New Crooks mayor focuses on ‘smart growth’

Dec. 11, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association.

Crooks Mayor Butch Oseby has a lot of goals for the growing Minnehaha County community of 1,300.

Since becoming mayor earlier this year, Oseby has started tackling a lot of priorities.

We caught up with him to learn more about what has been happening in the community and about his vision for Crooks.

What prompted you to run for mayor? And what has been your biggest surprise since starting the role?

I have always had an interest, and that goes back to my days from the late ’70s and early ’80s of working for Tom Daschle. My dad was a Brookings County commissioner for 15 years. I was motivated to run now because our city was divided about the direction of our finances without any new growth in both residential and commercial. My biggest surprise is how much has been spent and the impact it has had on our reserve funds.

What have your biggest priorities been since taking office?

Smart growth. Here are some of my immediate goals:

  • To restart and complete our second phase of the new housing development.
  • To fund and restart our Crooks Development Corporation.
  • To define and help plan for the needs of our Crooks day care.
  • To attract new commercial business and establish our Main Street area with a town square space, which will grow our tax base.
  • To start the Crooks Chamber of Commerce.
  • To help facilitate the expansion of the Tri-Valley school by building a new K-4 school in Crooks.

And finally, I prioritized passing a responsible budget that spends 25 percent less than our recurring revenue and doesn’t tap into reserves for 2020.

What are some of the key milestones for the community that happened in 2019?

We finished the infrastructure in phase two of our current housing development for 32 lots and have sold 11 of the lots in the first month of opening for sale.

We also funded the Crooks Development Corporation, and since then they have purchased 2 acres next to our Main Street area for commercial business expansion.

We’ve also put in all new infrastructure and streets in the northeast portion of Crooks and completed phase one of a walking path going north and south along our main highway. Finally, we purchased maintenance equipment for our street department to do our own street patching, street sweeping and fix city drainage problems.

What do you think people might be surprised to learn about Crooks?

Our city motto is “A Great Place To Come Home To,” and we are. We are only a 16-minute drive to the Avera or Sanford hospitals.

The city owns its natural gas company, which makes a profit and has approximately 850 billing customers. We stretch from Crooks east to east of the Renner Corner and south of there one mile and north of the Renner Corner 2 miles. We provide gas to all of the businesses along the I-29 exit also. This utility is a big factor in keeping the Crooks tax base low by providing profits to our enterprise fund. Our Crooks tax base is less than 3 mills and has declined rather than increased.

Crooks is a very safe place to live and kid-friendly. We have three great neighborhood parks, and we are planning more walking pathways. Our median age is around age 35. Sixty percent of Tri-Valley school kids are coming from Crooks and south to Benson Road in Sioux Falls. Our school system is second to none!

What’s in store for Crooks in 2020? What kind of activity are you anticipating?

Again, I’m promoting smart growth. Hopefully, we will move forward with a new K-4 school, finish phase two housing and then develop and annex a parcel of  land to provide 80 more housing lots. My hope is to bring in new business once the Crooks Development Corporation sells its 2-acre parcel, to certify 16 acres of industrial land along the north edge of Crooks with a rail siding, bring in medical services, create a downtown square and make our Main Street area a destination place. I’d also like to designate land for a major master park.

What more do you think Crooks needs to continue to evolve as a community?

I’d like to see the creation of a community solar farm, along with growing our gas company, keeping the new rooftops coming and creating a place for senior-living retirees.

We also need to plan our infrastructure to accommodate future new growth so it coincides with a growing population. We need to look at controlling the layout of new business and to develop a long-range growth plan — be conservative yet grow. We do not want to let the growth outpace our infrastructure and then have to borrow money and raise taxes as a result. And we need to plan ahead for the new millennial family living spaces and needs.

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New Crooks mayor focuses on ‘smart growth’

Crooks Mayor Butch Oseby has had a busy year since becoming leader of the growing community. We checked in with him on what has been happening and what’s next.

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