be coming to De Smet on July 19. It’s been about five years since they’ve come through town.

• Fields Fish & Game celebrated their 1-year anniversary on June 7.

• Maynard’s Grocery set company records with their last tent sale. They are now open Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays


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