“State of the Community Luncheon” sheds light on Spearfish promise, issues

The luncheon allowed community members to hear the good, bad and the ugly from the mouths of city, chamber, education and Lawrence County leaders.

SPEARFISH, S.D. — Spearfish community members were able to hear from the mouths of city, chamber, education and Lawrence County leaders the lowdown in a “State of the Community luncheon on Tuesday.

A meal that highlighted growth in many areas of Spearfish including major areas like housing.

“We have already surpassed previous records in building and development,” said Spearfish Mayor Dana Boke. “You know we have 105 new homes scheduled to be built in this year alone.”

Mayor Boke shared at the luncheon the following figures for building and growth, especially building permit evaluations:

  • 2021: $63.4 million (only through September)
  • 2020: $54.9 million
  • 2019: $36.7 million
  • 2018: $48.8 million

According to Mayor Boke, 95 new residential structures were built in 2021 for a total value of $36.7 million, which equals out to each home costing roughly $386,000 to build. Seven commercial structures were also built in Spearfish, for a total value of $13.5 million.

In her presentation, Mayor Boke highlighted the growth of Spearfish’s population, which grew roughly 16 percent from 2010 to 2020 (10,494 to 12,193 according to the 2020 census.) That was slightly lower than what Spearfish, according to Mayor Boke has seen in the past with a 20 percent growth over ten years being the norm.

Mayor Boke also shared that the YTD Sales Tax Revenue is up 18 percent for the year so far at $4.4 million.

Black Hills State University reported some positivity with its Strategic Enrollment plan and a new Title Three Grant worth $2.2 million grant that will help pay for the plan. BHSU also highlighted five different partnerships including:

  • Ellsworth Air Force Base – set up an office to offer on base courses.
  • West River Health Science Center – will provide the pre-nursing curriculum and then will transition those students into the nursing program.
  • Forestry Program – in collaboration with Neiman Enterprises, The Black Hills National Forest Service, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks – to address a work force shortage in forestry.

Spearfish is facing its share of issues.

Like a nearly two percent overall drop in enrollment at Black Hills State University, which is highlighted by a Native American population at BHSU that’s been cut in half in the last two years.

“We really, truthfully are down nearly 50 percent, said BHSU President Dr. Laurie Nichols. “We lost about 20 percent one year, one year and then about 30 percent the next. So it’s been a dramatic hit on our Native American population.”

Issues that also include a jail with a failing infrastructure and a lack of space that they’re hoping to be remedied by a $40 million expenditure in the future.

All of this is explained in Lawrence County Sheriff Brian Dean’s presentation that explained the hoops they’ve jumped through to balance out the books.

“It’s important in a project of this size to establish what your what your budget is early on, so that you have a system of checks and balances that are integral to the process,” Sheriff Dean said.

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