Jackie Hendry

Many public and private schools start their fall semester this week. In Sioux Falls, a growing population means an increase in traffic when school is in session. The Sioux Falls school district is partnering with AAA and local law enforcement for the School’s Open, Drive Carefully campaign. 

Superintendent Brian Maher says Sioux Falls schools now have nearly 24,000 students and 3,400 employees. With that many people traveling around the same time each day, he says traffic is bound to be slower.

Jackie Hendry

Project Stand Up was first used to text anonymous drug tips to law enforcement. Now it’s expanding to cover concerns about school safety, making South Dakota the 7th state in the nation with such a program. 

By texting the word SAFE to the Project Stand Up number, users answer prompts about the potential threat. Those messages are monitored in real time and sent to appropriate law enforcement and school administrators.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Biotechnology is a booming business, and South Dakota companies are competing with organizations around the globe. Local scientists pioneer medicine, agriculture, manufacturing, and research. A researcher-turned-business developer outlines his assessment for area investors and scientists in an extended interview.

South Dakota Biotech's annual summit brought professionals together for the discussion, and some future scientists help equip fellow kids.

SD Department of Transportation

Department of Transportation officials say funds for winter roadway maintenance are adequate despite a late coming winter that’s brought more precipitation than last year. 

The DOT winter maintenance budget is $17.5 million. That covers resources like snow removal and de-icing of interstate and highway systems.

Of that $17.5 million, $8.5 million has already been used. But Jason Humphrey, the state construction and maintenance engineer, says the remaining funds should last the rest of the season.  

Photo by Jim Kent

A prescribed fire in Rockerville burned down a significant number of buildings considered hazardous to the public from both a fire and safety perspective. We spoke with the property owner and with a local restaurateur about the benefits of destroying the buildings.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

One woman is alive after being trapped in a collapsed building in Sioux Falls, and crews are searching for a man they believe is underneath the rubble. The building used to be home to the Copper Lounge. It was under construction and included business and living spaces.

The intersection of 10th Street and Phillips Avenue usually hums with the sound of traffic. Now it rumbles as a payloader scratches the pavement and bobcat scrapes boards and broken materials into piles. Machines tow a car from underneath bricks that tumbled down when a building collapsed.

Notification Program Improves Victims’ Rights

Aug 16, 2016
Erin Mairose

Crime victims in South Dakota will soon have access to real time information about the status of offenders.

The program lets victims know when offenders get out of jail or break probation. 

The automated victim information system, known as SAVIN, gives crime victims better access to information about offenders. When the status of an offender changes, crime victims can chose to receive a call, text, or email.

OSHA Penalizes Watertown Company

Aug 2, 2016
US Department of Labor

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing a 77-thousand dollar fine against a South Dakota company. The penalties come after a 24 year old worker fell to his death from 33 feet.

Fire Departments Stress Safety Over 4th Weekend

Jun 30, 2016
Erin Mairose

Fireworks are on sale in South Dakota as the holiday weekend begins. The Sioux Falls Fire Department is using demonstrations to show what can happen when safety isn’t used with sparklers and artillery fireworks. 

A small watermelon is roughly the size of a human head.  Sioux Fire officials use this comparison when demonstrating what can happen to a person who gets too close to an over the counter artillery shell firework.  

Keep Aware Of Dry Conditions When Shooting Fireworks

Jun 27, 2016
Rapid City Police Department

Rapid City Fire Department officials say current conditions are prime for wildfire, and residents should be extra careful when discharging fireworks. State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman says all South Dakotans should be cautious. He says even when vegetation is green, it can still ignite.

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

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.

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.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A school safety plan at a southeast South Dakota district includes allowing people who are not law enforcement access to firearms on school property. The Tri-Valley school board Monday approved the first reading of a sentinel program.

Nearly 900 students in kindergarten through the 12th grade attend Tri-Valley school in Colton. The building sits outside of town across from a field.

Drone Free Super Bowl

Feb 5, 2016

Kent Osborne and "The Computer Guys" discussed the "No Drone Zone" at this year's Super Bowl in San Francisco.  Also, more talk about Windows 10.  Osborne was joined by panelists Joel Broveleit and Jeff Litterick.

Bike Passing Bill Gets Flat Tire

Jan 28, 2016
Charles Michael Ray

A bill that requires bicyclists to stop and get off the road when being passed by a motorist in certain areas failed to clear its first hurdle in the state legislature.

The bill follows legislation from last year that mandates motorists give bicycles at least three feet of distance when passing on slower roads, and six feet on faster highways.   

 This year’s House Bill 1073 requires cyclists to stop and get off the bike if they are being overtaken in a no-passing zone with a narrow shoulder. 


President Obama has announced new regulations and more stringent background checks for anyone who wants to purchase a firearm. 

Meanwhile, in South Dakota 2015 saw a spike in the number of concealed pistol permits, the permits allow a citizen who has completed a background check to legally hide and carry a handgun.  

While a state issued conceal carry permit requires a background check it doesn’t necessarily streamline the federal background checks needed to purchase a firearm.  Some state lawmakers hope that can change.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Four children and their parents are alive after first responders saved them from carbon monoxide poisoning. Sioux Falls emergency leaders say the deadly gas has no smell, no taste and no color. That makes it hard to detect. Family members are telling their story of a close call to encourage others to purchase carbon monoxide detectors.

Michael Holloway says his weekend started as usual. His family stayed in bed Saturday while he got up to make breakfast for everyone. Holloway says he realized something was wrong when his daughter said she couldn’t feel her legs.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Harrisburg High School student is in custody after police say he brought a gun to school and shot the principal. Authorities stress all students are safe and the principal is stable. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are collaborating on the investigation. The Lincoln County States Attorney is determining what charges the teenager faces.

High school students piled onto bright yellow school buses late Wednesday morning after law enforcement swept the building for threats. 

Mock Dorm Burns In Minutes

Aug 30, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

September is Campus Fire Safety Month in South Dakota.   The idea is to raise awareness about the potential for fire in college dorms, Greek housing, and off campus apartments.

The Rapid City Fire Department held a demonstration at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to show students the danger of structure fire.

The department set up a steel trailer with side by side rooms.  Both rooms were filled furniture and then set on fire.

Tim Behlings is an Assistant Chief at the Rapid City Fire Department.   

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.

As Lightning Safety Week begins, a local home care provider in Sioux Falls is reminding neighbors that when disaster strikes, it is often the elderly who live alone that are most in need of help.

Being ready in case of an emergency could prevent an elderly family member or a neighbor from a life threatening situation. Jared Hybertson from Home Instead Senior Care says communication is key between elderly living alone and neighbors.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Sioux Falls Police officers are issuing hundreds of tickets as part of a crackdown on unsafe driving. Details from this weekend’s saturation patrol show violations ranging from speeding to drugs and alcohol. Authorities, however, say the enforcement push is about more than writing citations.

On Friday night, more than two dozen extra police officers patrolled Sioux Falls watching for drivers breaking traffic laws. Officer Sam Clemens says the result is 329 citations. 

Access to a town hit by a weekend tornado is still restricted. About 200 people live in Delmont. The community is in the southeastern part of the state. Emergency management officials continue to assess the damage from a Sunday storm that hurt nine people and damaged homes and other buildings. Meanwhile the American Red Cross is working with state and local officials to keep safety the priority.

Wildfire Awareness Month Begins Amidst Drought

May 5, 2015

May is Wildfire Awareness Month and with much of the state in a drought officials are urging homeowners to prepare for fire.

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray spoke with three different experts in three different locations. 

First, the history of fire in the Black Hills with a look at stands of pitch stumps that historically burned.

Then to a stand of pines on private land near a housing development that was recently thinned thanks to a state program attempting to reduce the wildfire danger.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The mayor of Sioux Falls is laying out a list of accomplishments and areas he sees need improvement. Mayor Mike Huether detailed the two sides in Thursday’s State of the City presentation.

An invocation in Sanskrit starts Thursday’s special meeting of the Sioux Falls City Council. Mayor Mike Huether presents his perspective on the State of the City. Huether praises leaders for supporting projects like the events center and indoor pool. He says leaders must focus on preserving and improving infrastructure.

About 900 people responded to this spring’s citizen survey in the city of Sioux Falls. Ninety-three percent of people rank their neighborhoods as safe, and 87 percent say their quality of life in the city is either good or excellent. 

Bike Passing Bill Sent To Subcommittee

Jan 27, 2015

Lawmakers on the State House Transportation Committee have not yet come to an agreement on a bicycle passing bill.  

The proposed legislation creates a buffer zone for cars overtaking a bicycle on roads and highways.

Proponents of the bill want to set a minimum distance between a passing car and a bicycle.  

Currently there is no minimum requirement, rather the law states a driver must give a cyclist a “safe distance.”   

Lawmakers Consider Bicycle Passing Bill

Jan 22, 2015

Lawmakers in Pierre are considering legislation that increases protection for cyclists on roads and highways.

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Jun 21, 2013

Frank McCathran, Director of Enterprise Solutions at Earth Networks, discusses National Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 23-29) and a new feature on the Weatherbug app called Spark that shows lightning strikes within a cloud and cloud to ground within a ten mile radius.