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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South Dakota Retirement System

Leaders examining the South Dakota Retirement System are considering increasing the retirement age to 67. It’s one of many proposed changes experts say could keep the pension program sustainable. State lawmakers must approve any new regulations, and the SDRS executive director says none of them impact people currently enrolled.

The South Dakota Retirement System has about 80,000 members. It’s the consolidated retirement program for state employees, school districts, most cities, counties, and other public entities.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Officials with the City of Sioux Falls are suing a contractor over outside panels on the newly-constructed events center. The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center opened one year ago, and metal siding showed rippling not long after. Leaders say they tried to settle with contractors, but now they turn to the courts to resolve the problem.

City Attorney Dave Pfeifle says contract documents between construction companies and the city of Sioux Falls allowed stakeholders to negotiate a fix for bulging metal siding on the new events center.

A man shot by a police officer in Yankton Tuesday night faces four charges of attempted murder plus aggravated assault. Authorities with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation are scrutinizing the shooting and working to determine whether the shooting was justified.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Preschool teachers in Sioux Falls are learning about a program that helps students recognize gender differences and build relationships. It’s called the Sanford Harmony Program, and its champion says it started when he read the famous book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Tuesday the project’s namesake talks with teachers in Sioux Falls on their first day of Harmony training.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Sioux Falls leaders have signed an agreement purchasing rail yard land in the center of town. City officials announced the agreement last month. This week they officially signed the deal to buy land in downtown Sioux Falls.

A bright orange locomotive sits on the tracks behind a stage above gravel in central Sioux Falls. Mayor Mike Huether says it’s a fitting metaphor for a deal that puts 10 acres for former rail yard into city hands.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

One Sioux Falls official says residents have up to 10 weeks to watch paint dry as crews work to restore the inside and outside of a water tower. The Menlo water tower stands 159 feet tall in the central part of the city.

Splotches of rust seep through the light blue paint on a huge water tower in central Sioux Falls. Water superintendent Greg Anderson says rust spots dot the tower because the protective coating failed between the steel structure and the primer.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Law enforcement in three states want people to know they won’t tolerate drunk driving. Officials in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota are encouraging people to plan for a safe ride, be the sober driver for others and call authorities if they see dangerous driving. They say they’re collaborating ahead of the Labor Day holiday. Part of their effort to reach people includes a family’s pain.

Officials say, in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa, 1,215 people have died in drunk driving-related crashes in the last five years. One of those was Brad Bigler’s five-month-old baby.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Area leaders say technology is rapidly changing the way they do business. People from different industries met in Sioux Falls Thursday to discuss technology and South Dakota’s economy. The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce worked together for the free event.

South Dakota schools have a waiver from No Child Left Behind but it lasts for just one year, and federal officials have put the state on high risk status.

South Dakota’s first waiver from NCLB lasted for three years. The latest exemption applies for only one year – and it’s happening because of teacher evaluations.

Some people who’ve already owned homes may qualify for a new program that helps people buy houses. The South Dakota Housing Development Authority often helps first-time homebuyers. Now a repeat homebuyer loan program offers assistance with down payments and closing costs.

Financial assistance is now available for people who want to buy a house – again. Mark Lauseng leads the South Dakota Housing Development Authority. He says some people don’t meet the requirements for first-time homebuyers but need options.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

One of South Dakota’s US Senators says Congress is more dysfunctional than he realized. Mike Rounds started his term in January; he spent part of his time back in South Dakota Tuesday talking to members of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. Rounds says lawmakers must take pointed steps to make federal systems more efficient. 

United States Senator Mike Rounds has been talking about a broken Washington since he started his campaign for Congress. Less than one year since he took the oath, Rounds says the system is worse than he suspected. He says lawmaking is slow by design.

Two South Dakota women are Congressional Gold Medal recipients for their work during World War Two. The official ceremony in Washington, D.C. in December awarded the medals. Monday afternoon Governor Dennis Daugaard hosts a ceremony honoring the women. 

The Congressional Gold Medal is one of the highest honors for civilians. South Dakotans Lois Schmidt and Pauline Hanson Brehe are recipients.

Civil Air Patrol Major Todd Epp says American leaders are acknowledging their service. He says Brehe and Schmidt were part of the original South Dakota Civil Air Patrol.

More than $134,000 is on its way to non-profit organizations across South Dakota. The grant funding targets innovation in communities, and 15 different groups are receiving funding this round. This is the second of three waves of grant funding in 2015.

Earlier this year, the South Dakota Community Foundation and the Bush Foundation based in St. Paul Minnesota awarded about $130,000 to area non-profits. Now just as much is headed toward local groups through the second round of grants.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Two people face felony human trafficking charges after Sioux Falls police met with two victims. Officials arrested one man and one woman accused of sex trafficking, and they took two more people into custody for drug charges.

The human trafficking investigation started Monday when officers found an ad online related to prostitution. They arranged a meeting with two women.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Members of a state task force are setting priorities to address elder abuse in South Dakota. The group met Tuesday in Sioux Falls. Task force members are trying to figure out how to prevent and punish abuse of aging populations.

The Elder Abuse Task Force is investigating the scope of elder abuse in South Dakota, and members may offer reports and policy suggestions based on what they find.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

An area health system is donating $75,000 to support a truck that takes food to hungry people across the state. Avera is putting $25,000 into Feeding South Dakota’s mobile food pantry each year for the next three. The donation supports communities in the central part of the state.

Feeding South Dakota’s mobile food truck has refrigerated sections. That means foods that need to stay cool – think dairy products, produce, and meats – can make it across the state for distribution to hungry families.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Assistant Police Chief Matt Burns is the mayor’s choice for the next leader of the Sioux Falls Police Department. Current chief Doug Barthel is leaving the force after more than 12 years in command. The newly-announced chief already has priorities for his tenure.

Matt Burns has spent almost 19 years with Sioux Falls Police. He became assistant chief in March. Now Mayor Mike Huether says Burns is his pick to lead the department.

Ability For Hire / SD Department of Human Services

A state agency is launching a campaign aimed at connecting people with disabilities to employers. It’s called Ability for Hire, and leaders say it can benefit both workers and businesses.

Department of Human Services Secretary Gloria Pearson says the new Ability for Hire campaign is part of ongoing work to support South Dakotans with disabilities.

Pearson says people with disabilities are an untapped resource for businesses looking to hire quality employees – especially in an environment with low unemployment.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

United States Senator John Thune spent part of his Tuesday talking with young professionals in Sioux Falls. The lawmaker first spoke to members of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce before the smaller Q&A. People who work in energy, banking, business, and other industries are asking the lawmaker questions and explaining their concerns.

It may be a roundtable discussion, but young professionals in Sioux Falls line a long, rectangular tabletop to ask questions of United States Senator John Thune.

Sioux Falls Police Department

Authorities in Sioux Falls say officials found card skimmers on two bank ATM machines. Thieves place the devices to capture financial information so they can gain access to accounts. Police say this is the first time they’ve found credit card skimmers in the area. 

Officials say they believe no one’s card information is compromised after skimmers recorded sensitive material at two ATMs in the southwest part of the city.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The police chief in Sioux Falls says he plan to retire this year. Doug Barthel says he’s leaving in October after nearly 30 years with the police department. He’s been leader for more than 12 of those, and the longtime chief is leaving a legacy.

October 16th is Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel’s final day leading the force. He says retiring is a difficult decision.

Kealey Bultena
SDPB

The United States House is on recess, and Congresswoman Kristi Noem is back in South Dakota. Tuesday the state’s lone Representative spoke in Sioux Falls at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. She then met with some young professionals for a discussion about issues they see.

Men with careers in finance, politics, law and technology have questions for Congresswoman Kristi Noem.  Yannick Laroche is a production manager in wind energy.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Rally this week could double the population in South Dakota. If you somehow haven’t encountered bikes in person, you can’t escape them in the news. As part of our continuing coverage of the rally, here is one story that profiles some of the people you might encounter gliding through the state on two wheels.

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.

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