Watchdog: Accountability

South Dakota probing resignation of Corn Palace director

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Photo - FILE - In this June 1, 2010 file photo, Mark Schilling, director of the Corn Palace tourist attraction in Mitchell, S.D., picks sour dock, a weed used to frame the murals of the Corn Palace. Schilling resigned Monday, March 3, 2014, following 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. (AP Photo/The Daily Republic, Laura Wehde, File)
FILE - In this June 1, 2010 file photo, Mark Schilling, director of the Corn Palace tourist attraction in Mitchell, S.D., picks sour dock, a weed used to frame the murals of the Corn Palace. Schilling resigned Monday, March 3, 2014, following 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. (AP Photo/The Daily Republic, Laura Wehde, File)
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MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — State investigators are trying to determine if the man who abruptly resigned as director of Mitchell's Corn Palace tourist attraction may have broken any laws, according to the city's mayor.

Director Mark Schilling stepped down Monday after 13 years on the job. He told The Associated Press the next day that "I don't believe there is any wrongdoing" and that he stepped down as director because "it's just time for a change, and the best for the city."

The state Division of Criminal Investigation is now looking into the matter, Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy told The Daily Republic (http://bit.ly/NvncnY ).

The mayor said he asked Schilling to resign following a state audit of the city-owned tourist attraction. Results of that audit have not yet been released to the public, but Tracy said it found that "a number of policies and procedures" were not being followed.

"They were of such a serious nature that I was left with little choice but to seek (Schilling's) resignation," the mayor said. "Failure to adhere to city policies and procedures is, in my estimation, a serious violation of city policy. That was my reason for taking the action that I did."

No other city employees were involved, he said.

"Whatever actions were taken were the sole responsibility of Mark Schilling," Tracy said.

Schilling told the AP that he had not seen the audit and declined to comment about it.

Russ Olson, an audit manager with the state Department of Legislative Audit, headed the probe of the Corn Palace, which began in mid-December. The focus was on the operation of the Corn Palace and on its enterprise fund within the city's budget, he said. An enterprise fund is any fund within the city's budget that operates in a manner similar to a business.

"We were basically asked if we could come down and have a look, and see what we thought of the operation," Olson said. He declined to release further details.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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