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The Lawrence County Commission is seeking to update its comprehensive plan with the help of the Black Hills Council of Local Governments, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Lawrence County’s last comprehensive plan was completed in 2005 based on information from 1997, according to Lawrence County Commissioner Brandon Flanagan.

Commissioners hope to place emphasis on resident engagement in this iteration of comprehensive planning. Ali DeMersseman, with the Black Hills Council of Local Governments, stated that involving residents is a key aspect of the process used by her organization. Community engagement for such a document includes surveys and stakeholder meetings.

Other areas of concern commissioners hoped to include in the upcoming document were retail trade information, the Highway 85 corridor, and taking comprehensive plans from cities within the county into consideration. The county hopes to begin the planning process in late 2019 with a completion time 12-18 months thereafter.

To read more news from Lawrence County, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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Two new rule changes were approved by the South Dakota Commission, according to the Black Hills Pioneer. One rule pertains to the notification of the legal age to gamble while the other concerns policies involving individuals under the age of 21 in casinos.

Gambling establishments must now prominently display the legal age required to gamble. The signs must be permanently displayed at the front of the gaming establishment. Commissioner Tim Holland urged gaming establishments to err on the side of caution in regard to placement of additional signage.

To read more news about gambling in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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After a strong showing in January 2018, gambling numbers in Deadwood declined in February 2018, according to the Black Hills Pioneer. South Dakota Commission on Gaming data indicates that slot machine gambling dropped by 6% while table games fell by 12%, resulting in an overall 7% decline for the month of February.

While gaming revenues in Deadwood were down, hotel occupancy was up by 1% when compared to the same time last year. According to the Deadwood City Finance Office, the city’s hotels had an occupancy rate of 38% in February 2018, or about 564 more occupied rooms than February 2017.

To read more news about Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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In order to receive community feedback for a comprehensive plan, Deadwood officials have scheduled community visioning sessions for March 27 and 29, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The meetings are intended to help create a collective vision and goals for the city.

Deadwood has not updated its city plan since 2001. As the State of South Dakota requires communities to update their comprehensive plans at least every ten years, the city is currently out of compliance. According to Deadwood Planning and Zoning Administrator Bob Nelson, updating the comprehensive plan also helps inform future decisions for the city.  

In addition to community feedback, the comprehensive plan will include an analysis of the city’s previous, current and future conditions, a vision and goals, policies to achieve the vision and goals, and a consideration of potential development and growth for the city. The plan is slated to be complete by June 1.

To read more about Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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On March 21, 1998, a landslide impacting the Homestake Gold Mine’s open cut area temporarily halted operations. By April, underground mining was once again safe. However, the workforce at the mind was reduced from 850 to just 380 employees and gold production was reduced from 400,000 ounces to approximately 180,000 ounces per year.

Just three years thereafter, officials announced that the Homestake Mine would permanently close. Larry Mann, the mine’s spokesman, stated that despite management’s best efforts, coupled with significant downsizing in 1998, the mine’s corporate officials believed there was no scenario in which the mine could be as productive as it had once been. Coupled with the falling price of gold, stockholders could not expect adequate returns on their investments in the mine.

When shutdown was complete, the remaining buildings of the Homestake Mine stood vacant. Some time later, talks of transforming the former mine into an underground research laboratory arose. The National Science Foundation became interested in the mine because the deep tunnels are an ideal location to study elusive particles called neutrinos and dark matter. After a large donation of $70 million by T. Denny Sanford in 2006, the site was selected to become a  Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL).

After years of delicate construction, Homestake is now known as the Sanford Underground Research Facility and continues to study dark matter and neutrinos 4,850-feet underground. The lab now attracts scientists and science enthusiasts from around the world to learn the past, present, and future of the former mining goliath.

To learn more about the Homestake Gold Mine, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital history archive. Learn more about the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the former Homestake Gold Mine at the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue hub page.

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Adult fees for bus tours of the Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood will be increasing from $1 to $2 this year, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. A fee increase was previously implemented for Mt. Moriah visitors who chose to visit the cemetery by foot in 2016. While the fee for adults is increasing by $1, children under the age of 13 can still tour Mt. Moriah for free. Although the fee increase was approved last year, it was not officially implemented until January 1, 2018.

Several tour bus companies expressed their disapproval of the fee increase. In anticipation of the fee increase, Boot Hill Tours increased their 2017 rates and received pushback from customers as a result. Alkali Ike Tours noted that their bottom line would be impacted by the rate hike, and suggested charging children under 13 $1 to take the tour in order for the city to raise more revenue. While alternative rate hikes were suggested during the city commission meeting, the original increase of $1 per adult remained, with Commissioner Gary Todd noting the additional revenue would be used to maintain the cemetery.

To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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PACE Strategic Development, LLC, a consultant hired to facilitate the Spearfish Community Strategic Plan, recently presented to the Spearfish City Council, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. During the presentation, members of the public, city council, city staff and others listened to and helped determine priorities for 2018-2020.

Some of the highest priorities for Spearfish include a recreational path to Exit 8 of Interstate 90, rehabilitating the McLaughlin property which was recently purchased by the city, conducting a study of the city’s utility rates, a strategic plan for the fire department, and others. Next steps for the strategic plan include the development of detailed action plans as well as developing methods to track progress and accountability.

The full report of Spearfish’s strategic goals is available on the city’s website. To learn more about Spearfish, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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The City of Deadwood recently purchased a van for its paratransit services, according to the Black Hills Pioneer. The 2017 Dodge Caravan was purchased for $24,977 alongside a city commission resolution which approved a fee schedule for paratransit ridership.

Passengers 60 years and older can receive transportation within Deadwood or from Deadwood to Lead at no cost. Trips to Spearfish and Sturgis from Deadwood are $10 per trip while trips to Rapid City will cost $15 per trip. Passengers under 60 years of age can receive transportation in Deadwood and to Lead for $2.50 per trip. Trips to Spearfish, Sturgis and Rapid City are the same cost as those listed above.

Paratransit rides originating in Deadwood, which run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.,  require 24 hours’ advanced notice. Deadwood’s paratransit program is administered by its Transportation, Safety and Buildings Director Tom Kruzel.

For more information on Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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After a year of declining gaming revenue, the gaming handle in Deadwood was up approximately 7% in January 2018 when compared to January 2017, as reported by KOTA News. Nearly $82 million were bet on tables and slot machines last month in Deadwood, according to the South Dakota Gaming Statistics Monthly Summary.  

Hotel occupancy also increased slightly in January 2018 when compared to the same point in time last year. With the potential addition of new attractions, including new hiking trails and main street squares, Deadwood officials are hopeful for increased tourism traffic.

To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.

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The Deadwood City Commission recently approved nine grants for its 2018 Outside of Deadwood Grant Program, according to the Black Hills Pioneer. A total of 24 grant applications were received for the award. The selection process was made more challenging this year as the total award amount was reduced from $250,000 to $150,000.

The Mystic Preservation Alliance in Mystic, St. Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Church in Central City, and the Wetz School House in Newell were some of the recipients named in the grant. Several projects that were not funded included the Cessell Memorial Bandshell in Belle Fourche, the Valentine T. McGillicuddy House in Rapid City, and the Keystone School Museum.

The Outside of Deadwood Grant Program awards grants on a biannual basis with deadlines of January 2 and June 2 of the year for which the grant is requested. For more information on the grant, visit Deadwood’s Historic Preservation website.

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Lyft drivers picking up and dropping off passengers within Deadwood’s city limits could face a high fee, reports KOTA News. An ordinance in Deadwood allows for just five taxi companies to operate within its city limits, and Lyft is not named as one of those companies. As a result, a Lyft driver who both picks up and drops off a passenger within Deadwood city limits could face a fine up to $500. Lyft passengers are still able to request rides into Deadwood from outside of its city limits, as well as rides from Deadwood to another location.

Deadwood City Commissioner David Ruth noted that an additional taxi license would need to be added to the city ordinance in order for Lyft to provide services within Deadwood’s city limits. In nearby Rapid City, council members revised ordinances in order to allow the ride sharing service to operate.

To read more news about Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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At the request of the Executive Director of the Deadwood Gaming Association on behalf of 13 Deadwood hotel owners, the Deadwood City Commission recently approved the creation of a new business improvement district (BID). As reported by the Black Hills Pioneer, BID 8 will consist of a hotel occupancy rate proposed at $2 per rented room, per night.

The next step in formally establishing the new district is a public hearing and resolution for the consideration and approval by the Deadwood City Commission. Copies of the resolution must be made available to the businesses within BID 8. The BID process is likely to be completed by May, but until then, no taxes will be collected.

To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.

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In 2017, police officers in Spearfish worked on 9,039 cases, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The total number of cases is down slightly from 9,215 cases in 2016. Of those cases, the most frequent case type was traffic stops at 1,390. There were 423 welfare checks, 396 instances of community policing and 351 occurences of accidents.

Property loss and theft comprised 176 and 157 respective cases. The police department also assisted the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office with 152 total cases.  Spearfish Police Department Chief noted that the case load and distribution was consistent with previous years.

To read more about Spearfish, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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In December 2017, gaming revenue in Deadwood was up 15% when compared to December 2016. According to KOTA News, while the city closed out 2017 on a positive note, 2017 as a whole was down approximately 1% from 2016.

Gaming was down by nearly 4% through June 2017.However, increased revenues through the remainder of the year reduced the potential shortfall.

Additional details on gaming revenues in Deadwood can be found on the South Dakota Department of Revenue’s website. To read more about Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

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Lead has been named the third safest city in South Dakota according to a new report conducted by Safe Home Security. As reported by KOTA News, Lead had a safety score of 95 out of 100. Safe Home Security bases its score on the total number and type of crimes committed in the area as well as total population and the number of law enforcement officials.

Sisseton was named the safest city in South Dakota with a safety score of 98.7, while Rapid City placed last with a score of 66.8. Sioux Falls also earned a low safety rating of 71.1. See how all 25 South Dakota cities included in the study were ranked here.

Data from the study was compiled from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and included South Dakota cities with a population of at least 2,000. You can read about the study’s full methodology here.  

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The Deadwood City Commission recently granted its approval for Mayor Turbiville to enter into a contract with a company to conduct background investigations on potential employees. According to the Black Hills Pioneer, the city council approved the mayor's request to enter into a contract with the private company at its January 2 meeting.

Full-time employees will receive a more thorough background search with a total cost of $110 per search, while part-time and seasonal employees will receive a lower level background search at a cost of $44 per search. City officials are still determining the full details of each level of search, as well as the development of policies and procedures for conducting the searches.

To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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In 2017, Lawrence County held a record number of inmates in its jail, according to KOTA News. The Lawrence County Jail can hold a maximum of 51 inmates. An average of 42 inmates were incarcerated in the jail throughout 2017, and a total of 48 were held during the month of December.

While the facility was near capacity in December 2017, the county did not need to use overflow facilities. Lawrence County Sheriff Brian Dean indicated that his office is examining whether or not 2017 was an outlier or a sign of increasing incarceration rates. Dean also indicated that he may consider seeking assistance from an outside specialist after seeking feedback from the Lawrence County Commission.

To read more news from Lawrence County, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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Spearfish set a new record for building valuations in 2017 at $52 million, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The previous record was set in 2014 at $49 million.

Commercial as well as residential building projects contributed to last year’s valuation. For residential permits, 79 new buildings as well as 21 manufactured homes were valued at $24,348,948. Several new commercial properties, including one currently under construction on Main Street and Jackson Boulevard, were valued at $14,952,317.  Over 60 commercial alterations and additions were valued at $8,312,103.

To read more news from Spearfish, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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With a petition to annex 1,020 acres from Frawley Ranches approved by the City Commission, Deadwood may soon expand past the intersection of Highway 85 and Polo Loop Road to the Frawley Ranch courtyard barns. According to the Black Hills Pioneer, the annexation would include 60 acres for outdoor activities, including soccer, baseball and walking paths.

The Deadwood City Commission will now need to work up an annexation and developer agreement. Lawrence County and state officials will also certify the petition to ensure that the annexation is in compliance with county and state law. If the annexation is in compliance with state law, the city commission will adopt a resolution to annex the acreage, bringing it under Deadwood’s jurisdiction.

To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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Although Deadwood’s gaming revenue has largely been down in 2017, a 0.3% increase in spending across table games and slot machines occurred in November 2017 when compared to November 2016. According to the Black Hills Pioneer, table games were up 6.4% when compared to November of last year, while slot machines were down 0.1% when compared across the same timeframe.

Hotel occupancy was also slightly higher in November 2017 than November 2016. Hotels were 30.4% occupied, a 1.4% increase over November 2016. Executive Director of the Deadwood Gaming Association Mike Rodman indicated milder temperatures and events including a craft beer festival may have increased this year’s occupancy rates.

To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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