Monthly Archives: April 2017

Pine Ridge highway to be reduced to single lane temporarily

SD 391, from the US 18 junction south to the Nebraska border, faces two weeks of construction work starting Monday, May 1.

The road is 17 miles east of Pine Ridge and connects to Gordon, NE.

Work is scheduled for completion May 12.

During daylight hours, motorists can expect a single lane of traffic in the work zone, with flaggers and a pilot vehicle that will lead traffic through the work zone.

Traffic will return to normal at the close of each work day and during nights.

Motorists can expect delays of up to 15 minutes during daylight hours, along with slowing and stopped traffic. Because of construction workers and equipment in the adjacent lane, South Dakota Department of Transportation officials suggest that motorists take alternate routes.

Work includes asphalt milling and a new overlay. Loiseau Construction of Flandreau, SD, is prime contractor for the $22.2 million project.

Strawn named as circuit judge

Magistrate Judge Eric Strawn of Spearfish will be promoted to circuit judge, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Thursday.

Strawn fills a Fourth Circuit vacancy left by the recent retirement of Circuit Judge Jerome Eckrich.

The Fourth Circuit covers the counties of Butte, Corson, Dewey, Harding, Lawrence, Meade, Perkins and Ziebach.

Strawn has been a magistrate judge in the Fourth Circuit since 2013 and runs the circuit’s drunk-driving court. He has been on the circuit’s mental-health board since 2006. Prior to becoming a magistrate judge, he was in private practice for eight years. He also has been a special assistant attorney general for child support enforcement and a child-support referee.

He was a U.S. Marine from 1993 to 1997, graduated from Black Hills State University in 2001 and graduated from the University of South Dakota law school in 2004. He subsequently clerked for Circuit Judge Warren Johnson, at the time the presiding judge for the Fourth Circuit.

Strawn and his wife, Raquelle, have two children, Maquelle and Mickey.


Governor picks three for state boards

Gov. Dennis Daugaard chose three people last month for state boards. They are:

John Hoffman of Pierre succeeds Steve Nielsen of Winner on the Electrical Commission and continues until April 14, 2019;

Kristy Wright of Redfield replaces Carla Coplan of Watertown on the Board of Barber Examiners and continues until Oct. 30, 2019;

AJ Franken, an attorney on Daugaard’s central staff, replaces Jim Seward, who was the governor’s legal counsel, on the Juvenile Justice Oversight Council. Seward recently left the Daugaard administration for a post with Black Hills Corporation in Rapid City.

A noteworthy nugget from our U.S. attorney

The U.S. Department of Justice declared April 23-30 as National Reentry Week. This is the second year for the event that is, in the words of a news release from the office of the U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota, “designed to highlight the advocacy for formerly incarcerated individuals as they successfully return to and contribute to their communities.”

Later in the same news release, U.S. attorney Randy Seiler offers this noteworthy, and newsworthy, nugget:

“Referencing the Federal Bureau of Prisons webpage, in 2016 alone, there
were 396 former federal prisoners released back to their South Dakota
community after spending time in federal custody. Statistically, 20% of all those
released will return to prison within three years of their initial release. Given
that, much work still needs to be done.

Governor presents awards from GOED and SD Chamber

Gov. Dennis Daugaard and David Owen, president for the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, distributed awards Wednesday at the annual statewide conference for economic development.

Daugaard recognized Carol Rae of Rapid City as entrepreneur of the year for 2017. She is founder, chairwoman and chief executive officer for ImmutriX Therapeutics, based in Rapid City and with office space also in Sioux Falls.

“ImmutriX has developed a medical device to remove toxins resulting from medical treatments, drug overdoses or other conditions. Currently there is no method of treatment for some of these conditions,” the Governor’s Office of Economic Development news release said.

The second award presented by the governor was for excellence in economic development. It recognizes dedication and commitment of eight South Dakotans, including Gov. George S. Mickelson. They died April 19, 1993, when the state MU-2 airplane crashed in Iowa as they returned from Cincinnati.

The award went to Rodney Fouberg, an Aberdeen banker and a long-time member of the state Transportation Commission. GOED’s news release said: “His experience and involvement can be appreciated throughout the Aberdeen community, including time served on several boards, the downtown revitalization project and the affordable housing effort, called Homes Are Possible, Inc.”

Fort Pierre received the 2017 community of the year award.

“Fort Pierre has undergone some of the biggest transformations the community has seen in a long time,” Daugaard said. He specifically mentioned a new elementary school building, the new My Place hotel and a new riverfront restaurant and event space called Drifters Bar & Grille.

“While there’s still work to be done, Fort Pierre’s visionaries have successfully begun to modernize their community while maintaining its western rural charm,” Daugaard said.

The Giant Vision awards also were presented to businesses and students during the conference in Sioux Falls.

Winning first place and $20,000 in the business division was NP Systems Integration of Rapid City, headed by Daniel Stanton. University researchers helped start the tech company, whose research partner is The Center for Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology (SPACT).

Together NPSI and SPACT created an anti-counterfeiting platform that will be marketed under the brand name SecureMarking.

Second place and $10,000 in the business division went to Primary Manufacturing of Humboldt, a plastic-parts maker owned by Ladd McCluskey.

Third place and $4,000 apiece went to two companies. They are Ease, a senior citizen-oriented hardware and software notification company owned by Travis Kiefer in Aberdeen; and XpressRules of Yankton, a speech-based document-modification company owned by Lanny Turner and Ron Turner.

Fifth place and $2,000 was received by Sioux Falls-based Health Workforce USA, doing business as Connect US Health, owned by Krista Marx and Sandy Williams. It is a national data platform that connects healthcare students and practicing professionals with opportunities for jobs and education.

In the Giant Vision student division, there was a tie for first place.

The two student winners are Ellen Schlechter, from Faulkton High School, who developed The Calving Book app that allows cattle producers to keep track of their calves; and Henry Wegehaupt, from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, whose Parkston-based Provender Technologies offers automated feed bunks for cattle.

The South Dakota Refinery Company project at Mitchell, and its student developers from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, who are Scyller Borglum and J. Zack Malone, took third place and $3,000.

Receiving fourth place and $2,000 were University of South Dakota students Sam Hummel and Tyler Frank for their e-commerce platform called The Knak. Fifth place and $1,000 went to 305 Bucking Stock, based in Brookings and owned by Jack Stark of South Dakota State University.

The four remaining business finalists and six remaining student finalists received $500 apiece toward travel expenses.

Brad Wheeler of Lemmon, president of Wheeler Manufacturing, chaired the Giant Vision panel of entrepreneurs who served as judges. “This is an exciting day with high energy people working hard to share in the American dream,” Wheeler said.

Sen. Richard Gregerson, 1932-2017

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said flags will be at half-staff Monday, May 1, for state Sen. Richard “Dick” Gregerson, R-Sioux Falls.

Gregerson died Tuesday, April 25, at the age of 84, two days short of his next birthday. He was born April 27, 1932. He served in the Senate from 1979 through 1982.

Gregerson, a lawyer, started at the Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith firm in Sioux Falls in 1963. He served on the state Transportation Commission for 16 years and was a long-time lobbyist.

For information on his funeral visit here.

Pettigrew is topic at Cultural Heritage Center

Former legislator and former U.S. Sen. Richard Pettigrew, who moved to Sioux Falls in 1870 and promoted the city for the rest of his life, will be the topic of discussion on the second Tuesday in May at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

Pettigrew won election to the U.S. Senate from the newly seated Legislature after South Dakota received statehood in 1889. His Sioux Falls biographer, Wayne Fanebust, will lead the discussion May 9 starting at 7 p.m.

Fanebust said one of Pettigrew’s accomplishments as a senator was his involvement in passage of the federal forest reserve act in 1891 that allowed the president to create national forests from the public domain.

Fanebust said “it saved America’s forests that had been under assault for many years.”

Pettigrew won election as a Republican but later left to become a member of the People’s Party. He served two terms as a senator. He died Oct. 5, 1926.

Rounds’ second nominee accepted at West Point

Jonah Nelson of Sioux Falls Washington High School has been offered and has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, according to U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds.

Rounds nominated Nelson. He is the son of Layne and Jennifer Nelson of Sioux Falls.

Last week Zachariah Markel of Watertown High School accepted an appointment to West Point. The senator nominated him.

Winter wheat outlook is slightly weaker

The condition of winter wheat planted in fall 2016 throughout the state has declined another percentage point, according to the latest weekly report from the South Dakota Wheat Commission.

The April 24 report shows 9 percent of winter wheat is now rated as poor. That is the highest so far for the fall 2016 planting.

Meanwhile 35 percent is fair, 55 percent good and 1 percent excellent.

South Dakota farmers planted about 900,000 acres to winter wheat last fall. That was down 24 percent from 2015, when farmers planted 1,180,000 acres in winter wheat. The previous fall, in 2014, they planted about 1.4 million acres to winter wheat.

Twelve S.D. residents charged in federal investigation

The U.S. attorney for South Dakota, Randy Seiler, has received federal criminal indictments for 15 people, including at least 12 persons with South Dakota addresses, in an alleged trafficking scheme involving sales of eagles and other migratory birds called Project Dakota Flyer.

The initial appearances in U.S. district courts are scheduled for May 1 in Rapid City and May 4 in Pierre, according to Seiler. The undercover operation spanned two years.

The 12 South Dakotans who face federal charges are:

Troy Fairbanks, 54, of Rapid City;

Majestic Fairbanks, 22, of Rapid City;

Troy Young Fairbanks, 24, of Rapid City;

Michael Primeaux, 32, of Parmelee;

Juan Mesteth, 39, of Pine Ridge;

Aaron David West, 64, of Eagle Butte;

Aaron David West Jr., 33, of Eagle Butte;

Valencia Neck, 38, of Parmalee;

Benjamin Iron Hawk, 44, of Kyle;

Chet Christensen, 66 of Tuthill;

Ronald Fisher, 64, of Kyle; and

David Jasper, 60, of Box Elder.

Also indicted were Alvin Brown Jr., 37, of Ethete, WY; Jorge Pena, 44, of Mt. Vernon, IA; and Gary Fisher, 69, of Gordon, NE.