Redfield City Council discusses subsidizing Redfield Chamber, hears of Emerald Ash Borer problem that is expected to reach Redfield by 2029
By Shiloh Appel
During the Redfield City Council meeting held on Monday, January 7th, a couple of issues concerning Redfield's future were discussed. One of these was the current trajectory of the Redfield Chamber. Since June 5th, 2018, when the Redfield Area Chamber of Commerce held their annual meeting and Mayor Jayme Akin informed those in attendance that the Redfield City Council is considering using the $20,000 annual subsidy that is usually paid to the Chamber to create a new city position, the future of the Redfield Area Chamber of Commerce has been questioned.
However, during the January 7th meeting, Heidi Appel and Jerad Appel reported on the current state of the Chamber and handed out a plan to the Redfield City Council.
"This is the basics of the Chamber Strategic Plan," said Heidi Appel."It gives us some goals and objectives to meet in the next couple of years. That should give us some direction and bring some light back to the Chamber."
Jerad explained to the council that Heidi will no longer serve on the Chamber board due to the closing of her business. He said that Emily Rogers has taken her position on the board.
"But I told Heidi she can't leave. She still needs to come and help us," said Jerad.
Jerad went on to explain that he has been aiming to do "the job that a director would do" by taking phone calls and planning to get things ready for summer. He also shared a few ideas.
"There are new businesses in town and the Chamber has not yet been in to say 'hi' and welcome them. There are businesses in town that have been here for 60 years and haven't seen the face of the Chamber for many of them. I would like to change that," said Jerad."If we could somehow [also] move the Chamber Director position down to the Park and Rec office."
"I don't want anyone here to feel like everything has already been decided. Nothing has been decided. It has only been a conversation," said Heidi, mentioning that in the event that the council did not agree with something, it could go back to the drawing board.
"In light of some other things that have come up, I think that maybe we also want to have further conversation about funding," she said.
Mayor Jayme Akin advised the council not to make a quick decision on whether or not to subsidize the Chamber.
"Maybe we need to sit down and have a little more in-depth discussion about it," said Akin."Maybe we can have Grow Spink and have a couple different people come in and have a discussion about what we are going to do. If not, then we just go ahead and take a vote on it tonight. We either subsidize the Chamber or we don't. But I think we need to talk about what our plan is moving forward."
The council decided to meet in a work session on Monday evening, January 14th, at 7p.m., to further discuss the topic. No final decision was made during the work session.
Another issue that was brought up during the January 7th meeting was the expected infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer, a green jewel beetle that feeds on and kills ash trees. Dennis Clemens, representing the Spink Conservation District, addressed the city council concerning the problem.
"As I am sure most of you know, the Emerald Ash Borer is in South Dakota. They predict it is going to move a lot like the Dutch Elm disease did, which will probably put it here [in Spink County] in 8 to 10 years and it will probably be here three to four years before we find it. That is just the way the bug works," said Clemens."They can be treated, but it is very expensive and it doesn't do any good to treat it until the worm is actually here.You have to treat it every year or every two years and it is around a couple hundred dollars per tree."
Clemens urged the city council to take action in creating a plan.
"Once it gets here — once the trees become infected and die from this, they are terrible to remove. They don't come down in one piece. They come down in pieces and fall apart everywhere. They are very dangerous. It dries them out so quick that it is terrible to deal with, so the best thing to do is get ahead of it," said Clemens.
The council discussed removing current ash trees and replacing them with other varieties.
"Diversity is the biggest thing [in planting new trees]," said Clemens."You don't want a bunch of one type of tree. Then a different disease comes along and wipes out an entire species."
Clemens also said that a quarantine would be put in place when the Emerald Ash Borer is found.
"They will quarantine an area. Those trees will have to be removed from that area, so you will have to have a place to put them trees and then destroy them at a later date," said Clemens.
Other things that were discussed during the meeting included the annual Auto Value Car Show, which will take place on July 13th this year, and the R&A Taxi Company. Mario Hansen gave an update to the council on the car show and Angelina Olsen gave an update to the council on the R&A Taxi Company, which has expanded to serve both Redfield and Aberdeen. The council approved the car show and the renewal of R&A Taxi Company's business license.
Several subsidies were listed under new business during the meeting, including the Family Crisis Center subsidy, the Redfield Sr. Center subsidy, a recruitment subsidy and the Spink County Transit subsidy, all of which were approved by the council.
The next council meeting will take place on Monday, January 21 at 7p.m.