Town takes steps toward mitigation

Leslie Silverman

Keystone is taking steps toward pre-disaster mitigation, according to the most recent Keystone town board meeting.

Dustin Willett from the Pennington County Emergency Management division presented the town with the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan that was approved in 2018. The plan is valid for five years.

Willett used the example of Silver City and their mitigation efforts on thinning around its location to reduce fire hazards.

“Mitigation is what we do to reduce the impact of disasters we know are going to happen,” Willett said.

The cost of disasters is “expensive” but Willett added that “for every $1 you spend before the disaster it saves you $6 to $7 in recovery.”

Funding for the federal BRIC (building resilient infrastructure and community) program doubled this year.

According to trustee Kwinn Neff, the town has several fire agencies “in the loop” and is looking at having a meeting with all parties.

“It makes my heart go pitter patter when people start taking positive steps toward mitigation,” said Willett.

Complaints about UTV/ATV speeds on Old Hill City Road were addressed by Deputy Chris Plawman of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

“A lot of people come from around the nation just to ride our trail system,” said Plawman. “As soon as I sit down there, they obey the law because they see the marked unit.”

Plawman suggested that, “It’s not just Old Hill City Road. It’s all the roads around town.”

Neff suggested that Plawman patrol during high traffic times to deter potential speeders.

A contract by Neiman Timber Company to use the town’s right of way (ROW) was approved. The contract calls for repair on gravel roads but Neiman Timber will not accept responsibility to repair asphalt roads. This could potentially affect both Mitchell and Harney streets.

The company will limit the axle weight to forest service requirements. According to the contract, the ROW would be for “the sole purpose of ingress and egress for the timber to be harvested” from the Holy Terror Mining Company LLC timber sale. The ROW would not be used during the South Dakota Department of Transportation spring load restriction.

The board approved a plan to draft and deliver letters to businesses along Winter Street in regard to what it sees as “clean up” issues. There is an ordinance requiring businesses to have their own trash receptacle.

“We went down on Winter Street. We need more receptacles,” said trustee Sandi McLain. “Many of the businesses didn’t want to put a garbage can out because they’re kind of possessive about their garbage can and they don’t want other people putting garbage in their can.”

She also noted a “huge problem with cigarette butts.” When it rains, the cigarette butts get stuck in the new drainage pipes, which are too small. The town feels the owners of the businesses need to be responsible so the town can meet them “halfway.”

The board also noted that grease is being brought onto the sidewalk and that the street is looking “ trashy.”

Public works will be power washing the sidewalk.

“It’s the worst I can remember,” said citizen Laura Pankratz. “It's the worst.”

The previously discussed Columbia Street right of way, in which Judy Helmer has built a retaining wall, was discussed at length. Town attorney Mitch Johnson did confirm that in 1895 the ROW was dedicated to the town.

According to Johnson, state law makes it clear that if, “it’s in the ROW you’re supposed to remove it.”

The city cannot legally take the wall on. Debate over the time and effort put in by Helmer to make the wall, which is holding back debris from the road, ensued.

“If we don’t do anything to improve the road to me it’s disingenuous,” said Neff.

McLain was concerned about whether the town could afford to “mediate” this problem.

“That's one part,” agreed town board president Lynette Gohsman. “Then somebody else says ‘I’m gonna build in city property and then the city will come in and fix it.’ ” Gohsman added, “I have a hard time fixing something somebody built on our property if we can’t even afford to fix major roads in this town.”

Trustee Casey McNulty volunteered to speak with Helmer regarding the wall, while Neff will speak with the public works supervisor about the cost associated with digging the wall out. The matter was tabled until the next board meeting.

Neff requested that a system be put into place regarding the veterans memorial portion of the town cemetery.

“I just ask that we work as a team when people put in requests,” Neff said. “I just want to make sure that if people have ideas of what they want it to look like that we talk about it.”

Numbers at the museum are down this year, according to Keystone Area Historical Society Board President Jon Veltman. The museum is open fewer days and hours.

In 2019, the museum saw 3,000 patrons while this year their numbers are about half.

Donations, however, are strong thanks in part to a carved bear at its entrance.

Veltman, who is also president of the senior center board, repeated a call for volunteers to help man the center. The Sturgis Rally biker breakfast was canceled this year because of this lack of volunteers. Feeding South Dakota is distributing over 200 boxes of food once a month.

Librarian Robin Scott informed the board the library has received a $2,000 grant to purchase three new computers. The library also has talking books available. The library will not be hosting the Halloween Penny Carnival this year. In its place, the library will host a trunk or treat on Oct. 31 from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.

The One Book this year is “Unfollow”. The library has yet to decide if it will participate in a One Book discussion, which would take place in November.

Jonathan Karl, a former Keystone resident, sent the library a free copy of his latest book entitled “Front Row at the Trump Show.”

New Chamber of Commerce Director Robin Pladson said traffic at the visitor information center is up for August when compared to July. The inaugural Veterans Rally and Ride drew 55 riders The chamber will be holding a Keystone Hometown celebration on Sept. 19.

Public Works: An audit proposal from Independent Audit Services for the 2020 audit in the amount of $5,000 was approved by the board. The board also approved use of the Keystone gym for a Black Hills Area Finance Officers Association workshop on Sept. 30.

The town voted to approve $250 from the promotional fund for the Her Vote Her Voice campaign. The money will go to light up the museum with purple and yellow lights to celebrate women’s suffrage.

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