Chamber hears from Superintendent Morehart

Haakon School District Super-intendent Keven Morehart was the guest speaker for the Philip Chamber of Commerce during it's meeting on Monday, February 11th.

Morehart gave an overview of current school activities. Parent-teacher conferences will be this Wednesday and Thursday, February 13th and 14th. "Parents of the elementary students always show up," said Morehart. "With the weather and an away girls' basketball game that evening, I hope we can still get many of the high school parents."

Student enrollment is at 277, kindergartners through seniors, down 17 from last year. "Most of those 17 last year were from Midland," said Morehart. The total includes 10 students at the Cheyenne and 17 at the Milesville Rural Education Centers. The projection is around 24 new kindergarten students for next year, while around 22 seniors will graduate this year.

Philip hosted the District 7B Wrestling Tournament this last weekend. The Scotties not only swept first place as a team, but will be sending all 14 of its varsity wrestlers on to the Region 4B Tournament. Morehart expressed concern that some age brackets of young upcoming athletes have no wrestlers and other age brackets have very few.

Morehart said that the elementary boys are showing interest in basketball rather than wrestling. This year's boys' basketball team is trying very hard, but is very young. Morehart said that the girls' basketball team is struggling at times, but the teams in the area are all pretty tough. The girls' head coach, Mike Albrecht, is doing a good job.

During hazardous weather, the sports practices are actually "open gym" practices so students don't not have to stay. "In bad weather, we want them home before dark," said Morehart. Parents of extra-curricular participants may purchase dental and catastrophic insurance, though both are optional. Expenses for overnight stays, such as the wrestling team competing in North Dakota, are paid by the students and through fundraisers. "Otherwise we would have to limit events. The kids need the practice and competition," said Morehart. The school pays for overnight stays only for state-level events.

The school system runs on a balanced budget, though capital outlay may not be used to pay salaries. Several bills are in the South Dakota legislature concerning teacher salary increases. None, though, state where the funding will come from.

Asked what the chamber might do for the school, Morehart said, "If I could dream big, the chamber could get the word out to try to get a community room near the school." He noted that a former Wall school building now has a weight-lifting room and a cardiovascular room for everyone's use. A community library near, or even attached to, the Philip school would benefit both the school and the community.

In other chamber business, Haakon County Sheriff Larry Hanes is still working on raising a chamber-backed scholarship under the heading of drug awareness. The scholarship would go to the winner's choice of college or technical school for that student's expenses, and it would apply for their second semester.

This year's Festival Days in early August, in conjunction with the Haakon/Jackson County Fair, are already in the planning process. Chamber co-chair Corky Thorson is looking into getting inflatable fun games for the younger participants to go along with the parade and street dances. The fair board is organizing a bull riding event this year.

The official turning on of the valves for Missouri River water to come into the Philip water system is set for 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 20th.

Chamber co-chair Kent Olson stated that the Horizons groups that citizens signed up for last month will start soon. There is a supper and "providing affordable housing" seminar at Jiggers Restaurant in Kadoka on February 25th. Philip will host a supper and "marketing your community" seminar on March 26th.

The next Philip Chamber of Commerce meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. at The Steakhouse on Monday, March 10th.