Kealey Bultena

SDPB News Reporter

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).

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Kealey Bultena / SDPB

It’s the start of this year’s legislative session, and leaders are already split over how to budget new money coming to South Dakota. Online retailer Amazon is starting to collect sales tax on South Dakota purchases next month. Its timing could pose a planning issue.

Amazon begins charging both state and local sales tax for South Dakota purchases in February. Democrat and State Senator Billie Sutton says lawmakers should include those dollars in the budget that starts July first.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

State lawmakers say they want to adjust parts of last year’s education overhaul. The governor says the current reform is working, because a sales tax for teacher pay is pushing average educator salaries up.  

One piece of vast K-12 education reform from 2016’s legislative session involves declining enrollment. Schools now must use the final number of students enrolled in the fall to determine their share of state dollars. Before they could average the previous two years to ease into lower funding.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota’s governor says he wants to fight methamphetamine by punishing bad behavior and reinforcing the good.

Governor Dennis Daugaard says he wants to offer incentives to beat addiction. He says he supports allowing offenders who complete court-ordered treatment in a year one opportunity to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. Daugaard says he also supports mandatory jail time for people on probation or parole who fail drug tests.

Roger Bultena family

Some stories stay with a reporter long after they've aired. A recent story about organ donation from SDPB's Kealey Bultena has her reconsidering how she listens to stories from her grandfather. She wrote about her personal experience growing up with tales from her grandpa's corneal transplants in a post called The Vision To Listen, and she talks with Lori Walsh on In The Moment about how her reporting has changed her personal perspective.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Mitchell teacher has won a prestigious national award that comes with $25,000. An assembly this week surprised the fourth grade educator with the honor.  

Local and state leaders gather at Longfellow Elementary in Mitchell to recognize a teacher. Students and staff attend the assembly under false pretenses before they find out the real reason they gather. Greg Gallagher with the Milken Family Foundation announces that one of the educators in the gym is set to receive a celebrated award.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota’s two largest cities are breaking building permit records again. Rapid City is more than $50 million ahead of the previous top year. Sioux Falls is setting a record for the fourth year in a row, and the year isn't over yet.

Right now building permits in Rapid City are worth more than $310 million. Division manager of building inspections Brad Solon says Rapid City hit its previous record in November, so every permit since pushes the landmark higher.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The "shop local" cause has a high-profile advocate this holiday season. South Dakota’s governor is encouraging people to do their last-minute shopping in communities across the state instead of with retailers outside of South Dakota.

Governor Dennis Daugaard is popping into different retail shops and restaurants in downtown Sioux Falls. He asks a local restauranteur what the best meal on the menu is. The owner says the governor can't go wrong.

Daugaard says he’s finished shopping for Christmas gifts in Pierre and in Sioux Falls.

City of Sioux Falls

Builders are launching $15 million worth of projects in Sioux Falls to increase the city’s affordable housing options. Most of the funding comes through the state’s housing development authority. The City of Sioux Falls is lending the projects hundreds of thousands of dollars. The two projects appeal to people in different circumstances.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Sioux Falls middle schoolers are playing music with a world-renowned rock orchestra violinist. Mark Wood is in town to perform Saturday night. More than 2,700 students are set to accompany him.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The first holiday season after someone dies is often difficult for people who loved him or her. It’s full of traditions and gatherings that used to include an important person now gone. One woman says she’s channeling her grief into improving the lives of others because that’s what her son did. 

Melody Hilbert raised three children. Jonah was the second born, sandwiched between two other boys with "J" names.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

People grieving the loss of family members this holiday season are finding comfort in others who’ve experienced loss. Families and friends of people who chose to donate organs before they died connected at an event to honor and remember.

Leaders at Avera hold a program and prayer before talking with people who knew someone who died and chose to donate his or her organs.

Jonah Hilbert died in April at age 31 after struggling with alcoholism. He was still able to donate tissue and his corneas.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students in South Dakota say they encounter discrimination in school. Their stories are part of a document released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.

The 103-page report indicates students in South Dakota are bullied, harassed, and threatened because they’re LGBT. It includes stories that some schools and teachers treat LGBT kids – and staff – differently.  

The Statehouse Podcast for December 7th, 2016 incudes excerpts and reaction following Governor Dennis Daugaards FY18 Budget Address.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Governor Dennis Daugaard says South Dakotans should not expect millions of dollars from IHS. A deal with the Indian Health Service would have covered medical care for Native Americans who qualify for IHS and Medicaid. The governor says that can’t happen for now.

Indian Health Service leaders agreed to cover millions in medical costs that South Dakota picks up using Medicaid. Governor Dennis Daugaard says that arrangement hinged on the state’s expansion of Medicaid. Because that isn’t happening, does the deal still work?

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Republicans have a super-majority in both chambers of the South Dakota state legislature. 

State Representative Spence Hawley is a Democrat – one of 16 total in the state legislature. He says Democrats have ideas that deserve consideration.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Sioux Falls search and rescue crews recovered the body of a man trapped in a collapsed building. Fire Rescue chief Jim Sideras says crews found the body in a void just before 6 p.m. Friday. 

The frenzy in Downtown Sioux Falls slowed as a rescue efforts changed to recovery work. Fire fighters stood unmoving near a response vehicle. They watched silently as several of the colleagues worked calmly digging through the rubble pile and eventually removing a man's body from the wreckage. 

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

One woman is alive after being trapped in a collapsed building in Sioux Falls, and crews are searching for a man they believe is underneath the rubble. The building used to be home to the Copper Lounge. It was under construction and included business and living spaces.

The intersection of 10th Street and Phillips Avenue usually hums with the sound of traffic. Now it rumbles as a payloader scratches the pavement and bobcat scrapes boards and broken materials into piles. Machines tow a car from underneath bricks that tumbled down when a building collapsed.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Some patients with medical needs who don’t require the rigorous attention of hospitals have another option for discharge. Avera in Sioux Falls is now operating a transitional unit to serve people who can leave the hospital but can’t go straight to a nursing home, rehab, or back home.

The State of South Dakota doesn’t allow health providers to add beds for more people in nursing homes, but leaders are making an exception for transitional care.

SDPB

Medicaid expansion would have extended health care coverage to South Dakotans who make too little money to afford health insurance but too much money to qualify for state programs. With President-elect Donald Trump and a GOP Congress promising to repeal or overhaul the Affordable Care Act, Governor Dennis Daugaard has declined to pursue Medicaid expansion in South Dakota. SDPB's Kealey Bultena joins Dakota Midday to discuss the issue that has become problematic for some.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Governor Dennis Daugaard says South Dakota has to revise this year’s budget. That’s because he says the state is not bringing in as much money as projected.

Daugaard says the trend since the start of the fiscal year is not good.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Hundreds of local families who stock their kitchens with help from Feeding South Dakota can now add milk to their cereal. That’s thanks to a drive that motivated individuals and businesses to donate 10,300 gallons of milk. People filling their carts during September paid extra to send milk to Feeding South Dakota. Their donations are now out for delivery.

Monday a refrigerated truck backed up to the Feeding South Dakota building. Four hundred gallons rolled out of the cooler and into the warehouse. The milk is the first installment of more than 10,000 gallons. 

SDPB

South Dakotans don't have the answers to many of their health care questions. Between federal administration changes and decisions at the state level, the issue of delivering quality, cost-effective health care is bathed in uncertainty. SDPB's Kealey Bultena joins Dakota Midday host Lori Walsh to answer many of those frequently asked questions.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakotans don’t have answers to many of their health care questions. Between federal administration changes and decisions at the state level, the issue of delivering quality, cost-effective health care is bathed in uncertainty. Local advocates say patients should not panic; instead they say people can better understand the factors at play nationally and within South Dakota – and know that people are fighting for their wellness.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Medicaid expansion in South Dakota may not happen, but many health care providers say they’re not giving up on reforms that could help the working poor. Some health leaders are looking for other ways to deliver medical care to thousands of people.

Doctor Tim Ridgway says the point of the complicated medical system is to take care of people and improve the health of all individuals in communities.

Ridgway says navigating those elements and figuring out how to pay for all of it is an intricate process.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

National health experts are looking to South Dakota strategies as they discuss rural health care. The US Department of Health and Human Services showcased Avera’s telemedicine efforts with viewers around the country. It was part of an effort about National Rural Health Day.

Avera’s eCare services use high-quality video and audio to connect Sioux Falls physicians with small town hospital staff. This allows doctors and nurses to collaborate on treating rural patients in real time.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

State lawmakers say improving quality of health care remains a legislative priority. This on the heels of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s announcement that he will not support Medicaid expansion in 2017. That has lawmakers examining work between the state and federal government.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota political leaders say Medicaid expansion is off the table in the 2017 legislative session.  But one lawmaker says that doesn’t solve the problem of people not being able to afford health coverage.

Governor Dennis Daugaard announced Tuesday that he will not prioritize Medicaid expansion in the next legislative session. He says he made the decision to not expand Medicaid in South Dakota after a meeting with Vice President Elect Mike Pence.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A panel of community members can soon weigh in on work happening in Rapid City Schools. People can apply to be part of a community advisory council. The group will meet once a month to discuss issues related to education in a broad context.

Rapid City Area Schools superintendent Lori Simon says she’s been talking about a community advisory board since she interviewed for the district’s top job. Simon says people who live and work in the community have ideas and perspectives to contribute.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

SDPB reporters Lee Strubinger and Kealey Bultena provide an in-depth look at payday lending issues Amendment U and Initiated Measure 21 after voters made their choice. They also discuss the rejection of Amendment V and how one lawmaker views the strategy of South Dakota voters. 

Dakota Political Junkies Denise Ross and Seth Tupper also join the program for additional discussion of ballot measures and how South Dakotans decided on them.

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