South Dakota

Funding Available to Support Training and Continuing Education Regarding Opioid Addiction in South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. – The Department of Social Services (DSS) will be providing grant funds to support South Dakota organizations and agencies seeking to deliver continuing education or training to professionals in combatting the opioid epidemic.

Funding of up to $250,000 will be divided among South Dakota organizations, including tribal entities, to support planning and hosting training events regarding opioid use and misuse.

The effort is supported by South Dakota’s State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis, a federal grant provided through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The funding supports a comprehensive array of prevention, treatment and recovery services based on the needs of each state.

“It is imperative we continue to be proactive as a state by providing professionals with knowledge about opioid use and misuse,” said Department of Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti. “These dollars will allow organizations, agencies and professionals to tailor the training to the needs of their organizations.”

Training supported by this opportunity includes, but is not limited to, best practices for prescribing opioids, case management for individuals affected by opioid use, overdose prevention, and education and awareness related to opioid use/misuse.

Eligible applicants include South Dakota organizations or associations that provide direct services and support to individuals affected by opioid abuse or misuse, as well as those that offer training and education to professionals who treat or work with at-risk individuals. Applications are due to the Division of Behavioral Health no later than May 15, 2018. Applications are available at

For more information about behavioral health services related to addiction, or to find a behavioral health provider in your area, contact DSS, Division of Behavioral Health at 605-773-3123, toll-free at 1-855-878-6057 or online at

DENR Receives Final Approval from EPA for Water Quality Report

 PIERRE – The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) received final approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the 2018 Integrated Report for Surface Water Quality Assessment. The report, required under the federal Clean Water Act, is due to EPA by April 1 of every even numbered year. DENR submitted the report to EPA for final approval on March 30, 2018. South Dakota was the only EPA Region 8 state to meet the federal deadline. The department public noticed the draft report and considered all comments received prior to submitting it to EPA for final approval.

“I am very proud of our dedicated staff in DENR who worked extra hard to meet the federal deadline for submitting this report,” said DENR Secretary Steve Pirner. “Because the report is the driver for many of our efforts to improve water quality in South Dakota, we want to thank EPA Region 8 for its timely review and approval so we can continue moving forward.”

The report contains an assessment of the surface water quality of South Dakota’s waters and a list of impaired waters that require total maximum daily load development. The report also provides information about the state’s water quality monitoring and pollution control programs, a list of pollutants causing violations of water quality standards and a description of the process South Dakota uses to prioritize total maximum daily load development under the National 303(d) Program Vision.

The 2018 report lists 152 waterbodies or waterbody segments needing a total maximum daily load. Of those listed, 90 are stream and river segments and 62 are lakes that occasionally violate specific water quality standards. Most stream impairments are caused by total suspended solids and E. coli bacteria. Most lake impairments are caused by mercury in fish tissue and excessive algae. Many lakes and streams in South Dakota met other water quality standards evaluated during this 2018 assessment.

During the 2018 reporting cycle, states were required to use EPA’s “Assessment and Total Maximum Daily Load Tracking and Implementation” (ATTAINS) system to develop integrated report information. ATTAINS is a web-based interface that provides states with a mechanism to record, manage and report all applicable water quality information. Reporting tools available in ATTAINS provide EPA and the public with a method to review results. The ATTAINS report tool is available at:

A copy of the 2018 Integrated Report is available by visiting DENR’s website at, by phone at 1-800-438-3367 or by email to Paul Lorenzen at


Highway Location Begin/End MRM Length Posting Region
SD 40 Hayward to Cheyenne River 38.26 to 69.0 30.7 7 Tons/Axle Rapid City
SD 71 Neb Line to 2 mi. S of Cheyenne River 0.00 to 21.0 21.0 7 Tons/Axle Rapid City
SD 471 Provo to US 18 19.60 to 24.00 4.4 7 Tons/Axle Rapid City

The effective date of the load restriction removals was determined by weather and road conditions.

A spring load restriction report is usually issued in advance of any major load restriction change.  This report is issued for guidance only and does not take precedence over load restriction signs in place. For further information or a copy of a Spring Load Restriction Map, please contact the DOT at 605-773-3571. Spring Load Limit Information may also be found on the Internet at:

Click on Commercial Vehicle Restrictions on Base Layer then truck icon for current restriction

Individuals can subscribe to an email list to receive Spring Load Limit Restriction information electronically. To subscribe go to:


Click subscribe located on the right side of the screen and follow the instructions. A valid email address is required. If you would like to unsubscribe at any time from the list, visit the same site, click Unsubscribe and enter the information and email you subscribed with.

South Dakota No Longer Last In Average Teacher Pay

PIERRE, S.D. – For the first time since 1985, South Dakota’s average teacher salaries in the 2016-17 school year were no longer the lowest in the nation.

The news comes from the National Education Association’s 2018 Rankings and Estimates report, an annual report that was released on April 23. According to the report, South Dakota’s average teacher salaries increased from $42,025 in 2015-16 to $46,979 in 2016-17 – an increase of $4,954 or 11.8 percent. South Dakota’s average salary rose from 51stin the nation to 48th.

The increases came as a result of the 2016 State Legislature’s passage of the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. Both as a dollar amount and as a percentage, South Dakota’s increase in salaries was the highest in the nation by far – the second largest increase as a dollar amount was New York at $2,750, and the second largest by percentage was North Carolina at 4.2 percent.

According to the NEA, South Dakota’s average teacher salary had ranked 51st in the nation in every annual report issued from 1986 to 2017.

“The primary goal of the Blue Ribbon Task Force was to make South Dakota’s teacher salaries competitive with other states, considering salaries and cost of living, and we are accomplishing that,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “We also sent an important message to our teachers – that we value the work they do, that three decades in last place was enough and that we were willing to step up to improve their salaries.”

South Dakota teacher salaries rank even higher when adjusted for cost of living and taxes. According to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the state ranks 29thwhen the NEA state averages are adjusted to reflect state and local tax burden and regional price parity data, which is calculated by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.

SD Participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Program

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakotans will have the chance to throw out unneeded prescription drugs on Saturday, April 28, as law enforcement agencies across the state participate in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Program.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., law enforcement, in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration, will give individuals opportunities to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

“Prescription drug abuse is affecting families and communities all across the nation. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “I applaud the law enforcement community for taking a proactive approach to prevent the abuse of these drugs.”

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, there were 69 drug overdose deaths in the state in 2016, making South Dakota the second lowest in the nation for drug overdose deaths. As the national number of overdoses is high, the Department is urging residents to be vigilant.

“Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet,” said Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon. “Additionally, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – pose potential safety and health hazards.”

In addition to national takeback day, local pharmacies, law enforcement agencies and the South Dakota Board of Pharmacy have established year-round drug take back locations statewide.

For more information about South Dakota’s plan to reduce opioid abuse and misuse visit:

A list of participating law enforcement agencies in the national takeback event is available at:

A list of year-round drug take back locations in South Dakota is available at:

Proclamation, Crashed Vehicles Reminders To Be Safe Drivers

 PIERRE, S.D. – A Governor’s Proclamation and crashed vehicles staged at two major South Dakota shopping malls are part of the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety’s latest effort to encourage motorists of all ages to be safe drivers.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has declared Friday, April 20, as Safe Driving Day in South Dakota. The proclamation encourages drivers to be safe by slowing down, not becoming distracted and wearing seatbelts. This is the second consecutive year that the Governor has issued such a proclamation.

“We thank the Governor for sharing his concern and support,” says Lee Axdahl, director of the Office of Highway Safety. “ This is another way to stress to people, regardless of age, that it only takes one mistake to end a life or create a lifetime of pain and sorrow for someone’s family and loved ones.”

At the same time, vehicles that have been damaged in crashes are now inside the Rapid City Rushmore Mall and the Sioux Empire Mall in Sioux Falls. The displays are designed to be a visual reminder of what can happen in a heartbeat if the driver is distracted and not being safe.

“The displays will be seen by tens of thousands of people,” says Axdahl. “It is a visual way to show drivers, especially young drivers, what can happen in a crash.”

For the third consecutive year, the Office of Highway Safety and the South Dakota Broadcasters Association are hosting “Lesson Learned SD,” a program focused on youth driving safety.  Teens, ages 14-19, can go to the website at and take a safe driving quiz. The participants are then entered into a drawing for a $10,000 prize. The winning student also gets another $10,000 to give to school organizations of their choice.  Deadline to enter is April 30.

“Each year, more and more students are participating in this program,” Axdahl says. “We thank the Broadcasters Association in helping us this unique way to again promote the safe driving message to young and inexperienced drivers.”

The Office of Highway Safety is part of the Department of Public Safety.

Awareness Campaign Aimed at Reducing Youth Suicide in South Dakota is launched

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Social Services has developed a suicide awareness and prevention campaign, BeThe1SD, to help decrease the number of suicides in South Dakota.

Since 2004, over 1,700 lives have been lost due to suicide in South Dakota. Those numbers have increased each year, with nearly one in six high school students in South Dakota having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The ‘BeThe1SD’ campaign emphasizes a positive message that encourages youth to be vigilant about the signs of suicide and to “be the one” to make a difference. The campaign is supported by federal funds issued through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Agency (SAMHSA), a Division of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.

“The goal of the campaign is to educate and empower all South Dakotans so they can be proactive in preventing suicide,” said Department of Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti. “We especially want to encourage young people to get involved because even a simple gesture or a question of concern can make a difference and save someone’s life.”

The campaign specifically targets South Dakota youth, which is a high-risk population, but is applicable to anyone in crisis. BeThe1SD highlights the warning signs of suicide and informs youth on how to get help for themselves, their friends and their peers.

Approximately 25 South Dakota high school students participated in the campaign, which included video and photoshoots at Dell Rapids High School. A website for the campaign can be found at

To learn more about suicide, the warning signs, how to get help and to find upcoming suicide prevention training, please visit For more information about the ‘BeThe1SD’ campaign, please contact Tia Kafka at 605-773-3165.

Governor Closes State Government Offices In 32 Counties Due to Blizzard

 PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard has ordered the closure of state government offices in 32 counties for Friday because of the approaching blizzard.

The counties covered by the Governor’s order are: Bennett, Brule, Buffalo, Butte, Campbell, Corson, Custer, Dewey, Fall River, Faulk, Gregory, Haakon, Hand, Harding, Hughes, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Lawrence, Lyman, Meade, Mellette, Oglala Lakota, Pennington, Perkins, Potter, Stanley, Sully, Todd, Tripp, Walworth and Ziebach.

Only essential personnel within state offices in those counties should report to their work stations.

A major late winter storm is expected to cover most of South Dakota starting tonight (Thursday night) with snow in western South Dakota. Rain, freezing rain and heavy snow are expected to reach the rest of the state sometime Friday.

Officials are monitoring the storm closely and evaluating whether further state-office closures might be necessary.

Citizens with business at state offices in other South Dakota counties impacted by the storm should call ahead to make sure the office remains open.

I-90 Closing from Rapid City to Murdo

PIERRE, S.D. – Officials are closing Interstate 90 from Rapid City to Murdo, both east and westbound, effective at 6 a.m. MST (7 a.m. CST).

Heavy snow and strong winds have made safe travel impossible in this area. Motorists are strongly cautioned that other roads in area will likely become impassible as this storm continues throughout the day.

Officials are also asking drivers to stay put and not plan any travel across the state for the rest of today and into the weekend. As this storm system moves through, more interstate closures and No Travel Advisories can be expected.

Closures and advisories are posted on and on the phone based 5-1-1.

Based on information from the National Weather Service (NWS), conditions are expected to worsen as the storm continues to move east, with additional heavy snowfall and strong winds making travel hazardous and likely impossible. A blizzard warning is in effect for much of the South Dakota into Saturday (April 14).

Drivers of high-profile vehicles need to exercise extra caution across the state with sustained winds of 25-40 mph in most areas along with gusts of 50 plus mph according to the NWS.

“We understand people want to be on the roads and about their business, but we ask for patience while the storm moves through the state and our maintenance crews can get the roads clear and safe for travel,’’ said Greg Fuller, director of Operations.

Get the most up-to-date information on road conditions at, by calling 5-1-1 or downloading and checking the SDDOT 511 app before heading out.

Governor’s Ag Ambassador Nominations Sought

 PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) is seeking nominations for the 2018 South Dakota Governor’s Ag Ambassador Award.

Nominees should be for individuals or organizations who have continually worked to promote agriculture in South Dakota, while demonstrating servant leadership, hard work, honesty, humility and respect for others.

Key achievements of the Ag Ambassador:

  • Provides visionary leadership to South Dakota’s agricultural industry.
  • Champions growth and prosperity of the state’s number one industry.
  • Advocates for agriculture and the responsible stewardship of livestock and land.
  • Highlights the significance of South Dakota agriculture to our global food system.
  • Influences decision makers to develop and implement sound agricultural policies.

Nominations are due to the SDDA by May 11, 2018. The form can be found at under the “Happening Now” section by clicking “2018 Governor’s Ag Ambassador Nominations.”

The award will be presented during the eighth annual Governor’s Agricultural Summit in Rapid City on July 12.

The 2017 Governor’s Ag Ambassador was Lake Area Technical Institute. Lake Area Technical Institute’s Agriculture Program is a top program, providing students with hands-on, real world experience so they graduate workforce ready in a dynamic, vital industry.

Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s mission is to promote, protect and preserve South Dakota agriculture for today and tomorrow. Visit us online at or find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sturgis Proposes Non-Motorized Trail Construction

Spearfish, SD April 06, 2018 – The City of Sturgis is proposing the construction and subsequent maintenance of approximately 15 miles of non-motorized trails on the Black Hills National Forest.

The proposed trails would form a multiple-loop trail network in the area of Vanocker Canyon, Deadman Mountain and Veteran’s Peak south of Sturgis.  The trail network would link into already constructed trails on City of Sturgis property around the Sturgis Reservoirs and would also link into the existing Centennial trail, which is administered by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Construction and maintenance of the trails would be carried out by the City of Sturgis under a special use agreement with the Forest Service. The completed trails would be open to hikers, runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders.

Environmental review of the proposed trail network is under way, with a final decision expected in the fall of 2018.  Information on the project can be found online at or by contacting Chris Stores at the Northern Hills Ranger District office at 605-642-4622.

A public open house is scheduled for April 18, 2018, from 4:00-6:00 PM at the Sturgis Community Center for those interested in learning more about the proposed project. Forest Service and City of Sturgis officials will be available to answer questions about the proposal.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit or call (605) 673-9200.

South Dakota celebrating National Library Week April 8-14

PIERRE, S.D. – April 8-14 is National Library Week, a time to celebrate the ways libraries lead their communities through services, programs and expertise.

“The library helps lead local communities by advocating for widespread access to crucial services and lifelong learning,” said state librarian Daria Bossman. “Libraries level the playing field for people of any age or economic class who seek information and access to improve their quality of life.”

There are more than 500 academic, school, public and special (medical/law/business) libraries in South Dakota. From elected officials to small business owners to students of all ages, many individuals rely on libraries and the wide variety of resources they offer, like e-books, technology classes, programs for job seekers and materials for English learners.

According to the 2017 South Dakota Public Libraries Data Digest, the state’s public libraries daily welcomed 10,196 visitors, circulated 16,202 items and supported 1,772 Wi-Fi users. On any given day, public libraries hosted 823 attendees at programs and provided 1,413 hours on library computers.

The 2017 South Dakota School Libraries Data Digest indicates that during the 2016-17 school year, 9,800 students independently visited the state’s 379 school libraries on a daily basis. More than 5,600 classes visited their school libraries each week, and students checked out 180,000 e-books over the course of the year.

Bridge Improvement Grant Recipients Announced

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Transportation Commission awarded 17 Bridge Improvement Grants (BIG) totaling $8 million at their monthly meeting today (March 29) in Pierre.

The grant funding includes nine bridge preservation projects totaling $2.65 million, and eight bridge replacement/rehabilitation projects totaling $5.33 million.

Preservation grant recipients are:  Grant County (3), Lincoln County (2), Perkins County, Custer County (2) and the city of Mitchell.

Bridge Replacement/Rehabilitation grant recipients are:  Brookings County (2), Brown County, Custer County, Grant County, Lake County, the city of Hot Springs and the city of Parkston.

Local governments are required to pay a minimum of 20 percent matching funds, have three years to expend the grant and are limited to a maximum of $4 million in grant funds over a three-year period.

Thirty-six applications totaling $18.7 million were received by the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT). Three cities and 25 counties submitted applications.

The BIG program was created in 2015 by Senate Bill 1. SB 1 set aside $7 million per year from funds generated by license plate fees to be used to repair and replace the aging local government bridges. The SDDOT added an additional $2 million this year, making $9 million available. In 2019 the BIG program will increase to $15 million per year.

The next round of applications for BIG grants are due Aug. 1, 2018, for 2019 Preliminary Engineering grants and Jan. 2, 2019, for the 2019 Preservation and Replacement grant applications. More information on the BIG program can be found at:

Sanford Health to unveil, open veterans club

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sanford Health will unveil the Veterans Club at Sanford USD Medical Center at 10 a.m. on April 6.The club, located near the Lokken Lobby, is part of Sanford Health’s efforts to streamline and add resources for veterans, military personnel and their families.  Sanford formed a department of veterans and military services in 2017.

“Sanford continues to raise the bar for our veterans,” said Paul Weckman, the department director and retired U.S. Navy captain. “We strive to make Sanford a provider of choice for veterans and their families and this club will offer them additional conveniences while at the medical center.”

In addition to providing a space to relax or talk with fellow veterans between appointments, the club will have coffee and water, guest computer access and a lounge area with a game table and TV.

The club opening will include remarks from Sanford Health representatives and area dignitaries. Members of the media planning to attend the opening should arrive by 9:45.

New Academic Programming Approved for SDSU

 SPEARFISH, S.D. – A new specialization in a master’s degree program and four new minors were approved this week for delivery at South Dakota State University.

SDSU officials sought approval from the South Dakota Board of Regents to offer a new specialization in developmental sciences for the university’s master of science degree in human services. Through the addition of four new courses, this specialization will provide students with strong interdisciplinary training in the cultural, social, and family contexts of human development across the lifespan.

Graduates with this specialization will be prepared to work in careers involving health and human services, education, business, and outreach and advocacy.

Four new minors, each consisting of 18 credit hours of study, were also approved at SDSU. The new minors, which may be earned alongside any degree program offered at the university, are in apparel and fashion studies, history of art and design, performing arts administration, and retail merchandising.

Northern State to Offer New Degrees and Certificates

 SPEARFISH, S.D. – Northern State University has received the go-ahead to offer new degree programs in criminal justice and art, building on related academic programs already offered at the Aberdeen campus.

The new bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice at NSU replaces a specialization previously offered as part of the sociology major. Campus officials told the Board of Regents a full major in criminal justice better prepares students for careers in that field. Hiring agencies in law enforcement and criminal justice also are more likely to seek out applicants with a college degree in criminal justice.

While the university already offers an associate degree in criminal justice, it will be able to offer the full major with the addition of five new courses.

The new bachelor of fine arts degree in studio art at NSU will complete a transition to the B.F.A. degree for all art programs offered by South Dakota public universities. While Northern currently offers a bachelor of arts degree, the B.F.A. is recognized as the professional degree accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The university’s existing degree in studio art will terminate upon national accreditation of the new program.

The regents also approved certificate programs at Northern State in jazz pedagogy and piano pedagogy. These certificates will be geared to music and music education majors seeking specialized preparation in teaching at school or private instruction settings. Certificate programs usually require fewer credit hours to complete than a minor. They are developed by packaging a small set of courses that allow students to develop expertise within a focused area of study, addressing identified market and workforce development needs.

Tech institute tuition and state fees set for 2018-19

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Board of Technical Education approved 2018-19 state tuition and fees at the state’s four technical institutes at its meeting today. The overall cost per credit hour will be $157. Students will pay $116 per credit hour in state tuition, which is a $2 per credit hour increase. The following state fees will hold steady:

  • Facility fee: $35 per credit hour
  • Maintenance and repair: $5 per credit hour
  • Postsecondary transition fee*: $1 per credit hour
    • *Postsecondary transition fees are used to support staff and activities designed to assist students in the transition to postsecondary education. This fee was formerly referred to as the technology fee.

“The leaders of our state technical institutes recognize the importance of affordability for students,” said Nick Wendell, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Technical Education. “While tuition will go up slightly in 2018-19, the increase adopted by the board today is smaller than has occurred in each of the past five years.”

Gov. Daugaard Announces $38.96 Million for Water Projects

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard says the state Board of Water and Natural Resources has approved $38.96 million for water and wastewater projects. The board met today in Pierre.

The $38.96 million total includes $7.123 million in grants and $31.841 million in low-interest loans, with nearly $2.058 million in principal forgiveness.

The grants and loans awarded by the board are administered through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“I am pleased to announce that this financial assistance is available,” said Gov. Daugaard. “These grant and loan awards will result in better drinking water, improved wastewater treatment and enhanced protection of the environment.”

A grant was awarded to:

  • Colman, $23,000 grant amendment for water system improvements

Loans were awarded to:

  • Bridgewater, $243,000 loan for water meter replacement
  • Crooks, $3.266 million, which includes loans of $2.052 million for wastewater collection and $1.214 million for water distribution system improvements
  • Lake Norden, $1.477 million loan for water system improvements
  • Philip, $1.141 million, which includes loans of $605,000 for wastewater system improvements and $536,000 for storm water improvements
  • Presho, $1.198 million loan for Main Street wastewater and storm sewer improvements

Loans with principal forgiveness were awarded to:

  • Clark Rural Water System, $2.95 million loan for connections to Willow Lake and Bradley and system improvements, with $1.27 million in principal forgiveness
  • Oelrichs, $447,000 loan for water meters and water system improvements with $357,600 in principal forgiveness
  • Ree Heights, $509,000 loan for water system improvements with $430,000 in principal forgiveness

Grant and loan packages were awarded to:

  • Dell Rapids, $7.148 million, which includes a $2 million grant and loans of $2.662 million for sanitary and storm sewer improvements and $2.486 million for water mains
  • Humboldt, $4.166 million, which includes a $2 million grant and a $1.876 million loan for wastewater collection improvements and a $290,000 loan for water meter replacement
  • Lake Byron Sanitary District, $5.475 million for wastewater collection and treatment system construction, which includes a $2 million grant and a $3.475 million loan
  • Sioux Rural Water System, $10.921 million for system improvements and service to Hazel, which includes a $1.1 million grant and a $9.821 million loan

The grants and loans were awarded from DENR’s Consolidated Water Facilities Construction Program, Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program and Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program.

The Consolidated Water Facilities Construction Program, funded in part by revenues from the Petroleum Release Compensation Tank Inspection fee and the sale of lotto tickets, provides grants and loans for water, wastewater and watershed projects.

The State of South Dakota and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fund the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program, which provides low-interest loans for public drinking water system projects. The State of South Dakota and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fund the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, which provides low-interest loans for wastewater, storm water and nonpoint source projects. Principal forgiveness is a subsidy option that results in a reduced loan repayment amount for the borrower.

South Dakota Corn Growers, Utilization Council elect officers

Two organizations that represent South Dakota’s corn farmers have elected officers for the following year.

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association board of directors elected Troy Knecht of Houghton as president, Doug Noem of Bryant as vice president and Scott Stahl of Emery as secretary/treasurer.

Directors of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council have re-elected Ryan Wagner of Roslyn to serve as president, Robert Walsh of Elk Point as vice president and Laron Krause of Clear Lake as secretary-treasurer.

Knecht, who has served on the SDCGA board since January 2010, raises corn, soybeans and alfalfa, has a stock-cow operation and manages a Wensman Seed dealership. He serves on the American Coalition for Ethanol board of directors, Britton-Hecla School Board and Brown County Weed and Pest Board.

Noem has a diversified crop and livestock operation. He joined the SDCGA board in early 2012. His public service includes serving as a Hamlin County commissioner, president of a local cooperative and member of the Pork Producers public policy committee.

Stahl joined the board in early 2017. He and his family raise corn, soybeans and oats, have a cow-calf operation and a feedlot, and do custom fertilizer spreading. He is a member of the Syngenta Agri-Edge Advisory Board and the Bridgewater-Emery School Foundation Board.

Wagner joined the SDCUC board in March 2014. His family’s farm has been 100-percent no-till since the late 1980s. They use a rotation of 40 percent corn, 40 percent soybeans and 20 percent spring wheat. Wagner also is a commodity broker.

Walsh, who joined the board in 2016, farms in Union and Clay counties. He and his family grow corn and soybeans, and raise seed soybeans for several seed companies. They farm both dryland and irrigated ground, mostly near the Big Sioux River.

Krause joined the board in 2015. He raises corn, soybeans and wheat on his farm and is a partner in Supreme Pork, a farrow-to-finish operation, for which he finishes hogs. He previously served on boards representing the soybean and pork industries.

The Corn Growers Association, one of the largest commodity groups in the state, promotes corn, represents corn producers on public policy issues and serves as a legislative voice.

The Corn Utilization Council is responsible for the collection and administration of a one-cent-per-bushel corn check-off program. Money raised through that program funds research and development of new uses and markets for corn and corn byproducts that benefit South Dakota economically and environmentally.

Department of Revenue unveils new MySDCars account setup

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Revenue’s online motor vehicle customer portal, MySDCars, now features an improved, user-friendly login process.

The Department of Revenue’s motor vehicle division recently unveiled the new account setup in order to better serve its customers. Users may now create an account through three steps, as opposed to the previous system’s seven-step method.

The updated system also allows users to link business and individual accounts, providing vehicle owners the convenience of managing all of their vehicle actions through one account.

“The Department of Revenue strives to be a leader in technology and provide convenient methods for our customers to conduct motor vehicle transactions,” Motor Vehicle Division Director Lisa Weyer said.

Since MySDCars was launched in 2013, an average of 70,000 South Dakota motor vehicle registrations have been renewed online per year. The online portal also allows South Dakotans to order specialty license plates, report a sale, print a seller’s permit, change their address, opt-in for email renewal notifications and more.

MySDCars is one of three options for South Dakotans to renew their motor vehicle registrations. Vehicle owners may also renew through their county treasurer’s office or at any of the nine self-service terminals located throughout the state. For more information, visit

Forestry Officials Release 2017 Forest Health Report

Custer, SD, March 26, 2018 – The U.S. Forest Service, South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) and Wyoming State Forestry Division have released the results of the 2017 forest health survey on the Black Hills National Forest and surrounding lands. 

Aerial surveys conducted last fall indicate that approximately 2,900 acres have been affected last year, while approximately 2,500 acres were affected in the year prior. In total, over 450,000 acres have been affected since the epidemic began 20 years ago. While officials have called the epidemic over, the mountain pine beetle continues to be a native insect in the Black Hills National Forest.  As such, trees or groups of trees will continue to be killed each year, which is natural and expected.

“Working together has made a significant positive impact on ending the epidemic,” said Mark Van Every, Black Hills National Forest Supervisor.  “We will continue landscape scale treatments to ensure our forest is more resilient to future insect epidemics and catastrophic wildfire.”

As a native species, the mountain pine beetle has always been a part of the Black Hills forest ecosystem, with periodic epidemics. The first recorded epidemic in the Black Hills occurred from the late 1890’s through the early 1900’s. Epidemics also occurred in the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, each lasting 8-13 years.

“With the end of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, we look forward to working with the Forest Service and other cooperators to manage for a healthy and diverse forest that is resilient to future disturbance,” said Greg Josten, South Dakota State Forester.

“While we have turned the corner on the current beetle epidemic, we still have serious forest health problems that we need to continue to work together on for our forests in the future.” said Bill Crapser, Wyoming State Forester.

The complete survey results for the Rocky Mountain Region, including Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming are available at

Sobriety Checkpoints Announced for April

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety has scheduled 21 sobriety checkpoints statewide during April.

The checkpoints will be held in 16 different counties. The checkpoints are funded by the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety and conducted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol. The checkpoints are designed to discourage people from drinking and then driving.

Checkpoints are scheduled in April for the counties of: Brookings, Brown, Butte, Clay, Codington, Day, Hamlin, Lake, Lawrence, Lincoln, Minnehaha, Moody, Pennington, Spink, Tripp and Yankton.

Both the Office of Highway Safety and the Highway Patrol are part of the Department of Public Safety.

$50,000 Powerball prize highlights Wednesday drawings

Pierre, S.D. – The South Dakota Lottery’s Wednesday night drawings featured its second $50,000 Powerball winner this month.

The winning Powerball ticket was purchased at Big D Oil in Rapid City, located at 251 E. Stumer Road. The winner matched four of the five winning numbers, plus the Powerball to claim the game’s third prize. The winning numbers were 3, 4, 18, 29 and 61, while the Powerball was 25. The odds of claiming the prize were 1:913,129.

If you are Wednesday’s winner, please sign the back of your ticket immediately and visit a South Dakota Lottery office to claim your prize. The Rapid City Lottery office is located at 1000 Cambell St., Suite 2.

SD Cancer Coalition Recognizes Efforts to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening

PIERRE, S.D. – A South Dakota physician and a health care facility are being recognized for their efforts to increase colorectal cancer screening as part of a national effort to screen 80 percent of the eligible population by 2018.

The South Dakota Cancer Coalition Colorectal Cancer Task Force has honored Dr. Daniel Heinemann, MD, a vice president and medical officer for Sanford Health Network, and Falls Community Health in Sioux Falls for increasing screening rates among their eligible patients. Dr. Heinemann was awarded the 80 percent by 2018 Champion of the Year Award and Falls Community Health received the 80 percent by 2018 Organization of the Year Award.

“Staff at Falls Community Health and Dr. Heinemann should be applauded for their hard work and dedication to increase colorectal cancer screening. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in South Dakota,” said Karen Cudmore, cancer programs director for the Department of Health. “We know that colorectal cancer screening tests can save lives, but the reality is too many adults aren’t following the recommendation for regular screening beginning at age 50.”

According to the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, just 65.8 percent of South Dakota adults aged 50 to 75 were up to date with colorectal cancer screening. The state and several partners are part of a national effort working toward the goal of increasing colorectal cancer screening rates to 80 percent by 2018.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Men and women age 50 to 75 should talk to their healthcare provider about getting screened for colorectal cancer. For more information about screening, go to

Safest Cities in South Dakota

The National Council for Home Safety and Security is happy to announce their ranking of the Safest Cities in South Dakota for 2018. The top ten are:

  1. Brandon
  2. Brookings
  3. Vermillion
  4. Huron
  5. Aberdeen
  6. Watertown
  7. Yankton
  8. Spearfish
  9. Sioux Falls
  10. Mitchell

For more information:

To identify the safest cities, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 10,000.

The cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 1,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes assigned a value 1.5 times (due to their severity) that of property crimes.

The report was formally released on February 20, 2018.

The National Council for Home Safety and Security is a trade association comprised of home security professionals across the United States. The council advocates for safe communities and home safety with a strong focus on community involvement.

Highway Patrol to Host 4th Annual Women’s Recruiting Seminars

By: Dakota Radio Group News & Farm


South Dakota’s Highway Patrol is holding recruiting seminars in an effort to add more female troopers to its ranks.

Col. Craig Price says Women’s Recruiting Seminars will be held in Pierre, Aberdeen, Watertown, Rapid City and Sioux Falls. He says the seminars, now in their fourth year, are designed to provide more information to women who are interested in joining the Highway Patrol.

Each seminar lasts two hours. Female troopers will be available to discuss topics such as the application process, training, what it’s like to be a state trooper and the challenges that come with the position.

The Women’s Recruiting Seminar in Pierre will be held Thursday (Feb. 15) from 4:30-8pm at the Capital Lake Visitors Center.

Price says currently the Highway Patrol has 13 female troopers. The Highway Patrol is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

SD Businesses Recognized for Outstanding Customer Service

PIERRE, SD– The South Dakota Department of Tourism has recognized 141 businesses and organizations across 44 communities in South Dakota for their outstanding customer service.

The Great Service Star Program is designed to recognize businesses that develop and complete hospitality training programs for their staff; reward employees for offering great service; and find unique ways to show customer appreciation. Those that meet the criteria are awarded a star symbol from the Department of Tourism for use in marketing their business and to visually show visitors their commitment to great service.

“The Great Service Star recognizes the importance of offering each guest a warm welcome and a great experience,” said Jim Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “A great customer experience drives repeat visitation and word-of-mouth marketing about our state. The Great Service Star Program encourages the development of these skills that make South Dakota stand apart from other states.”

Businesses interested in pursuing the Great Service Star designation in the coming year are encouraged to visit

For a listing of South Dakota businesses and organizations that have received the Great Service Star designation for 2018, visit The listing is organized by community.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.

DENR Seeks Comments on Waterbody Report, and the National 303(d) Program Vision

PIERRE – The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is seeking public comments on the draft Integrated Report. Required under the federal Clean Water Act, this report is used by the state to identify impaired waterbodies in South Dakota. The draft Integrated Report also includes the National 303(d) Program Vision.

Public comments from the general public and interested parties and organizations will be accepted through March 19. Comments can be submitted online at DENR’s One-Stop Public Notice page at, emailed to Paul Lorenzen at, or submitted in writing to:

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Surface Water Quality Program

523 East Capitol Avenue – Joe Foss Building

Pierre, South Dakota 57501-3181

A copy of the draft 2018 Integrated Report is available by visiting DENR’s One-Stop Public Notice page at: Those persons desiring to only review the Vision can access the document individually at the same address. Copies of the 2018 Integrated Report can also be obtained by emailing Paul Lorenzen at, or by contacting DENR at the above address, or by phone at 1-800-438-3367.

The draft 2018 Integrated Report contains an assessment of the surface water quality of South Dakota’s waters, a description of South Dakota’s water quality monitoring programs, pollutants causing impairments of the water bodies and identification of waters targeted for total maximum daily load development. A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is a determination of the amount of pollution a waterbody can receive and still maintain water quality standards.

“Because this list drives state water quality programs, it is important that people in South Dakota see the draft report and provide us comments before it is finalized and sent to EPA for approval,” said DENR Secretary Steve Pirner.

The draft 2018 report lists 152 waterbodies or waterbody segments needing a total maximum daily load. Of those listed, 90 are stream or river segments and 62 are lakes that periodically do not meet water quality standards.

The National 303(d) Program Vision is a tool used by EPA and the states to more effectively restore and protect waters by using a systematic process of prioritizing TMDL development and implementing alternative approaches and protection activities. Six elements of the Vision are discussed and include: engagement of stakeholders and the public; the TMDL prioritization process; protection activities; integrating the Vision into other programs; alternatives to developing TMDLs; and assessment activities used in the Vision. The Vision was revised this reporting cycle to accommodate changes in TMDL priority for certain waterbodies.

Highway Patrol to Host 4th Annual Women’s Recruiting Seminars

 PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s Highway Patrol will hold recruiting seminars in the next few weeks in an effort to add more female troopers to its ranks.

Five Women’s Recruiting Seminars are scheduled statewide. The seminars, now in their fourth year, are designed to provide more information to women who are interested in joining the Highway Patrol.

“We have found these seminars to be educational both for us and for those women interested in joining the Highway Patrol,” says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “These seminars help us identify possible applicants while also being able to answer the questions the applicants may have about the Highway Patrol. “

Currently the Highway Patrol has 13 female troopers. Officials say the seminars have helped increase the number of female troopers within the Highway Patrol.

As in past years, there will be seminars in Aberdeen, Pierre, Rapid City and Sioux Falls. A fifth seminar has been added in Watertown.

Each seminar lasts two hours. Female troopers will be available to discuss topics such as the application process, training, what it’s like to be a state trooper and the challenges that come with the position.

Seminars are planned for:

*** Feb. 15, Pierre, Capital Lake Visitors Center, 6-8 p.m. CST;

*** March 6, Aberdeen, Caribou Coffee, 604 Sixth Avenue Southeast, 6-8 p.m. CST;

*** March 6, Watertown, Lake Area Technical Institute, 10 a.m.-noon CST.

Dates and times for the seminars to be held in Rapid City and Sioux Falls have not yet been determined.

“Being part of the South Dakota Highway Patrol is an honor, but also a responsibility because you are serving and protecting the public,” says Col. Price. “We want only the best; those people of honor, integrity and high moral and ethical character.”

For more information on the Highway Patrol, click onto:

The Highway Patrol is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

Governor Daugaard Signs Senate Bill 32

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed Senate Bill 32, an act to place certain substances on the controlled substances schedule. SB 32 is an annual bill to update South Dakota’s controlled substances statutes to match federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) scheduling actions.

This year’s bill adds a definition of fentanyl analog which allows South Dakota to address “underground” chemists who make minor changes to an existing illegal chemical, resulting in a new chemical which can be sold as a recreational drug but which is not specifically listed as illegal. These drugs are specifically created to avoid current controlled substances laws by modifying the molecular structure of the substance. The bill also adds five known fentanyl analogs to Schedule 1.


Newly accredited public libraries to be honored in Capitol rotunda

PIERRE, S.D. – Twelve South Dakota public libraries have been accredited by the State Library in 2018. They will be honored in front of lawmakers, library colleagues and community members at the Capitol rotunda Feb. 13, at 3:15 pm CST. This event is held in conjunction with the annual South Dakota Library Association Library Legislative Day.

Accredited libraries demonstrate that they meet important benchmarks for providing high quality library services to their communities. Public libraries are accredited at one of three levels: Essential, Enhanced or Exemplary. Libraries are evaluated in the following areas, as outlined in South Dakota Public Library Standards: governance, administration, access, collections and resources, funding, staffing, technology and public relations.

The following libraries have been accredited:

  • Canton Public Library – Enhanced
  • Cozard Memorial Library (Chamberlain) – Essential
  • Custer County Library (Custer) – Exemplary
  • Dell Rapids Carnegie Public Library – Enhanced
  • Gregory Public Library – Exemplary
  • Hot Springs Public Library – Enhanced
  • Phoebe Apperson Hearst Free Library (Lead) – Essential
  • Piedmont Valley Library – Essential
  • Rawlins Municipal Library (Pierre) – Exemplary
  • Tripp County Grossenberg Memorial Library (Winner) – Essential
  • Wall Community Library – Essential
  • Yankton Community Library – Exemplary

Detailed requirements for each level of tiered accreditation, as well as a complete list of all currently accredited libraries, are available on the South Dakota State Library’s website at


Microbrewery Bill Introduced

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, the Senate Commerce Committee introduced Senate Bill 169,Governor Daugaard’s bill to modernize South Dakota’s alcohol laws concerning microbreweries.

“South Dakota’s statutes limit the ability of our homegrown craft breweries to grow and thrive,” said Governor Daugaard.  “Whenever it is practical, our state should minimize government regulation and look to free enterprise to promote economic growth.”

South Dakota’s current laws governing microbreweries are among the most onerous in the country. Current law limits microbrewery privileges to 5,000 barrels.  Exceeding that limit takes away privileges vital to the success of small businesses and Senate Bill 169 will increase that to 30,000 barrels. The corresponding cap is 60,000 barrels in Montana, 50,000 barrels in Wyoming, and 25,000 barrels in North Dakota.  Iowa imposes no barrel limit.

Senate Bill 169 will also allow microbreweries to sell their products directly to retailers, such as restaurants and grocery stores.  Current South Dakota law prohibits this, and also prevents a microbrewery from moving product between two of its own locations.  Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa all allow microbreweries to sell directly to other retailers.

I-29 Closed from Tea to the Iowa Border; Motorists Asked to Heed No Travel Advisories

 PIERRE, S.D. – Officials with the South Dakota Departments of Transportation and Public Safety are closing the north and southbound lanes of Interstate 29 from the Tea Exit 73 to the Iowa border.

Numerous jackknifed and stuck vehicles, heavy snow and strong winds are making travel through the corridor impossible.

Officials are closing at the Tea Exit as conditions south of there are deteriorating rapidly and there is no place for motorists to get off the Interstate to seek shelter.

No Travel Advisories are also posted for much of the entire southeast area of the state.

Based on information from the National Weather Service, conditions are expected to worsen as the storm continues to hang around over the area. Additional snowfall and continued strong winds are likely to make travel hazardous for the rest of today and possibly overnight.

“We understand people want to be on the roads and about their business, but we ask for patience while the storm moves through this area of the state,’’ said Greg Fuller, director of operations. “Traveling in these hazardous conditions puts your life and the lives of first responders in danger.”

Motorists are being asked to postpone travel plans in this area until Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Get the most up-to-date information on road conditions at or by dialing 5-1-1 before heading out. You can also download the SDDOT 511 app from iTunes or the Google Play store.

South Dakota Corn Growers present awards at annual meeting

SIOUX FALLS – The South Dakota Corn Growers Association (SDCGA) recognized outstanding agricultural achievements during the organization’s 32nd annual meeting Jan. 20 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

The association presented its Most Valuable Player Award to Dale Locken, recently retired CEO of the Wheat Growers cooperative; its Excellence in Agriculture Award to Craig Schaunaman, former executive director of the Farm Service Agency’s South Dakota Office; and its Public Outreach Award to Sydney Kern, formerly of KDLT TV.

South Dakota Corn also honored two retiring directors of its boards for their service. Travis Mockler of Centerville served on the Corn Growers Association board since 2009 and was secretary/treasurer. Scott Sperry of Bath served two three-year terms on the Corn Utilization Council board. Both have completed their allowed number of terms.

Most Valuable Player in Agriculture – As CEO of the Wheat Growers for the past 15 years, Dale Locken of Aberdeen directed tremendous growth of the cooperative. It became the nation’s largest grain-and-agronomy co-op that’s owned strictly by farmers. He also led the cooperative through a recent merger with North Central Farmers Elevator, forming the new Agtegra Cooperative.

Locken spent close to 40 years in agribusiness management. He served in key leadership and management positions with major companies before returning to South Dakota to take over leadership of the Wheat Growers. In presenting the award, the Corn Growers commended him for his vision, his leadership and for keeping farmers’ best interest in mind when making decisions.

Excellence in Agriculture – Craig Schaunaman of Aberdeen served eight years as state executive director for the Farm Service Agency after being appointed by the Obama Administration in 2009. In that role, he successfully led the state FSA office through implementation of new programs contained in the 2014 farm bill.

Schaunaman helped farmers and ranchers tap into federal programs that provided assistance in dealing with flooding, drought, wildfires and a severe winter storm that killed herds of cattle. Prior to his FSA appointment, he served on many state and local boards, including five terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives. He also has farmed for 40 years.

Excellence in Public Outreach – This award recognizes an individual who goes the extra mile in spreading agriculture’s story with fairness, accuracy and due diligence. As a reporter for KDLT television, Sydney Kern didn’t have a background in agriculture, but she took time to research and learn about it.

Whether she was reporting about a visit by a South Koean trade team, farmers helping Kenyan families grow food, trade agreements, or flooding and drought, she showed a true interest in the topic and did a thorough job of telling the story. Kern left KDLT in late 2017 to take a job with a TV station in Louisiana, the state where she attended college.

Electronic Logging Device Comment Deadline is Tomorrow

South Dakota truckers and others who may be negatively affected by proposed changes to Electronic Logging Device have until tomorrow (Fri.) to voice their concerns.

In November, the US Department of Transportation announced a 90-day delay of its ELD rules for live load truckers, which were originally scheduled to take effect last month (Dec. 18). The US DOT is taking public comments regarding agricultural commodities through tomorrow (Jan. 19).

Comments link:

PUC offers suggestions to cope with winter utility bills

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission reminds consumers that lower winter temperatures will be followed by higher heating bills and offers suggestions to keep the cold at bay and the bills manageable this season.

The higher dollar amount reflected in winter utility bills correlates to higher usage, not higher rates. More energy is being used to heat homes and to keep lights on longer during the shorter days of winter.

Rather than be overwhelmed by winter energy bills, the PUC suggests consumers be prepared by taking personal steps to be energy efficient and working with their utility to explore billing options. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Seal air leaks around doors and windows with weather stripping and caulk. Easy to use window insulator kits are readily available at home improvement and hardware stores.
  • Turn your thermostat down during the day when you are not at home and at night when you sleep. Set it at 68 when you are at home.
  • Ensure your heating system is running efficiently by changing filters and having it serviced on a regular basis.
  • Contact your utility about a balanced billing program. With balanced billing (also called budget billing or even payment billing), a customer is billed an average amount each month regardless of their actual energy use. The utility works with the customer to determine the monthly payment, based on historical account information. Balanced billing is a budgeting tool, not a discount. Customers must meet criteria to participate in budget billing programs.

Utility customers are encouraged to contact their energy provider if they have concerns about their monthly bill. The electric and natural gas companies in South Dakota have knowledgeable customer service representatives who are available to answer questions and address concerns.

Find more information about energy efficiency at and budget billing at

Officers Elected for Governor’s Tourism Advisory Board


PIERRE, S.D. –The Governor’s Tourism Advisory Board has selected its officers for 2018.

Ivan Sorbel* of Kyle was elected the board president during a meeting today in Pierre. Kristi Wagner of Whitewood was elected vice president.

“The guidance and support the tourism board provides the South Dakota Department of Tourism is critical to the success of the tourism industry in the state,” said Jim Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “We are fortunate to have leaders to look to for expertise and needs of their respective geographic and business areas.”

The Tourism Advisory Board is appointed by the Governor and includes members of the tourism industry and citizen representatives from across the state. Board members serve as liaisons and advocates for businesses in their area and the South Dakota Department of Tourism. The board also offers input about marketing strategies for the department.

Current Tourism Advisory Board members include Stan Anderson, Wall; Tom Biegler*, Sioux Falls; John Brockelsby*, Rapid City; Ted Hustead*, Wall; Ann Lesch*, De Smet; Julie Ranum*, Watertown; Carmen Schramm*, Yankton; Frank Smith, Gettysburg; Ivan Sorbel, Kyle; Steve Westra*, Sioux Falls; and Kristi Wagner, Whitewood.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.

Health Department Staff Honored

PIERRE, S.D. – Fifteen South Dakota Department of Health staff were recently recognized in the agency’s annual Secretary’s Awards Program. Awards were given in three categories: employee excellence, outstanding contribution to public health and the rising star award. The recipients of the awards are listed below.

Employee Excellence: Recognizes outstanding performance in the past year.

  • eWIC Team, Office of Child & Family Services- The eWIC team consisted of nine staff members who were instrumental in implementing a new electronic management system for the WIC program. The system has received positive reviews from program participants and vendors.
  • Teri Schoenefeld, Office of Child & Family Services- Schoenefeld is a community health nurse in Gregory County who was recognized for outstanding performance, her commitment to her community and assisting other colleagues as a resource.

Outstanding Contribution to Public Health: Recognizes significant public health contributions over a career.

  • Cindy Koopman Viergets, Office of Licensure & Certification- Koopman Viergets is a health facilities surveyor based in Spearfish and was recognized for her strong relationships with the provider community and her technical expertise.
  • Tammy LeBeau, Office of Disease Prevention Services- LeBeau coordinates South Dakota’s immunization registry and was honored for her work in developing and promoting the use of the system.
  • Dr. Eugene Regier, Correctional Health Care- Dr. Regier is chief medical officer at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. Dr. Regier was honored for over 20 years of dedicated service.

Rising Star: Recognizes a newer Department employee that has made significant contributions since joining the Department.

  • Dustin Ortbahn, Office of Disease Prevention Services- Ortbahn is an infectious disease epidemiologist based in Pierre and was honored for his professionalism, timeliness and skill in working with diverse populations.
  • Rhonda Schelling, Office of Child & Family Services- Schelling is a nutritionist based in Sioux Falls and was honored for her professionalism and willingness to assist in covering staff vacancies.

Promoting a culture of organizational excellence is one objective of the Department of Health’s 2015-2020 strategic plan,

SD Corn Growers meeting to cover hot topics

SIOUX FALLS – Speakers will share their expertise about grain marketing, taxes, ethanol and exports at the 32nd annual meeting of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association on Jan. 20 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.

Popular TV host Mike Pearson is back by popular demand to once again serve as master of ceremonies and moderate panel discussions. Another TV personality who’s making a return visit is John Phipps, the host of U.S. Farm Report, who was part of the 2013 program.

The morning’s grain marketing session will include presentations by Elaine Kub, author of Mastering the Grain Markets, and Angie Setzer, vice president of grain for Citizens Elevator in Charlotte, Mich.

All of the day sessions are free. South Dakota State University President Barry Dunn will talk during lunch about precision agriculture.

Phipps will kick off the afternoon session with his presentation, “What Could Possibly Go Right? Agriculture is Doomed. Or Maybe Not.” That will be followed by a three-member panel that will provide all you need to know about tax reform, ethanol and exports. Panelists are Emily Skor of Growth Energy, Mike Dwyer of the U.S. Grains Council and Patricia Wolff of the American Farm Bureau.

Pearson will wrap up the educational sessions with his presentation, “The Last Word.”

The activities will be capped with an evening banquet that will feature a meal, awards presentations and rock ‘n’ roll music by the Arch Allies. The keynote speaker will be Sarah Waltner, director of operations and manufacturing for Raven Industries. Jim Woster, a South Dakota agriculture advocate, will be master of ceremonies for the banquet.

South Dakota Corn Growers Association’s 32nd Annual Meeting

Saturday, Jan. 30, Sioux Falls Convention Center

10 a.m. – Welcome by master of ceremonies Mike Pearson, co-host of the Ag News Daily podcast, and former Market to Market TV host

10:15 a.m. – Marketing discussion by Elaine Kub, author of Mastering the Grain Markets, and Angie Setzer, vice president of grain for Citizens Elevator in Charlotte, Mich.

11:45 a.m. – Lunch, precision agriculture presentation by Barry Dunn, president of South Dakota State University

1 p.m. – “What Could Possibly Go Right? Agriculture is Doomed. Or Maybe Not.” John Phipps, commentator for U.S. Farm Report

2:30 p.m. – Taxes, ethanol and exports presentations: Emily Skor, Growth Energy; Mike Dwyer, U.S. Grains Council; Patricia Wolff, American Farm Bureau Federation

4 p.m. – “What’s Driving Agriculture in the Year Ahead?” by Mike Pearson

5:30 p.m. – Social, silent auction and evening banquet, featuring music by Arch Allies, a classic-rock tribute band

SDDA Reminds Producers of Mandatory Dicamba Trainings

PIERRE, S.D. – In December, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) approved Engenia, Xtendimax with Vapor Grip technology and Fexapan herbicides for use in South Dakota for the 2018 growing season. Per the label, all persons, private or commercial, applying these products must also complete dicamba-specific training and pass an examination. Documentation of completion of the training and examination will be required to apply these products.

Trainings will be offered by each of the registering companies. Trainings dates and links for registration can be found on SDDA’s website at, located under the “Happening Now” section. There is no cost to attend the trainings.

“I encourage all applicators to attend one of these trainings, whether or not you are considering using one of these products in 2018,” said Secretary of Agriculture Mike Jaspers. “Use of these products will require planning ahead. Now is the time to start. These trainings will provide valuable information on label restrictions and best practices for use of these products. In addition to trainings, producers should take time to start conversations with their agronomist, seed dealer and neighbors.”

Applicators may attend any of the dicamba-specific trainings to meet the requirement to use any of the three registered products. If an applicator attends training in a bordering state, the department will require proof of attendance to apply the products in South Dakota. Once proof of training has been received, each applicator will receive a new certification card in the mail.

Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s mission is to promote, protect and preserve South Dakota agriculture for today and tomorrow. Visit the SDDA online at or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Convenience and Grocery Store Owners Named South Dakota Retailer of the Year

A couple who operate nine convenience and grocery stores have been named the recipients of the 2018 South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award.

Jeff and Janine Nielsen of Canistota were honored at the annual Awards Banquet of the South Dakota Retailers Association (SDRA) on January 8 in Pierre. The event was attended by state legislators, constitutional officers, and retailers from throughout the state.

The Nielsens were chosen for the award by a committee of retailers in recognition of commitment to running an excellent business, and outstanding service to their community.

Originally from Viborg and Centerville, the Nielsens were working in Texas when they decided to come back to South Dakota to open a convenience store in Canistota in 1991. In 1994, they purchased the grocery store in Emery. They continued to grow their business operation by purchasing, remodeling and expanding stores in Alcester, Beresford, Centerville, Chancellor, Freeman, Lennox, and Menno in South Dakota, and in George, Iowa.

One of their businesses is a truck stop, four are convenience stores, one is a grocery store without gas pumps, and three are grocery stores with gas pumps. No two of their stores are operated exactly alike; each store aims to fit the needs of the local community.

They have also helped others get a start in business, by mentoring managers at their Canistota and Iowa stores until they were ready to purchase the businesses.

“A lot of times when we talk about economic development, people tend to think about smokestacks and big box,” SDRA Board President Gary Cammack of Cammack Ranch Supply in Union Center said when presenting the award. “But the Nielsens also represent strong economic development. They provide employment for over 140 people. The jobs they provide, and the services they offer make a huge impact on those small communities.”

They were nominated for the award by business colleagues, bankers, school officials, and others who praised the Nielsens for their vision, work ethic, commitment to the communities they serve, support for school and charitable events, their friendly service, and for being excellent entrepreneurs.

The Nielsens say while their businesses are always evolving, the core principle remains the same: to provide needed goods and services to their customers, have a good relationship with the people they do business with, and always try to be fair with everybody.

The Nielsens find owning and running their stores to be very rewarding, noting they get to meet and work with hometown people in every town they serve, and feel like they’re a part of each of those communities.

In accepting the award, Jeff Nielsen thanked his managers, employees, and customers, and also the suppliers and service providers they work with.

“It’s relationships like that with wonderful people and wonderful companies that have allowed us to be successful, and we feel very blessed,” he said.

When asked what the key to their success was, Nielsen recalled the words of an old sergeant when he was in the military. The sergeant had always said the toughest thing about being in the military is getting up in the morning and putting your boots on. Nielsen said the same is true for being successful in a retail business: just get out of bed and get going.

The South Dakota Retailer of the Year Award has been presented annually since 1982 by the South Dakota Retailers Association

GFP Going Paperless for Three Hunting and Fishing Applications

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) recently announced that they will not distribute printed applications for paddlefish, spring turkey and special buck seasons in 2018.

Due to the decreased demand for paper applications, GFP will not print the standard run of paper applications for the seasons associated with paddlefish, spring turkey or special buck. In 2016, 24,041 applications were received for these seasons. Of that total, 1,514 (6%) were submitted using paper applications. A small number of applications will be printed to distribute to regional wildlife offices for walk-in customers who may still need to submit the paper version.

“We send a large quantity of applications to our licensing agents across the state, and they’re just not getting used,” said Shon Eide, GFP licensing program administrator. “Individuals who wish to still submit a paper application can do so by downloading the PDF off the website, print and mail it to the Fort Pierre licensing office. With this change, we continue to encourage individuals to apply for these (and other) seasons online at”

At this time, these are the only three applications that will not be printed. GFP will monitor customer input and feedback to help chart the course for future paper applications.

Chairman Boyd Gourneau to deliver the 3rd Annual State of the Tribes Address

PIERRE, S.D. –Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Chairman Boyd Gourneau will deliver the 3rd Annual State of the Tribes Address tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. CST before the South Dakota Legislature.  A couple topics Chairman Gourneau will address are meth use and healthcare.

The State of the Tribes Address affords tribal leaders the opportunity to address the State Legislature and the legislators the opportunity to hear some of the concerns and challenges of the tribes that share South Dakota’s borders.

“I am proud that the South Dakota Legislature and the tribes have embraced this opportunity.  The State of the Tribes Address is another bridge to understanding and working together,” said South Dakota Tribal Relations Secretary Steve Emery.

Department of Revenue to continue temporary office in Huron

Pierre, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Revenue will continue its office hours in Huron to assist customers.

The temporary office, which is located at Huron City Hall, will be in operation the second and fourth Thursdays of each month beginning Jan. 11. Customers may visit the office for assistance in completing tax returns, obtaining a sales tax license or general questions.

Office hours in Huron will be from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., and visitors are asked to use the south entrance.  Appointments may be made by calling 605-995-8080 but are not necessary for assistance. Customers are encouraged to call and verify that the office is open when winter weather causes poor road conditions.

13 Yankton Programs named to the Academic Achievement Award

13 different Yankton Academic programs have been named to the Academic Achievement Award honors for the Fall of 2017. Programs include: Football Team, Oral Interpretation, Boys Golf Team, Boys Cross Country Team, Girls Soccer Team, Volleyball Team, All-State Chorus, Girls Tennis Team, Football Cheerleaders, Competitive Cheer Team, Competitive Dance Team, Boys Soccer Team, and Girls Cross Country Team.

Initiated during the 1996-97 school year, the SDHSAA ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT TEAM AWARD program is designed to recognize varsity athletic teams and fine arts groups for their academic excellence. The South Dakota High School Activities Association believes that high school students learn in two distinct ways; inside the classroom and outside the classroom – on the stage and/or athletic field.

This academic program creates a positive environment for school teams to have its members excel in the classroom. This program is also meant to motivate students toward academic excellence and to promote academic encouragement from teammates.

All varsity athletic teams and fine arts groups that achieve a combined grade point average of 3.0 or higher are eligible to receive the SDHSAA ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT TEAM AWARD.

3 Native American tribes sue opioid industry groups

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Three Native American tribes in the Dakotas are suing opioid manufacturers and distributors, alleging they concealed and minimized the addiction risk of prescription drugs.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate sued 24 opioid industry groups in federal court on Monday. Defendants include drug manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Allergan, and distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp.

 The lawsuit follows more than 70 similar cases filed across the country. Allegations include deceptive marketing, fraud and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.

It is one of the first to tie claims to drugs’ the impact on Native Americans. The Cherokee Nation launched a similar suit in April.

The complaint seeks monetary damages and an “abatement fund” to pay for treatment programs.

The companies hadn’t responded to the suit as of Monday.

2 Brandon Valley students expelled after gun incident

 BRANDON, S.D. (AP) — The Brandon Valley school board has expelled two high school students who brought an unloaded gun to school.

The Argus Leader reports that the high school was put on lockdown Dec. 19 after a report of a gun in the building. Authorities say one of the students apparently had brought the gun to sell to another student.

 Police responded, found the gun in a backpack and arrested the two juveniles. They’ll spend the remaining 96 days of the school year learning from home.

The students will have to undergo a threat assessment before the school will consider allowing them to return in the fall. If they return, they’ll be placed at an alternative school.

Five South Dakota teachers earn profession’s top honor

PIERRE, S.D. – Five South Dakota classroom teachers are among the nearly 5,461 elementary and secondary school teachers nationwide to achieve National Board Certification in 2017.

“National Board Certified teachers demonstrate a deep knowledge of their content and a commitment to improving their instruction. It’s no easy task, and I congratulate them on the accomplishment,” said South Dakota Secretary of Education Don Kirkegaard.

The achievement raises the number of National Board Certified Teachers in South Dakota to 111.
South Dakota’s 2017 recipients include:

  • Chelsey Coverdale, Mathematics/Early Adolescence, Harrisburg School District
  • Carla Diede, Mathematics/Early Adolescence, Harrisburg School District
  • Crystal McMachen, Mathematics/Early Adolescence, Rapid City Area School District
  • Ann Noyes, Mathematics/Early Adolescence, Pierre School District
  • Andi Ward, Literacy: Reading-Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood, Summit School District

National Board Certification is achieved through a rigorous, performance-based, peer-reviewed assessment of a teacher’s pedagogical (teaching) skills and content knowledge. The certification process takes one to three years to complete. While licensing standards set the basic requirements to teach in a state, National Board Certified teachers demonstrate advanced teaching knowledge, skills and practices similar to the certifications earned by experts in law and medicine.

In 2016, the South Dakota Legislature reinstated stipends for South Dakota National Board Certified teachers. South Dakota teachers who earn National Board Certification receive $2,000 per year for five years, with $1,000 paid by the South Dakota Department of Education and $1,000 paid by the teacher’s school district.

To learn more about National Board Certification, call the South Dakota Department of Education at 605-773-3134 or go to