Lawrence County, South Dakota, covers 800 square miles of the northern Black Hills and foothills, bordering Wyoming to the west. Deadwood has been county seat since territorial days. The Lawrence County Courthouse complex, along Sherman Street, is the main site for county offices and for South Dakota’s Fourth Judicial Circuit.
In addition to Deadwood, the Lawrence County communities are Central City, Lead, St. Onge, Spearfish and Whitewood. County voters elect five county commissioners at large. Terms on the county commission are for four years, and the commission annually selects members who chair and co-chair meetings for that year. Commission meetings are normally scheduled the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, beginning at 8 am and continuing until the agenda’s work is finished. Meetings, held in the courthouse complex at 90 Sherman Street, are open to the public. Agendas and minutes are available online and minutes are also published in the Black Hills Pioneer newspaper.
The county’s landscape is diverse, with National Forest lands, other forested areas, agricultural land, recreational sites, and new housing developments outside city limits. Equally diverse is the Lawrence County business base: lumber production, tourism, mining, light industry, higher education, health care, farming and ranching, and casino gaming. Some of those business categories are impacted by county decisions about land, as is Black Hills outdoor recreation that is central to many residents’ lifestyles. Citizens locally tend to be engaged in county government, especially when zoning and other land issues are discussed. A current example is the county’s efforts to stop the spread of a mountain pine beetle infestation that could potentially devastate Lawrence County forests.
Citizens are able to serve on advisory boards relating to county departments. Information about applying is found at the same site when vacancies develop. Commissioners appoint advisory board members, and the boards study issues and advise the commission.
Each fall the county commission approves a budget for the coming year. For 2016, the county commission has adopted a budget of $12,398,260 utilizing locally generated county tax revenues. The county’s fiscal year is the same as the calendar year. The budget can be found as a resolution in the commissioner’s minutes or as published in the Black Hills Pioneer newspaper. It can also be reviewed by the public at the county auditor’s office, 90 Sherman Street, Deadwood, from 8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday.
Philanthropy and Nonprofits
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, Lawrence County has three private foundations with over 3.1 million dollars in combined assets reported for 2013. The foundations are as follows.
- The Jim A. Robinson Foundation
- Walter and Frances Green Charitable Trust
- First National Foundation
A list of polling places in Lawrence County can be found here.
Public notices from Lawrence County can be accessed through the South Dakota Newspaper Association's public notices website. Select Lawrence County from the dropdown menu to find notices on advertisements for bids, adoption of ordinances, financial reports, hearings, and other government activities in the county.
Lawrence County is the home of the Black Hills Pioneer, a daily published newspaper. Established in 1876. This paper is the oldest business in West River South Dakota and the only locally owned newspaper in the territory. The Pioneer serves Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood and Whitewood in Lawrence County as well as Meade and Butte County.
The Rapid City Journal, a daily published newspaper based out of Rapid City, also provides printed news for Lawrence County. The Rapid City Journal began on January 5, 1878, as the Black Hills Journal. The Journal is the daily newspaper of Rapid City.