Bear Butte Forum Planned For Sturgis

Apr 29, 2016

 This weekend the public is invited to share ideas on improvements at and around Bear Butte State Park. The Bear Butte Forum is hosted by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. It’s scheduled to take place in Sturgis this Saturday at the town’s Community Center.

Bear Butte is located in Meade County on the rolling plains just outside the town of Sturgis. That places it in the path of thousands of bikers who visit the small Black Hill town each year for one of the world’s largest motorcycle rallies.

Courtesy photo

Members of the South Dakota Health Care Solutions Coalition continue to crunch the numbers to see if Medicaid expansion is feasible in South Dakota. Kim Malsam-Rysdon is the Secretary of the State Department of Health. She says Governor Dennis Daugaard continues to support a special session of the legislature if the plan is ready and if it makes sense to move forward before the regular session. She says officials are working on firming up commitments from providers.  

Nose To Nose With A Rattlesnake In Persistence Cave

Apr 29, 2016
Marc Ohms / National Park Service

The buzz of a rattlesnake will give just about anyone the heebie-jeebies.  Now imagine encountering rattlesnake while belly crawling into cave.   
That’s what two National Park cave explorers did by accident. They managed to snap a photo of the snake before a careful retreat.  
You can hear the full story by clicking play below.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Survey crews are training for a time when the emerald ash borer finds its way to South Dakota trees. The exotic insect feeds on black, green or white ash. The trees have no defense against the beetle. State, local, and federal agencies are collaborating on a practice exercise in Sioux Falls.

State forester Gregory Josten says to claim South Dakota has escaped the emerald ash borer so far isn’t necessarily true.

"We don’t know for sure that it’s not here, but we have not found it here yet," Josten says.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Three people connected to the GEAR UP program and Mid-Central Education Cooperative have been arraigned on accusations of fraud and financial crimes. Stacy Phelps, Dan Guericke, and Stephanie Hubers each pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Lake Andes.

Marty Jackley is South Dakota’s Attorney General.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

People who don’t pay attention while driving in Sioux Falls are now more likely to be pulled over. City officials are teaming up with the police department on a campaign to curb distracted driving. State law bans texting while behind the wheel across South Dakota. Now Sioux Falls leaders are looking beyond cell phones.

Courtesy Rosebud Sioux Tribal Land Enterprise

Governor Dennis Daugaard opposes a federal government decision to place a parcel of Black Hills land into federal trust status.  The governor spoke at a meeting of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council last week.

In 2012, a coalition of four tribes bought 2000 acres called Pe` Sla in the central Black Hills.  Lakota people consider the land a sacred site. This year federal officials granted the tribes request to place the land in trust status.

The increase of Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees fleeing war torn countries is raising debate in this nation over how many the US should allow in. But refugees are nothing new for the United States. According to information from the US Department of State, since 1975, more than three million refugees have arrived in all 50 states in America. Currently in South Dakota refugees arrive in Sioux Falls and Huron. Officials are looking into making Aberdeen a direct resettlement site.

Dr. Heather Wilson, President of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology joins us to discuss the school’s math initiative that was passed by the South Dakota Legislature. Lawmakers appropriated $250,000 for the continuation of the 2015 math pilot project at Mines. 

Google’s Jamie Hill is coming to Rapid City to talk with middle-schoolers on how to navigate the online world safely. Jamie Hill joins Innovation prior to the presentation to discuss the national “online safety road show”. They’re stopping at Southwest Middle School.

The GEAR UP program in South Dakota is now operating from Black Hills State University. The education effort aims to prepare Native American students for college. Most recently GEAR UP is tied to accusations of wrongdoing as former leaders face criminal charges. Despite the challenges, the program is under new leadership and moving forward.

Incoming high school students from schools participating in GEAR UP are eligible to apply for a three-week program promoting college readiness and culture.

The second-degree murder conviction of a Pierre teen has been upheld by the South Dakota Supreme Court. Justices ruled that a jury instruction given by the trial judge was legal. Two justices agreed with the majority opinion, but with reservations, saying that just because something is legal doesn't mean it should be done.

Bishop Dudley Hospitality House

A Sioux Falls emergency shelter is implementing a pay-for-stay program for some guests. The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House offers lodging for the homeless and vulnerable. The new system is part of a focus on supporting people who need temporary assistance.

Starting May 2nd, people who work but don’t have homes receive 30 days lodging at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House for free. After that, executive director Chad Campbell says they’ll have to pay.

South Dakota Appeals Pe` Sla Trust Status

Apr 21, 2016
Photo courtesy Rosebud Sioux Tribal Land Enterprise

The South Dakota Governor’s office has announced it will appeal the Bureau of Indian Affairs decision to place Black Hills land owned by 4 Native American tribes into federal trust status.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Spring weather is here. For many South Dakotans that means getting outdoors and barbecuing or even standing around a campfire. While people take advantage of the warmer weather, first responders urge them to enjoy fire with caution. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue crews are using controlled demonstrations to prove how dangerous unattended grills and fire pits can be.

Sioux Falls fire inspector Tyler Tjeerdsma tosses hamburgers onto a grill that stands right next to a wall. He closes the lid, and within minutes the beige vinyl siding blackens and peels apart like taffy.

Advocates in Sioux Falls this week aim to empower people with disabilities and encourage others to embrace the talents they offer. Service providers, educators, employers and people with disabilities are collaborating to promote inclusion.

South Dakota advocates are celebrating the fact that the state has the highest rate of employment for people with disabilities in the nation. Wendy Parent-Johnson is executive director for the Center for Disabilities.

Photo courtesy of G. Michael Fenner

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deliberating a Texas abortion case. The ruling is expected later this month.

Texas says its laws protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. But opponents say the laws are designed to block the availability of the procedure.

A decisive opinion from the Supreme Court could resolve problems with certain abortion laws in South Dakota and other states, some of them hung up in appeals courts.

Photo by Laurel Hoskins

A lawsuit against Pennington County officials for violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act is moving toward resolution. A hearing in federal court at the end of May will give the state remedies for practices that violate ICWA. And last week, an issue over missing documents was resolved. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has followed this case since it was first filed in 2013.

Lead Killing Some Bald Eagles In South Dakota

Apr 19, 2016
John Gilman

Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown has cared for three eagles with lead poisoning this year. They may ingest a lead fishing weight, or eat contaminated meat…either another bird with lead poisoning, or fragmented bullets on deer carcasses.


SD Attorney General Calls For Drug Awareness Campaign

Apr 19, 2016

A South Dakota resident has died of a heroin overdose. Attorney General Marty Jackley is rolling out a meth and heroin public awareness campaign this summer. Jackley says now is the time to focus on the issue, before more problems occur.


Rapid City Police Work To Increase Force Diversity

Apr 18, 2016

In Rapid City the police force is made up primarily of Caucasian men. Police officials want the force to better reflect the diversity in the community.

Aberdeen Possible Direct Refugee Resettlement Site

Apr 15, 2016

UPDATE: According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, under the US Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 70,000 refugees entered the US in fiscal year 2014. They were settled in 47 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In 2014 South Dakota became home for 523 refugees from eleven different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A grand jury has indicted three people for felony crimes related to a Native American education program. State leaders say people within GEAR UP and Mid-Central Education Cooperative used the programs to steal more than one million dollars. Two of them died in a murder-suicide in September. Authorities announced charges against three other leaders last month.  

Fires Impacting Air Quality

Apr 13, 2016
SD Wildland Fire Division

Smoke from fires in Kansas is impacting air quality in southeast South Dakota.  Brad Schultz is with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He says Wednesday morning air quality was at an unhealthy level in Union County and unhealthy for sensitive groups in the Sioux Falls area.

South Dakota’s largest cities are embarking on wastewater projects to account for reliability, growth, and regulations. The City of Sioux Falls is putting $35 million into two major sanitary sewer projects officials say should last nearly a century. Rapid City leaders say their community needs $62 million for system upgrades.

Pumps churn at a construction site in northeastern Sioux Falls. Crews are working to lower the water table so they can bury large pipe for more than two miles. The diameter of the new pressure pipe is three-and-a-half feet.


Now that crews have repaired a leak on the Keystone pipeline, they’re working to clean up the ground contaminated by crude oil. TransCanada shut down the pipeline last week when a local landowner discovered a leak. The company is now pumping oil through the line at reduced pressure.

TransCanada officials are investigating what caused 16,800 gallons of oil to escape the Keystone pipeline and saturate the ground near Freeman. A federal regulator oversees that analysis.

Wrestling Volunteers Banned From Future Events

Apr 12, 2016

Two volunteers who made racially charged comments at a youth wrestling tournament in Aberdeen are no longer allowed work future Amateur Athletic Union Events. The comments were captured on a video stream during one of the matches.


Officials with TransCanada say they’re working on an in-depth investigation into a leak that put 400 barrels of crude oil into the ground near Freeman, South Dakota. TransCanada shut down the Keystone oil pipeline for one week to find the problem and fix it.

TransCanada crews found the source of an oil leak Friday, worked to repair it over the weekend, and had crude oil flowing through the Keystone pipeline by Sunday.

Mark Cooper with TransCanada says the company is analyzing the root cause of the oil leak and he can’t offer details until the investigation is complete.

Parks That Changed America

Apr 11, 2016

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of National Parks.  

One group in the state is trying to remind people that all parks hold value from the biggest open spaces like the Badlands all the way down to the small city parks.

Michael Stanley is a landscape architect in Rapid City. 

SD State Bartending Championships In Deadwood

Apr 11, 2016
Chynna Lockett

Bartenders from around the state gathered at the Deadwood Mountain Grand over the weekend for South Dakota’s first ever State Bartending Championships. Participants competed in categories including flair and original cocktail recipe for cash prizes.

People gathered in the Deadwood Mountain Grand bar as contestants of the South Dakota State Bartending Championships threw bottles and glasses for the flair contest.

Brad Kaplan is a career bartender from Denver and judge at the contest. He says this competition is a great opportunity for bartenders.