Happy Wednesday! Megan here.

Weather check: Sweater weather

A birthday wish: I turned 31 on Monday, and I'd like to take a moment of personal privilege to ask a favor: share this newsletter with a friend (or, heck, 31!) and spread the word about this smarter, easier local news outlet.

This week, I took a little look West River to see how Rapid City is tackling its childcare crisis (and what Sioux Falls might be able to learn). You'll also find updates on Dakota State University's cybersecurity research facility and a look at some concerns over a new prison in Lincoln County.


There's a lot of big feelings about plans to build a new prison near Harrisburg

Simplified: Neighbors are mad. Lincoln County officials feel their hands are tied, and the state isn't answering questions from multiple news outlets (including this one). It’s all tied to a decision announced last week that a new state penitentiary will be built south of Harrisburg. Here's what we know.

Why it matters

  • The need for a new penitentiary is well-documented. The current facility was built in 1881, is overcrowded, and its outdated layout creates an unsafe environment for both inmates and officers, according to South Dakota Searchlight.
  • The state earlier this year posted a request for information on land for the new penitentiary, which specified a desire to keep the facility within 20 miles of Sioux Falls. The state announced Friday that the Department of Corrections has agreed to purchase 320 acres of land in rural Lincoln County nearly exactly 20 miles from the current state penitentiary north of downtown Sioux Falls.
  • Neighbors told county officials they’re upset – citing concerns about safety, property values and other local impacts, but the county says it can’t tell the state what to do.
"I think the decision is done," Lincoln County Commissioner Michael Poppens said. "Now it's in (the state's) hands to do everything possible to make it as minimal of a negative impact to the people who live close to it as possible."

Tell me more

And what do people close to this have to say about it?


How Rapid City is working to solve its childcare crisis

Simplified: A Rapid City foundation is laying the groundwork for a program where parents only pay one third of the cost of childcare. It's a model that's been tested and proven in other states, and it's even been proposed as a solution for Sioux Falls.

child building an four boxes
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Why it matters

  • The "tri-share" model of childcare originated in a pilot program in Michigan, where the cost was split three ways between parents, employers and the state.
  • The Rapid City version will split the costs between parents, employers and the John T. Vucurevich Foundation – a private foundation focused on providing basic needs for folks in Rapid, from housing to economic mobility to early learning.
  • Much like Sioux Falls, Rapid City is seeing a scenario where childcare costs are simultaneously too expensive for parents and not enough money for providers.
"Ultimately what we want to prove is that if you support childcare, you're supporting the workforce in your community," said Callie Tysdal, communications director for the foundation.

Tell me more


How the zoo and butterfly house are celebrating spooky season

This is a paid piece from the Great Plains Zoo.

Simplified: It's spooky season at the Great Plains Zoo and the Butterfly House and Aquarium. Here's a look at how you can find Halloween fun two weekends in a row this month.

Why it matters

  • The two upcoming events – Spooky Seas at the butterfly house and Zoo Boo at the zoo – are a safe, family friendly way to celebrate the season with trick or treating, crafts, characters and, of course, chances to learn about animals.
  • These events are also a great time to take advantage of a Monarch Membership – which includes annual admission to both the zoo and butterfly house. Monarch members are able to attend both Spooky Seas and Zoo Boo at no extra cost.
  • Zoo Boo will also include a "Sensory Sunday" event from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29 in which visitors with sensory needs can come and experience all of the fun without all of the noise.
"It's important for us that everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy the zoo," Director of PR and Marketing Denise DePaolo said.

Tell me more


Super Simplified Stories

  • Sioux Falls schools to talk enrollment. The Sioux Falls school board is set to get an update Wednesday afternoon about the fall enrollment. Early indicators showed a leveling off, which district officials say is to be expected as the district reaches its capacity. More background on that here.


Here's the latest on a new cybersecurity hub in Sioux Falls

Simplified: Dakota State University is seeing more students, hiring more faculty, adding more programs and accepting more donations all in an effort to ramp up the school's presence as a cybersecurity hub. That includes a $90 million facility coming to Sioux Falls.

Why it matters

  • DSU plans to begin construction in the spring on a 100,000-square-foot research facility in northwest Sioux Falls. The building is funded through a combination of state funds, a $60 million donation from T. Denny Sanford – initially $50 million, with an additional $10 million given and $10 million from the City of Sioux Falls.
  • DSU President Jose-Marie Griffiths on Tuesday updated the City Council on the work that's been done so far on the applied research facility as well as the timeline moving forward.
  • Griffiths said in the last five years, DSU has added 15 new cyber programs, increased its faculty by almost 20 percent and, much more recently, signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with the U.S. Army, facilitated in part by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds.
"We're already talking about work that's going to start flowing in our direction," Griffiths said of the new government contract.

Tell me more


What I'm falling for this week


More recent headlines

Get a look at Sioux Falls’ new mobile grocery store
A mobile grocery store is ready to hit the road next week, bringing fresh produce and affordable food to areas of town where groceries aren’t otherwise accessible.
How United Way is preparing for the next generation of giving
The nature of philanthropy is changing, and with those changes, Sioux Empire United Way (SEUW) is finding new ways to connect with donors.
How Southeast Tech is helping first-generation students
Southeast Technical College received national recognition last month for its work in supporting first-generation students.


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Thank you

Thank you to Cmtv News sponsors, including the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Sioux Empire United Way, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, Barre3 Sioux Falls, Midco, the Great Plains Zoo, the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance and Voyage Federal Credit Union. When you support them, you're also supporting Cmtv News.