The Pierre City Commission this week revised the city’s smoking policy for employees, adding in similar restrictions on vaping.
It follows the state legislature’s move this year to treat vaping, or “e-cigarettes” the same as regular smokes with tobacco, such as cigs, cigars and pipes.
Laurie Gronlund, the city’s human resources director, told the five-member Commission on Tuesday, Oct. 15, that employees themselves recently had become more concerned about the effects of being around colleagues vaping.
“This was generated by employees, who don’t want to be exposed to the vaping,” Gronlund said. News stories in recent months of the previously unknown dangers of vaping electronic cigarettes had gotten the attention of employees, Gronlund said.
Last month, Dr. Joshua Clayton, the state’s epidemiologist, said he supports a ban on flavored e-cigarettes because they attract teens which could get them hooked on tobacco.
In September, Clayton confirmed two cases of vaping-related illness in South Dakota among 20- to 24-year-olds.
The U.S. Department of Health said this fall that at least six people nationwide had died from a mysterious lung ailment thought to be connected to vaping.
About 15 percent of the city’s 153 employees use tobacco in some way, or about 23 of them, according to city communications director Brooke Bohnenkamp.
The city knows that employees who use tobacco have to pay for it, in a sense, in increased health insurance costs. And now so will vapers.
“Any employee and/or covered spouse who use tobacco products or electronic nicotine delivery systems or electronic smoking devices will contribute an additional $30 per month per person.” That’s the clause in the city policy that has covered tobacco users for years and, as of the Commission’s 5-0 on Tuesday, now covers vapers.
The city doesn’t know how many employees use e-cigarettes or other electronic vaping devices, Bohnenkamp said.
Gronlund told the Commission that in her opinion the former city policy on tobacco use also covered vaping, but that to make it abundantly clear, it was decided to add in explicit bans on vaping, too.
The new and revised policy reads: “It is the policy of the municipality of Pierre that smoking and vaping is not permitted in any city buildings, vehicles or enclosed equipment. Smoking is defined as the ‘act of lighting, smoking or carrying a lighted or smoldering cigar, cigarette or pipe of any kind.’ Vaping refers to the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems or electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-hookahs and e-cigars.”
The language about vaping was added in and approved Tuesday by the Commission. It became effective as soon as the vote was in, Bohnenkamp said.
The city also, according to its workplace policy, pays employees and spouses for quitting.
“In an effort to assist any employee or covered spouse who would like to quit but needs help to do so, the City will provide a cessation benefit. Eligible items will not be subject to the deductible and will be paid at 90 percent. Office visits, diagnostic tests, prescription drugs and over-the-counter products are eligible expenses.”
The policy also lines out how, if an employee or spouse is successful in quitting smoking or vaping for 12 months, the city will refund three months of the $30 monthly health-insurance-related fee charged employees for smoking or vaping.
Asked by a Commissioner how city managers can track employees’ smoking or vaping habits, Gronlund said it’s not only an “honor system,” in which employees fill out a form each year telling the city they if they smoke.
“We have people who let us know if someone is not telling the truth,” Gronlund said, indicating it was other employees often who clued in city managers.
The city reserves the right to discipline or reduce health and life benefits to any employee that “misrepresents” their tobacco or vaping habits.
In the new policy’s several paragraphs, in some places the term for vaping is added in; other places, the term specifying tobacco use is simply deleted, so that vaping is implied as well as tobacco use.
Chew, however, employees still can do, in a few places.
“They can still use smokeless tobacco in (city) vehicles,” Gronlund said.
The chew or snuff, by well-known brands, can include a dizzying variety, according to one product’s advertisements: “Fine Cut, Long Cut, and Extra Long Cut. Original Snuff, Long Cut, and pouches come in a 1.2 can now made with a fiberboard bottom and metal lid, however a few flavors still use the plastic bottom. The brand also offers other flavors like Wintergreen, Mint, Straight, Original, Southern Blend, and, seasonally, Black; all are available in long-cut, fine-cut, and pouches except for Black and Southern Blend.”
Although chewing tobacco is still allowed in city vehicles, those employees are charged the $30 per month on their health benefits, Gronlund said.
The first weekend of pheasant season, for South Dakota residents, was last weekend. The second weekend, also open to out-of-staters, is this weekend. It is the Rooster Rush that a great percentage of South Dakotans wait for every year.
Governor Kristi Noem continued this year’s promotion and celebration of Rooster Rush with a visit to the fourth graders at St. Joseph Elementary School, Wednesday, Oct. 16. Taking a nod from what former First Lady Linda Daugaard loved and did so well, Noem read a book for the kids.
The book choice was the traditional, almost made-to-order book “The Mystery of the Pheasants” by Mark Meierhenry and David Volk, and illustrated by Susan Turnbull. Noem brought her own copy, signed by her, and left it with the students. The story in the book gives the history of pheasants in South Dakota, the history of hunting pheasants, safety while hunting, and the fun of hunting and telling stories of hunting.
Introducing the book, interspersing audience-involving comments, and asking questions of the students, Noem stated, “We are the only state in the country where we shoot our state bird, and have fun doing it.”
“We, as a state will send 1,500 pheasant to the U.S. South Dakota submarine crew for Thanksgiving, so they can have a little bit of South Dakota with them,” said Noem.
Noem told the students what many of them already were waiting for. A meet-and-greet is set for Thursday and Friday at the Pierre airport, welcoming out-of-state hunters. Lois Ries, also at the reading event, is the director of the Convention Visitor Bureau. Ries and her crew are ready for Rooster Rush. There is a Hunters’ Wives Day Out planned. “Lots of orange is going up,” said Noem.
The students knew what are the main predators that eat pheasants and pheasant eggs. Half the class cheered when Noem read that the book’s heroine made the first safe shot to bag a pheasant, and Noem interjected, “Girls Rule!” The other half of the class was not left out when telling Noem of who taught them to hunt birds. Noem learned from her grandmother, while students learned from various relatives and family friends.
The overriding question that could be said promotes Rooster Rush the best was posed by Noem to the students, “Do you have any special memories that involve pheasant hunting?”
Do you pine for the chance to sink your teeth through the bark of a glistening apple or plum? Perhaps, you like to pear a healthy snack with your community while learning about growing those healthy snacks.
The Community Orchard, located at 1201 E. Sully Ave., near the water and behind the hospital, is blowing into its third year of growing, with no end in sight.
Tuesday, Oct. 15, the orchard held its, now becoming, annual tours of the garden.
Two years ago, around 40 members of the Hughes and Stanley County communities came together, with the help of some motivated Girl Scouts and in “around a half hour” were able to plant 23 fruit trees, tells Desereé Corrales, Girl Scout #40080 troop leader and a facilitator of the garden.
“Planting day two years ago was a wonderful thing,” Corrales said. “A group of 40 community members planted 23 trees in a half hour. The city tilled the ground the day before, so that made is easier.”
Last night it was chilly and windy in Pierre. According to Corrales, and Art Smith of the Pierre Arbor Board, only a few hardy folks came out.
“There wasn’t a lot of public participation last night,” Smith said. “The weather took people away. Last year I didn’t have a jacket on at the event. This year I had two.”
Planting an orchard is a daunting task, explains Smith. Not if you have a little know-how and skills though.
Both Smith and Corrales are excited about the education opportunities the orchard has for the community.
“I like the education possibilities,” Smith said. “Because what I hear is people want to get more closely aligned with local food products. It’s holistic, responsible and tastes better. Its just like and arboretum for people to see what it looks like to grow their own food and gets the interested party closer to doing it themselves.”
Some of the fruit trees at the park include: honeycrisp apple, ure pear, superior plum, honeygold apple, summercrisp pear, toka plum, Evans Bali cherry, reliance peach, and bush cherries.
Big harvest days are maybe a couple years off, but Smith says there were a couple of pieces of fruit this year.
“Next year will be even better,” Smith said.
Walking around the garden, there are small signs in front of the trees. Some of the trees are sponsored by either a local business or some by families in memoriam.
A small sign in front of a summercrisp pear tree donated by Gloria Hansen and Ron Schreiner, states, ”A great pear.”
Another sign says, “Your presence we miss, your memory we treasure, loving you always, forgetting you never. In loving memory Don (Dominic) Gordon.”
The instructions at the front of the orchard are simple. It is open from dawn to dusk everyday. People can pick and eat the fruit of the harvest. The sign also cautions people not to “ingest any plant you are unfamiliar with and are not 100 percent certain is safe and edible.” All animals must be on a leash, and police up your pet’s refuse, don’t remove any plants from the orchard, don’t trim any plants in the orchard, and don’t climb the trees.
Corrales’ favorite fruit is an annona, a fruit she has had from Honduras, but they will not grow here. Here, though, her favorite fruit in the orchard is the pear.
Corrales is just pleased the area has come together to create a project that will provide food for the local community.
Saturday, Oct. 19
Capital City Farmers’ Market at the corner of Sioux Avenue and Coteau Street, Pierre, 9 a.m to noon. Shop for locally grown produce, fresh baked goods, handcrafted items, and more at this outdoor event sponsored by Pierre-area vendors.
Family Fun Saturday at the Cultural Heritage Center, Pierre, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Visitors can celebrate the opening of the pheasant season by creating their own flying pheasant corncob dart. All supplies will be provided. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Admission to the museum gallery is free during the program hours.
4th Annual Fall Festival at East Pierre Landscape and Garden Center, 5400 S.D. Highway 34, Pierre, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit vendor booths throughout the event, bring your children to play kids’ games from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., listen to live music by The Hidden Timber Band from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., enjoy beer and wine tastings from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., find your way through a hay-bale maze, and much more. Lunch will be available from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 20:
Underwater Pumpkin Patch at the Pierre Aquatic Center, 12:15 p.m. Children can dive for pumpkins at this annual event sponsored by the Pierre Parks and Recreation Department and the Oahe Family YMCA. Following the dive, kids will have a chance to decorate their pumpkins with decorating supplies that are provided. The event is free for Oahe Family YMCA members. For non-members, admission is $2. All children who are under eight-years-old must be accompanied by an adult.
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Peggy Henson, a popular teacher from Blunt and Eagle Butte, South Dakota, was named Wednesday as the woman who died Saturday, Oct. 12, in a one-car rollover west of Hayes in Stanley County.
Tony Mangan, spokesman for the state Highway Patrol, said Henson, 50, was driving a 2004 Buick LeSabre east on U.S. Highway 14 about four miles west of Hayes, a hamlet 34 miles west of Fort Pierre, about 10:52 a.m., Saturday when she lost control of the car.
It went into the north ditch and rolled.
Henson was alone in the car.
She was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the car and was found dead at the scene, Mangan said in a news release on Wednesday.
Henson was a popular teacher who had worked for the state’s Department of Education, as well as for high schools. She was an adjunct professor at Oglala Lakota College in Eagle Butte, according to her obituary.
She worked weekends as an advocate for women at Missouri Shores Women’s Shelter in Pierre.
In recent years, Henson had been teaching day and night in Eagle Butte: Family And Consumer Science (FACS) classes at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School and a variety of courses at Oglala Lakota College in the evenings and weekends, said Roxee Holloway, an executive assistant at the college.
Henson was born in Basin, WY, and was a South Dakota State University graduate.
“She taught several computer Basic classes, she did a class on child and adolescent development, and she did education classes each semester,” Holloway said.
Holloway taught physical education at the high school before taking her job at the college, and saw Henson in both schools as a teacher who went above and beyond her regular duties.
Henson was involved in the Natural Helpers Group, a nationally based program to help young people with adolescence, Holloway said.
“She was one of the head people to do prom activities and post-prom activities. She hosted a Tuesday Talking Circle where students could come in, or parents and community members, and share their thoughts on certain things. It was every Tuesday during the lunch hour so she would bring snacks,” Holloway said. “I feel it helped a lot of students, with the suicide rates being so high and all the drug use. She just helped so many people.”
“She was the most bubbly, the happiest person you have ever been around. She was just something.”
Jody Rust, who teaches English and journalism at the high school in Eagle Butte, wrote a tribute to her colleague in the West River Eagle weekly that came out Wednesday.
Rust said besides teaching her classes and helping with prom, Henson volunteered for “lock-ins, pumpkin carving, homecoming activities, concessions or just about anything else that needed an extra hand.
“Not only did she actively lead or assist with student-centered activities, she also took staff meeting notes, created Google documents for administration and staff to keep track of parent contacts or students’ eligibility lists, or made herself available to help figure out how to operate a desktop recording program or work through a glitch in SDMyLife (an online career exploration site for students), or write and ensure compliance with the state Perkins Grant, or participate in academic planning sessions — and all the other tasks she completed to serve the needs of (Cheyenne-Eagle Butte) High School, its students and its staff.”
Holloway was told that there were icy spots and slush on Highway 14 on Saturday morning and that it appeared Henson lost control and then over-corrected before going into the ditch.
“It’s hard for me to believe that she didn’t have a seat belt on,” Holloway said. “When you look at the statistics. . . It saves so many people’s lives.”
Henson’s funeral service will be at 1 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1220 E. Robinson in Pierre, east of Riggs High School. A visitation and prayer service will be held in the church starting at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 23, with the prayer service at 5 p.m.
Rust said Henson was a confidant, a mentor and a friend to her.
“She is a servant of the people,” Rust wrote. “Even now, she will serve her students and people who knew her in the stories they tell about her, and the best way to honor her life and keep the legacy of her service alive will be to tell her stories and teach her lessons to others.”