New Harrisburg mayor sets tone for growing community

Aug. 17, 2020

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

Derick Wenck took a slightly unconventional path to public service.

A graduate of SDSU with a fine arts degree in 2005, he opened up a taxidermy shop in Harrisburg 13 years ago shortly after he and his wife, Melissa, moved to the growing community.

Then, he began to get involved in helping shape his new home. He served as a board member of the Harrisburg Chamber and Harrisburg Economic Development Corporation for four years before being elected mayor earlier this year.

We caught up with him to learn more about his priorities for the city.

First, why run for mayor? What appealed to you about the job?

I wanted to run for mayor to bring in a fresh new mind to Harrisburg, foster a positive working relationship with the public sector and private citizens, keep Harrisburg driving in the right direction and helping shape what it will look like 20 to 30 years down the road.

You’ve definitely taken office at an unprecedented time. How is Harrisburg weathering COVID-19 and its ramifications? Are there some strategies that would be good to share with others?

Harrisburg has weathered COVID-19 rather well. We have seen a  increase in sales tax dollars. This has come from more people being home and staying local to buy the essentials. One thing the Harrisburg chamber did was start a campaign for Takeout Tuesday to get people buying meals from local restaurants. The restaurants were extremely busy with takeout orders during this pandemic.

Pandemic aside, there’s a lot more happening in Harrisburg. What are some of your recent developments?

Some of the most recent developments include building the bike path from Liberty Elementary to the high school. Work has started on our new wastewater treatment facility. We will be extending our sewer line 2 miles out to the school No. 7 out by Bakker Crossing. We are really excited to have the Minnesota Avenue project complete this fall, with a walking trail that will connect Sioux Falls to Harrisburg.

As mayor, what are some of your key priorities? What will you be working on in your term?

My engagement with not only the city staff but the residents and bringing positive communication. The infrastructure is another priority for us to continue to grow. This will help us attract more new businesses into Harrisburg.

What more would you like to see in Harrisburg? What does it need to reach the proverbial next level?

A motel is one thing that would help bring Harrisburg to the next level. With all the people coming from out of town visiting Air Madness, Splash Bark and weddings at the Meadow Barn, plus all the sports activities on the weekends, we could keep them in our community for shopping and eating at our establishments.

Are there any misconceptions you think people have about the community or things that might surprise them?

That we are no longer a sleeping community as we continue to grow by providing services and attractions.

If people would like to connect with you, what’s the best way for them to reach out?

mayorwenck@harrisburgsd.gov or 605-767-5012.

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New Harrisburg mayor sets tone for growing community

He became Harrisburg’s new mayor just as the pandemic hit, but that hasn’t slowed this fast-growing community down. We checked in with the new leader on what’s next.

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