Former Mayor Gary Wickersham imparted words of wisdom to Mayor LaJena Gruis.

By Sheila Ring

Meeting in regular session on Thursday, May 6, the Onida City Council named council member LaJena Gruis mayor.

The appointment came as the result of the retirement of Mayor Gary Wickersham, who resigned the position after serving in the role for more than two decades. In his parting speech, Wickersham stated that he was inspired to take the position by Albin Stahl, who served as mayor from 1967 to 1976 and from 1980 to 1987, and that he tried to conduct the office in a similar manner to Stahl.

Wickersham administered the oath of office to Gruis. Upon taking over, Gruis presented Wickersham with a plaque in appreciation for his service to the city. Gruis then administered the oath of office to council members Brooke Jacquot, Caleb Shepherd, and Jane Pitlick. Jessica Olivier was appointed to fill the vacancy in Ward I created when Gruis became mayor, and Gruis administered the oath of office to her. With the completion of the 2020 Federal Census and with the Wickersham Addition to the city limits, it is expected that the city wards map will be redrawn prior to the next election in April 2022.

Organizing for the year, council members retained the same board offices and committee memberships as in 2020 with Olivier accepting Gruis’s committee assignments.

The contract for collecting garbage for the city was awarded to River Bottom Sanitation of Pierre. The company will collect trash once a week, day of the week to be determined. Each residence will be provided with a 96-gallon receptacle for trash collection. Garbage rates will remain the same.

In his report, Sully County Sheriff Bill Stahl related that the South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court directing the Sully County sheriff to euthanize two dogs owned by Appellants as "vicious animals" under SD Codified Laws 7-12-29, holding that the circuit court did not err. Stahl noted that it cost the city more than $7,000 to defend the case.

In other business, the council heard the report of City Superintendent Tim Jost; designated the Onida Watchman the city’s official newspaper; approved a variance request by Ken Barber for construction of a grain bin in Blocks 2 and 3 of the Western Town Lot Company addition to the city and approved building permits for 409 S Main, 401 S 6h Street, 700 Circleline Dr., and 1003 Cedar Avenue; declared May 21 Poppy Day; revisited the drainage issue on west Cedar; set $.10/square foot as the rate for renting the revenue producing hangars at the airport and approved request for construction of a private hangar contingent upon FFA approval; approved a change order to the water and sewer project; set June 1 as opening day for the Onida City Pool and considered pool operations; approved a contribution of $360 to the courthouse dome restoration project; approved liquor licenses contingent upon receipt of payment; discussed the city bond schedule; examined curb and gutter and sidewalk updates; and explored adopting a medical marijuana ordinance.