Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Tuesday, 12 June 2018 18:53

Voters Encounter Issues At Primary Polls

South Dakota’s Primary Election was held last Tuesday, and with it came a myriad of problems for polling places and South Dakota voters. According to the KOTA Territory News, some voters were unable to vote for their preferred candidate due to registration errors and an electronic voter identification problem delayed some polling locations.

Meade County Auditor Lisa Schieffer says that these problems stem from South Dakota’s primary system, which is a closed primary system. This means that voters must be registered with their chosen political party in order to vote in a primary election. Registration mistakes can occur when residents move and fail to reregister.

Voters must register with their political party at least fifteen days prior to a primary election. You can find more information on voter registration on the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website.

Find more information on South Dakota and local elections at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Government and Citizenship issue hub.

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A new structure located near the Sturgis Harley-Davidson Rally Point will provide shade and additional power to the city’s library, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The idea was sparked through concerns raised by citizens requesting additional shade at the Rally Point. While canopies were originally intended to be included at the Rally Point, they were nixed due to the $250,000 cost and 10-year lifespan.

City officials ultimately looked for alternative solutions and worked alongside Black Hills Energy to find alternative options. After the idea of solar panels were suggested, the city solicited proposals for the solar canopy in the summer of 2017. Interconnections Systems, Inc., of Central City, Nebraska submitted the winning bit of $225,000. The panels are projected to save the city $6,000 annually in energy cost and should last around 20 years.

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

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The Meade County Director of Equalization recently proposed a reduction in agricultural land values due to drought conditions, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. A recent report from the United States Drought Monitor indicated that over half of Meade County is in a severe drought category while the other half is listed under moderate drought. Last summer, much of Meade County experienced extreme drought—the monitor’s second highest rating.

The proposal breaks down the reduction in several ways. A 3.5% reduction will be made due to the land’s size and location, while another 10% will be included based on the drought declaration in 2016. The final 16% reduction is made according to the 2017 drought declaration.

The proposal would would have to be carried out by the Meade County Commission and would involve a dispute with the state’s equalization director. If the Meade County Commission approved the reduction in ag land values, state officials could reject it. Such a change would have an impact on the county’s finances, especially its schools.

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

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On April 12, 1892, the Meade County Commission passed a resolution that halted its wolf bounty. Prior to this date, individuals would receive $3 for each wolf scalp they presented to county officials. The resolution cited financial hardship as the primary reason for discontinuing the bounty as “there was no money in the General Fund to pay the same, and that Legislature not providing any means by which a tax could be levied to pay the bounty on wolf scalps.”

While today’s commission no longer handles wolf bounties, it still manages issues including liquor licenses, road maintenance and tax concerns. However, unlike their predecessors, today’s commission also considers energy issues, international pipelines, and additional planning and zoning issues.

Meade County was formed by a seceding group of eastern Lawrence County and Sturgis residents in 1889. The newly established Meade County was named after the nearby cavalry post, Fort Meade, which was named after General George C. Meade. General Meade was a union commander during the Civil War.

Meade County was fairly small in its early years as it comprised just the southern area of the current county boundaries. Ten years after it was established, the county annexed two counties to its north—Scobey and Delano. Today the county encompasses more than two million acres

To learn more about the history of Meade County, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's community profile

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Wednesday, 28 March 2018 16:37

Simmons Hired as Meade County Superintendent

Jeff Simmons, a former principal at Sturgis Brown High School, was recently selected to serve as the Meade County School District Superintendent, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. In his cover letter for the position, Simmons addressed his work at the high school and his strong, personal connection to the school district.

Simmons will return to Sturgis this July. In a recent meeting, the Meade County School Board approved his hiring as well as his $128,000 salary.

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

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On March 27, 2011, over 1,100 maintenance personnel launched four B-1 bombers out of Ellsworth during a blizzard to assist in Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya. The bombers’ launch marked the first occurrence the aircraft was ever launched from a continental U.S. location to support combat operations.

While just two B-1 bombers and their crews would continue strikes in Libya, the mission mandated extensive communication as well as assistance personnel working around the clock. Aviators in the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons had been briefed on the operation before they prepared the strike mission which would occur over 6,000 miles away from Ellsworth Air Force Base. Less than a day later, 125 munitions were built—enough to equip seven B-1s.

The B-1 Bombers arrived in Libya 12 hours following take-off. The mission that followed would be the deepest strike made during Operation Odyssey Dawn, with the aircraft occupying hostile airspace for over an hour. During the two-day strike, the bombers hit over 100 targets.

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Three candidates have been selected to be interviewed for the superintendent position at the Meade County School District, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Charlene Crosswait of Menno, Charles Hanson of Hill City, and Jeff Simmons of Aberdeen will be interviewed at the end of March.

An outside consultant, McPherson & Jacobson, LLC, assisted the Meade County School District in their search. After careful review, the consultant group submitted 18 applicants to the Board of Education for consideration from which the three aforementioned candidates were selected. Once a new superindentent has been hired, the consultants will help oversee a workshop held between the board and superintendent to create performance objectives for the position.

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

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On March 20th, 2003 the 109th Engineer Company of the South Dakota Army National Guard from Sturgis became the first South Dakota unit to enter Iraq during the “Shock and Awe” campaign. The National Guard unit was also the first to enter Kuwait from South Dakota.

Following its five months of service in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 39 battalion members underwent a demobilization process in Fort Carson, CO where they received medical screenings and financial reviews. The members then made their way home to Sturgis, where they were honored at a parade. A welcoming ceremony was also held at Grunwald Middle School where Governor M. Michael Rounds addressed the soldiers and their families.

Just four years later, the 109th Battalion was reorganized and relocated to Rapid City-based parent unit, the 109th Regional Support Group. A new unit, the 881st Troop Command, replaced the 109th unit in Sturgis. The 109th Battalion had its beginnings in 1924 and was organized with companies from Rapid City, Madison, Brookings, Huron, Lead, Hot Springs, and Belle Fourche. It had been located in Sturgis since March 4, 1930.

Read more about Sturgis on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

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The Sturgis Police Athletic League is looking to deter juvenile crime by creating a professional quality bike park, reports KOTA News. The park would have attractions for bicyclists of varying skill level—from toddlers to BMX aficionados.

The total cost of the park is estimated at $75,000. So far, the Sturgis Police Athletic League has raised over $31,000 at an auction held at the Knuckle Brewery. Construction of the park will be done by Pumptrax USA, which has build the past three Olympic BMX tracks.

To read more news about health and wellness in Sturgis, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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The U.S. Senate recently passed legislation that will add approximately 200 acres to the Black Hills National Cemetery, reports the Rapid City Journal. The land is currently held by the Bureau of Land Management.

Established in 1948, the cemetery occupies 107 acres of land. The 200 ares to be transferred is located northwest of the cemetery and is largely barren. Approximately 28,600 veterans from South Dakota and surrounding states have been buried in the cemetery.

Companion legislation was introduced and passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Kristi Noem last year. The legislation must be signed by President Trump before it is enacted into law.

To learn more about veterans affairs in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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On December 21, 1981 Bear Butte, located east of Sturgis, South Dakota, was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Bear Butte is one of just over 2,500 National Historic Landmarks across the nation. National Historic Landmarks must be “historic places that possess exceptional value in commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States” and may be buildings, sites, structures objects or districts.

Known as Mato Paha by Lakota people—and as Noahvose by Cheyenne people—the butte is not a butte by definition but is instead the remnant of ancient volcanic activity. Bear Butte sits 1,200 feet above the land that surrounds it, at a total of 4,426 feet above sea level. The result of a volcano that failed to fully erupt, the land feature is also a place of deep significance to a variety of indigenous peoples from the region. The Cheyenne spiritual leader Sweet Medicine is said to have received the basis of Cheyenne spiritual and moral customs on Bear Butte, while Lakota and Dakota people have held various ceremonies there.

By the end of World War II, homesteader Ezra Bovee was the legal landowner of Bear Butte. Early in 1945, Northern Cheyenne individuals requested to hold a ceremony at Bear Butte to pray for the war’s end. Bouvee welcomed their presence and became a steadfast supporter or preserving the butte. Bouvee went so far as to spark interest in making the butte a national park. While the federal government did not show interest in creating a national park, the South Dakota legislature set the area aside as a state park in 1961. Four years later, the butte was designated as National Landmark.

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The Meade County School District is planning to build a new elementary school in Union Center. According to the Black Hills Pioneer, the Meade County School Board approved a contract for the design of the school at its December 11 meeting.

The school will be approximately 10,000 square feet and will cost roughly $1.5 million. The school district purchased 4.5 acres for the school which is south of the Central Meade County Community Center. A new deep water well will be required for the school.

To read more about education and training, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s issue hub page.

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Although areas unavailable for parking are marked by “do not park” signs and yellow lines, the 77th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has seen an increase in parking violations, reports KOTA News. The Sturgis Police Department has reported an increased number of individuals who have received tickets or had their vehicles towed.

This year, the department issued approximately 150 parking tickets—approximately 70 more than the previous year. Police Chief Geody VanDewater indicated that parking violations are a habitual issue as visitors do not want to walk as far to their destinations.

To learn more about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s issue hub. Read more recent news from Sturgis at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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Native Hope is discussing the dangers and signs of sex trafficking with Sturgis Rally attendees, reports KOTA News. The non-profit organization hopes to decrease the instances of sex trafficking during the annual event held in Sturgis.

Native Hope works primarily to prevent sex trafficking among Native Americans, who are more likely to be trafficked than other racial groups. The group helps to promote education and safety techniques to help those who may be at risk of being trafficked.

An individual may be a trafficking victim if they avoid eye contact, are not allowed to speak for themselves, or if their background information is unclear. If you suspect an individual is the victim of human trafficking, call 911.

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

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While volunteer fire departments assist with numerous wildfires in the region, they also have a hand in extinguishing car fires. In order to raise awareness for the danger of car fires, the Black Hawk Volunteer Fire Department provided a demonstration of safety techniques for car fires at its second annual open house, reports KOTA News. The event also served as a fundraiser for the volunteer department.

The open house allowed community members to learn more about the department and meet its firefighters. The department estimates that it receives over 400 calls per year for a variety of safety situations.

To learn more about public safety issues in the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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As of last week, 105 students have graduated from the Northern Hills Drug Court, reports KOTA News. Based in Sturgis, the Northern Hills Drug Court was the first such court in South Dakota.

This spring, 13 graduates were recognized at a ceremony held at the Sturgis Community Center. South Dakota Supreme Court Justice offered remarks as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

The Northern Hills Drug Court is a judicially-monitored program that focuses on non-violent, adult drug offenders. Goals of the court include breaking the cycle of addiction, encouraging growth of healthy families, and efficiently using public funds.

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

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In order to alleviate overcrowding concerns in Meade County Schools, a new middle school is being constructed, reports KOTA News. Stagebarn Middle School will cost approximately $18 million dollars and hold about 600 students in its 10,000 square foot facility.

Some staff from the existing Piedmont Middle School will be transferred to Stagebarn Middle School, with more staff to be hired. The middle school will host grades five through eight. The building is anticipated to be completed by August 2018.

To read more about education and training in Meade County, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile. Read more news about education and training in the Black Hills region at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017 22:02

Davidson Reelected to Whitewood City Council

Incumbent Jerry Davidson defeated challenger Dale O’Dea in the Whitewood Ward 3 City Council race, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Davidson earned 50 votes over O’Dea’s 30 in the city election. Forty-two percent of Ward 3 voters cast their ballots.

O’Dea indicated that the voters chose to keep Davidson on the council, but that he ran to provide voters a choice.

In Wards 1 and 2, Randy Weige and Monica Shear, respectively ran unopposed and were automatically reelected to the city council. Whitewood’s swearing in ceremony will be held on May 1 during the city council meeting.

To read more news from Whitewood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile

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Residents of Whitewood will cast their votes for a Ward 3 Council representative on April 11, reports the Black Hills Pioneer.  The Black Hills Pioneer presented the candidates, Jerry Davidson and Dale O’Dea with a civic questionnaire. Davidson and O’Dea are both vying for the only competitive seat on the Whitewood City Council. Randy Wiege, of Ward 1, and Monica Shear, of Ward 2, are running unopposed.

The questionnaire inquired about the candidate’s employment, experience for the elected position, issues of importance, and more. Jerry Davidson’s responses to the questionnaire can be viewed here. Dale O’Dea did not respond to the questionnaire.

To learn more about Whitewood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile or online news archive

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Individuals who utilize the Whitewood Water System will see an increase in their monthly rate, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Households within city limits will pay $23.00 per month for up to 2,000 gallons, while individuals outside of city limits will pay approximately $69.00.

Residents within city limits using over 2,000 gallons per month but less than 27,000 gallons will be charged an additional $2.20 per month, per 1,000 gallons used. An additional $2.30 per gallon per month will be charged for usage over 27,000 gallons. For Whitewood water users outside of city limits, those rates will be tripled.

The new rates are slated to take effect on April 1. The City of Whitewood estimates the new rates could produce up to $18,000 in additional revenues.

For more news about Whitewood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or Whitewood community profile

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