Bark Park and BHACF join forces

By Jason Ferguson

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Volunteers who are working to bring to fruition the new Custer dog park — Custer Bark Park — have a goal of having the park up and running by spring or early summer. In order to do so, they need to raise funds. The committee took a big step in that direction at the Nov. 19 meeting of the Custer City Council.

At the meeting, the committee received permission to partner with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation (BHACF) to utilize its Special Project/Fiscal Sponsorship Fund program. This allows the committee to utilize BHACF’s 501(c)3 nonprofit status for fundraising, rather than having to spend the time and money to form its own 501(c)3.

Hank Whitney, a committee member, told the council it would cost the committee $250—which the committee hoped the city would pay—to utilize BHACF, which is considerably less than the Internal Revenue Service’s nonprofit filing fee of $600, which the city previously agreed to pay. He said it’s possible the city could even recoup some of the $250.

“We are anxious to move on,” Whitney said.

By partnering with BHACF, the Bark Park would be put on BHACF’s website, which would allow people to donate to the park online. Or interested donors can send a check to BHACF while noting on the check that the donation is for the Bark Park.

The city approved both the partnership and paying the $250 fee, which allows the committee to begin raising funds immediately.

The council also heard from Hank Fridell, a member of the Bark Beetle Blues Committee, who confirmed the sixth annual Burning Beetle event is set for Jan. 19.

Planned events are familiar to those who have come to Bark Beetle Blues in the past, as a variety show, torch march to Pageant Hill and beetle burn will preceed downtown music held at five or six venues. An information flyer Fridell handed out said the committee is searching for a partner to hold a bike race the same day.

Fridell’s information said there are around 30 sponsors for the weekend events, ranging from $150 to $1,500. The money raised from the Burning Beetle events will support an art installation focusing on the impact of the recent beetle infestation that helps 

“bring understanding to the changing environment we live in.”

An artist is being recruited to help lead the project, which is scheduled for competition in 2020. The plan is for the committee to work with the city to have the installation within the city limits.

The city approved the use of Pageant Hill for the event and agreed to provide portapotties as well as collect discarded Christmas trees to burn on the site as part of the Burning Beetle.

In other news from the Nov. 19 meeting, the council:

• Approved an ordinance for designated wetland maintenance as part of its requirements for the West Dam project.

City public works director Bob Morrison said the designation won’t be a major expense, but it must be done to satisfy the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency permit requirements. Some wetland space will be removed from West Dam and added in another area. The  maintenance will entail inspecting the wetland area and reseeding, if needed.

• Approved accepting the warranty deed for the hospital and clinic land, called Tract Hospital and Tract Clinic, subject to restrictions in the deed, and transfer the clinic land to Custer County.

Discussion was held as to whether the clinic land should be restricted to use by Custer County Search and Rescue only, with Custer County Emergency Management director Mike Carter saying that designation could be too restrictive, as his office or other county emergency services might use the building. 

The county voted to word the transfer so county emergency services could use the property. Should the county ever stop using the building for those purposes, it would return ownership to the city.

• Learned from city finance officer Laurie Woodward that sales tax from October was down 2.76 percent and September sales tax receipts were down 2.29 percent.

• Approved the second reading of an increase in water, wastewater and water shut-off rates. The approval means a 3 percent increase to city water rates and a 7 percent increase in wastewater rates, effective for the January 2019 billing. Under the new rates, a residential single family dwelling will be charged $11.01 for a minimum of 2,000 gallons, with $7.76 charged per thousand gallons over that.

For commercial and multi-family residences, the charge is $23.71 for 2,000 gallons, with a $9.13 charge per thousand gallons used over that.

For wastewater, a single family will pay $22.65 for a minimum of 2,000 gallons, with $2.49  per thousand gallons used over that. Commercial and multi-family dwellings will pay $26.59 for 2,000 gallons and $7.19 for every 1,000 gallons over that. The monthly fee of $5.50 for all water customers will continue, as the city works to pay off its 2012 loan for water system upgrades.

The city will also increase the service reduction costs by 3 percent for homes or businesses not occupied for 30 consecutive days.

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