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Small towns struggle to maintain streets

Growth and economies can suffer if streets go downhill

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It took eight years of planning, nearly $5 million and countless hours of paperwork, but the small town of Emery, S.D. finally has new asphalt streets.

Residents of Emery – a Hanson County town of about 450 people and home to a crucial grain elevator – endured failing streets for decades, then drove on gravel roads for a year and will now pay a $20 per month surcharge for the next 20 years just to have better local streets.

“Getting new infrastructure in these small towns is certainly a challenge because it’s definitely not easy and I could see how some people would get doom and gloom over it,” said Joshua Kayser, mayor of Emery, who landed some state help for the project by redoing aging sewer and water lines during the roadwork. “It was a long process and it took a lot more effort than I anticipated. But it was worth it.”

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