Jackie Hendry

Dozens of new United States citizens attended a naturalization ceremony in Sioux Falls on Wednesday. Pandemic safety precautions mean the ceremonies are smaller than usual, but the occasion is still a source of pride for new Americans.  

Four ceremonies marked the citizenship of 55 people from 24 different countries. Each group took the Oath of Allegiance in a conference room that overlooked the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls. As temperatures reached 100 degrees, family members stood outside and watched from the other side of a large window.  


A federal judge has blocked the state from enforcing Senate Bill 180 (approved during the 2020 South Dakota legislative session).  The court ruling says paid petition circulators do not have to register in a state database. The law was challenged by Dakotans for Health. Victoria Wicks reports on the case. 

Senator Mike Rounds joins us for an update on the new mission at Ellsworth AFB. We also discuss bipartisan infrastructure framework.

SDPB's Joshua Haiar


It was Tuesday,  March 10th, 2020, when Governor Kristi Noem made this announcement:   

“The state’s public health lab has confirmed the first presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of South Dakota.”  

She announced five cases tied to out-of-state travel—and the state’s first COVID-related death. It was an introduction to three words that would dominate the year – COVID-19, coronavirus and pandemic.  

Three days later, by March 13th, there were 1,600 cases throughout the United States.   



State senators have revived a bill to create community-based schools focused on Native American cultural curriculum.  The process included a series of unusual procedural moves.  

Senate Bill 68 allows for community-based schools centered on the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings. The culturally based content standards are designed to teach all grade levels about Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people. Supporters say a more culturally relevant education will help Native American students. Critics say these schools will divert funds from public schools in their district. 


South Dakota is one of the top states for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. According to the New York Times, 5.5% of the state’s population has been vaccinated in less than a month. The state Secretary of Health and leaders from Sanford and Avera answered questions about the vaccines during a Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary meeting. 

South Dakota nursing homes have faced some of the highest fatality rates from COVID-19 in the country. The deaths have created new challenges for an industry that was already struggling with finances. 



The state is using a portion of its remaining pandemic relief money to help some facilities pay the bills.

Motion Array


South Dakota is launching its first need-based scholarship program after a $50 million gift from PREMIER Bank and T. Denny Sanford. It’s the beginning of a $200 endowment.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, South Dakota was the only state in the nation without a scholarship program for students from low-income families.

Miles Beacom is the CEO of PREMIER Bankcard. He encourages other businesses to contribute to the fund.


The COVID-19 vaccine is the first major use of an mRNA vaccine. The so-called ‘messenger’ RNA uses genetic material to create immunity. Healthcare experts hope explaining how it works will ease some people’s concerns.

A vaccine with messenger RNA triggers an immune response. Dr. Jennifer Hsu is an infectious disease physician at Sanford USD Medical Center.


The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in South Dakota Monday morning.

The state received 78-hundred doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Most of them are staying in Sioux Falls, where frontline healthcare workers will receive the first of two doses.

Nearly three-thousand vaccine doses arrived in Avera’s shipping dock just before nine on Monday morning. Another three thousand went to Sanford, and 975 went to Monument Health in Rapid City.

Avera Health

Avera is building a four-story addition to its Behavioral Health Center in Sioux Falls. It will include a 24-hour emergency psychiatric unit and in-patient capacity for people of all ages.

The announcement comes as rates of depression and anxiety skyrocket because of the ongoing pandemic.

Dr. Matthew Stanley is the Vice President of Avera’s Behavioral Health service line. He says mental health needs have been on the rise for years, especially among young people. The pandemic has made matters worse.


Native Americans in South Dakota are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. But the state Secretary of Tribal Relations says the virus is NOT the biggest healthcare issue tribes are facing.

Secretary David Flute is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and is part of Governor Kristi Noem’s administration. He told the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Club that his office has received complaints from tribal citizens about lockdowns and checkpoints related to the pandemic.  He says the methamphetamine problem is the biggest healthcare crisis tribal nations in the state are facing.  


Both Pfizer and Moderna are on the cusp of receiving emergency use authorization from the FDA for their COVID-19 vaccines.  

South Dakota health officials expect the initial shipment of the Pfizer vaccine to reach the state in two weeks.   

The CDC recommends frontline healthcare workers be among the first to receive the vaccine.  

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the state must decide which healthcare workers receive those first doses. 


In a field of grass near the State Capitol building in Pierre, more than 800 chairs will sit empty on Thanksgiving morning. Each represents one South Dakotan who’s died from COVID-19 since March.  

The memorial event is organized by healthcare workers, faith leaders, and others who want to remind their neighbors that the pandemic is not political. It has a human cost.  

The group Stop the Spread SD is hosting a livestream of the memorial display on its Facebook page at 10 CT on Thanksgiving morning.  

Sanford Health and longtime CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft have “mutually agreed to part ways.” That’s according to a statement from the health system. Krabbenhoft made headlines for his comments related to COVID-19 in a staff email last week.

The Sanford Board of Trustees has named Chief Administrative Officer Bill Gassen the system’s new CEO.

Krabbenhoft led the state’s largest health system for 25 years, and secured the historic $400 million donation from T. Denny Sanford for whom the system is now named.


A newly-approved treatment for COVID-19 is already helping patients in South Dakota.

The antibody treatment is given through an IV, and it could greatly reduce hospitalization rates for high-risk patients.

The drug is called bamlanivimab. The FDA recently granted emergency use authorization to its producer, Eli Lilly. The company reports a 72% reduction in hospitalization risk for patients treated soon after their diagnosis.

3M Co. Aberdeen

The 3-M plant in Aberdeen is the largest producer of N-95 respirators in the United States. The respirators are critical for healthcare workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to a new expansion in Aberdeen, 3-M will produce an additional 70-million respirators each month. 

Denise Rutherford is Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs for 3M. She says the company enacted surge plans to increase production of N95s as early as January. 

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken is calling on businesses to set the tone for stronger COVID-19 mitigation efforts. He recently expressed frustration with the local Chamber of Commerce. 

The Chamber’s CEO says the group doesn’t have authority beyond encouraging members to follow CDC guidelines. 

Last month, Mayor TenHaken described a business initiative called the Safer Sioux Falls Pledge. He compared it to a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. 


Republicans hold a supermajority in the South Dakota statehouse. For Democratic legislators, every seat counts to ensure their caucus is represented on committees. 

There were 16 Democratic lawmakers in Pierre during the last legislative session, compared to 91 Republicans.

Troy Heinert of District 26 served as minority leader in the Senate this year. He trailed his Republican opponent early on election night. Heinert says this election mirrors his 20-18 race.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

South Dakota is confirming five positive cases of COVID 19—the disease cause by coronavirus, with two test kits pending.

Those five positive cases are sprinkled throughout the state. One case in Pennington County is related to a man in his 60’s who died on Tuesday.

The cases are considered presumptive positive. Governor Kristi Noem says they’re waiting on confirmation from the Center for Disease Control.


In The Moment ... January 2, 2020 Show 725 Hour 2

Palliative care helps relieve symptoms of serious illnesses, but it's not a one-size-fits-all method of specialized care. It's also not always accessible in areas where it's needed most. 


Up to 14% of children from birth to age 5 experience some kind of social or emotional difficulty that can impact their development. The South Dakota Early Childhood Mental Health Collaborative is working to better identify those children and train professionals to serve their needs through specialized curriculum and play therapy. 

Dr. Christen Carotta and Dr. Staci Born are assistant professors in the Department of Counseling and Human Development at South Dakota State University. They discuss the partnership and what they've accomplished in the first of a five-year project. 


As the opioid crisis continues to grip national headlines and Governor Noem turns attention to battling meth in South Dakota, Avera is opening its Addiction Care Center in Sioux Falls. The center emphasizes holistic healing and community among its residents. The newly completed center began accepting patients on December 11th. 

Dr. Matthew Stanley is the Vice President of the Avera Behavioral Health Clinical Service Line. He explains the philosophy behind the system of care and design of the new facility.



In The Moment ... October 29, 2019 Show 689 Hour 2

A year after the devastating Camp Fire in California, who's to blame and why was it so catastrophic?

Fire in Paradise, a new FRONTLINE episode, premieres Tuesday night at 9:00 Central/8:00 Mountain on SDPB-TV and online at pbs.org/frontline. Accounts from survivors and first-responders provide the inside story of the most destructive fire in California history, its causes, and the impact of climate change.

Senior Producer Dan Edge joins In The Moment from London for a preview of Fire in Paradise.


In The Moment ... October 29, 2019 Show 689 Hour 2

What is the future of ethanol and what does it mean for South Dakota's economy? What are the pros and cons of ethanol versus electric power?

We continue our Future of Farming conversation as we look at these questions with Vance Owens, head of the Sun Grant Center at South Dakota State University, and Bill Gibbons, interim head of the Agricultural Experiment Station and Associate Dean for Research for the College of Ag at SDSU.


In The Moment ... October 29, 2019 Show 689 Hour 2

SDPB continues our Future of Farming conversation with Van C. Kelley, Department Head of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University. The ABE Department focuses on identifying and improving food production systems and available resources for an "enhanced agricultural future."

Kelley joins In The Moment from the Jeanine Basinger Studio in Brookings to discuss new technologies, applications, and methods that have been emerging in agriculture.

Sioux Falls In Color

Oct 29, 2019
Chris Laughery

In The Moment ... October 29, 2019 Show 689 Hour 1

The colors are dynamic in Rodger Ellingson's love letter to Sioux Falls. Ellingson's exhibit "Sioux Falls in Color" is on display at the Center for Western Studies on the Augustana University campus through January 10th. Ellingson's vibrant collection of acrylic and watercolor interpretations of Sioux Falls events and locations demonstrate his passion for the city.

The artist visits with SDPB's Jackie Hendry in the Kirby Family Studio in Sioux Falls.

Library of Congress

In The Moment ... October 29, 2019 Show 689 Hour 1

Rural electrification programs in the mid-20th century made an impact on rural life in South Dakota. We went from oil lamps to light bulbs - and then farmers had access to all sorts of new tools which made for a different way of doing things.

Gwen McCausland is with the South Dakota Ag Heritage Museum in Brookings. She visits about rural electrification as she joins In The Moment from the Jeanine Basinger Studio at SDSU in Brookings.

Chris Laughery

In The Moment ... October 29, 2019 Show 689 Hour 1

Over the weekend ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was located and targeted in a U.S. Special Forces raid. What changes for ISIS? How does al-Baghdadi's death affect the region?

Tim Schorn, director of International Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of South Dakota, visits about the big picture, including U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

In The Moment ... October 17, 2019 Show 681 Hour 2

SDPB Health and Education reporter Jackie Hendry joins Lori Walsh to preview the discussion on early childhood education (Pre-K) on SDPB-TV's South Dakota Focus with Stephanie Rissler.

Education and healthcare reporting on SDPB is supported by Regional Health, helping patients and communities live well