South Dakota

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