Council talks grocery stores, FEMA funding, construction


BROOKINGS – The Brookings City Council covered a wide range of topics at its Sept. 24 meeting, from grocery stores, to FEMA funding, to future street construction.

Grocery store

Glen Bren, a resident since 1964, asked the council if it or a private developer were seeking another full-service grocery store for Brookings. 

“Well, the council can’t do that; that would be up to a developer to do that,” Mayor Keith Corbett said, clarifying in an email to the Register that he thinks state law prohibits a municipality from competing with a private developer. 

He added he’s spoken to developers but “nothing signed that we know of,” Corbett said.

Bren said it’s an important topic and a lot of people are discussing it.

He said acquiring another grocery store is important so people, especially seniors, can afford to buy food without relying on the food bank.

“There’s no competition (for pricing),” Bren said. 

Corbett acknowledged he hears a lot of comments about grocery stores.

Councilor Patty Bacon said people are working on it.

“I’m sure there is at least two developers in town that have been trying to recruit a grocery store,” Bacon said.

“One other thing that I would note is there is an effort out there to create a food co-op as well,” said City Manager Paul Briseno. “I know there’s a lot of interest; they’re working with the Sustainability Committee (and) local farmers market.”

For more information about Dakota Community Market, email [email protected] 

Flooding and FEMA

Bob Hill, director of Brookings County Emergency Management, gave a briefing that included the latest on possible federal funding for the extreme weather the area has experienced this year.

“This is getting to be more important now” because of events like the Sioux Falls tornadoes, he said, adding Brookings County has had tornadoes within the past few years, “so it can happen here.”

The City of Brookings has applied for FEMA funding due to the blizzard in March, Hill said. 

It’s important to keep detailed records, he added, to assist in the process.

If a city experiences a disaster, that governing body would need to declare a disaster, then it would go through the county. In some cases, the county can declare a disaster and cities would come into the process under the county’s umbrella. 

Either way, the request would then go to the state, and if it’s severe enough, the governor would have to request a presidential declaration, Hill said.

Hill said if anyone sustained damage to their residence during the Sept. 11-12 rain event, to call 211 and report it. 

In the past, they’d get reports on damage to two or three basements, he said.

“Right now, I’ve got 113 reports of basements damaged, countywide,” Hill said.

The damage can add up to individual assistance, but there are no guarantees until the governor reports it and requests funding, he said.

Hill said the county emergency management office participates in local emergency planning, as does the city. That includes all the facilities in the county that have hazardous materials. His office would respond to hazardous waste, such as diesel spills, because those incidents must be reported to the state. 

They do a lot of full-scale exercises at South Dakota State University and the Swiftel Center. 

“I think last year, we gave 800 flu shots,” Hill said.

Councilor Holly Tilton Byrne asked if his office would participate in an active shooter drill.

That would be more under the jurisdiction of law enforcement, Hill said. 

“I would never go to an active shooter location, because I would just be in the way,” he said, adding he would probably serve best by reporting to Pierre during the incident.

For more information, call the Brookings County Emergency Management office at 696-8350. It is located in the City & County Government Center, 520 Third Street, Suite 200; website is www.brookingscountysd.gov or www.bereadybrookings.com online.

22nd Avenue construction

City Engineer Jackie Lanning gave an update on the core services offered by the Engineering Department and what her staff is working on now.

She hit the highlights of several things, including 2018 activity at the Brookings Regional Airport.

There was a 40% increase in overall aircraft operations from 2017 to 2018; there were 45,700 total aircraft operations in 2018, she said.

South Dakota State University added four aircraft to its fleet last year, and Lanning said they plan to add hangars and more aircraft in the future.

“Last year alone, just SDSU had over 29,000 flight operations, just with the flight school,” Lanning said.

Pheasant’s Fury Aviation sold over 90,000 gallons of fuel, a 10% increase from the year prior, she said.

Aircraft from 40 states have visited the Brookings Regional Airport, Lanning said.

Her office has been using drones to get an overview of some of their projects, including the construction on 22nd Avenue, and Lanning showed a video of that.

“They perform the video every Friday so we can get an update on the project,” Lanning said.

One of the upcoming projects she talked about was the continuation of the 22nd Avenue South construction, from Eastbrook Drive to 12th Street South.

“Right now, that’s scheduled for 2023,” Lanning said.

Councilor Ope Niemeyer asked how the detour would work, since some of the businesses in that stretch only have driveway access to 22nd Avenue.

“We haven’t designed it or anything yet,” Lanning said, but she expected to have detours on Eastbrook and Yorkshire and on the west side as well.

They might have to have a temporary access, like with some residences they have now, where it was graveled in front of the homes. Also, construction has alternated east side to west, so people could drive on the other side, when necessary, she added.

“It is a key component, how to have business access during the construction,” Lanning said.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]

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