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Month: January, 2017

Mayor Jerry Toomey vetoes council decision on recycling contract

Friday, January 27, 2017
I have submitted the necessary documentation to the City Finance Office within the 10-day limitation to file my veto against the council vote of January 17, 2017.
I am fully aware of what the council vote was at the council meeting of January 17th, and I do not expect any council member to change their position and I do not expect my veto will hold up. In spite of that, I believe it to be imperative that a large number of my constituents know that this mayor did hear their concerns regarding a lack of good customer service principles and complaints against Dependable Sanitation on safety issues. There is a large segment of our citizens who feel they were not heard and that minds were already made up long before the council vote of January 17th. They honestly believe that their opinions did not matter and that their concerns were ignored. Customer service and safety concerns should not have to take a back seat to pricing issues, container sizes, containers with or without lids, curb-side sorting, single-streaming, should we even be recycling or anything else. Customer service and safety must be first and foremost moving forward with any company and our citizens do not feel good about our past history with Dependable Sanitation. The response received from Dependable management at the council meeting is inadequate with excuses for past poor performance with little comfort or assurances that anything would drastically improve. I share that opinion with many of our citizens. Many past complaints have been ignored and that was pretty much validated by Mike Erickson’s response to these issues.
It has been reported that “several” citizens had safety concerns and other complaints. The truth of the matter is that there have been far more than “several”. I had received dozens of calls and emails prior to the January 17th meeting. The fact is, I sent almost four pages of brief comments from our citizens to each council member prior to the meeting. One day after the city council meeting, I had received a dozen or more phone calls and emails expressing opposition to the vote taken by our city council members. On our city website alone, I had received 34 hits in a one day period consisting of 29 comments to drop Dependable, 2 comments to stay with Dependable, and 3 that I considered to be somewhat neutral.
Another determining factor in my decision to move forward with my veto wat that the City received notification yesterday that there would be an administrative appeal filed regarding the council’s award of the contract to Dependable. This action will force the issue back onto the city council agenda for further discussion whether I veto or not. The veto will ensure that the discussion is not limited and that proper action can be taken after that discussion, whatever that action might be. We should make sure that the customer service and safety issues that are of such great concern to so many of our citizens are fully voiced. For any council member who might think this is not worthy of further conversation, they need to remember that there is an election coming up this June. Let’s pay attention to what so many people are asking us to do and let’s properly address their customer service and safety concerns.


Burglary suspects sought

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Tuesday, 1-24-17, at approximately 11:45 P.M. an unknown male subject (pictured below) forcibly entered a business in the 700 Block of North Main Street, Mitchell, S.D and stole several packages of Marlboro Menthol 100’s cigarettes.  Another subject was outside the business at the time of the burglary and appears to have acted as a look out during the incident.  It appears that the two suspects walked northbound on Main Street from the 400 block of N. Main Street prior to the burglary.  The suspects left on foot travelling Southbound after the burglary.   The stolen cigarettes were valued at $38.70.  Approx. $234 in damage was done to the business.  If you have information in relation to this incident, or if you have information regarding suspicious activity in this area at this time, or information relating to any other crime, please call Crime Stoppers at 996-1700 Remember that you do not have to identify yourself, and a CASH REWARD is available if it leads to the arrest of the subject or subjects involved. There are no caller ID’s attached to this phone line, so you will remain anonymous. To send a crime tip via text message, download the free APP. “Tipsubmit” on your smart phone and select Mitchell Area Crime Stoppers or  text MITCS plus your message” to  “274637”.  Upon receipt of a tipster’s first incoming message the system will auto-reply with a confirmation containing the tipster’s unique tip ID.  Anonymous two way communication can then occur between the tipster and Investigators.   You can also go to to submit a crime tip by e-mail.

Information received through CRIME STOPPERS remains totally anonymous. Tipsters who provide information to Crime Stoppers that leads to an arrest(s) will be given a CASH REWARD


A minimum of $250 is paid for rewards on all “Crime of the Weeks” solved through Crime Stoppers.  Mitchell Area Crime Stoppers, Inc offers this reward.  Rewards will not be paid if crime tips, leading to an arrest, are not made directly to Mitchell Area Crime Stoppers, Inc. by telephone, text message or by web tip.  


Toomey considers vetoing recycling contract

Monday, January 23, 2017

 As Mayor of the City of Mitchell, I am sending this news release to the  media as a "notice of consideration",  of  a veto on the Recycling vote that took place at the council  meeting on January 17th.    During a two week period preceding this council meeting, all city officials  read and heard many comments from the public as it pertained to individual preferences between  Dependable Sanitation and Petrik Sanitation.   We also listened too much about preferences as it related  to container sizes, as well as curb‐side sorting and single‐streaming.    Such a decision from our City  Council can be somewhat complex and it will never be a decision that everyone will be happy with.   At  best, it is hoped that it will be a decision representative of the majority. 
In spite of this, it cannot be disputed that there were a good number of complaints against Dependable  Sanitation that were related to customer service and safety issues.     These complaints are not new  complaints and have been on‐going for many months.    I believe our citizens deserve better than this  and that we need to have a very clear path of expectations if we are to move forward with Dependable  Sanitation.    Mr. Erickson stated that he has heard no complaints in two years from City Hall.    I had to  remind him of my calls to him.   One of my calls to Mr. Erickson was not of a minor issue, nor was it a  one‐time incident.     Our street department supervisor, Kevin Roth, also reminded him of complaints  called in.  it would seem apparent that if calls are not remembered, then how serious are any complaints  being taken?    It was further stated that Dependable Sanitation loses $47,000 per year providing this  service in Mitchell.    Is customer service not important to them because we are viewed only as a tax  write‐off by Dependable Sanitation? 
I am not in full support of this vote because I truly do believe that our citizens deserve better than this,  and that customer service and public safety requires more discussion and consideration than what was  given.   Our City needs to have a clear understanding from Dependable as to what expectations will be  moving forward regardless of contract Terms and Conditions.   I do not desire past performance to be an  indicator for a future relationship.

I also fully realize that a veto is not without possible risk and consequences.    I have a deadline of  January 27th to exercise veto authority.    Meanwhile, I would ask our citizens over the next few days to  weigh in on this issue with your comments.   Please go to our city website under “Your Government”,  use the drop down feature to “City Council”.   Below "City Council" is a link to “Comment Form”.    If you  decide to email your comments instead, please include all city councilors and the mayor.   Names will be  kept confidential. 
Mayor Jerry Toomey 

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Mayor Jerry Toomey at 605‐9958143


State lawmaker in the midst of a sexual conduct investigation resigns

Monday, January 23, 2017

District 8 Representative Mathew Wollmann of Madison has resigned from the Legislature.  He submitted his resignation letter this morning. It’s effective immediately. Wollmann was facing a review by the House Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion to determine if he violated House rules by having sexual relationships with interns. He said last week the interns were over 21 years old and the sex was consensual.

Wollmann says he regrets his actions and hopes to regain everyone’s trust and, in his words, “return to this honorable body a man of greater knowledge”.  

Information from KJAM Radio, Madison South Dakota and KSFY


City of Mitchell seeks your opinion on recycling

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The City of Mitchell wants to know your thoughts regarding the upcoming residential curbside recycling contract. Mayor Jerry Toomey says there appears to be confusion regarding what the current service, Dependable Sanitation of Aberdeen, and Petrik Sanitation of Mitchell, who is bidding on the contract, provide.

He says Dependable currently uses 18 gallon open containers, while Petrik proposes using larger 65 gallon or 90 gallon containers with lids that hold all recyclables.

You can offer your opinion on-line at Click on the Government tab, then city council tab, and proceed to the line that says: “To submit a comment on a current City Council issue, you can use this online form.”

Toomey says responses are kept private.

He says you may also contact your respective city councilor by e-mail or call them. Contact information is also on the city website.

The council is set to consider the recycling contract at its next meeting on January 17th.


J.P. Skelly


Mitchell Performing Arts Center grand opening postponed

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Mitchell School District has postponed the grand opening of its new performing arts center. Superintendent Joe Graves says the delay is due to safety issues. “We are not to going to have our safety systems in place by that time,” said Graves. Therefore the building cannot be used. He says the postponement also applies to the new classrooms. “The whole building is one unit in terms of the safety systems”, Graves said. “We have those students in classrooms in the current high school now.”

The Mitchell Chamber of Commerce was scheduled to hold its annual event in the new building and is meeting to come up with an alternate plan.

Graves says the district is hoping to re-schedule the grand opening for early February.


J.P. Skelly


Longfellow Elementary School teacher earns $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Amanda Christensen, a fourth grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Mitchell, has received a $25,000 award that Teacher magazine calls the “Oscar of Teaching.” Gov. Dennis Daugaard, State Education Secretary Dr. Melody Schopp and Greg Gallagher, senior program administrator for the Milken Educator Awards, surprised Christensen with a Milken Educator Award during a school assembly this morning.

“Teachers are the foundation of a quality education,” said Gov. Daugaard. “It’s an honor to be part of this special recognition for one of our state’s educators. I commend Amanda for the great work she is doing in both her classroom and her community.”

One example of Christensen's work with the community is the relationship she has developed with LifeQuest, a local organization that helps adults with disabilities. LifeQuest clients have donated books to Christensen’s classroom. She then invites the clients into her classroom, so her students can read the donated books to them. In the spring, her students visit their friends at LifeQuest to replant flower beds.

Christensen received a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a minor in special education and a master’s from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“There are so many great things happening in South Dakota classrooms,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp. “Amanda Christensen’s classroom is one such example. I feel deeply fortunate on days like this to get to celebrate the teaching profession. I’m excited for Amanda and proud of all of our state’s teachers who make a difference in the lives of students every day.”

The Milken Educator Awards program, created by the Milken Family Foundation, is in its 30th year. The prestigious honor will be presented at up to 35 schools during the 2016-17 school year. More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the program, which includes professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Since South Dakota joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 2002, a total of $475,000 has been awarded to 19 South Dakota recipients.

Candidates for the Milken Educator Awards are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Exceptional educational talent, as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school
  • Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession
  • Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight
  • Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong, long-range potential for professional and policy leadership
  • Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community 

SD Dept. of Education



Novak pleads guilty to manslaughter

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A South Dakota man accused of killing a woman last year has pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Thirty-three-year-old Matthew Novak of Woonsocket entered his plea as part of a plea deal. Novak was accused in the death last August of 25-year-old Jennifer Gibson at their home.

During a Tuesday court appearance, Novak said he killed the mother of four by cutting her throat.

Authorities arrested Novak at the home after the incident prompted a nearby school to go on lockdown.

First-degree manslaughter is a felony carrying a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $50,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.