Celebrating Hand County, Together

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Last Thursday night, the City of Miller, the Miller School District, On Hand Development, Miller Civic and Commerce, and Hand County celebrated 2021. This event was open to the public and we invited folks thru the Miller Press and Facebook. This is the official On Hand Development Corporation and Miller Civic and Commerce Annual Meeting. Looking at everything our community has accomplished; we take this opportunity to celebrate together because we have all worked hard together to make things happen in our community. This is also an opportunity for our community to come in and hear what is going on and visit with the leadership from several different entities.

Hand County Commissioner Chair, Greg Palmer presented for Hand County first. The County highway department has lots of gravel to crush this year and hoping for small structure dollars to come from the state to help replace bridges under twenty feet wide.  By implementing the wheel tax last year, they hope to have nearly $160,000 in 2022 to help with the bridge replacement south of Rockham and allow them to become part of the state's BIG (Bridge Improvement Grant) program.  They are planning to oil the St. Lawrence Road north and painting lines on the Ames Road and Ree Heights south. The County has purchased ten acres of ground just south of the existing rubble site for future needs once the existing site is at capacity. The digital 911 mutual aid radio system has been completed along with replacement of many of the repeater sites throughout the county allowing for better communication for emergency services. Officer Fisher and their new canine officer Ringo has been commissioned and are actively working in the county while continuing to have on–going training with other K9 units in the state. The new GIS parcel mapping has been completed and is available on the county website with subscriptions available for sale/tax/valuation history. If you have not visited the courthouse lately, the repairs to the courtroom and rotunda have been completed. The county library parking lot was completed last year, and the roof will hopefully be completed this spring sometime. A reminder that the normal schedule for the county commission is the first Tuesday of every month and is available on you tube.

The Miller Civic and Commerce presented their recap from 2021. President Jaime Russell, reminded everyone that their meetings held the 3rd Wednesday of the month at noon in the Community Center meeting room and they are open to all members. Events held so far Winter Crazy Days added Winter BINGO game, Community Easter Egg Hunt. Upcoming Events include: Miller Area Rummage Sales (Miller Press) July 4th (parade, park activities, fireworks) Summer Crazy Days, Smoke on the Prairie last year they added pulled pork that was voted by the people for People’s Choice, Sip N Shop added in 2021 was a huge success moving to Pheasant Opener weekend to pull away from so close to Christmas on the Prairie, Pheasant Release Christmas on the Prairie They have expanded their social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.

The City of Miller had Mayor Ron Blachford present all of the victories from 2021. First, he thanked the City of Miller staff for everything that they do. The City of Miller celebrated the electric department is working to replace the meters with automatic radio read meters and to retire the old system. The street lights have all been converted to LED lights. Phase III of the water & sewer project should be completed this fall. The city has received a funding package from DANR for Phase IV but they are also applying to Rural Development for some additional funding. The storm shelter in the park has been a wonderful addition. They have extended a taxiway north of Suhn’s hangar. There will be pavement repair work done on the airport apron and access road this summer. 2021 sales tax was up 8.24%, BBB tax was up 15.76% from 2020.The Flood Study has been completed and the city employees with assistance from the county and Olson’s Construction have been working to mitigate some of the causes of flooding south of the railroad tracks east of town. The Finance Department assisted St. Lawrence with their administrative work for the second full year.

The Miller School District also celebrated a number of accomplishments. Rustler volleyball team advanced to the SoDak 16. Junior Tyra Gates recorded her 1000th career assist during the season. Oral Interpretation Team had outstanding results. For the first time in over a decade, both the boys and girls Miller Cross Country teams went to State. The boys’ team had an undefeated season and were state Champs. The boys’ and girls’ teams finished as a combined 4th place overall. Six FFA seniors receive their State Degree. Wrestling team went to state with Kellen Hurd placing 2nd and Teagen Foreman placing 5th. Jayce Pugh won the ‘B’ girls state golf tournament in 2021. Miller Area Community Foundation and the Miller Booster Club helped to purchase a trailer to transport instruments, robotics materials and play sets for competitions.  The Miller School Board members earned a Gold Level Award, the highest award given by the Associated School Boards of SD.

On Hand Development closed out the evening. Currently OHDC has eight loans out for just over $600,000 in Hand County. In 2021, OHDC visited over 130 businesses about needs. The signage program assisted four businesses and paid out over $1600. Hand County Recruitment program awarded $2750 for recruitment of new employees to Hand County businesses. OHDC worked with other communities on a regional Career Here Event where students had the opportunity to visit with potential employers about careers in our area. 2021 was the biggest year for our Community Center with paid events. And we participated in four speaking events outside of Hand County. Laine Warkenthien, President of On Hand, challenged everyone to bring ideas and projects to OHDC because that is where our work comes from.

Every organization has worked together to make Hand County thrive. We have so much to be proud of and so much to celebrate! I am so proud of these groups for coming together to celebrate our wonderful community, Hand County! 

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