Monthly Archives: May 2017

Latest report on SD wheat reflects low moisture

The May 30 report from the South Dakota Wheat Commission shows the effects of weak moisture this spring.

Nearly one-fourth of spring wheat is rated very poor (2 percent) or poor (21 percent). Those are up from the May 22 report (0 percent very poor and 5 percent poor).

The May 30 report for winter wheat shows very poor at 5 percent, its highest point this year, and poor at 15 percent, tied for its high. Only 30 percent is fair, the lowest number this year, and 50 percent is rated as good.

The May 30 report regarding moisture notes that 38 percent of topsoil is considered short or very short, while 39 percent of subsoil is considered short or very short.

Latest poll shows president remains “underwater”

The latest opinion survey from Morning Consult / Politico among registered voters nationwide found President Donald Trump continues with higher disapproval than approval:

“Trump’s approval remained steady at 5 points underwater, with 45 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving of his job performance. While 22 percent of voters strongly approve of him, almost 2 in 5 (38 percent) said they strongly disapproved of his handling of the presidency.”

The survey was conducted online May 25-30 among a national sample of 1,991 registered voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 2 percentage points.

DOT commission plans Sioux Falls meeting

Construction of South Dakota Highway 100 might be one of the stops for the state Transportation Commission when they meet this fall in Sioux Falls.

The commission meets most months in Pierre, but the state Department of Transportation has been working to get the members into the field at least once a year to tour the projects in the region they visit.

This year DOT officials are aiming the commission toward Sioux Falls. Mike Behm, director of planning and engineering, talked with the commission Thursday about possible arrangements.

The commissioners couldn’t decide between Sept. 28 and Oct. 26, which are the fourth Thursdays of those months and the days when the commission typically gathers for face-to-face monthly meetings.

Commissioner Don Roby of Watertown noted the governor’s roundup of bison in Custer State Park is scheduled to start Sept. 29. And Ron Rosenboom of Sturgis, the commission’s chairman, said the October date “is getting pretty late” for a tour.

Commissioner Kyle White of Rapid City offered an idea. White said the Sioux Falls meeting doesn’t have to be held on a fourth Thursday.

Behm mentioned Sept. 27. “Why don’t we shoot for the twenty-seventh and we’ll work on some times,” Behm said.

Roby said he’d like to do a tour. “Something that is not standard issue,” he said.

“The intent is to let that last leg of 100 in August,” Behm said.

The plan won’t be approved until the June meeting. But for now, the commission intends to meet in Sioux Falls on the afternoon of Sept. 27 and tour projects the morning of Sept. 28.

White said he’s interested in learning how state and local officials are handling the population’s traffic needs in and around Sioux Falls. “It seems to be growing a lot,” White said.

GFP’s nonmeandered policy, with links

From the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks website, here is the current policy regarding nonmeandered waters, in the wake of the Duerre v. Hepler decision from the South Dakota Supreme Court:

“As per the directive of the court order, GFP will no longer facilitate the public’s access to non-meandered waters. Therefore, we will discontinue facilitating public access via boat ramps and docks placed on these non-meandered waters.

“GFP will not construct any new access facilities, such as boat ramps, docks, fishing piers and associated facilities on non-meandered bodies of water in the absence of authorization from the state Legislature. Mowing and weed control in and around these areas will continue to protect the investment of this infrastructure.

“In terms of facilitating access, there are other activities that have been temporarily halted on non-meandered waters in the absence of legislation. These include fish stockings, creel surveys, canoe and kayak rentals and permitting of fishing tournaments and special events.”

The Legislature’s task force on this topic meets for the fourth time Friday, June 2. The Legislature is pointing toward a special session on June 12 to decide how to proceed.

UPDATE: In the meantime, the GFP guidance document, current as of April, is here. The GFP webpage on this matter, including a list of the 25 water bodies where GFP stopped providing public access April 6, and with definitions of meandered and nonmeandered waters, is here.

Hanson hugs Cremer and Nelson

The jokes flew Tuesday at the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission meeting as the chairwoman, Kristie Fiegen, honored two people for 30 years of service to state government.

“Publicly I can do this,” commissioner Gary Hanson kidded, as he hugged lawyer Karen Cremer. Her three decades include 23 years with the commission. She’s now a staff advisor to the commission.

Hanson hugged Chris Nelson too. The third commissioner, Nelson spent 24 years in the secretary of state office. He now is in year six on the commission.

“This is something to look forward to, 30 years. Hang around,” Hanson told the staff and audience.

Hanson has. He served six years as a Republican state senator in the 1980s. He next spent one term on the Sioux Falls city commission, then won election as mayor of Sioux Falls for two terms. He captured a seat on the state regulatory commission in 2002 and won re-election in 2008 and 2014.

“I thought I was the old-timer here,” Hanson said.

Winter wheat looks better in May 22 report

The South Dakota Wheat Commission distributed its latest report Monday evening on the condition of winter wheat throughout the state:

2 percent very poor;

9 percent poor;

35 percent fair;

53 percent good; and

1 percent excellent.

Those numbers reflect a shift slightly for the better from the past few weeks.

Ten percent of the current crop has headed and 56 percent has jointed. Last year those numbers were 20 percent and 79 percent at this point. The five-year average for headed is 16 percent.

S.D. 10 work has target of June 10 for completion

Seven segments of South Dakota Highway 10 in Campbell and McPherson counties face construction work in the weeks ahead, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The projects are scheduled for completion June 10. The work areas will reopen each evening when the crew wraps up, according to SDDOT. During daylight hours, traffic will be confined to one lane in most instances.

Work includes a culvert replacement and repairs.

PUC today tackles a procedural dispute w/update

Consolidated Edison Development wants to force NorthWestern Energy to pay for electricity that Con Ed proposes to produce from wind farms in Davison, Aurora and Brule counties. Con Ed’s complaint is proceeding before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. A procedural matter is due today (Tuesday) before the commission: How far can NorthWestern Energy go in its filing that answers a question asked by commissioner Chris Nelson during the complaint hearing in April?

In a nutshell, the commissioner wanted to know the avoided costs for NorthWestern if minimum generation was subtracted from the cost-calculation equation. NorthWestern’s lawyer Jonathan Oostra filed a three-page response to Nelson’s question. Oostra makes this point in the response:

“Over the 20 year life of the PPA, the model show North Western to be at Min-gen an average estimate of 11,140 MWh per year. Ms. Maini stated that she thought the brokerage fees range from $0.75 to $2.00 per MWh. Using the average, the broker fee would equal $8,335 to $22,280 per year to complete these transactions and calculations. NorthWestern believes that the maximum amount of $22,140 would not cover its costs to complete these tasks. The brokerage rate would need to be much higher.”

PPA refers to purchased-power agreement. Min-gen refers to minimal generation. The witness was Kavita Maini from KM Energy Consulting. MWh refers to megawatt-hours of electricity.

Bill Taylor, one of the lawyers representing Consolidated Edison Development, filed a series of objections May 17. The seven pages cover five points of argument to what Taylor described as “a procedurally peculiar response” to Nelson’s question. Taylor said NorthWestern’s response is a “mix of argument, opinions (presumably Mr. Oostra’s), comments on other evidence presented in the proceeding, NorthWestern’s ‘concerns’ and a few facts, none of which answers Commissioner Nelson’s question.”

We’ll let you know later this morning how the commission rules on this point of dispute. The avoided-cost ruling shall come at a later date. The complaint is EL16-021.

UPDATE: The commission, on Nelson’s motion, unanimously agreed to a compromise offered by NorthWestern Energy and acceptable to Consolidated Edison. The commission voted 3-0 to retain the opening four paragraphs of NorthWestern Energy’s answer and deny paragraph five and after.

Three sentenced in federal courts

The office of the U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota, Randy Seiler, has provided information about more sentences handed down by federal judges in South Dakota.

Jorie Malcolm Cavanaugh, 27, of Eagle Butte received a sentence May 15, from U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange, that she serve six months of home confinement at her parents’ home in Eagle Butte, or at another home or shelter outside the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.

Cavanaugh pleaded guilty Feb. 21 to distributing methamphetamine July 8 and twice on July 7. The judge also sentenced her to four years of probation and a $500 fine.

Eric William Ladeaux, 30, of Rapid City received a sentence May 18, from U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken, that he serve 20 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release.

Ladeaux pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to possession of body armor by a violent felon. He was found wearing a ballistic vest after a high-speed chase by law enforcement officers in October. “As a
previously convicted felon, it is illegal for Ladeaux to possess body armor,” the news release from Seiler’s office said.

Justin H. Black Moon, 27, of Mission received a sentence of 18 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release May 6 from Judge Lange.

Black Moon pleaded guilty Feb. 21 to assault resulting in serious bodily injury on Oct. 15 during an event at Rosebud. A man confronted Black Moon who in turn repeatedly struck the man, according to the news release from Seiler’s office.