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The "seeds" of District III were sown in 1970 as federal Model Rural Development Program guidelines were being considered by the South Dakota Planning Agency. On December 4, 1970, Governor Frank Farrar (pictured right) signed an Executive Order creating the boundaries of six planning districts. District I (Watertown) was the pilot organization. District III was established in May 1973.

The District's initial membership included twelve counties, eleven cities of 1,000 persons or more, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe. These entities formed the voluntary association under a "Joint Cooperative Agreement", which was authorized under state joint powers statutes.

The 1973-74 budget was $110,000, of which $30,000 came from membership dues. A total of 8.3 FTEs worked for the District on issues ranging from criminal justice to sanitary landfills.

The District III Committee consisted of local elected officials (23 of 24 members). Only one person from the original committee still serves in that capacity today - Rex Winter of Armour. The first chairman was Don Juffer (pictured right) of Wagner.

The District's growing pains included finding operating revenue, building trust and credibility among its members, and establishing relationships with state and federal agencies. The association's organizational documents reflect a conceptual effort to avoid the perception that District III was a new form of regional government. Local planning was not a high priority, unless it resulted in a tangible benefit, usually eligibility for outside grant assistance.

Planning districts became an official part of the federal project process through A-95 Reviews. District III began long relationships with federal agencies through contracts pertaining to criminal justice, manpower, and economic development issues. Federal revenue sharing became a common source of local funding for District services. All District assistance was based upon its role as an advisor. District III never sought or even considered a role beyond the power of persuasion.



Gov Farrar

Gov Farrar

Don Juffer

Don Juffer


Top regional priorities for the District included:

  • Economic planning and development;
  • Sanitary landfills;
  • Public facilities;
  • Human resources and health planning;
  • County comprehensive plans;
  • Technical assistance; and
  • Need surveys and information gathering.

Other "hot" regional issues were land use planning and zoning, sewage treatment systems, irrigation and rural water systems, recreation and tourism development, and lake and river restoration.
Driving Directions to the District III Office
Planning & Development District III
P.O. Box 687
1808 Summit Street
Yankton, SD 57078
Call: 800-952-3562 (South Dakota Only) or 605-665-4408
Fax: 605-665-0303