Beetle to burn seventh time

Jason Ferguson
Entertainment was the order of the evening at the latest meeting of the Custer City Council, as the council heard about the plan for January’s burning beetle event while also hearing a pitch for more music during the summer months. 
Burning Beetle committee member Hank Fridell came to discuss the beetle event, saying it will take place Jan. 17-18, sponsored by the Custer Area Arts Council under the leadership of the Bark Beetle Blues Committee. It is the seventh year of the burning beetle and eighth year overall of events.
Fridell presented a handout to the council that shows Jan. 17 events will include the unveiling of the “Vigilance” art sculpture that commemorates the community’s efforts in battling the bark beetle, but also the spirit of community embodied by Burning Beetle. Jan. 17 will also feature a concert at The Custer Beacon.
The following day, Jan. 18, will see a Spin the Beetle fat tire bike race in the morning and the annual Burning Beetle Variety Show from 3 to 4:45 p.m. at the Custer Jr./Sr. High School theatre. At 5 p.m. the torch march will begin from the school parking lot, with the beetle burning taking place upon arrival at Pageant Hill. At 6 p.m the annual Bug Crawl will begin with music played at venues downtown.
Beetle construction for the burn will begin in late November and last until the day of the event. Christmas trees are once again sought to be put at Pageant Hill for the pyre. The council approved the use of Pageant Hill for the event.
The council also heard from local music enthusiast and musician Van Arp, who pitched an idea to have more mustic in downtown Custer in the summer. Arp’s request stated three dates where there isn’t already an event — June 26-27, July 24-25 and Aug. 28-29 — would be ideal weekends to close south 6th Street from Mt. Rushmore Road to the alley or a section of Washington Street and set up the city’s showmobile for music.
Arp said he could supply the sound for the shows, but would like the city to pay the artists who perform.
The council was receptive to the idea, but said logistics would need to be worked out in committee meetings before the council could decide whether to move ahead. Arp said he would discuss the idea with the Custer Area Arts Council and Custer Area Chamber of Commerce, while also attending the city’s public works committee meeting to discuss the issue.
In other news from the Oct. 7 meeting, the council:
• Watched as a check was presented by Custer American Legion for the upcoming “Hometown Hero” banners that will be displayed in Custer on Veterans Day. There will be 30 banners which will depict local veterans. The American Legion helped nominate veterans for the honor.
• Listened as Mayor Cobin Herman proclaimed Oct. 7 World Habitat Day in Custer. He encouraged all citizens to work toward the elimination of inadequate housing. The proclamation said more than 109,000 individuals lived below the poverty line in South Dakota in 2018, and 3,500 affordable homes are needed in the Rapid City area.
The proclamation was accepted by Shara Wilkey of Habitat for Humanity, who told the council Black Hills Habitat for Humanity has constructed 111 homes for those in need throughout the Hills since its inception.
• Entered into a temporary maintenance agreement with East Custer Sanitary Sewer District due to the district’s hardship with finding someone to handle maintenance.
Under the agreement, the city will provide maintenance for three months, with the sewer district paying the city $1,200 per month. The district agreed to maintain all liability for its system and hold the city harmless against any costs, expenses, liabilities, etc.
• Heard from city planning administrator Tim Hartmann, who said the city’s comprehensive plan revision is two months behind schedule due to staff changes at Black Hills Council of Local Governments, which is doing the rewrite. He added the city is gearing up for its annual deer count to see if there needs to be any harvested within city limits this winter.
• Heard from public works director Bob Morrison, who said city staff continues to work on flood cleanup, although staff will be limited as to what it can do for the remainder of the year. There will be no fence put back up or playground work done this year, as the ground in those areas is still extremely saturated so that equipment can’t be taken on it and when digging a hole water is hit six inches below the ground.
• Learned there will be a free fall yard waste weekend, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 25 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26.
Yard waste will be accepted at the old dump site at the intersection of Sylvan Lake and Willow Creek roads. There will be no charge to city residents hauling yard waste, but commercial accounts will not be allowed access to the site. Those who come to the site must provide a residential city utility billing statement.
Only yard waste such as leaves, needles and tree limbs will be accepted. All yard waste must be loose or removed from plastic bags on site.
Hauling assistance will be provided for the elderly and disabled. Those requiring assistance are asked to contact city hall at 673-4824 before Oct. 23 to make arrangements.

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