De Smet community raises $450,000 in less than 24 hours - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

De Smet community raises $450,000 in less than 24 hours

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The community of De Smet has been raising funds for a new community wellness and events center for the past year.

Last week, the town was till half a million dollars short and many people feared the project wasn't going to make it through the final city council vote; however, the little town on the prairie came together to fill the gap.

De Smet is home to a little more than 1,000 South Dakotans; nearly all of them have worked to make a new community center a reality.

"Right now we have 878 individual donations from people...so to get that, we have over 75 percent of the population that are donating to this project. It's just inspiring and heart warming to me that we have that kind of community support," said Rita Anderson with the De Smet Development Corporation.

With a little help from state grants, the city and the school district, the community of De Smet raised $4 million for the facility, but after the contractor's bids came in, the city found it was still about half a million dollars short.

"We had quite a bit of money that we had to raise yet, and I just didn't think the city could ever come up with that much but they came through," said city council member Bret Jensen.

And the town came through fast, raising the full $450,000 in the 24 hours before the final city council meeting.

"We were still $25,000 short when we came into city council, then I got a call right then from a local business person saying they would donate another $10,000. Then as we presented it to the city council, one of the other people spoke up and said they would donate the other $15,000... so it was last minute," said Anderson.

"I think it says a lot for a community when they can come together in that kind of a span of time," said life-time De Smet resident Nancy Montross.

"When you come to the town and you see how much support the community has poured into a project like this, it just means that they really want it," said Jim Thomas, a new resident of De Smet.

De Smet is not only focused on a new events center; at the same time, the community has been raising $2 million for hospital renovations. The town has also recently added a new clinic, a football field and track, two new manufacturing plants and a handful of new houses.

"I was impressed when I first started looking at De Smet with how supportive they are as far as wanting to grow…a lot of communities this size are fine with being small, but it seems like De Smet really wants to grow," said Thomas.

Several young professionals and families have recently moved to De Smet; the town hopes the new community center and services will draw even more families to the not-so-little town on the prairie.

"We're really hopeful that this entices more young families to move back to De Smet," said Anderson.

"We're not building it for ourselves, we're building it for the future generations, and I want to have a hometown for my kids to come back to," said Montross.

The new facility will include a wellness center, indoor walking track, a theater, meeting rooms and a grand ballroom that can hold more than 400 people for larger community events.

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