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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While people brave Black Friday on the hunt for deals, an expert says toy shoppers should make sure their great buys are appropriate for particular kids. Not all toys are made for children of different ages. Plus some choices offer kids a better opportunity to learn and grow.

Amy Hiesinger is a family life educator with Sanford Health. She says people should consider a child’s age and capabilities when shopping for gifts. Hiesinger says little children respond well to interactive gifts.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Avera Health is buying insurance organization DakotaCare. Company leaders are not revealing the purchase price. Talks started two weeks ago, and representatives for both entities could reach a final deal by the end of this month. Leaders say customers and employees likely won’t notice changes in the short term.

The board chair for DAKOTACARE says health insurance reform can be good for consumers but difficult on insurance companies. Doctor Kevin Bjordahl says sometimes making insurance affordable for a patient puts a strain on insurance providers.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is now designated ISO Class 1. The national Insurance Services Office rates fire departments across the United States. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is one of just 132 departments that meet the criteria for the Class 1 status.

Leaders remove a red cloth hiding part of a Sioux Falls Fire Rescue truck. Emblazoned on the white and red paint is shiny, reflective text: I.S.O. Class 1.

Rob Holso is the field representative with Insurance Services Office. He says the 100-point evaluation includes the fire department and community resources.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Some lawmakers on South Dakota’s education task force say they hoped for a more specific funding plan. The report from the Blue Ribbon committee includes many precise recommendations. Some members say the final numbers don’t go far enough.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Avera’s work to personalize cancer treatment could help people around the world. Leaders for the health system made the announcement Tuesday that the genomic oncology team is joining with the Worldwide Innovative Networking Consortium to participate in research and clinical trials. Now internationally renowned cancer expert Doctor Brian Leyland-Jones and Avera’s Center for Precision Oncology Director Casey Williams talk about the potential that exists in the new partnership.

Sioux Falls Police Department

Authorities are looking for a man they believe raped a 14-year-old girl in Sioux Falls. Police say the suspect is armed and dangerous, and they want anyone who sees him or the van he’s driving to call 911.

Officials are searching for 41-year-old Frederick McAbee. He’s a black Sioux Falls man who is about 5'9" tall and weighs 165 pounds. Authorities believe he is driving a gray 1999 Chevy Express. That’s a full-size cargo van. The license plate is 1BMC21.

Patty Buechler

Mental health care providers working in schools receive recognition this week. Governor Dennis Daugaard has declared School Psychology Week in South Dakota to acknowledge their impact on learning. School psychologists focus on removing challenges so students can succeed in the classroom.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Cancer researchers in Sioux Falls are now part of an international group collaborating on personalized treatment. Avera Cancer Institute is one of five American institutions partnering in a consortium referred to as WIN. Doctors say the revelations can help people with cancer at all stages.

Standard cancer treatments are often based on therapies that work for most people. Doctor Brian Leyland-Jones says everyone is different – and so are their cancers. He says tumors have different genes, compositions and signaling pathways.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Medical professionals from six small hospitals across South Dakota are learning how to handle complications during childbirth. Avera Health teams of doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other care providers are working in teams in critical simulations.

Eight medical professionals crowd around a simulator that forces them to figure out how to deliver a baby when its shoulders are stuck. Trainers use a device to measure the pressure a doctor or nurse puts on a baby while trying to free the newborn.

State of South Dakota

Stakeholders examining education funding in the state are working on final recommendations to the governor. Thursday is the final meeting of South Dakota’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. Members met throughout the summer and fall to understand challenges related to K-12 education.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A poll from AARP South Dakota shows most people who are over age 50 want the state to restrict how much money payday lenders can charge. The membership organization paid for the survey from Alan Newman Research. Poll results are from the end of September and beginning of this month.

Phone calls to 904 older South Dakotans show many people agree the law should cap the interest payday lenders and car title loan companies charge customers. Sarah Jennings is the state director for AARP South Dakota.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A 19-year-old Sioux Falls man is dead after a weekend shooting that involved drugs and alcohol. Officers say Mikael Ashame died early Saturday morning from a gunshot wound. The man who shot him is in custody, and authorities arrested another person who owns the gun.

Sioux Falls police officials say they responded to a shooting first as a 911 hang up. Someone said a man shot himself, and another story was a man in a ski mask came in and shot someone. The investigation shows one man is dead following an accidental shooting.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A woman who survived the Boston Marathon bombing says people with disabilities deserve respect and opportunity. She is one speaker during this week’s Disabilities Rights Conference in Sioux Falls. The gathering is aimed at health workers, business leaders, educators and officials to raise awareness and remind people of their role in protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

Before April 15, 2013 Heather Abbott was a full-time human resources manager who specialized in affirmative action and equal employment opportunity.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota has an estimated 5,500 women veterans, and VA officials are working to connect them with benefits and health care. Some women who served in the military don’t realize they have access to health services tailored to military members. An annual conference this month in Sioux Falls helps them meet other women veterans.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Sioux Falls teacher is a recipient of a prestigious education honor. Teachers can’t apply for the Milken Educator Award; the foundation identifies candidates and selects them without letting the teacher know – that is, until this week at a surprise assembly.  

Hundreds of students at Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School stomp up bleachers in the gym. The band plays as they fill the stands and spill out onto the hardwood floor.

After introductions, Jane Foley with the Milken Family Foundation tells students one teacher can positively influence thousands of lives.

Safety is paramount in discussions this week ranging from drug use to defense against an active shooter.  The discussions are part of the South Dakota Safety Council's annual conference to spotlight health and safety.  SDPB news producer Kealey Bultena sat down with Don Marose, a Minnesota State Trooper.  Marose, who hosts trainings for schools and businesses on traffic safety, talked about distracted driving.

Bultena also visited with Chad Sheehan who owns a workplace violence consulting business.  His company has trained more than 13,000 people in the last two years.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB News

A visible member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe says work between Indians and the rest of the state is not done. While much of the country took Monday off for Columbus Day, South Dakotans celebrated Native American Day. Leaders made the decision to change the holiday years ago. One man says some people still don’t use the holiday’s proper name.

JR LaPlante spent nearly four years as South Dakota’s first Secretary of Tribal Relations. He says changes made in 1990 were not answers to Native-white relations, but starting points. He says issues still exist.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The Administrator of the TSA is using his time in Sioux Falls to better understand the needs of America’s smaller airports. The Transportation Safety Administration’s leader has been on the job for only a few months. He says he hopes to gain local perspective as he works to make air travel safer.

Sioux Falls Regional Airport’s executive director Dan Letellier takes a select few on a behind-the-scenes tour.

Mike Rounds

Members of the United States Congress have less than one month to come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling. US Representatives are organizing to elect a new leader, and the process to move the debt limit higher starts in their chamber.

United States Senator Mike Rounds says he believes Congress can reach an agreement on increasing the debt ceiling by its deadline. He says men and women in the Senate acknowledge they have to raise the amount of money the federal government can borrow. 

John Thune

United States Senator John Thune says he generally supports trade deals, but some parts of the latest international agreement raise his concern. Eleven countries and the United States have struck a deal called TPP. That stands for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It has economic and political implications.

Thune says he’s heard pieces of the deal since Monday’s agreement, and he’s concerned about some of the elements.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Sioux Falls leaders plan to get a detailed view of water underground using technology attached to a helicopter. The city’s public works department is contracting with the US Geological Survey and a company called CGG Canada Services. Mapping the aquifer requires a system called RESOLVE and days in the sky.

They call it a bird. The RESOLVE helicopter-borne geophysical system is a long, white cylinder sensor. It has a red drag skirt on one end that keeps it flying straight: think the feathers on an arrow.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Harrisburg High School student is in custody after police say he brought a gun to school and shot the principal. Authorities stress all students are safe and the principal is stable. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are collaborating on the investigation. The Lincoln County States Attorney is determining what charges the teenager faces.

High school students piled onto bright yellow school buses late Wednesday morning after law enforcement swept the building for threats. 

Flags fly at half-staff out of respect for former South Dakota Governor Walter Dale Miller. He died Monday at the age of 89. Miller was born in October of 1925 in Meade County, South Dakota. He was a longtime school board member and state politician before becoming governor in 1993. 

Walter Dale Miller served in the state’s top office for less than one term, but those who worked with him say South Dakota still feels the impact of his decades of leadership. He was a tall man who some call a cowboy gentleman – always in boots and his hat. 

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The conversations of Dakota Midday on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 are woven together with an economics thread.

Workforce initiatives can't rely on the quality of jobs in South Dakota if they want to attract people from other regions. Research shows the way younger people choose careers is different than you might expect. J. Mac Holladay is the founder and CEO of Market Street Services based in Atlanta, Georgia. He explains why place may matter more than a certain kind of employment.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Investigators are trying to piece together factors that left a family of six dead in a murder-suicide. Fire engulfed a home near Platte one week ago, and responders found six bodies inside. Preliminary autopsy results show Nicole Westerhuis and four children died of shotgun wounds. Authorities suspect husband and father Scott Westerhuis killed them before shooting himself.

Scott Westerhuis was business manager for an organization called Mid Central Education Cooperative. Recent audits reveal financial issues with grant money that funnels to the group.

Dr. Brian Maher became superintendent of the Sioux Falls School District in July.  He says the district is in good shape, but a fresh perspective by help school leaders and the community address issues of disparity amoung students.  He joined guest host Kealey Bultena to discuss Sioux Falls' position in relation to the rest of the state based on the 2015 state assessment data.

Student performance on the new state assessment of English language arts and math was better than expected, according to state officials.  Today, Melody Schopp, South Dakota Department of Education Secretary, discussed the release of the 2015 Report Card - a review of South Dakota schools' performance based on multiple indicators.  Released today, the Report Card offers a summary at the school, district and state levels.

South Dakota authorities say four children and their mother found dead in a house fire last week are homicide victims. Attorney General Marty Jackley says preliminary autopsy results show Nicole, Kailey, Jaeci, Connor, and Michael Westerhuis died of shotgun wounds.

Officials say the sixth person dead is husband and father Scott Westerhuis. He also died of a shotgun wound, and authorities suspect suicide.

On September 17th flames engulfed a home just south of Platte, South Dakota. After first responders put out the fire, officials found a family of six dead.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A coalition of Sioux Falls area leaders is setting priorities for workforce. Business, education, government, and community stakeholders are applying national and local economic data to develop a plan for sustainability. 

Forward Sioux Falls and a company called Market Street services collected data for six months. The information spans across platforms: innovation, economic performance, workforce capacity, quality of life, business environment, labor market, public education, technical programs and higher ed.

For several diseases South Dakota has top childhood vaccination rates in the nation. The latest information available comes from the 2014 National Immunization Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Dakota’s immunization rates are in the top 10 for more than one dozen individual vaccines recommended across the country. A CDC survey examines rates for children 18 to 35 months old.