Ken Santema picks up South Dakota’s lone entry in the 2015 Wastebook, the project Arizona Senator Jeff Flake inherited from retired Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn to spotlight projects that misuse government money.
How South Dakota’s crony-feeding GEAR UP didn’t make this list, I have no idea. But making the list is the 1906 Fort Pierre depot, which local preservationists hauled back to town from a Mud Butte ranch, where it was relocated over 50 years ago. The depot is now in the hands of Fort Pierre’s Verendrye Museum Board, which needs you to not call the restored depot a museum:
For the better part of five years now, ever since history-minded Fort Pierre citizens began planning how to bring home the original Chicago and North Western depot from the ranch near Mud Butte where it was serving as a farm building, people have resisted saying they were building a museum.
The federal transportation grant that helped with the project wouldn’t pay for building or refurbishing a museum. But it would pay for refurbishing a transportation artifact.
Gary Grittner of Fort Pierre’s Bring It Home Committee said that’s what the $1 million project – half paid for by a federal grant and half paid for by local cash or in-kind contributions – accomplished. It refurbished an artifact that will hold other artifacts – virtually all, in one way or another, having to do with the railroad that brought everything to the middle of South Dakota once the depot opened in 1906 [Lance Nixon, “Fort Pierre Depot Now in Verendrye Museum’s Hands,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2015.11.08].
Fort Pierre spent more federal dollars to get Smart Growth America’s advice on how to “craft a vision for Fort Pierre’s future development.” SGA’s August 20, 2015, report says that to best leverage the 1906 depot and Fort Pierre’s other historic and cultural assets, the city should “Engage a consultant to develop a historic/cultural marketing plan.” Let’s see if that consultant makes the 2016 Wastebook.