Corn Palace director resigns

Farm Forum

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — The longtime director of the Corn Palace tourist attraction in Mitchell has resigned but says it isn’t because of any wrongdoing on his part.

But Mayor Ken Tracy said the director, Mark Schilling, submitted his resignation on March 3 due to findings from a state audit of Mitchell’s city-owned attraction. Those findings have not been publically released but are scheduled to be unveiled at a March 17 City Council meeting, he said.

Schilling told The Associated Press on March 4 that he had not seen the audit and had no comment on it.

Tracy announced Schilling’s resignation about 11 p.m. Monday following a lengthy executive session near the end of a regular City Council meeting. The executive session was closed to the public, The Daily Republic newspaper reported.

Tracy said the city asked the South Dakota Department of Legislative Audit to conduct a review after “various sources” told him there were certain procedures at the Corn Palace that one was needed. Tracy has reviewed a preliminary version of the audit report but declined to divulge any specifics to reporters following the council meeting.

“To say there were no findings (in the audit) would not be an accurate statement,” Tracy said. “There were some policies and procedures that they uncovered, and they have made significant recommendations as to what changes should be made as we go forward.”

Schilling told the AP that “I don’t believe there is any wrongdoing” and that he stepped down after 13 years as director because “it’s just time for a change, and the best for the city.” He said he is considering “several different options.”

Assistant Corn Palace Director Jeri Mickelson has assumed Schilling’s role on an interim basis.

“I haven’t made any final decisions as to how we will proceed,” Tracy said. “I certainly will work with the council as we move forward.”