AURORA, S.D. (KELO) — In many small towns, city hall is one of the main landmarks, but for a community east of Brookings, that landmark is being torn down this week.
After being deemed unsafe because of structural issues, the Aurora City Hall and Community Center closed and is now rubble. There has been fundraising for a new facility underway for awhile, but it hasn’t quite kept up with the aging building.
Back in July of 2021, a ‘Chase the Ace” fundraiser first launched in Aurora to raise funds for a new city hall, community center and fire department. That fundraiser is ongoing, but there’s still a lot of work to do to replace an important part of the growing town.
Aurora, a town that had a population of around 500 ten years ago, now has over 1,100 people calling it home. With that growth, upgrades are needed.
A few months ago, this building was home to Aurora’s finance office and community center. Now, an excavator continues demolition of the over 110-year old building. A space that’s held wedding dances, birthday parties and reunions.
“There was a lot of history there, so there are a lot of people even around today that are watching the building get torn down, that it is very sentimental and hard for them to watch,” Aurora mayor Joshua Jones said.
After the building was officially deemed unsafe this past January, they closed it down.
“The walls were starting to deteriorate in the basement just from leaking water over the years, but the basement had continuous water. A few months ago there was actually an event for a benefit in it, and the floor slightly buckled, and that was due to some of the pillars that actually held up the floor completely collapsing,” Jones said.
The fire department will stay where it’s at – for now. They need to use that building until a new one is built.
A “Chase the Ace” put on by the Aurora Community Fundraiser will contribute all it’s proceeds to the project, but it doesn’t cover all the expenses.
“The rest of the funds will actually come in from state funding, grants, but the city for the most part will have to fund most of the community center/finance office portion, and then the fire department, there will be other additional funding from that from state agencies and federal agencies for that,” Jones said.
Right now, if the Ace went out in the fundraiser, around $40,000 would go to the project.
“We’re a small town, so we do not have a lot of tax base for the area, so fundraising is the way we’re going to be able to get things like this. It’s one reason we’re doing ‘Chase the Ace,’ so that we can help generate funds for projects like this,” Aurora Community Fundraisr co-chair Brandon Leen said.
And they have no plans of slowing down.
“We need to raise funds, so we’ll see how it all turns out as soon as this deck goes out or if it does all the way to the end here, see where we’re at on funds. That’s the main goal is to get more funding,” Leen said.
Jones says they hope to have renderings for the new buildings in the next six months and then break ground within a year. If you’d like to be part of the “Chase the Ace”, you can find information on their Facebook page to enter. The next drawing is Thurdsday night.