Mayor confirms new store, SA passes diversity


Jacob Boyko, News Editor

Brookings Mayor Ope Niemeyer confirmed a store “larger than Lowe’s” will be built on the east side of the interstate in his address to the Students’ Association Senate about the state of the city. 

“I can’t tell you the store that’s going to be there,” Niemeyer said. “…The size of the store is larger than the Lowe’s store … I can say that much because it’s in the planning commission notes.”

Niemeyer said building the new store will help Brookings grow in a similar way to how Cabela’s attracted other retailers to build around it in Watertown.

“I’ve got great confidence that within the next couple of years, we’re going to have quite a few other retail stores in that area,” Niemeyer said. “It’s exciting, considering we’ve owned that land for 10 years, we’ve gotten a lot of guff from the other developers in town that have not really gotten anything off the ground. We finally got something to happen.”

Niemeyer also spoke about Brookings’ need for affordable housing. 

“The problem we have is why would a contractor put a $150,000 to $200,000 home on a $40,000 lot when they can build a $250,000 home and make more money?” Niemeyer asked rhetorically. 

The mayor said he hopes the subsidies in the workforce housing bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Kristi Noem in February, will convince developers to initiate affordable housing projects in Brookings. 

Niemeyer also said Brookings is the only city in the Midwest that is “100% LGBT compliant.” He credited the Human Rights Council for the achievement, but said it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. 

“If there are suggestions, certainly we’d love to hear them,” Niemeyer said. “The Human Rights Commission works pretty hard to make sure everybody has equal rights in this city. It’s something I’m really proud of.”

Committee and staff reports:

The University Program Council announced that about 330 students attended International Night Sunday. 

UPC’s next event is an Easter egg hunt in the Student Union April 3 through April 6. Gold-colored and rainbow-colored eggs containing gift cards and candy will be hidden around the Union. The gift cards will increase in value as the week goes on. 

Communications Chair Garrett Satterly said the 2023 Students’ Association general election had 1,996 students turnout, which accounts for about [18.4%] of the student body.  Voter turnout is up from just 4% in 2022 when the candidates for president and vice president ran uncontested. 

SA President Blake Pulse congratulated everyone who won their election last week. SA Sens. Nick Grote and Trinity Peterson will be sworn in as president and vice president, respectively, at Monday’s Senate meeting. 

Diversity Chair Amendment

Senators and ex-officios debated an amendment that would raise the diversity liaison position to a diversity chair within the SA Senate. Senator Tyler Rasmussen from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences was the only senator who voiced opposition. 

“…As student senators, we represent everyone within our college regardless of their race, color of their skin, their culture—no matter what, we represent them,” Rasmussen said. “I don’t think that we need this position. It’s just more funding that we’re going to have to cough up … That’s funding that can go to another club.” 

The amendment, 22-5-A, passed 23-1.