Crony corruption doesn’t always win in South Dakota. Bart Pfankuch of South Dakota News Watch reports that the Game Fish and Parks Department has rejected the single radically overpriced bid it received from Jim Scull’s construction firm for its proposed shooting range northeast of Rapid City:
It hoped to break ground in May 2023 and finish construction in 2024. GFP has purchased 400 acres for the site, generated an environmental impact statement, received permission from the Meade County Commission and raised nearly $3 million in private funds to build the range. GFP hopes to raise $7 million in donations, possibly tap federal and agency funds to pay the rest of the construction costs and use GFP money to staff the range.
But the GFP has suffered setbacks.
The Legislature in 2022 rejected a bill to provide $2.5 million in state funding. And in late April 2023, the GFP was forced to pause the project when its call for bids attracted only one offer – a $19 million bid by Scull Construction Service of Rapid City that was more than double the $9 million estimated cost.
GFP has rejected the bid and will seek new bids in the coming months, a spokesman told News Watch [Bart Pfankuch, “Long-Held Rural Values at Odds in South Dakota Gun Range Debate,” South Dakota News Watch, 2023.05.04].
GF&P refused to comment further to Pfankuch about the rejected bid or how long they think it will take to rebid the shooting range. Jim Scull and Governor Kristi Noem also refused to talk to Pfankuch about the project, but Ian Fury said on the Governor’s behalf that GF&P’s rejection of the bid (Pfankuch’s words) “shows there are no political forces at work”. Scull’s son Andy, who runs Scull Construction Services for his mostly retired dad, wouldn’t talk about the bid but told Pfankuch “the accusations about the business and his father are ‘100 percent untrue,’ though he did not elaborate.”
Scull already made $900K selling the land that GF&P acquired for this recreation project. His construction bid was the only one received in a remarkably brief and under-advertised bidding process. Perhaps offering a longer bidding process and advertising the bid in the Rapid City media market instead of only in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader will alert more competitive bidders to this opportunity.