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Lake Mitchell committee stands pat

Lake Mitchell in 2017. (Republic file photo)

Hurry up and wait.

During a Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday at the Mitchell Recreation Center, Joe Kippes was quick to bring up the issue on top of the minds of many in Mitchell. That issue? What's the status of Nebraska-based Fyra Engineering's license to operate in South Dakota?

Last week, The Daily Republic reported that the firm is "under investigation" by the state Board of Technical Professions, although the board declined to provide further information. So until Fyra gets their proper license to offer engineering services in South Dakota, committee member Kippes suggested the committee stand pat.

"I'm not familiar with that process," Kippes said. "So I think from my perspective, just wait until they're done with their business."

Fyra has pitched a $7.62 million dredging plan at Lake Mitchell, which would be the first phase of a project to reduce the algae at the reservoir.

And unless there's a hiccup with their paperwork, it was clear the committee thinks Fyra will be licensed on March 23, when the next Board of Technical Professions meeting is held.

Committee member Mark Puetz said there can be occasional issues with licensing.

"Once in a while there's an issue with paperwork for one reason or another," Puetz said.

Fyra is the firm which first made contact with the city of Mitchell in 2015 and received a $73,725 contract in 2016 to conduct a preliminary study on the lake. While it's illegal to operate in South Dakota without a proper engineering license, no one has claimed Fyra Engineering did anything illegal in conducting preliminary research.

It was also unclear why Fyra declined to acquire proper licensing in more than two years since first visiting Mitchell.

Although the majority of the Mitchell City Council expressed extreme concern with Fyra's lack of licensing, talks on the matter lasted mere minutes on Tuesday.

What the committee did confirm Tuesday is that locals support a project, it's just a matter of how it will be funded.

"I think the majority of the support is out there," said Mitchell City Councilman Marty Barington.

The committee also discussed a letter which was sent out to several landowners along the Firesteel Creek with a list of conservation programs available. It's those programs which are believed to help reduce nutrient loading into Lake Mitchell and ultimately reduce the algae content.

But committee member Brian Temple said there hasn't been much feedback.

"Unfortunately it does not seem to be generating a lot of interest," Temple said.