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Harrington, Freske give their views at public forum

Posted: Monday, Mar 25th, 2013

Gary Harrington and Dick Freske

HURON – Two candidates for the open City Commission seat agree that among Huron’s pressing needs are additional housing, good-paying jobs and downtown renewal to attract new businesses.

Gary Harrington and Dick Freske are running for the three-year term in the April 9 election, a seat being vacated by two-term Commissioner Kerwin Haeder because he is hoping to be the city’s next mayor.

At the Saturday election forum, Harrington and Freske shared their views and answered questions.

Harrington, a long-time resident who works for the state Department of Social Services in its child support unit, said he would bring a common sense approach to the job while employing negotiating skills he has honed over the years in working with divorcing parents.

A native of Huron, Freske returned to his hometown after running construction companies in Denver.

He has been a consultant for 11 years and opened his Huron office eight years ago.

The loss of Huron University and Dakota Pork deeply impacted the community, but it has come around, Harrington said.

“I’ve seen successes and I’ve seen disappointments in our town,” he said. “What’s important is we learn from those situations.”

Both candidates agree there is a housing shortage in Huron and pointed to the recently enacted rental housing ordinance as a definite need in not only keeping people safe, but laying out the responsibilities of property owners and tenants.

More than 100 houses are so dilapidated they should be targeted for demolition, a housing assessment study found.

“So housing is a big need,” Freske said.

Having spent a career in engineering and business, overseeing multi-million-dollar projects, he said he would bring that experience to the job of city commissioner.

Huron should work to entice developers to build more houses in town, Harrington said.

A member of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, Freske said downtown renewal and any impact on taxes would have to be studied by the commission. He said he would like to see Huron’s downtown return to its historical look.

Boarded up windows in downtown buildings are not very appealing to anyone, including visitors and prospective businesses, Harrington said. But all towns have encountered similar problems for the past 30 years when retail centers have opened on the edge of the community, he said.

He suggested Huron needs to look at ideas being tried by other cities, but anything that is done will cost money.

Competition attracts more business and rehabilitation of the downtown will hopefully bring in more retail opportunities, Freske said.

He also praised the enthusiastic efforts of South Dakota State University freshmen architecture students in partnering with the city on the downtown revitalization project.

The candidates said Greater Huron Development Corporation is doing a good job in efforts to boost economic growth, and has industrial parks and two speculative buildings for potential newcomers.

Harrington said one of the city’s success stories has been the Huron Community Campus, which continues to grow in enrollment. Young people can start their college experience without having to leave home, while nontraditional students can hold down jobs and take courses, all at sharply reduced tuition costs compared with universities.

For the complete article see the 03-24-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-24-2013 paper.

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