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

Storms in mid-June ripped across South Dakota. A tornado, 95-mile-per-hour winds, baseball-sized hail, and heavy rains knocked down power lines, slammed trees and branches to the ground, and washed out roads and bridges.

The severe weather cause nearly $3 million in damage to public property. Jason Bauder with South Dakota’s Office of Emergency Management says the federal government is covering some of the repair costs.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The official floodplain in Sioux Falls is shrinking. That’s because a project to update levees in the city is complete, so FEMA officials are changing flood maps. Five years ago city leaders advanced the federal government millions of local tax dollars to accelerate the project. Since then, federal officials have reimbursed the city, and the project is a split among local, state, and federal money.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The National Wildlife Federation intends to sue the federal government over pipeline regulations – and some are in South Dakota. NWF leaders say federal officials aren’t enforcing a 1990s law that helps protect communities, people and animals when oil spills happen. The problem arises when pipelines cross waterways. 

National Wildlife Federation leaders say the US Department of Transportation is failing to comply with the Oil Pollution Act, and they’ve filed a notice of intent to sue. Mike Shriberg is the executive director for the Great Lakes Region.

Capital One

Hundreds of people are losing their jobs as a Sioux Falls financial call center closes. A spokesperson for Capital One says the company is shifting strategies and moving work from Sioux Falls to other places. It’s supposed to happen by the end of the year. A layoff of 750 workers is significant, but the situation offers those employees some opportunities.

Thursday Capital One leaders alerted workers that their business in Sioux Falls is shutting down. Employees are not out of a job right away. They can work for a few months before Capital One’s operations end.

Kealey Bultena SDPB

A railroad company and Sioux Falls have struck a multi-million dollar deal for land in the central part of the city. BSNF Railway Company agrees to sell much of the rail yard in downtown Sioux Falls for more than $27 million.

A railroad company and the City of Sioux Falls have struck a multi-million dollar deal for land in the central part of the city. Burlington-Northern agrees to sell much of the rail yard in downtown Sioux Falls for more than $27 million.

“It’s bigger than the events center, folks,” Mayor Mike Huether says. “This is."

Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether says an agreement to buy more than 10 acres of rail land in the center of town is a major move for the community. Huether says some people thought leaders would never negotiate to buy the rail yard even with federal funding.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is looking to hire troopers, and the agency is recruiting women. Agency leaders are accepting applications for next year. They say this is the first time the Highway Patrol is specifically reaching out to female recruits. Safety officials say they want women to consider careers in law enforcement.

Of the current 174 Highway Patrol Troopers in South Dakota, six are women. Trooper Khrista Nelson went to school for law enforcement and spent time as a military police officer. She’s been a state trooper for more than a year.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Elder Abuse is garnering attention from leaders in South Dakota. A task force involving members of the judicial branch, the governor’s office, and the state legislature are meeting to better understand the problem. They want to find ways to recognize the crimes and prosecute them. Task force members also want to prevent elder abuse.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota leaders are analyzing elder abuse. The Chief Justice of South Dakota’s Supreme Court David Gilbertson says the often hidden crimes of elder abuse are becoming bigger problems as more people age. All three branches of government are part of a task force trying to understand who is taking advantage of the state’s aging people, how they’re doing it, and what can be done to prevent and punish elder abuse.

Elder abuse takes many forms, but a discussion about money pierces Steve Mielke.

One of South Dakota’s US Senators says he wants provisions in a new education bill that help address suicide among Native American populations. Senator John Thune says he’s introduced two amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act. 

US Senator John Thune says suicide on American Indian Reservations is an epidemic. He says the death rate for Native American youth is four times the national average. 

Sgt. Charlie Jacobson / US Army National Guard

Dozens of National Guard soldiers are deploying to Kuwait. They are set to spend nine months overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom – Spartan Shield. The deployment begins in February. Members of the 196th are preparing for their time in the Middle East, and they aren’t alone.

Sioux Falls Police Department

Updated 12:29 p.m.: Sioux Falls authorities say several people called in tips that they saw the teenager. He was found safe and is reunited with his family.   

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Police in Sioux Falls say a 15-year-old with developmental disabilities is missing. His name is Samuel, and his family says he functions in the range of a seven-year-old.

Authorities say he left the family’s camper in town around 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Officer Sam Clemens says officials don’t believe Samuel intends to run away, and he’s likely wandering.

SD Housing for the Homeless Consortium

A statewide survey shows more than 1,000 people in South Dakota are homeless. But advocates for affordable and appropriate housing say the number of people in need is much higher. Stakeholders in Sioux Falls gathered Wednesday to discuss a plan to curb homelessness and improve quality of life.

The official 2015 Statewide Point in Time Homeless Count reveals 1,036 people are homeless in South Dakota. That one-day snapshot shows the number of people without a home is up 17 percent from last year.

State of South Dakota

Leaders are examining how South Dakota can improve public education. Tuesday lawmakers and education stakeholders on the Blue Ribbon Task Force met in Pierre to review the ways tax dollars fuel education and how the state compares to its neighbors when funding schools and teachers.

South Dakota has an issue with teacher salaries. That’s the position of a senior analyst with the Education Commission of the States.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The City of Sioux Falls is now part of a national effort that focuses on protecting people while they use public streets. More than 200 cities are taking the US Department of Transportation’s Safer People, Safer Streets challenge. Local leaders are providing city councilors a policy proposal regarding complete streets.

During an early morning robbery in Sioux Falls, a gas station clerk grabbed the gun from a robber. It was the second robbery in as many hours, and authorities suspect the same person is responsible for both crimes.

Officer Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department says a man first threatened a gas station clerk with a gun at about 3:45 Monday morning. He got away from the Get N Go on North Cliff Avenue with cash.

Clemens says officers think the same man tried to rob another Get N Go on Louise Avenue less than two hours later.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

During the Fourth of July weekend celebrations, Sioux Falls Police responded to nearly 270 calls about fireworks, but they issued zero tickets. Officer Sam Clemens says authorities have that discretion when it comes to citations.

Molly Miles

The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday morning that makes same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Now South Dakotans are reacting to the opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges that says states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

South Dakota’s Attorney General says the same-sex marriage decision from the US Supreme Court is immediate. Marty Jackley says that means gay and lesbian couples can apply for marriage licenses in South Dakota right away.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Lawmakers meet in Pierre Friday to study the South Dakota High School Activities Association. The committee agenda includes a full day exploring elements of the state system and how other places handle rules for statewide athletic and arts events.

Eleven state lawmakers sit on the South Dakota High School Activities Association Interim Committee. They’re tasked with learning what the organization does and who oversees its operation and policy.

Three people who represent South Dakota in the nation’s capital are reacting to a US Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Thursday six of the nine justices agreed that people are still eligible for insurance subsidies using a federal health insurance exchange. Thirty-four states do not have state-run marketplaces.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Kids in Sioux Falls can get free passes to ride public buses until September. City leaders are launching the Dog Days of Summer pilot program that makes bus rides free for people 18 and under. The program aims to offer teenagers and some kids a safe way to navigate the city and to promote public transportation.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers is shifting its focus from drought conservation to flood risk control. Officials are slowing the amount of water that flows through a Yankton dam and keeping higher levels of storage in the state to try to prevent flooding downstream.

Recent thunderstorms have brought rain to states along the Missouri River, and it’s enough runoff for the US Army Corps of Engineers to increase attention to its purpose of managing flood risk. Jody Farhat is chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division.

SDPB

A weather expert says straight-lined winds of 90 to 100 miles per hour struck the southeast South Dakota town of Garretson. The water is safe, but crews are working on restoring power. Todd Heitkamp with the National Weather Service says the damage indicates strong winds moved in one direction. He says Monday morning’s storm was not a tornado. Heitkamp says winds that high are dangerous and the damage in Garretson is proof.

Strong straight-line winds tore through Garretson early Monday morning. Fire Chief JR Hofer says about 30 people are displaced after the storm.

Pam Braa

High winds that were part of a massive system of thunderstorms that struck across South Dakota damaged trees, homes, and buildings in southeastern South Dakota. The National Weather Service is focusing on two main areas: Sheldon, Iowa and Garretson, South Dakota.

Mike Foos is a meteorologist and forecaster.

People from South Dakota are gearing up for the National Education Association’s annual meeting and assembly. This week a group of teachers, education supporters, students, and retired teachers travel to Orlando, Florida. They hope to gain insights from fellow educators from all over the country.

Leaders of the South Dakota Education Association say they fight for every single student to have the opportunity for strong, comprehensive education – both at the state level and nationally.

SD Attorney General's Office

The National Association of Attorneys General has a new president. It’s Marty Jackley. South Dakota’s AG now leads the group of people from all 50 states, Washington, DC and United States territories. Members held the election at this week’s annual conference.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says he already has the priority for his year-long leadership: policing in the 21st century.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Authorities arrested four people overnight Thursday during a sobriety checkpoint. Officers discovered three people were driving under the influence, and another person had drugs. Nearly 2000 vehicles passed through the checkpoint, and officials administered 155 breathalyzers.

Around 11:30 p.m., bright flood lights illuminate a stretch of Interstate in Sioux Falls. Hundreds of cars follow orange plastic cones and flashlights, and each car pairs with a law enforcement officer. Trooper Codie Schmeichel with the South Dakota Highway Patrol introduces himself to a driver.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The Sioux Falls Police Department is taking the initiative to meet with residents in four segments of the city. Officers want to know issues people see and ideas for how to solve the problems. The meetings are part of a long-term goal that improves communication between everyday people and authorities.

Sioux Falls police patrol the city based on quadrants. Officers and higher leadership are assigned to one section of town. Police Chief Doug Barthel says this local approach lets authorities meet citizens and build trust.

Google Images

Leaders of the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe are legalizing marijuana on the reservation. The executive board has approved the ordinance after examining how other areas handle legalized marijuana. Members are planning for an operation that grows marijuana for medicinal and recreational use.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux executive board is making marijuana a tribal business. President Tony Reider says leaders are working to create a secure environment to cultivate the crop.

ACLU leaders have filed a federal lawsuit over a new election deadline for third-party candidates. The lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota says an earlier date for new parties to get on the ballot violates Constitutional rights. The case is filed Libertarian Party of South Dakota versus Krebs.

South Dakota lawmakers approved a measure that sets the date a candidate must turn in signed petitions a month earlier than it used to be. In January Secretary of State Shantel Krebs explained to lawmakers that an earlier deadline offers more time for scrutiny. 

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