Back on the auction block

By Jason Ferguson


The former State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy will hit the auction block for the second time Thursday, Jan. 4, at 11 a.m. at the Custer County Courthouse Commissioners Room. The auction will come less than three months after the first attempt to sell the property at auction ended when no hands were raised during the bidding process.

The highly-anticipated public auction of the former STAR Academy’s  173.9  acres and 26 of its buildings ended quickly when S.D. School of Public Lands land agent Mike Cornelison failed to get an opening bid of $2.34 million after three tries. A legal notice sent out by the state shows the starting bid appraised value still set at $2.34 million.

That amount of money is what the state Board of Appraisers placed as a value on the entire former academy grounds.

State officials said publicly prior to the auction that it costs $500,000 annually to maintain the buildings on the property, which  Brunner said have an appraised value of $1 million.

Prior to the October auction, some state legislators, including district 30 Reps. Tim Goodwin and Julie Frye-Mueller, questioned the suddeness of the auction, which they said lacked transparency.

They since have called on Gov. Dennis Daugaard to scrap auctioning the property altogether and to consider reopening the academy. They have been joined on that call by Sen. Neal Tapio of Watertown, who has said the state’s juvenile justice reform is not working and a facility to house problem juveniles is needed.


  1. I wonder if any of those legislators have ever asked the families of the children who are in the juvenile system what they think. I don’t think another institution is what this state needs. They need to look more towards helping families…assist parents in parenting these kids who are so hard to parent. The kids who are in because they act out at home, won’t follow rules, skip school etc do not need to be in placement. The parents need help…not to have their children taken away. Provide some group counseling for the kids and the parents. Kids in one group…parents in another. Provide some tools and advice on discipline and consequences to help parents. Speaking from experience…South Dakota uses these archaic methods that destroy families, teach kids how to commit crimes, and end up with very angry kids that come home. Put your kids in these places for a week and ask them how helpful it was and how angry they are at you for “putting” them there.