Miller Area Lunch

The second anniversary of the Miller Area Lunch was held on December 15 and it was well attended. We had a good lunch, interesting conversation, and discussed a topic titled “Working Together You Can Build It Yourself.” What is the Miller Area Lunch and why does OHDC host it?

The lunch is an opportunity for all of the boards and organizations in Miller, St. Lawrence, Ree Heights, and Hand County to get together and discuss upcoming projects, goals, and any other topic that has an impact on our area. We meet at a restaurant at 12 p.m., order lunch, and then discuss a topic related to community development.

Topics that we have discussed in the past are wide-ranging but include housing, making our area a good place for young people to live, sustaining our business community, developing our recreational opportunities, and strategic planning for organizations.

Everyone is invited to the Miller Area Lunch. It is important to have members of the various boards in attendance such as the county commission, city council, school board, community foundation, hospital board, OHDC board, C&C board, etc. However, it is just as important to have members of civic groups and interested individuals attend.

One of the more informative features of the lunch is when we go around the room and everyone gives an update on the projects that their organization is involved in. Not only does everyone learn what is going on in town but the information is reliable and straight from the source. Many times people realize that they can collaborate on a project or idea, which can save money and time.

We end the lunch at 1 p.m. so that everyone can get back to his or her workplace or business. That gives us enough time to have a good discussion while not wasting people’s time.

I would encourage you to attend the Miller Area Lunch or have a representative from your organization attend. The meeting is held on the third Wednesday of each month at 12 p.m. Please call OHDC at 853-3098 a couple of days beforehand to RSVP and to find out the location of the meeting.


Is the Census Important for Miller?

Paperwork and I have a love/hate relationship. I love to ignore it and hate to fill it out. The 2010 Census is different. It takes just 10 minutes to fill out and it only comes around once every 10 years. That is my kind of paperwork.

Thinking about the census brings up a couple of questions. Is the census important for Miller? Why is it important? Here are a few answers from the official census website:

  • The federal government uses population data to allocate funds in a number of areas including Title 1 grants to school districts, the WIC program, public transportation (think about the Miller Wheels and Meals), road rehabilitation and construction, and programs for the elderly.
  • Census data helps homeowners research property values, median income, and other demographic information about a particular community.
  • Corporations use population data to determine locations for commercial enterprises such as food stores, pharmacies, and other essential services.

The census really lays the groundwork for the next ten years. As a community, it will help us make decisions in government, education, health care, economic development, business planning and many other areas.

When the form comes out in April please take the time to fill it out and return it.

In 2000, Hand County only had a response rate of 70%. The average response rate for counties in SD was 74%. I bet we can do better than that this time around.

I’m really curious to see how the numbers will turn out for Miller and Hand County. Even though it is a little more paperwork to fill out, I’ll be filling out my census form and I hope you will too.

Hospital Bond Election

Avera Hand County HospitalThe upcoming hospital renovation and expansion is an important project for our community and surrounding area. Strong health care providers are one of the key ingredients of a successful and vibrant community. 

The hospital is finalizing their financing for the project and as part of their financing package they are requesting general obligation bonds (GO bonds) through Hand County. A county election is required to issue the GO bonds. There have been a couple of public meetings to explain this process and to answer questions. If you missed the meetings, don’t worry, there are more to come. Here are the meeting dates and places:

  • Tuesday, November 17, 7:30 pm, Miller Fire Hall
  • Monday, November 23, 7:30 pm, St. Lawrence Community Room

 The county election is scheduled for Tuesday, December 8. A “Yes” vote will allow the county to issue the GO bonds. The hospital will pay for these bonds and all associated costs through their lease payments to the county.

 Following is some summary information about the hospital expansion and renovation.

 Organizational History

  • Since 1947, Hand County owns the entire health care campus. 
  • In 1985, the decision was made to lease the campus to Hand County Memorial Hospital Inc. (HCMH). 
  • Present, Hand County leases the entire campus to HCMH who subleases space to Vision Care, and AMK, while operating the community based services.


  • The project will remodel approximately 13,600 square feet of existing space and add 15,400 square feet of new space, while eliminating 12,000 square feet of non-health care usable space. 


  • Total project cost is $5.6M.
  • They are seeking USDA loans/bonds in the amount of $3.55M.  Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital & Clinic (AHC) will pay all bond related costs.
  • The hospital foundation has pledges over 5 years now exceeding $1M. 
  • $500,000 in Community Development Block Grants are available if the program is fully funded in 2010.
  • They are also applying for a Rural Electric Economic Development (REED) Fund loan @ 0% interest for ten years. 
  • Balance will be through HCMH Inc reserves.


  • Because the hospital campus is owned by the county, the USDA Rural Development has directed them to seek General Obligation Bonds (GO Bonds) through the County to finance the project.
  • All bond costs would be paid by the hospital, including the principle, interest, election costs, bond fees and closing costs.  There will be no tax increase as a result of the County GO Bond.
  • The GO Bond process requires a simple majority election of the residents of Hand County, to vote on any bond issuance of the County. 

If you have any questions regarding the project, you can call Bryan Breitling, the hospital administrator, at 853-0399.

Emergency Funds

Two agencies that partner with our local agencies and governments is NESDCAP and NESDEC. Here is a brief summary of what they do:

The Northeast South Dakoka Community Action Program (NESDCAP) and Northeast South Dakota Economic Corpotation (NESDEC) are here to help promote community excellence and stimulate economic growth through loans, techinical assistance and partnerships.

NESDCAP recently announced that they have emergency funds available for families in the counties of northeast SD, including Hand County.

These funds can be used for:

  • Utilities, utility deposits, and utility reconnection fees (electrical, water, sewer, garbage, propane, natural gas).
  • Rent/mortgage payments or rental deposits. Must be past due in their payments.
  • Food and personal care vouchers will also be available up to $300 or three months of need.
  • Tools, equipment, uniforms, specialized shoes, necessary for employment up to $300 per person.  
  • Public transportation, fuel for personal vehicles, personal vehicle repairs, bus transportation to shelters, medical related transportation up to $300. 
  • Eye glasses (up to $300 per person), prescription medicine, and dental work up to $500 or three months prescriptions. Clients may also be assisted with 35% COBRA co-payment for health insurance for newly unemployed individuals.
  • Temporary Shelter including hotels, boarding houses, shelters.

To qualify, the family income must be below 200% of poverty income guidelines based on the family size.

Family size              Income

  • 1                                  $21,660
  • 2                                  $29,140
  • 3                                  $36,620
  • 4                                  $44,100
  • 5                                  $51,580
  • 6                                  $59,060
  • 7                                  $66,540
  • 8                                  $74,020

To contact NESDCAP, you can call 605-698-7654, or go to their website at