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The band plays on: Lennox Council reinstates Municipal Band funding

The Lennox Municipal Band is the oldest continuous running Municipal Band in the state of South Dakota - founded in 1883. This is a point of interest and a great honor for our city,” Larinda Collette, co-president of the Lennox Municipal Band, read these words at Monday’s Lennox City Council meeting.

The discussion about the Municipal Band funding was on the agenda because the organization only recently found out that their budget had been reduced to nearly zero.

Earlier in the year, the Municipal Band was notified that travel expenses were cut through a letter sent by the City of Lennox in December. The City budget was approved in October and published in The Lennox Independent, however the Municipal Band is not listed separately as a line item and, as a reporter did not attend the special council meeting when discussion occurred, no story was published regarding the funding changes.

The travel budget was used to pay out of town musicians and student musicians. It was about $3,000.

Councilman Brock Rops said, “When it came up I did not know band members are getting paid to come in, we thought that was little bit different. We thought what is the director? More like a coach.”

Rops said that at the time, he thought the Municipal Band would be notified of the change; but because that did not happen, he wanted to make a motion to reinstate the $2,150 for the band director. Rops also brought up the need to expand the cultural offerings, mentioning performing arts, such as drama and theatre.

Collette said that Byron Youngquist has served as the Lennox Municipal Band Director for 18 years.

The cut to his salary was what the Band Board most opposed.

She said, “Most importantly, our director’s pay was cut. His position was deemed a volunteer, like that of a T-ball, softball or baseball coach. But the director’s duties go much more deeper than standing in front of a band and waving his arms. A director needs training, not anyone can stand in front of the band and make music. The director takes time from their full time job to prepare music, select new pieces and order them, ensure that everyone has the proper music to perform, selects the music for each of the concerts (on average 13 of them in a three month period), set the concert schedule and schedule practices. Most importantly, he has to be present at all concerts and rehearsals and if not able to, find a qualified replacement. We band members are volunteers… if we are unable to attend a performance, the band will play on. If the director is unable to attend, well then, there is no concert.”

Delphi Klusmann, co-president of the Lennox Municipal Band said, “Don’t forget it has been 135 years — that is part of this city’s history… it is one of the points of who we are. You can lose sight of something that has done fairly well.”

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