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(Neb)-STAR Academy Sells For Minimum $2.34-M Bid

By: John Axtell Posted at: 01/05/2018 03:18 PM
CUSTER, S.D. (AP) - A western South Dakota partnership submitted the winning - and only - bid Thursday to buy the closed STAR Academy juvenile detention facility near Custer, but some state lawmakers say they may try to block it.

     A combination of falling placements from juvenile justice reforms and tight state budgets led to the 2016 closure of the STAR Academy, whose complex was originally the state tuberculosis sanatorium.

      An overflow crowd estimated around 75 attended the Thursday auction in the Custer County Courthouse, but only 3 bidders registered.

        The unnamed partnership represented by Custer real estate agent and former mayor Jared Carson offered the minimum bid set by the state - $2.34-million dollars - after an October auction failed to draw any bids.

      Carson told the Rapid City Journal the group intends to create "an ecologically minded, clean-air, light industrial project" that will bring a new technology to South Dakota and provide firms in or interested in coming to Custer with badly needed light-industrial ground. Carson declined, though to provide details about the business venture or other partners.
      The sale and terms are subject to approval by Governor Dennis Daugaard and Chief of Staff Tony Venhuizen told the Journal by email that could happen by next week. Venhuizen said Daugaard is excited about the proposed development and believes it's  far better for the state to put surplus property back on the tax rolls.

     Some lawmakers attending the auction hinted at trying to stop the sale. State Senator Neal Tapio of Watertown, who was one of the registered bidders, told the Journal a facility like STAR Academy is still needed because the juvenile reform effort has fallen short of meeting the state's needs.

     Others say it makes no sense to sell the complex because it would cost $50-million or more to replace it. The 173 acre site has buildings totaling 168,880 square feet including 11 residences, a gym, a barn, and administrative, housing and maintenance buildings.

      State Representative Tim Goodwin, whose district includes the STAR Academy, had proposed reopening Star Academy and repurposing part of the complex into a methamphetamine rehabilitation center.


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