Monthly Archives: May 2011

GFP switches Yankton meeting plan to teleconference

Because of flooding conditions along the Missouri River, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has scrapped its plan to meet face to face Thursday and Friday in Yankton and instead will use a three-site teleconference that starts at 1 p.m. CDT. There will be three public locations. They are the Matthew Training Center building in Pierre; the Lewis and Clark state recreation area office on S.D. Highway 52 outside Yankton; and public meeting room B at the Rapid City Public Library on Quincy Street. Current plans call for the 2 p.m. public hearing on rules proposals to be held as scheduled.

Please don’t call these road projects ‘bridges to nowhere’

The South Dakota Department of Transportation announced today that U.S. Highway 12 just east of Roscoe will close to all vehicles on Wednesday, June 1, and remain so for about two weeks while emergency work raises the road surface. The highway currently is under water where it crosses a slough in the area of mile markers 249-251. DOT meanwhile is closing a stretch U.S. Highway 81, south of U.S. 14 to passenger-vehicle traffic. Only trucks will be allowed through the water there.

Flood watch 9:30 a.m. Monday, May 30

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers minutes ago issued this new data regarding the Missouri River reservoir levels, and it’s not getting better. As of midnight, Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana was within 2.3 feet of the top of its spillway gates; Garrison Reservoir in North Dakota was within 1.3 feet; and Oahe Reservoir north of Pierre was within 1.3 feet. The three smaller reservoirs downstream from Oahe in South Dakota had Big Bend dam within 3.8 feet; Fort Randall dam within 16.2 feet; and Gavins Point dam within 3.5 feet. Water was held back in Fort Peck on Sunday, but inflows to Garrison were twice as much as was released, and inflows to Oahe were far in excess of outflows.

The link below connects to an RSS feed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The most recent item will list on top. It will open an Adobe acrobat file.

A crack in state government’s financial dike

One of the arguments made for years by folks who want the Legislature to give school districts more state aid is that state government sits on hundreds of millions of dollars in trust funds and in the cash-flow account that serves as the government’s checkbook. Democratic legislators have made similar arguments that the money in the bank could have been used to solve state government’s structural deficit. Republican legislators and governors have consistently defeated those attempts by pointing out the inherent flaw of trying to solve ongoing spending problems that way. Instead budget cuts were made throughout state government for the coming 2012 fiscal year that starts July 1. Now some members of the State Railroad Board want to consider borrowing money from other state accounts so that they can loan money to Dakota Mill and Grain for a proposed grain-loading facility at Kimball. One of the board members is a company executive. This will be one to watch.

Mitchell’s watchdog journalism

The Wednesday mail brought the Tuesday edition of The Mitchell Daily Republic to my post box and stripped across the top of page 1 was this headline: “Board surprised to learn of team’s probation / Activities Association penalizes Mitchell boys’ basketball program after Munsen violates rule.” The story, reported by Travis Mester and Luke Hagen, began with a tip from someone to someone at the newspaper. The reporters did the kind of work that would make any newspaper proud. They tried to reach Gary Munsen repeatedly but without success. They contacted each of the Mitchell school board members and discovered none of the school board members had been told about the sanction, which was issued in April by the South Dakota High School Activities Association.  They contacted Mitchell school district superintendent Joe Graves, who made a statement that might give many pause for several reasons: “I hadn’t informed the board, and it’s not required to do so.” Graves also said in his defense that the information about the disciplinary action was available on the activities association web site. As the reporters pointed out “…there is nothing that points specifically to it. The only way to find it is to open the minutes for the April 19-20 (SDHSAA) board meeting and scroll down to page 13 of the 17-page document.” The reporters went on to next state: “According to those minutes, Mitchell High School violated the Out-Of-Season Section of the Athletic Handbook. A rule in that section states that from Aug. 1 until the completion of the state track meet the following school year, coaching is allowed only during the regular SDHSAA-defined sport season. That is the rule Munsen broke.” According to the story, Munsen was spotted sitting on the bench during a Dakota Schoolers traveling team game in Brandon in mid-April. Munsen was fined $200, and Mitchell’s basketball coaches won’t be allowed to have any of the four summertime activities with their team that are otherwise allowed by SDHSAA. They can still conduct open gyms. The reporters noted that Munsen’s program has been put on probation before by SDHSAA and that he’s previously been disciplined by the school district. The story ( ( makes for important reading.

Governor fills his slots on wind energy panel

The wind energy competitive task force created by the Legislature earlier this year has three seats for the governor to appoint. He’s chosen attorney David Wiest, who’s been the interim secretary of revenue during the early months of the Daugaard administration; attorney Tracey Fischer of Rapid City, who’s specialized in tribal wind development; and Paul Bachman of Harrisburg, who’s with the DeWild Grant Reckert & Associates engineering consulting firm in Sioux Falls. The four legislators are Rep. Roger Solum, R-Watertown, who will serve as chairman of the task force; Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg; Rep. Steve Street, D-Revillo; and Sen. Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot. The House speaker and the Senate president pro tem each will appoint two citizens. Those names haven’t come forth yet.

One thousand words…

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem was on the escort committee for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today when he spoke to a joint session of Congress. The South Dakota Republican’s office distributed a photograph. Whether there was a subtext we don’t know. But her willingness to be shown with Israel’s leader just days after the tough message from President Barack Obama to Netanyahu seems noteworthy.

Are electric cooperatives in a bind?

Ed Anderson, general manager for the South Dakota Rural Electric Association, makes a strong argument in the new June issue of Cooperative Connections magazine that electric cooperatives face a big problem: They need to know the rules for power generation, and they’re not getting those directions from our national leaders. “For our children and our grandchildren’s sake we need to make some tough decisions soon — and we need to get them right,” he wrote. “With a flurry of proposed regulations being discussed for power plans (and more to come), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been following their own set of marching orders and deadlines set by the courts. However, what the final regulations will look like remains unclear. Co-ops need to know the rules — our marching orders — for power generation. Until the government provides more certainty, we can’t enact our plans for the next three decades. As our appetite for electricity grows and threatens to outstrip our nation’s generation capacity, we need to build more power plants. But what type of facilities should they be that will make the most sense financially?”

Do you think she’ll have any fried chicken too? — UPDATED

UPDATE: Because of preparations for flooding in the Pierre and Fort Pierre area, the tours have been postponed indefinitely. We’ll let you know when they resume. Otherwise…


This should be pretty neat: Tours of the Governor’s Mansion this summer on a regularly scheduled basis. Here’s the news release from the governor’s office this afternoon:

PIERRE, S.D. – First Lady Linda Daugaard announced today that she and Gov. Dennis Daugaard are opening the Governor’s Mansion to the public for tours this summer.

“The Governor’s Mansion belongs to the people of South Dakota,” said Mrs. Daugaard.  “Dennis and I are honored to stay in such a beautiful home, and we want every South Dakotan to enjoy it.”

Completed in the summer of 2005, the South Dakota Governor’s Mansion was constructed by relying entirely on private donations.  The 14,000-square-foot home, situated on the east shore of Capitol Lake, includes living quarters for the Governor’s family and additional space for hosting official functions.  It replaced the previous governor’s residence, which was built in 1937 and was moved to clear space for the new home.

Weekly public tours of the Governor’s Mansion will be conducted each Wednesday in June, July, and August.  The 30-minute tours, for groups up to 30 people, will begin at 10 a.m. CDT, 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., and will be conducted by volunteers, including the First Lady.

Anyone interested in arranging a tour should contact the Pierre Chamber of Commerce at (605) 224-7361.