Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

Weather check: In the 70s with a chance of rain

Drumroll, please: The winner of a free headshot session this Friday with Maddie Peschong is Tamara Ruml! Thanks to all of you who signed up as a Cmtv News member using Maddie's affiliate link. 😄 Even though the contest is over, I'll keep the link alive a little longer in case you're feeling some FOMO for not joining sooner.

This week, you'll find an update on how the City Council is approaching solutions to the childcare crisis – and why they're wanting to talk about the unfinished downtown parking ramp again. And it's week two of a bunch of Super Simplified city news. Plus, get a look at the zoo's new splash pad, and find a round-up of local events.

And now, news:


Why Sioux Falls likely won't see more childcare wins until the state pitches in

Simplified: After months of city discussion, it's looking like any future progress toward solving the childcare crisis in Sioux Falls will have to come from the state legislature. That was the tone set by Councilor Rich Merkouris during a press conference Tuesday.

brown letters on table
Photo by Gautam Arora / Unsplash

Why it matters

  • The council voted Tuesday evening to authorize a $450,000 scholarship fund to encourage more childcare providers to seek higher education and join the industry – you can find more background on that here.
  • Councilors also supported spending $75,000 on a professional service agreement with Woods Fuller to research specific childcare priorities. The idea is that the research will result in a series of specific recommendations the council can then take to the South Dakota State Legislature, Merkouris said.
  • Historically, though, the state legislature has not supported spending state money on childcare – a sentiment echoed by the state's top politician. Gov. Kristi Noem told a Watertown radio station in December that she "(doesn't) think it’s the government’s job to pay or to raise people’s children for them."
"We need it to not be a Sioux Falls thing," Merkouris said. "I think we need it to be a statewide coalition of support that says, let's do these two or three specific things to make a difference."

Ok, back up. How did we get here?


Get a look at the zoo's new splash pad

This is a paid piece from the Great Plains Zoo.

Simplified: A brand new splash pad is opening later this month at the Great Plains Zoo. Here's a look at the new amenities and how the zoo is paying special attention to accessibility.

Why it matters

  • The splash pad is the first of several exciting new elements the zoo is opening this summer – coming soon: lions – and it's also part of the broader master plan that'll bring massive changes to the zoo's campus over the next decade.
  • The new area will have lots of activities for kids, including slides, sprayers and a bucket to dump water on your head. Additionally, the splash pad will also have a new year-round bathroom facility that also includes a full body dryer, as well as a family bathroom with an adult-sized changing table to increase accessibility for all visitors.
  • Access to the splash pad is included in zoo admission, and, of course is accessible to zoo members. The grand opening is May 25 during the zoo's "Leap into Summer" event, and the splash pad will be open during regular zoo hours, with the exception of 30 minutes at the start and end of each day to account for setup and cleanup.
"This will be a great way for our guests to cool off during hot summer days and an especially nice resource for our members to be able to come and visit the splash pad whenever they'd like," said Denise DePaolo, PR and marketing director.

Tell me more about the splash pad


Super Simplified Stories

  • City Council votes to buy west-side wellness center. Councilors voted 6-2 on Tuesday to approve the $9 million purchase of the Tea/Ellis Sanford Wellness Center. Background on that here.
  • What's next for aquatics? The City Council decided to press pause on voting on the proposed $77 million bond for new pools. Councilors wanted more time to figure out the financials and make sure the cost to use the pools is accessible to the public. They also wanted more serious discussion on the potential to add a pool on the south side of town.
    • The council will chat in depth about this at a June 11 work session, with plans to take a final vote on the bond in September alongside regular budget discussions.
  • Unfinished parking ramp old enough to start kindergarten. Councilor Curt Soehl on Tuesday said he wants to see the city and community talking more about the potential for development on the unfinished 10th Street parking ramp. Five years ago this month, the city terminated its agreement with Village River Group, the initial developer on the project.
    • "Bring us your outlandish plans so we can start having a discussion," Soehl said, noting that developers have expressed interest in the project, but none have taken any serious action just yet.
  • Taxidermy in limbo. The future of the taxidermy collection at the Delbridge Museum on the zoo campus remains a bit of a question mark. The museum was closed last summer after specimen tested positive for arsenic, and about nine months later, the museum remains closed with no solid plan for what to do next.
    • Meanwhile, a third-party report on potential options was supposed to be given to a city task force earlier this month, Councilor Rich Merkouris said, but that hasn't happened.

More Super Simplified Stories

  • Olympic curling trials coming to town. Sioux Falls will host the 2025 U.S. Olympic team trials for men's and women's curling, and the U.S. paralympic team trials for wheelchair mixed doubles curling. Both events will take place in November 2025 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
  • Council passes tax breaks. The council voted Tuesday to approve two new tax reduction programs – one targeting density in the city's central neighborhoods, and another targeting affordable housing. Background on that here.
  • Esports expanding in Sioux Falls schools. Sioux Falls School Board members on Monday heard an update on the district's esports program, including news that each of the four high schools will have its own coach in the next school year. Right now, all teams are practicing together out at CTE Academy, but this year it'll be an officially sanctioned sport in the state. More background on esports here.


Stuff to do: May 15-21

  • Learn some local history. Local Lou – of the Local Lou Podcast – is hosting a bus tour and history talk Thursday evening. You can ride around and learn about the history of the railroad in town, and then stop at Startup Sioux Falls for a talk with historian Dan Bilka. More details on the free event here.
  • Support local comedy. The final show of the Live & Local series at the Washington Pavilion takes place Thursday with local juggler Joey Colombi, followed by comedians Zach Dresch and Nathan Hults. Show starts at 7:30, and tickets are $20. Snag yours here.
  • Drink craft beer. It's American Craft Beer Week, and there are no shortage of local breweries to celebrate in Sioux Falls. Severance has a variety of activities, Remedy is celebrating its Queen Bee Day, Woodgrain has a merch sale, or heck, just go grab a pint at your favorite spot.
  • Watch artists battle it out. Rose & Eugene Presents is celebrating one year in its downtown location, and they're going all out with "Panel Warz" an art battle between four artists. The event kicks off Saturday at 6 p.m., and artists will have two hours to paint before brushes down, and the pieces are raffled off. Get the full details here.
  • Support local music. The Clover Fold is releasing debut album "Windfall" and kicking it off with a party Saturday night at Icon Lounge. Details and tickets here.


More Simplified Stories

Get a look at two education-related projects that start construction this week
Two big projects – both with ties to education – broke ground this week in Sioux Falls.
This virtual course from Think 3D will teach you how to lead
A new virtual program from Think 3D makes leadership development accessible, effective and sustainable. Here’s what you need to know about Think 3D University
How tax breaks could help encourage density, affordable housing in Sioux Falls
The City of Sioux Falls is updating its tax reduction programs with a targeted focus at encouraging developers to build affordable housing projects, as well as mixed-use buildings to fit more people and businesses in the city’s central neighborhoods.


What I'm falling for this week:


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