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Winner, S.D., building projects give residents hope amid drought, city officials say

WINNER, S.D. — Construction in Winner is heating up.

Multiple large-scale projects are underway in town, and city officials say they're hopeful for growth and encouraged by business owners' progressiveness.

With work set to begin on a $23 million expansion sometime this year, construction nearly complete on a new outdoor equipment store and the town's Dairy Queen set to reopen soon following thousands of dollars worth of repairs, there's a lot for residents to look forward to, Winner City Finance Officer Rhonda Augspurger said. And, with drought conditions plaguing the state, there's no better time for a silver lining, she said.

"With no rain, that doesn't help people's morale. They have to have something to hold on to," Augspurger said, adding the town's Sentinel Federal Credit Union also recently began a building project.

Winner City Councilman Jody Brozik reiterated the importance of economic growth amid difficult times in the "agricultural community." And although farmers seem to be remaining optimistic, Brozik said the struggles can be draining for everyone. But not in Winner.

"There's kind of that buzz, electricity is still flowing when you see these projects," Brozik said.

Runnings — an outdoor, farm and home store — announced in March plans to open a new, 60,000-square-foot location in Winner, adding approximately 20 jobs.

Meanwhile, Winner Regional Healthcare's major project hit a snag in May when bids came in higher than expected, forcing hospital officials to send the project to bid a second time. The goal — according to Foundation Director Jody Engel — is still to break ground in 2017, which is a year after the initial proposed starting date. The renovation, now with no definitive beginning date from officials, is expected to include a 28,000-square-foot expansion to the facility, along with another 16,000-square-foot overhaul to its current structure.

The project will focus on the construction of a new clinic, emergency room, operating room and lab and radiology department, along with a streamlined registration area for the entire facility.

And, though behind schedule, Brozik said he's still looking forward to the opportunities improved health care will bring to Winner and surrounding towns.

If all goes well, Brozik said it's possible Winner could become a "retail trading hub," drawing in national retailers.

"It's always exciting when you have the kind of growth we have in Winner," Brozik said. "You don't really understand the impact it's going to have until you see it, because it's not only the long-term economic impact of sustained customers coming to town, you see concrete being sold and support for local construction companies and such."