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Chynna Lockett

  The Rainbow Family Gathering is as close to officially starting as a group without leaders can be. Officials estimate nearly 1,000 people have set up camps in the National Forest near Deerfield Lake.

New Sanford Lab Visitor Center Opens In Lead

Jul 1, 2015
Chynna Lockett

The Sanford Lab opened a new visitor center in Lead South Dakota Tuesday. More than 750 people showed up for a building dedication ceremony featuring guest speakers and a ribbon cutting.

As the building dedication began, guests gathered on the observation deck of the new Sanford Visitor Center, directly overlooking the open-cut. The Center features exhibits that tell the history of the Homestake goldmine. Governor Dennis Daugaard was the featured speaker. He says the new Visitor Center doesn’t just showcase the past.

South Dakota voters increased the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 last year.  Shortly after, the state legislature passed a bill to keep youth minimum wage at the original rate. A referendum petition has enough signatures to prevent the bill being enacted and put before a public vote.
 

Advance Health has announced it's locating a new office and customer service center in an unused building at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Company officials say the new site is its third location and they expect to fill more than 200 jobs during the next three-to-five years.

Man Suspected Of Infant Death In Rapid City

Jun 29, 2015

Twenty-six-year-old Kristopher Houchin of Rapid City is charged with  first degree rape, child abuse, and murder of an infant. Houchin was taken into custody on Friday, shortly after authorities received word from the Rapid City Hospital that an infant child had died.  A preliminary autopsy Monday morning shows the infant victim died of blunt force trauma. Captain James Johns of the Rapid City Police Department say’s the autopsy lead to the murder charges.

Chynna Lockett SDPB

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

In 2006, voters in South Dakota approved an amendment making same-sex marriage illegal in the state. But following the high court’s ruling, state attorney general Marty Jackley said that same-sex marriage is now the law in state. Many couples were issued marriage licenses hours after the ruling and got married over the weekend.

VA Begins Initiative for more Volunteers

Jun 28, 2015
Erin Mairose

The VA needs more volunteers. A nationwide initiative called a “Summer of Service” hopes to attract more volunteers to assist at Veteran facilities. 

Brenda Stevens is a spokesperson for the Sioux Falls VA Health Care System. She says fewer people are volunteering and she hopes a nationwide initiative will encourage more people to donate a few hours of their time to assist a veteran.

Same-sex Couple Among First To Marry In Rapid City

Jun 27, 2015
Chynna Lockett

The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on Friday and in a short time some couples in South Dakota were able to pick up a marriage license. Weddings were performed the same day across the country including in Rapid City where a same-sex couple in married and celebrated the court’s decision.  

Tyler Butler and Kyle Wolf have been a couple for three years. Friday evening, friends and family gathered with the two at Wilson Park. They were among the first legal same sex marriages performed in South Dakota. Wolf says they weren’t expecting the decision.

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.

Rapid City Police Warn Against Aggressive Panhandling

Jun 22, 2015

A group called The Rainbow Family is planning a large gathering in the Black Hills that could bring thousands of people to the area. The gathering is set for early July but local law enforcement say they are concerned about increased panhandling and soliciting that may come alongside the event.

Brendyn Medina is the community relations specialist for the Rapid City Police Department. He says the department is preparing for what could be thousands of people in the Black Hills for the Rainbow Gathering.

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Last week leaders of the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe moved to legalize marijuana on the reservation. The executive board approved the ordinance after examining how other areas handle legalized marijuana.

Purple Heart Veterans Hold Annual Conference

Jun 21, 2015

The military order of the Purple Heart chapter of Sioux Falls held its 6th annual conference on Saturday. The 30 some purple heart Veterans were all wounded in combat from WWII to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

From their bright purple shirts, to their wheelchairs, canes, and service dogs, Purple Heart veterans share a bond. Department Commander Mark T. Williamson says the experience of being wounded in action lasts long after the conflict stops. 

Chuck Childs Recalls Days In B-17 Bomber

Jun 19, 2015
Photo by Jim Kent

Chuck Childs was a flying instructor for the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII (September 1, 1939 to September 2, 1945) before he began flying B-17 bombers over Europe. He flew 37 combat missions against Germany and, miraculously, survived them all without serious injury.

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.

Photo by Jim Kent

It’s not unusual for anyone to be able to take a step back in time through music, films photographs or visits with friends or family members. It is unusual for someone to get a chance to actually revisit their past through a tactile experience that can almost duplicate events in their life from decades ago. But that’s just what happened when we joined a former World War Two pilot to take a ride on one of the most powerful planes ever built.

WWII Pilot Flies In B-17 One More Time

Jun 18, 2015
Photo by Jim Kent

It’s not often that someone gets the chance to actually revisit their past through a tactile experience that can almost duplicate events in their life. But that’s just what happened when we joined a former World War Two pilot to take a ride on one of the most powerful planes ever built.

The federal government has awarded a $218,000 grant to the Pine Ridge School for suicide prevention.
Bill Mendoza is with the U.S. Department of Education.  He says the grant money will help restore a learning environment at the school.

Understanding Illiteracy Through Photographs

Jun 17, 2015
REACH Literacy

Reading advocates in Sioux Falls say 15,000 people in the city don't have basic reading skills. Now Reach Literacy is releasing a new book that tells the story of adults who are able to read for the first time.

A new photo series called Journey to Literacy presents the stories of 20 adults learning to read. Paige Carda is executive director of Reach Literacy. She says she started the project more than a year ago.

Chynna Lockett

The American Tribal Tourism Advocates, or ATTA have launched their first art show in Rapid City’s Main Street Square.

The weekly event showcases Native American artists from the Northern Plains who can sell their work.  
The event seeks to provide a new space to promote native art.

An international car rally association is traveling through North America and South Dakota is one of the stops. 

The Endurance Rally Association is an organization out of England that organizes international car rallies. This year the association is hosting a rally from Nova Scotia to San Francisco, and will make a stop in western South Dakota. Julie Schmitz Jensen is the Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Executive Director. She says the rally will see South Dakota’s major landmarks.

Temperatures Help Crop Immersion And Growth

Jun 16, 2015

South Dakota saw below normal temperatures and above normal temperatures last week prompting crop immersion and growth across the state. 

Temperatures were two to eight degrees higher than normal and rainfall was scattered across the state. Erik Gerlach is a state statistician with the Agricultural Statistics Office.  He says some areas received ample moisture last week.

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. 

The leaders of South Dakota’s Executive and Judicial branches say they’re teaming up for a comprehensive look at elder abuse in the state. During the regular session, state lawmakers approved an Elder Abuse Task Force. State leaders are also announcing a public conference as the panel begins work.

The World Health Organization uses June 15th to call attention to elder abuse around the globe. Greg Sattizahn with South Dakota’s Unified Judicial System says mistreatment of seniors is a quiet problem.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Farmers and ranchers in South Dakota must decide whether to save the money they make from crops and livestock or reinvest it. The growing season is well underway for South Dakota farmers, and ranchers are watching markets as they raise their animals. 

Record commodity prices for corn and soybeans are gone, and that has some farmers keeping their money in the bank instead of spending it on upgrades and new equipment. South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch says growers remain cautious.

This week members of South Dakota’s legislature are going on tours. Lawmakers are traveling to schools, businesses, and state operations to see processes firsthand. 

Lawmakers spend most of their time serving the public in the State Capitol during the winter, but this summer they have a chance to visit places across South Dakota. While in Sioux Falls, State Representative Justin Cronin and other legislators toured the state penitentiary.

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