It's a hot September in the town

2013-09-11T08:30:00Z It's a hot September in the townMilo Dailey Butte County Post staff Rapid City Journal
September 11, 2013 8:30 am  • 

It's been a busy and hot week. Hot? Temperatures are part of it, but only a part.

Belle Fourche schools have been letting students out early because most of the district's classrooms are not air conditioned.

When I was in grade school and high school, we had 15-foot ceilings, 10-foot windows and even transoms over the doorways to enable air circulation. But those buildings were doggone old even back then and were mostly replaced in the 1950s and '60s with the "Baby Boom" generation.

I've heard of Belle Fourche classrooms hitting close to 100 degrees with little ventilation. Those buildings tended to have been built for the Boomers. Great structures and great maintenance aside, they were built for classes that started after Labor Day instead of mid August. That's not likely to change.

One elementary school teacher told me it was 85 or so when the school day started. It got hotter through the day for her munchkins.

One of my "over 60" acquaintances said it looks like kids nowadays are wimps if they can't handle the heat.

Superintendent Steve Willard made a great point: Almost every business has "air" and nearly everybody has home air. Every car is air conditioned. Even farm tractors tend to be air conditioned. School isn't.

Hot otherwise?

Belle Fourche city government is near a final budget. Some city council members want to pull its traditional financing of the chamber of commerce "tourism promotion and visitor center" operations - and give the cash to somebody (not defined) else.

Whatever, it's part of the growing pains in Belle Fourche the past 10 years or so.

Bottom line is that Belle Fourche was mapped away from the Interstate. At the same time a lot of the small-town franchise or company-owned businesses closed for various reasons.

When the two-lane became four-lane, Belle Fourche began to boom. Population grew by almost 25 percent in 10 years. But the kinds of pre-1980 businesses haven't returned - and mostly they don't exist anywhere.

Remember Coast to Coast? Gambles? Wards or JC Penney on Main Streets? Ice cream parlor? The "Five and Dime?" Add your own names. Pete's Clothing is one of the few individual men's clothing retailers around. There aren't even as many "watering holes" as when the town was half its size. Nor an old-style 24-hour cafe.

Times change.

Change comes whether planned for or not.

Belle Fourche is trying to plan for more change, and the new Industrial Rail Park is a good example.

What comes next as more businesses arrive will be interesting.

I get all sorts of news releases from companies in North Dakota's oil patch stating there's at least another generation, maybe two, of oil exploration.

Belle Fourche is in a perfect position to take advantage of the boom.

Planned growth is much easier to manage than a "Boom."

It's still a challenge, but the governor will be here next week to celebrate opening the industrial park.

We'll see.

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