PIERRE | It took a circuitous route through the Legislature, but funding for the Liberty Wellness Center in Box Elder got final legislative approval Tuesday afternoon.

The bill originally seeking the state’s $3.2 million for the facility, HB1019, was killed by the Joint Appropriations Committee. During each session legislators introduce a variety of vehicle or placeholder bills, sometimes called hoghouse bills. One of them, HB1166, was amended to include the facility funding and has made it through both the Senate and House.

The Liberty Wellness Center will be located outside the gates of Ellsworth Air Force Base, serving the base and the community of Box Elder. The 58,000-square-foot facility is needed because with the arrival of the B-21 Raider bomber, a hangar currently used for training on the base will once again be used to house aircraft.

The center will serve as a training facility for the Air Force as well as a venue for military ceremonies. The community will be able to use the facility as a wellness center.

In addition to the state appropriation, the center will be funded by a $6.3 million defense grant, $2 million in tax increment financing run through Pennington County and $1.1 in design services and land from the S.D. Ellsworth Development Authority.

The funding got its final legislative approval Tuesday in the S.D. House of Representatives.

“This facility is more than just a rec center,” said Rep. Mike Derby, R-Rapid City. “It is the state’s commitment to partnering with the Air Force in defense and readiness.”

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Published by Rapid City Journal on March 10, 2021.