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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SDPB's Kealey Bultena covered South Dakota Democratic Party headquarters Tuesday night. She joined Dakota Midday to share what Democratic candidates had to say after the vote was in.

You can hear Paula Hawks' speech in its entirety at this link. 
For more details from Jay Williams, click here. 

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United States Congresswoman Kristi Noem is on her way back to Washington. Voters supported her bid for re-election to the state’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Noem says the vote reveals the principles South Dakotans want in a leader. She says Republicans tend to want more limited government, and Democrats prefer government to play a bigger role.

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South Dakotans have re-elected United States Senator John Thune over Democratic challenger Jay Williams. He acknowledges that the nation is fractured. Thune says he’s making a commitment to all of his constituents.

Charles Michael Ray / SDPB

The superintendent of Rapid City Area Schools says the district needs a strong strategic plan. Lori Simon says education leaders are working to develop the plan to give direction and establish the district’s priorities.

"It gets everybody in the district working on the same page toward common goals," Simon says. "A strong strategic plan that you keep alive and working really guides decision-making as well as drives the alignment of actions and resources across the district."

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Some people are ready for this election to be over. They’re tired of hearing about candidates and ballot measures. They want the political ads to cease, they want campaign signs torn down, and they want the whole thing to go away. But a few local high school students say voters shouldn’t rush the process - and they aren't even old enough to vote. 

She can count the number of days until the 2016 election on one hand, and Kaitlyn Friedrich recoils at the idea that some voters are disinterested in politics.

Minnehaha County officials are implementing a new assessment that flags defendants who present a risk to the community. The effort is designed to help judges determine whether someone accused of crime should be released before trial. The process combines multiple factors but eliminates identifiers such as race, income, education, and family status.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A new form of radiation therapy allows breast cancer patients to avoid weeks of trips back-and-forth to the hospital. That means some women who live far away from treatment centers don’t have to jeopardize their health if they can’t make it to radiation. A Sioux Falls hospital is one of eight in the country using what's called IORT. 

Eighteen months ago, Lu Rice was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Madison woman knew she needed surgery and radiation. She’s seen people go through treatment for five days a week.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

October brings a sea of pink to billboards, t-shirts, stores and even the NFL. Talking about every aspect of breast cancer during a designated awareness month is impossible. Patients and health providers say each person's journey is unique. A common thread does exist among these individual stories: a tenacious fight against allowing cancer any control.

The women featured here refuse to relinquish their dignity, their decisions, and their lives to a devastating disease - and each manifests this perseverance in a different way.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A new agreement preserves health insurance options for 26,000 State of South Dakota employees. State leaders and Sanford Health negotiated to cover state employees at an in-network cost. That allows some DakotaCare patients to see Sanford doctors without huge price increases.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Lakota man is celebrating three decades teaching life lessons to elementary school students through Native American dance. Dallas Chief Eagle started working as an artist-in-residence for schools in the mid-1980s. Today he’s still sharing Lakota culture with school children across the state.

In his performance, Dallas Chief Eagle rapidly moves his feet as he glides across a gym floor, picking up plastic hoops. He links them together in a long line. Chief Eagle tosses the chain into the air, and spins the hoops over the heads of screaming elementary school students.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

People who study differences across generations say they have some tips for business leaders and workers. Experts with a Minneapolis organization are in Sioux Falls. They’re discussing the social and business benefits of creating a collaborative atmosphere across ages.

Scott Zimmer is the Generation X representative for BridgeWorks. Hannah Ubl is the millennial. They both say all age groups attract stereotypes. 

"Scott’s generation was slackers, grunge, Nirvana, flannel,” Ubl says.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Congresswoman Kristi Noem says she’s voting to elect Donald Trump for president. The Republican revealed her continued support for Trump in Monday’s debate against Democratic challenger Paula Hawks.

Two women who want to represent South Dakota in the US House of Representatives faced off just hours after a presidential debate and days after damaging recordings exposed vulgar language from Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Sioux Falls doctor says insurance status often dictates resources available for meth users who want to break free from the drug. Health leaders say meth is a dangerous substance with devastating physical, mental, and social ramifications.

A typical poster condemning meth use displays a disheveled person with a miserable gaze, ashen skin and open sores. Doctor Jennifer Tinguely with Falls Community Health in Sioux Falls says meth affects every system of the body. She says the drug triggers a rush of hormones including dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Sioux Falls doctor is accused of human trafficking after authorities rescued a teenage girl from his home. Officials say they arrested 36-year-old Jonathan Cohen Tuesday after the victim called 911 for help.

Authorities say a 16-year-old from Georgia was reported a runaway in August. Sioux Falls Police Lieutenant Mike Colwill says she met Jonathan Cohen on an internet dating website and traveled to meet him.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Thousands of South Dakotans must change doctors and clinics if they want their health insurance to cover the care. Starting January 1, 2017, Sanford Health no longer accepts Avera insurance including DakotaCare, and Avera Health in South Dakota isn't taking Sanford Health Plan insurance. That leaves some people who can't afford to pay out of pocket with little choice, and it requires others to leave trusted medical providers to find new services that work with their insurance.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Avera Health is removing its South Dakota hospitals, clinics, and physicians from the Sanford Health Plan. The change means people who have Sanford insurance won’t have coverage if they go to Avera’s providers. It’s the latest development in a health care clash among the state’s two largest health systems.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

University Sioux Falls officials say their school can fill a void left when a community college closed. USF is preparing to launch a program aimed at helping people learn English so they can go to college or become skilled workers. A program that used to help those students ended earlier this year. Now USF leaders say they’re resurrecting the opportunity.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Political parties court different demographics, and one crucial group of voters includes young people. Many have the chance to vote in their first presidential election this year. College students studying media at the University of Sioux Falls are watching the presidential race, and they’re learning to balance their journalism training with their Constitutional rights. 

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Educators in Sioux Falls say they want computer science classes to equip kids with technology skills and context in the digital community. The Sioux Falls School District implemented a new curriculum one year ago; that move ended keyboarding classes for students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

Middle school curriculum coordinator Sandy Henry says in the spring the district assessed 1,140 sixth graders. She says the average they could type was 23 words per minute.

Some Nebraska lawmakers are campaigning for a South Dakota ballot initiative. Nebraska elects state legislators without separating them into political parties. They say many of the legislative races in South Dakota are decided even before the general election - and that erodes the integrity of the political system. Nebraska has used non-partisan elections for more than 80 years. SDPB's Kealey Bultena has this conversation with Nebraska State Senators Galen Hadley, Colby Coash and Adam Morfeld.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Convicted killer Rodney Berget says he wants to stop an appeal that’s preventing him from being put to death, but his attorney can't support the move. The issues are enough to delay major action in Rodney Berget’s case for a few months.

Rodney Berget was in a Minnehaha County courtroom Friday. He wants to end his execution appeal.

Judge Douglas Hoffman asked if he understood that waiving his rights is a path to execution. Berget responded "yes".

That wasn’t enough for the judge to authorize a path to execution that day.

Courtesy Melody Schopp

South Dakota’s Secretary of Education is reflecting on a recent trip to Africa. Melody Schopp is set to be the next president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and she went to Malawi last week through the US Department of State.

Schopp says students in Malawi learn in huge classes or groups outside, and they don’t have bright, colorful classrooms like she sees in South Dakota. She says she saw this while touring African schools.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Many teachers spend their summers preparing for class by attending seminars, plotting lesson plans, and incorporating technology into coursework. Yet one instructor in Sioux Falls goes dumpster diving. Meet a longtime woods teacher who is not afraid to plunge into his work.

Bob Darkow’s classroom is so typical it’s borderline boring. He has scrawled the classes he teaches in black marker on a white board attached to a beige cinderblock wall. Dark blue plastic chairs rest under school desks grouped in pods of four. A shiny, wooden rectangular box sits on one surface.

Medtronic

Cardiologists in Rapid City are using a new pacemaker that is fully implanted inside a person’s heart. The FDA only recently approved the technology. Doctor Kelly Airey with Rapid City Regional Hospital performed the first procedure to place the pacemaker.  Her patient is impressed.

Paul Baldwin has had two traditional pacemakers to normalize and regulate his heartbeat. When his latest device’s battery was up for replacement, he talked with Dr. Kelly Airey about his options. Baldwin says she recommended a tiny pacemaker that’s self-contained within his heart.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting

West Nile has killed an elderly South Dakotan. State Health Department leaders say the person lived in Yankton County and was in the age range of 80 to 89. That case is one of dozens reported this summer, and officials looking to Labor Day expect even more infections.

South Dakota ended 2015 with 40 cases of West Nile Virus. State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger says 2016 so far almost doubles last year’s total.

"We’re having a fairly heavy year this year with West Nile," Kightlinger says. "We’ve had 74 cases reported, and the number’s growing every day."

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakotans who don’t have insurance are more likely to skip cancer screenings. Figures from the South Dakota Department of Health show insurance status affects patients’ preventative care decisions.

Health leaders are examining cancer screening rates, and they say a stark division emerges when breaking down the numbers.

Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon leads South Dakota’s Department of Health. She says people without insurance receive fewer cancer screenings than people with health coverage.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Public safety officials say this year’s holiday weekend breaks a trend in fatal crashes on South Dakota roads. Lee Axdahl is director of the state’s Office of Highway Safety.

"We always head into Memorial Day weekend, which is the unofficial start of summer, with our fingers crossed, and this year that worked," Axdahl says. "Apparently, from the information that we have so far in South Dakota, we don't know of any roadway fatalities that have been reported in the state for the official Memorial Day weekend, which is good, because in 2014 we had six fatalities and in 2015 we had four."

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Pierre man is alive because first responders used a medication to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. Officials credit the drug Narcan for saving the man’s life.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says emergency crews responded to a call in Pierre Monday night for a man who needed medical attention.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A United States Senator and a state lawmaker agree that the federal government is failing to provide adequate health care to Native Americans. United States Senator John Thune and South Dakota State Senator Troy Heinert see different solutions to ongoing problems with the Indian Health Service.

U-S  Senator Thune has legislation in Congress aimed at comprehensive reform for federal health services for Native Americans. He says the bill makes it easier to fire ineffective IHS leaders, examines whistle-blower protections, and requires fiscal accountability so patient care funds actually make it to patients.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The 42nd president was back on the campaign trail in South Dakota Friday – this time not for his own political race but for his wife. Former US President Bill Clinton spent time in Sioux Falls stumping for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Pop music pumped through the speakers in Sioux Falls as people who waited in line excitedly filed into a space draped with stars and stripes, including massive flags. More than an hour and a half later, former president Bill Clinton took the stage.

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