Month Seven | Tripp partners with SDSU and Wellmark
Last July, Shawn and Bryan Bietz of Tripp attended the Dakota Resources RuralX event as a way to help find new resources and information about rural economic and community development. The couple returned to Tripp fueled by motivation, which has led to numerous projects, events and connections with valuable outside resources.
“It’s amazing how one connection leads to another,” says Shawn. “Someone reaches out that is connected to someone else, and then things just fall together. Increased communication and new outlets for getting people involved have really brought some positives to our community. Those are things that were reinforced at RuralX as well.”
A few of the most recent positives in Tripp include involvement with the Healthy Hometown initiative sponsored by Wellmark and an Active Transportation Grant, which was awarded to Tripp for 2018.
“We were led to apply for the Active Transportation Grant through the Healthy Hometown web page,” says Shawn. “SDSU students and professors came to Tripp and walked every street in town. Then they formed focus groups with people in town and the students went through maps of the streets to gather input on things we like and things we’d like to change. They will be getting us a Top 10 list at the end of February so that we can get feedback and make plans to move forward. It’s exciting to be part of the process.”
The community has also been facing challenges with the closing of the grocery store and the town’s only nursing home, which has brought residents together to try to find solutions and new avenues.
“The economic development board, which is made up of volunteers, is considering purchasing the grocery store. They have to work through finances and find someone to manage the store, but people are working to try to find solutions,” says Shawn. “We are hoping to set up our first coaching meeting with Dakota Resources to help guide us a bit when it comes to setting priorities. So much is happening all at once, so the timing with Dakota Resources is good.”
Tripp recently joined the Dakota Resources Empower Community Coaching network with the help of a grant from the South Dakota Community Foundation. This will allow the community to receive 12-18 months of comprehensive coaching designed to empower more people and lead local organizations to action.
“We are looking forward to the in-depth coaching and the next RuralX, which is already on my calendar,” says Shawn. “We plan to be there again and hope to bring more people with us.”