Editor's note: As we turn the page on 2017 and start 2018, the Rapid City Journal profiles three people who are set make an big impact on the area in the next year.
Charity Doyle, Rapid City Collective Impact
Rapid City Collective Impact has a lot of work to do in 2018 as it attempts to move its proposed four-acre transformation center in downtown Rapid City from conception to reality.
Charity Doyle will lead that effort.
The concept of the center is a place where homeless and near-homeless people will receive services to potentially include transitional housing, addiction treatment, counseling and job training. Community organizations that provide those services will be invited to relocate to the campus or have a presence there.
As project manager for RCCI, Doyle and plans for the transformation center have already made headlines in 2017.
In November, the preferred site for the center was identified as a nearly 4-acre stretch of land and buildings that span much of the 100 to 300 blocks along the south side of Kansas City Street, near the county courthouse complex on the edge of downtown Rapid City. RCCI hopes to include transitional housing, addiction treatment, counseling and job training assistance in the buildings on the lot.
In 2018, Doyle and the group will have more big questions to answer on the project.
The plan now, according to Doyle, is to invite community organizations that currently provide those services to relocate to the campus or have a presence there. Getting them to commit to such a move is perhaps the biggest challenge in the new year.
“One of the big announcements in 2018 will be who the providers [are] and what that will look like,” she said in a Journal interview. “We cannot do this without the providers. That’s going to be one of the biggest pieces.”
While citizens, business owners and community leaders voiced concern about the lack of details surrounding the project at a Dec. 19 Pennington County Board of Commissioners meeting, Doyle said she was busy work shopping with some of the providers and giving them a tour of the space inside the Archaeological Research Center of the South Dakota State Historical Society at 217 Kansas City St. That building, she said, would be the future home of the providers.
“They were excited,” Doyle said of the tour and discussion between organizations about the potential for collaboration. “They were animated.”
Reiterating that the project was still very early in the process, Doyle acknowledged the challenges she and her colleagues at RCCI will face in 2018 and beyond, including convincing the public of the center’s location, necessity, and trying to change the way people perceive the homeless population in Rapid City.
“What is going on right now is not sustainable,” she said, citing high recidivism rates. “This whole project is a shift on so many levels. We want to elevate the community, not bring it down. It’s a pretty tall task. We know that.”
Jim Rankin, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
When Jim Rankin is inaugurated as the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology's 19th president, he should feel right at home. Rankin earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the school in 1978 and is eager to help move the school forward.
Rankin was announced by the South Dakota Board of Regents on Nov. 7 to succeed interim Mines president Jan A. Puszynski. Puszynski led the university since Heather Wilson left to become United States Air Force Secretary. Puszynski remains Mines’ vice-president of research.
In picking Rankin, Regents cited his leadership as vice-provost for research and economic development at the University of Arkansas, generating more than 50 start-up companies and increased annual external research funding of more than $100 million.
Rankin sees much of the same potential for research-generated economic development at Mines.
“I think there’s some real opportunities at the School of Mines in that area. There will be some additional opportunities in externally funded research. I think that research will help drive the development of intellectual property,” he said.
Rankin cited the more than two dozen business executives working through the school’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program to develop marketable business opportunities from Mines’ researchers.
“Rapid City and the Black Hills region are very interested to see more start-up companies and more jobs,” Rankin said. “I think it’s going to be important for the region to keep moving that way.”
Rankin also hopes to continue enrollment growth at the nationally and internationally known science and engineering school.
Rankin grew up in the Draper and Ft. Pierre area. When he was an incoming freshman in 1974, the school had a total enrollment of about 1,600. Now that number is about 2,400.
Rankin hopes to see those numbers continue to climb with the campus’ continued expansion to the west, toward downtown Rapid City.
He also hopes to increase available scholarship opportunities for all students attending Mines, linking emphasis with job creation to give students more career opportunities in Rapid City and the Black Hills
“We have to figure out how to make it affordable for our students,” he said. "There are students that want to stay and work here, and they need to have that opportunity.”
Kelvin Torve, Post 22 baseball
It has been a year of tumult for the usually steady Post 22 Legion baseball program in Rapid City. Mitch Messer stepped down after six year at the helm for the storied team; beloved coach Dave Ploof also died this year, and despite a 51-9 record this season, they failed to take the state title for the first time in five years.
The organization hopes new head coach Kelvin Torve will be a steadying force in 2018.
The former Post 22 player, college star and Major Leaguer came home two years ago to help with the program, first as the coach of the Cadets (14-under) and then with the Bullets, the third level of the program.
In a November interview, Torve said coaching the Hardhats is an honor beyond measure and imagination.
“Rapid City is a baseball town and Post 22 is the premiere baseball program in this town,” Torve said. “There are expectations in this program that I embrace and my players embrace. The legacy goes back 50-plus years. I tell my guys that they are standing on the shoulders of giants. What I encourage them to do is be the player that the next generation behind them will be standing on their shoulder.”
Torve said that with the high expectations, there is a price to pay to stay at the top. He said they expect their players to pay the price as far as discipline, sacrifice, hard work and putting others first.
“When I first started my professional career, (MLB Hall of Famer) Frank Robinson told me that getting to the big leagues is the easy part; staying is the hard part,” he said. “It’s the same thing here. This program has gotten to the point that winning a state title is an expectation, and that is the easy part. Staying there is the hard part. That is one thing that we will keep in front of our players. I know Mitch did it, and definitely Coach Ploof did it prior to that. “