Republican voters have surged in South Dakota

Republicans continued their streak of gains in registration of South Dakota voters during July, according to the Aug. 3 monthly report from the South Dakota Secretary of State office.

Republicans totaled 252,215. They added more than 700 voters since the previous report July 2.

Democrats were at 156,353. That was a small rise of 37.

There’s also something still afoot in the independents category. They climbed to 122,549, a gain of more than 700.

What’s just as noteworthy is the trend through the first seven months of 2018.

Republicans rose by more than 6,700 since the Jan. 2 report, while Democrats fell by more than 3,500. Republicans had statewide primary elections for governor and U.S. House nominations on June 5 that were highly competitive, while Democrats didn’t have contests in those races.

During that same stretch, independents rose by more than 1,700.

The numbers suggest Republicans have become more engaged again under their South Dakota chairman, Dan Lederman, than Democrats have under their chairwoman Ann Tornberg.

Bridge work set for Rapid City

From the state DOT:

The South Dakota Department of Transportation says rehabilitation work on the Haines Avenue and Maple Street bridges on Interstate 90 in Rapid City will resume on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018.

Work on Phases 2 and 2A in the westbound lanes of I-90 is scheduled to start Aug. 13, 2018 and be completed by Nov. 16, 2018. During this phase, westbound I-90 will be reduced to one lane through the construction zone and the Exit 59 (Lacrosse Street) westbound on-ramp will be closed. A signed detour will be in place for the ramp closure.

Rehabilitation work involves removing and replacing the bridge approach slabs and approach pavement, repairing unsound concrete on the bridge decks, placing a high friction surface treatment on the Haines Avenue bridge and a new concrete overlay on the Maple Street bridge, along with barrier curb modifications.

Heavy Constructors, Inc. of Rapid City is the prime contractor on this $2.3 million project.
Information with construction limit and detour maps is available on the SDDOT website at:

Road projects ahead


The South Dakota Department of Transportation says chip seal and fog seal applications will be applied to several highways in the Mobridge area of the state beginning Monday, Aug. 6.

Highway 212 – 22.77 miles, from the east end of Eagle Butte to Ridgeview. The chip seal will begin on Monday, Aug. 6, and take approximately three days to complete.

Highway 271 – 13.71 miles, from the junction with Highway 10 to the North Dakota border. Approximate time to complete the chip seal on this route is one day.

Highways 1806 & 1806P – 7.72 & 1.67 miles, from the junction with Highway 12 to 120th Street and from the junction with Highway 1806 through Wakpala. Approximate time to complete the chip seal on these routes is one day.

The fog seal on the above-mentioned routes will take approximately 4 additional days to complete. The contractor plans on fog sealing the above-mentioned routes after they are all chip sealed.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane and guided through the project with the use of flaggers and a pilot car. A delay of up to 15 minutes can be expected while traveling through the work area during daytime hours.

Loose gravel will be present for a period of 36 to 72 hours after each day’s chip seal application. During this time frame, traffic should travel at 40 mph or the posted speed limit if it is less than 40 mph. The permanent pavement markings are scheduled to be applied within 14 days of completion of the chip and fog seal projects.

Jensen Rock & Sand, Inc. from Mobridge is the prime contractor on this $1,122,857 project.

For complete road construction information, visit<> or dial 511.

Regents president explains what went haywire

The state Board of Regents recently appeared to be in violation of a state law requiring state boards and commissions to post their agendas on a state-designated web site.

The missing agenda happened to be for the two-day closed-door meeting where the regents and various university-constituency groups interviewed candidates for the vacant position of regents executive director.

Board President Kevin Schieffer said he would dig into the matter. Here is his email explaining what went wrong:

“In addition, the staff posted general information to the new Boards and Commissions portal within the legal time specified. They uploaded the agenda to the site as well. However, we learned as a consequence of following up on this case that on the portal posting website there is an additional button on the side that says “Add” that you must click before you hit save or the agenda link is not visible. That “add” click was accidentally missed. Staff double checked that the meeting was posted and that the correct time was listed, but missed that the agenda link was not showing publicly on the Boards and Commission site like it was on all the other sites.

“To my understanding this is the first meeting where the Boards and Commissions site was supposed to be used, and that nuance is not on any other posting site we use. In the scheme of things, with all the redundant postings out there and good faith intentions to include the agenda, I do believe staff acted professionally and reasonably.”

Will tech board commit to more financial help for students?

The state Board of Technical Education today will consider its budget proposal for next fiscal year during its meeting Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown. One of the items calls for reducing tuition and fees.

They currently are $116 per hour from a student. Executive director Nick Wendell has suggested a three-year plan to reduce the amount to $99.

That would require the Legislature to provide an additional $7 per hour in fiscal 2020, followed by another $5 per hour in 2021 and another $5 per hour in 2022.

The Legislature would make the decision in the 2019 session.

The requests would mean an additional $3 million for 2020, followed by another $4 million in 2021 and another $5 million in 2022.

The four technical institutes at Watertown, Mitchell, Rapid City and Sioux Falls currently receive $27.9 million.

Aside from the above increases, the budget proposal for 2020 calls for another $4.6 million, including a 2.3 percent inflation increase of $1 million.

Board members are Rod Bowar of Kennebec, Scott Knuppe of Rapid City, Ed Mallett of Watertown, Scott Peterson of Belle Fourche, Doug Ekeren of Yankton, Bob Faehn of Watertown, Dana Dykhouse of Sioux Falls, Terry Sabers of Mitchell and Diana VanderWoude of Sioux Falls.

South Dakota voters will decide in the Nov. 6 general election whether to increase the state taxes on tobacco products in order to provide more money for tech schools.

The budget proposal is here.

Next phase of road work set for Watertown


“BX Civil and Construction, Inc., a contractor for the SD Department of Transportation, will begin Phase 2 work at US Highway 81 and 20th Avenue South on Monday, July 30. Construction of Phase 1 along US Highway 81 and the east leg of 20th Avenue South will soon be completed.

“During Phase 2 construction, traffic movements will be restored at the intersection. Traffic will be using the newly constructed roundabout as normal for northbound, southbound and eastbound traffic. A temporary traffic diversion for westbound traffic will be in place as the remaining west leg of 20th Avenue South will be constructed during Phase 2 construction. Due to the tight turning radius of the diversion, the current southbound traffic diversion will remain in place for Phase 2. All traffic approaching the roundabout from the west must turn south on the current diversion and continue southbound on US Highway 81. All westbound truck traffic is encouraged to use an alternate route during Phase 2 construction.

“All traffic in the area is encouraged to pay special attention to the in-place signing and pavement markings entering, exiting and through the roundabout itself. Traffic should proceed in a single lane through the roundabout, and no passing is allowed within the area of the roundabout. Traffic is reminded that colored concrete sections encountered within the roundabout are not intended for use by car traffic. All colored concrete sections are only to be used to accommodate truck trailers. Motorists should use caution through the roundabout as construction work is still proceeding.

“Weekly public meetings for the project will continue to be held at the Watertown Police Department Community Room each Thursday at 9 a.m. through the end of construction.

“US Highway 81 will be reconstructed at the intersection of 20th Avenue South. Construction includes grading of a single-lane roundabout, concrete surfacing, asphalt surface treatment, permanent signing, permanent striping and roadway lighting.

“The substantial completion date for this $1.88 million project is Aug. 3, 2018, and the overall completion date is expected to be Aug. 17, 2018.”

State road work planned at Aberdeen


“The South Dakota Department of Transportation will begin work to add roadway lighting and signals at the Highway 12 and Brown County 14 intersection on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

“The intersection of Highway 12 and Brown County 14 will be closed to traffic on Tuesday, July 31, for about four weeks.

“This work is part of a nearly $884,000 contract with Ringgenberg Electric, Inc. to do work on Highway 12 & Brown County 14 in the Aberdeen region.

“The completion date for the intersection improvements is Sept. 15, 2018.”

Governor appoints new 911 member

Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently appointed Pam Bryan of Oacoma as the new member of the state 911 Coordination Board. She works for ATT and succeeded Jody Sawvell of Quinn.

Bryan participated in her first meeting Wednesday.

The governor also reappointed members Michelle DeNeui of Spearfish and Brown County Commissioner Rachel Kippley to new terms.

Turning the water table

Matt Naasz served several years as legal counsel for the state Water Management Board. He recently was on the other side of the room, representing Southern Black Hills Water System at the state board’s July 12 meeting.

Naasz joined the Gunderson, Nelson, Ashmore, and Palmer law firm in Rapid City in February.That’s also where state Rep. David Lust works. Naasz previously was on the staff of state Attorney General Marty Jackley.