Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

The Rapid City Journal reports Mick Gibbs resigned from Rapid City Regional Hospital effective Tuesday, August 16th.  As of Monday, Dennis Millirons will take over as interim president.  Millirons was recently president of Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota.  Regional Health Chief Operating Officer, Paulette Davidson, thanks Gibbs for his service and welcomes Millirons.

For more information about Regional Health, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archives.


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The Rapid City Council gave approval to Mayor Steve Allender's plan to offer an incentive to employees who take early retirement. Under the plan, eligible employees have from September 1 to November 30 to choose to retire by the end of the year. Any employee taking the deal would receive a one-time payment equal to three months' pay. The Rapid City Journal reports that of 788 city employees, there are 92 who are eligible. The added expense would be offset by hiring new workers at a starting wage.

City employee salaries and compensation scales are available online.

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Business organizations in the Black Hills are currently seeking to draw companies in the motorcycle industry to the region. According to the Rapid City Journal article, the groups, including Rapid City Economic Development Partnership and the Rushmore Region Alliance, tout having an association to the Sturgis Rally as being a selling point in the indusry as well as the state's business-friendly taxes and regulations being a draw as well. Several motorcycle businesses have relocated to the area, bringing job opportunities with them, while others are looking into doing the same.

For read past news articles related to economy of the Black Hills, click on this archives link.

To find out more information on the economic development of the region as well as employment statistics, be sure to check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network resource page.

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A organization of motorcycle enthusiasts hopes to return the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to its roots in racing. The Rapid City Journal reported that the White Plate Racing Association is seeking to grow and preserve the motorcycle racing aspect of what created the rally in the first place. While attendance was low the first year, last year's 75th rally saw a spike in attendance. Organizers are planning on having greater attendance for the 76th rally this year with better scheduled times for events and some bigger names in the racing industry coming to compete.

To read up on past news articles related to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and its 76th year, be sure to click on this archives link.

For more information on the Rally itself, check out the event's official homepage

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Members of the South Dakota Board of Regents and state university presidents have met to discuss setting a goal of getting more people ages 25-34 to carry college degrees. The Rapid City Journal has reported that the goal is get 65 percent of the state population in that age bracket to have a degree by 2025. More college degree holders will be needed in state in the next decade and the Regents believe that increasing the number of those available in the workforce will encourage them to stay in-state as well as encourage other businesses to come to South Dakota to take advantage of that educated labor force as well as the state's business-friendly laws.

To read up on past news articles related to education in South Dakota, be sure to click on this archives link.

For more information on education and training in Rapid City, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network resource page.

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The Rapid City Journal reports that Pennington County is looking add 13.5 employees to the 2017 budget.  The Pennington County Board of Commissioners met and will continue to discuss the budget.  Many of the new positions relate to law enforcement.  Sheriff Kevin Thom requested 4 new deputies.  The Rapid City Journal reports their future pay will come from part of a COPS grant. The Public Defender's Office and State's Attorney's Office are also hoping to hire more people.  Overall, the tax burden for the new employees will be $695,733. 

For more information about the Pennington County budget, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archives.  


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At a public meeting at the Journey Museum, community planners unveiled their grand design plans for the downtown area of Rapid City. The Rapid City Journal reports that the designs will connect the downtown area east to the School of Mines and west to the West Boulevard Historic District. The plans will also result in creating job opportunities, two public activity areas similar to Main Street Square, and new housing options.

Residents of the West Boulevard District, however, want assurances that the plans will not encroach on their residential neighborhoods. There are two more public meetings scheduled, on July 26 from 4PM-7PM and July 27 from 8AM to 11AM at the Journey Museum. The draft plan can be viewed at

Be sure to check out this archives link for past news articles related downtown Rapid City.

For more information on the development history of downtown Rapid City, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network resource page.

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With no end in sight for the rest of the summer and early fall, the drought of 2016 is causing farmers and ranchers in the region to look at what they can do with little prospect of rainfall. And they are not the only ones under duress. As the Rapid City Journal article noted, what affects them will ultimately also affect local businesses as well. Help is on the way, though, as the recent drought designation for the area has freed up cash assistance from the federal Farm Service Agency as well as other programs. 

Be sure to click on this archives link for past news articles related to drought in western South Dakota.

For more information on drought in the region, be sure to check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network resource page.

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Croell Redi-Mix, LLC. and the Pennington County Commissioners met in court on July 8th in regards to a building permit revoked earlier in 2016 reports the Rapid City Journal.  Croell was granted a permit by the Pennington County Planning and Zoning Committee that was later repealed by the Board of Commissioners due to complaints by area residents.  Croell Redi-Mix, Inc. and Pennington County are now looking at a civil suit in regards to the revoked permit.  Croell is also seeking monetary damages because they have been unable to operate on the property since its purchase in 2015.  

Judge Brown will make a decision in regards to the intervention motion by the attorney for the residents opposing the quarry by July 15th.  The company's attorney said that a brief will be filed by July 31st to continue moving forward with the case.

For more information about Pennington County Government issues, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archives or resource page.  

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A group of investors is drawing up preliminary plans for the construction of a $40 million western theme park to be built in Deadwood at one of two chosen areas within the city. The Rapid City Journal reports that if the park is constructed, the group believes that it would generate millions more for the local and regional economies as well as bring another million more visitors to the Deadwood area. The group believes that if enough investors are secured and the land is purchased soon, ground could be broken as early as 2017 with a finish date by the start of tourist season in 2019.

To read past news articles related to the Deadwood area, be sure to click on this archives link.

For more information on Deadwood, its history, and current status, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network resource page.

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New federal labor rules will set $47,476 (~$22.83 at 40 hours a week) as the minimum salary for an employee to be overtime exempt, starting on December 1. The current rule, put in place in 2004, sets the minimum at $23,660 (~$11.38 at 40 hours a week). A Rapid City Journal article gives an estimate that this change will affect thousands of workers in South Dakota and millions across all the states. For Rapid City employees, the salary schedule set Grade 18 (Mayor's Executive Coordinator, Long Range Planner I, and Librarian I, among others), as the lowest level at which a starting employee would still be exempt.

More salary discussion can be found in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.

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As the drought continues to persist across western South Dakota, fast dropping water levels in stock ponds across the region are causing concentrations of dissolved solids to occur that are potentially dangerous for cattle. The article in the Rapid City Journal reported that state officials have noted that high concentrations of salt and sulfites are showing up in many stock ponds as well as strains of bovine polio. These can cause severe weight loss, sickness, blindness, or even death.  Local ranchers are being asked to monitor and test their ponds if they can. You can check out current drought conditions as well as forecasts for the region at the NOAA homepage.

To read past news articles related to the current drought as well as past issues, be sure to click on this archives link.

For more information on the Black Hills and drought as well links to helpful sites, check out this Knowledge Network resource page.

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Mark Van Every will be replacing Craig Bobzien in August as Supervisor for the Black Hills National Forest, following Bobzien’s retirement in April, reports the Rapid City Journal. Bobzien has served as the supervisor since 2005.

Van Every has worked with the U.S. Forest Service for over thirty years and is coming into this position after supervising Texas’ National Forests and Grasslands. The Black Hills National Forest spans 1.2 million acres in western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming.

Read more about the Black Hills National Forest on the Black Hills Knowledge Networ archive

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Officials from the School of Mines and Technology have presented research that indicates more and more graduates from the school are deciding to stay within the state rather than leave. According to the Rapid City Journal article, school administrators have shown that over the last two years, 40% of graduates are choosing to start their careers or go for advanced degrees within the state. This is up from 11% a couple of years ago and this trend is being attributed to increased efforts by local and state companies to recruit graduates.

To read up on past news articles related to the School of Mines, be sure to click on this archives link.

For more information on education and training opportunities in Rapid City, check out this Knowledge Network resource page.

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Thursday, 23 June 2016 00:00

Wall Celebrates Growth

The Wall Economic Development Corporation and City of Wall celebrated the opening of two new businesses and one business relocation Friday, June 17th. 

The first ribbon cutting was held at the Wall Car Care Center, LLC, formerly Wall Lube and Espresso. They offer oil changes, rock chip repair, car detail and other car care services. M&M Sales works out of the Wall Car Care Center and offers tire service and sales, flat beds, grill guards, and much more. Their normal hours are 7:30 am - 5 pm Monday - Friday, Saturday appointment only. The owners leave their cell phone numbers on the door to offer 24 hour emergency services. Earlier this year, representatives from both businesses attended "Small Business Beginnings" classes, hosted by the Badlands Bad River Economic Development Partnership. The classes were designed to help individuals learn how to start and grow a business.  

The Vintage Soule and Farm Bureau Financial Services are the first new businesses to have moved into the "Wall Mall," located at 115 6th Ave., the corner of Wall's Main Street. The large building had sat empty for several years. It is now under new ownership and experiencing growth. 

The Vintage Soule is a salon and boutique with tanning and massage services. The store features several unique pieces of furniture, home decor, jewelry, purses and clothing. The Vintage Soule celebrated their official grand opening in April. Their hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 am - 6 pm, and Saturday, 10 am - 3 pm. 



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Thursday, 16 June 2016 00:00

City of Custer Employees Unionize

Employees of the city of Custer's Public Works Department will be unionized after a collective bargaining agreement was struck with city officials, reports the Custer County Chronicle

The new unionized employees won't experience dramatic changes in work hours or pay, the Custer mayor said. Most changes would come in strengthening employee rights in terms of discipline and firing along with the accrual of sick time and vacation pay. 

Not all employees of the city's public works department belong to the union, which requires members to pay dues. 

Read more about Employment on the Black Hills Knowledge Network


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The Pennington County Sheriff's Office Garden Project, a program now in its fourth year, helps inmates physically and mentally by allowing them to garden, Rapid City Journal reports. By allowing inmates the opportunity to participate in the community gardening project, they are taught valuable work skills and are able to create a sense of community for themselves. According to Gretchen Sitzes, the program officer, they are given a coping skill as well as a fun and productive hobby.

For more news on work and economy, please visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive

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A proposed 192-acre quarry narrowly approved by the Lawrence County Commission will be referred to voters if quarry opponents fulfill their vow to fight on, according to a Rapid City Journal report

After a series of standing room only hearings on a conditional use permit requested by Mountain View Ranches LLC, the county commission moved the final hearing to a private hotel meeting room with more space. On June 9, the commission voted 3-2 to grant the permit after 43 conditions and restrictions were put in place to govern things such as dust, road configuration and cultural resources surveys. 

Nonetheless, opponents vowed to gather the 830 or so signatures needed to put the permit question before voters. 

The quarry would be located off of historic Crook City Road in Centennial Valley. 

Read more about Lawrence County on the Black Hills Knowledge Network


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A mobile "InfoWagon" and historic images wrapped around utility boxes are coming to downtown Deadwood during the height of the 2016 tourist season, reports the Black Hills Pioneer

An antique farm wagon equipped to serve as an information booth furnished by Hanson Wheel & Wagon of Letcher will move to various locations along Main Street between noon and 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The wagon will be staffed by people in period clothing and bear interpretive panels with information about the trails that once led people into Deadwood.

In addition, green utility boxes on downtown streets will be wrapped in plastic with images from historic photographs taken in the approximate location of the boxes. Deadwood's city office of historic preservation will choose the photos to be used and the boxes that will be wrapped. 

Read more about Deadwood on the Black Hills Knowledge Network


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The economy in West River South Dakota is being affected by depressed grain and energy prices. Hear about how major layoffs in the coal fields of eastern Wyoming, declining oil production in North Dakota and and plummeting farm incomes in eastern South Dakota will ripple through the Black Hills region from economist Jacob Mortenson

Jacob Mortenson photoMortenson, a consulting economist with the Black Hills Knowledge Network and South Dakota Dashboard, will speak at noon, Monday, June 27, at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology's King Hall in Rapid City. Tickets are $25. You can register online

Mortenson, a native of Fort Pierre, has worked for a non-partisan agency in the U.S. Congress forecasting federal income tax revenue. His research, primarily on tax policy, has appeared in academic journals, as part of the Federal Reserve Board's working paper series, and has been featured by the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Sioux Falls.

Mortenson’s presentation is made possible with funding from Regional Health, Security First Bank, Black Hills Community Bank, West River Electric, Golden West Telecommunications, Wells Fargo Bank, the City of Rapid City, Rapid City Economic Development Partnership and the Bush Foundation.

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