NewsOctober 08 2014

Presho woman gives state $10,000 for new rail line

Posted by Lucy

The following is reprinted with permission from the Pierre Capital Journal.

By David Rookhuyzen

It was the type of individual donation the state is generally not used to seeing.

Norma Johnson, 87, personally presented a check of $10,000 to Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Wednesday as a donation for the refurbishment of the state-owned MRC Railroad between Chamberlain and Presho.

The $30 million project will put in heavier rails and allow for bigger cars along the line, which was originally built in 1905. The legislature approved $7.2 million for the project during the last session and the state railroad board added another $7 million. Rails to the Future, a booster organization for the project, raised another $1 million from producers and agriculture groups.

Johnson, who farms in the area, said she had heard word about the railroad and wanted to do something to help.

"I’ve just always been a Presho booster," she said.

Johnson said she was happy to donate the money for all the little towns out in the middle of nowhere that could be helped by having a working rail line.

Daugaard said it was the example of Johnson that inspired others in the Presho area to donate to the project. And those funds were instrumental in the state securing a $12 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant.

The state had received a similar grant for work on the line between Mitchell and Chamberlain three years ago and Daugaard said he didn’t expect to get another one so soon. But the money donated by Johnson and others gave the state a strong application.

"That says a lot and I think that said a lot in Washington D.C.," he said.

Bill Ferguson, with Rails to the Future, said the refurbishment was a needed project whose time has come. Not only will it help ship out local wheat – this year’s harvest was 53 million bushels – but also cut down the wear and tear from heavy trucks on county and local roads.

What makes Johnson’s donation so special is that she most likely won’t reap any of the benefits herself, he said.

"She’s doing it for the children and grandchildren of the area," Ferguson said.

NewsOctober 01 2014

New art in Vivian

Posted by Lucy

Travis Sickler, a professional painter from Pierre, has been working on new art work in Vivian. Sickler stated that "he loves making something out of nothing and has never painted grain bins before." Pictured left is one of two grain bin murals that has been completed The bins are located on the north/west part of town.

NewsOctober 01 2014

Kennebec to expand, upgrade waterwaste system

Posted by Lucy

Kennebec residents were informed by the town board last week that the wastewater system in not in compliance with state regulations according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the problem must be addressed.

"They’re shutting us down and making us comply," Eugene Mertens, president of the Kennebec Town Board, told those assembled at the fire hall for a special town meeting last Wednesday night.

Mertens stated the engineering firm, SPN & Associates of Mitchell and District III Planning and Development were brought in to prepare a preliminary report for the town.

The special meeting was called to inform the residents of the problems with the sanitary sewer system, the options available and to discuss funding the improvements.

There are currently 136 sewer connections within the town, 44 manholes and nearly 18,500 feet of 8-inch clay pipe. Residents west of Hwy 273 and the businesses and residences "on the hill" are currently not being served by the sanitary sewer system. They have either their own lagoon or spectic tank.

According to Camden Hofer, an engineer with SPN, the town’s sewer lines have not been inspected by a camera to determine their condition. A smoke test in 2013 indicated there may be some blockages in the sewer lines.

Currently, the town operates with two treatment ponds located east of the rubble site. Each pond is about two acres in size, which DENR considers to be undersized. An excessive infiltration rate is also suspected.

Recommendations by SPN include clean and TV inspect the sewer lines, expose manholes covers and expand the system with a pressure sewer to provide service to homes and businesses on the hill and west of Hwy 273 not being served now. Approximately 15 to 20 lift stations will need to be installed to expand services.

They also suggested expanding the treatment pond system and upgrading the road and fences around the ponds.

The total estimated cost of the project was about $1.1 million.

John Clem of District III explained funding options with various loans and grants available through the state.

Clem stated the first step is to get on the state’s water plan and make an application for assistance.

"The state thinks sewer rates should be around $40 per month per hook up," said Hofer.

Kennebec’s current rate is $12 per month.

Mertens added, "Rates will have to go up to $25."

Clem explained that that Kennebec’s rates will need to be at least $25 per month to be eligible for loans or grants. He shared examples of various rates residents could expect to pay based on the amount of funding Kennebec gets from the state for the project.

"We’ll keep it as low as we can," said Mertens. "We don’t have a lot of choices."

By expanding the system more users will add to the revenue collected by the town.

Residences and businesses within the city limits will be required to tie into the town’s expanded sewer system.

Gene Halvorson of Halvorson Oil said DENR made him build a lagoon for his business at his own expense to be in compliance.

"What are we suppose to do?" asked Halvorson.

Town board member Todd Longville said he thinks it’s time to the bring all residents within the city limits into the system.

"It’s too bad the timing didn’t work for Halvorsons," said Longville.

The project will take at least two years to complete. The town should know by March of 2015 if they receive a grant and how much will need to be borrowed to fund the project. Bids would not be let until December of 2015 with the work to begin in the spring of 2016.

NewsSeptember 26 2014

Wheat Growers Announces Kennebec Site for Grain/Agronomy Facility

Posted by Kim

(Aberdeen, SD) - Wheat Growers will build a first-class grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Lyman County, starting yet this fall. Wheat Growers’ Board of Directors has chosen a site in Lyman County, South Dakota, for a shuttle loader grain handling facility and agronomy center. The site will be in Kennebec, South Dakota, and will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line that is part of the state of South Dakota’s expansion of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho.

“We selected this site after an extensive financial and structural review of several sites in the area,” Hal Clemensen, President of the Wheat Growers Board of Directors, said. “Our cooperative will move forward with dirt work and construction this fall with the goal of having the agronomy facility ready for business by the winter of 2015/2016 and the grain handling facility completed in time for harvest 2016.”

Wheat Growers had pledged to build a shuttle loader grain handling facility and agronomy center in Lyman County if the state of South Dakota rehabilitated the Chamberlain to Presho route. The South Dakota Department of Transportation recently announced that the state had been awarded a $12.68 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The grant money, along with $7 million approved by the South Dakota Legislature for the project, an additional $7 million committed by the state Railroad Board, and over $1 million in private funds raised by Rails to the Future will be used to rehabilitate approximately 40 miles of rail line between Chamberlain and Presho.

“This is great news for the state and for growers and agribusiness in central South Dakota,” Dale Locken, Wheat Growers CEO, said. “As promised, our farmer-owned cooperative will now move forward with our plans to build a first-class elevator and agronomy facility on the rehabilitated heavy rail line in Lyman County.”

“We want to thank Governor Daugaard, the state legislature, our Congressional delegation and the Rails to the Future group for their tremendous support of this project and the commitment of state and private funding in addition to the TIGER grant funds,” Clemensen added. “Now we’ll put our pledge into action as we build this state-of-the-art facility for growers in the area.”

About Wheat Growers

Wheat Growers is a grain and agronomy cooperative in the heart of South and North Dakota. Owned by the members it serves, Wheat Growers exists to provide, with integrity, customers with reliable markets, services and quality products through a safety-oriented, profitable and innovative organization. www.wheatgrowers.com

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