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Walleye like the one seen in this file photo from 2015 are being caught up and down the Missouri River.


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Judge Mayer warns Rich to stay away from alcohol while working in West River cafe

Kimberly Rich, the Pierre woman facing possibly many years in prison for her latest arrest on drug charges, appeared in state court Tuesday in Pierre in a rather uncommon case. Her attorney, Tara Adamski, told the new state Circuit Judge Bridget Mayer that she wanted her to see that Rich is following the orders of now-retired Judge John Brown, who released her, pending trial, to the custody of a West River rancher this spring who is a sort of patron to Rich.

Clark Blake brought Rich to court on Tuesday and sat with her in the gallery awaiting her hearing before Judge Mayer.

Rich, who turned 54 this month, is charged with several felony counts of illegal drug use and burglary stemming from her arrest last summer in Pierre. Because of her long criminal record that involves stretches in jail and in the state prison, the possible sentences for her new charges are “enhanced,” under state guidelines so that she faces, in theory, a possible sentence of around 100 years in prison.

There’s little chance that would happen, but Rich could see a pretty serious sentence. Blake told the Capital Journal this spring he’s known Rich for 20 years or more and she is a good person who has had long trouble with meth.

In a somewhat unusual move, Judge Brown this spring allowed Rich to be released to Blake’s custody. Usually it’s family members who take on such custody of a defendant.

Blake told the Capital Journal he knows Rich’s family and that she can do well if she gets the right help.

Blake has done that with other people facing charges in court, say those who know him.

Rich is a hard worker who can do farm and ranch work as well as house-cleaning and he’s hired her in the past, Blake said.

Judge Brown, who recently retired, hails from Harding County and told Rich in court in mid-May that he knows Blake and his cafe and bar.

“I think he will keep an eye on you.”

On Tuesday, Blake brought Rich to court — it’s about 250 miles from his place to Pierre — for the “status hearing.” There had been some complaints about Rich, it came out in court on Tuesday.

Tara Adamski told Mayer that Rich has been working in the cafe and bar that Blake owns about 70 miles north of Belle Fourche in the far northwest corner of the state.

Judge Brown had ordered Rich to follow basic conditions of release from bond or jail for defendants awaiting trial or other disposition of a case. A main one nearly always is to avoid alcohol and stay out of bars.

But Blake’s cafe in Harding County has a small bar at one end, open to the cafe, and Rich has been cleaning the place, Adamski told Mayer. There has been some concern that Rich has been serving alcohol, Adamski said. “She has not tended bar and does not intend to tend bar,” Adamski said.

But Rich would like to make sure it’s OK for her to clean in the cafe and bar after hours, Adamski said.

Mayer told Rich that she wondered about Rich being in the cafe and bar after hours, alone.

“I don’t want you to have any temptation,” Mayer said.

There’s no guarantee Rich can’t get into more trouble with drugs and alcohol “just because you are in the middle of nowhere,” Mayer said.

Rich assured Mayer she was working hard and staying sober and drug-free.

“I have several eyes that watch me,” Rich said half turning to acknowledge Blake sitting in the gallery. “I would like to say I’m doing great.”

But she said she wants to help her boss in the small establishment that has only “seven or 10 tables,’ Rich said. “They have a hard time finding help.”

Rich said she’s there to help out the waitresses when it gets busy and the line between the cafe and the bar area is permeable, like in many small town establishments.

“Some people in the cafe order a beer with a steak,” Rich said.

She doesn’t want to get in trouble by being around alcohol being served in the cafe, seemed to be Rich’s concern to Judge Mayer.

The local sheriff has stopped in to check on her and make sure things are going well, Rich said.

Hughes County State’s Attorney Roxanne Hammond told Mayer that the sheriff had called her office, concerned about customers reporting that Rich was serving alcohol in Blake’s cafe and bar.

Judge Mayer said she wanted to “just make it clear: We are not serving alcohol. I have no problem with you cleaning the bar (after hours) but I want someone there so there’s no temptation”

Mayer said it would be OK “if someone is there and you are working the cafe side . . . I don’t want you back behind the bar serving. . If people call the sheriff with allegations of that again, I won’t hesitate to revoke your bond.”

Judge Mayer pointed to Blake in the back of the courtroom.

“Are you willing to do that?”

Blake murmured assent and nodded.

Adamski has said she’s working with Hammond to get a plea agreement hammered out.

Mayer asked her if that could be done in couple of weeks or so. When Adamski said that should work, Mayer set Rich’s next court date for July 23.

Rich left the courthouse with Blake to go back West River.

On the social media page for Blake’s cafe was an announcement that it was closed Monday and Tuesday this week and would re-open the morning of Wednesday, June 26.


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The ride of the Illini 4000

A group of University of Illinois students bicycling across the country this summer to raise money for cancer research — and awareness of cancer survivors’ stories — stopped in Pierre this week. They call their cross-country bike riding organization the “Illini 4000.” It’s a 501©(3) non-profit and an annual effort since 2007.

The students are from the University of Illinois’ flagship campus in Champaign-Urbana, “Chambana” as it’s known colloquially, a metro area about 130 miles southwest of Chicago. Their cross-country bike ride started in New York City several weeks ago, and they’re going all the way to San Francisco.

“Some people drove our van to New York, but the rest of us took the train and our bikes with us to New York,” student rider Sisi He said. “And we do an average of like 17 miles every day.”

The students stay in local cities and towns to rest along their journey. Ride leader Mike Rotter said most lodgings are reserved ahead of time, during the school year. They usually look for places willing to put them up pro bono for a night or two.

“We’ve got a couple months to prepare for the ride, and that means these guys calling churches and YMCAs and other places they can find… and asking if we can stay for the night,” Rotter said.

From Sunday night to Tuesday morning this week, the riders stayed in the First United Methodist Church on Capitol and Central Avenues. 2019 is not the first year the Illini 4000 ride has stopped in Pierre, nor is it the first time members of the Methodist Church have offered the riders shelter.

“Two years ago, I found out [the students] were coming through, and I was able to welcome them They had a fire in my backyard and the next morning, left,” Methodist Lay Speaker Jay Mickelson said. “This year… we wanted to do it again.”

Biking across the country, relying on the kindness of almost-strangers, is all well and good for college students with the time and money to do so. But how does it help fund cancer research? How does it raise money? Does it do anything that years of pink ribbons and Susan G. Komen walks don’t?

“We reach out to a lot of friends and family and personal connections we have,” rider Cari Nodus said. “And we also do fundraising events on campus. Like we did a ‘4k in One Day’ this year, where we had biking on the quad and we tried to raise funds like that.”

Some other student riders, like He, said they had gathered pledges from people along the ride. These pledgers agreed to pay a certain amount of money — a few cents, usually — for every mile they rode. To date, the 2019 Illini 4000 riders have raised a little under $59,200.

But raising money for research is only half of the ride’s contribution to fight against cancer. The other half is recording and sharing the stories of cancer survivors across the U.S. The Illini 4000 calls it the “Portraits Project,” and it documents cancer survivors’ self-reported trials and triumphs in an online gallery. All the videos are compiled from interviews conducted by the student riders themselves. Some of the interviewees volunteer their own stories when they hear the students will be riding through town, others have to be ferreted out by the students’ local contacts.

“There’s two different ways that we do it,” rider Viraat Goel said. “One, the cause that we’re riding for, cancer research, unfortunately affects people from across the world… so we’ll have the serendipitous interactions with people as we’re biking with our jerseys. The other way is, since we know which day we’ll be in which city, we can — in advance — contact either the people that are kindly hosting us or contact the local newspaper, and a lot of these communities will reciprocate by saying, ‘hey this group is coming through, they would love to hear your story, feel free to come by.’”

In Pierre, Goel and the other students interviewed John Moisan, a local survivor of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a particularly vicious strain of the disease, with only about seven percent of all patients surviving past five years of their initial diagnosis, according to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Moisan credited his faith and his family as helping him through his illness and subsequent recovery, and gave a very simple reason for why he chose to share his story.

“Pancreatic cancer is such a nasty disease,” he said. “Those of us who lived through it have to talk about it. I’m speaking for the people who didn’t live through it.”

With Moisan’s interview — and their time in Pierre — behind them, the riders headed west out of town on Tuesday morning. The Western Plains and distant Rocky Mountains awaited them. According to Rotter, these will be some of the most difficult stretches of the ride.

“We have one day where we’re climbing 7,200 feet up and it’s also an 80 mile day,” he said. “That day’s looking like it’s going to be pretty tough.”

This begs a final question. Why do a cancer ride at all? There are plenty of ways to fundraise; plenty of ways to help cancer survivors, most of which don’t risk collapsing from exhaustion or heat stroke in the middle of a Midwestern nowhere. So why risk it?

He, who’s going for a PhD in cancer research, gave a poignant answer:

“I work with cancer on the molecular level, ovarian cancer… but when you work with cancer at that level, you can lose sight of its human effects,” she said. “The portraits let me see the human side of cancer.”

For more information on the Portraits Project, or to donate to the Illini 4000 cause, visit illini4000.org


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SD Democrats taking charge

Paula Hawks, the newly elected chairperson of the South Dakota Democratic Party, has announced three party programs to be rolled out this summer.

Calling like-thinkers ‘progressives,’ Hawks reminds people, “Unlike Republicans, we’re not bankrolled by big-money special interests. We’re funded by grassroots donors.”

The South Dakota Democratic Party is using some of its funds to go toward innovation grants for county and district-level Democratic organizations, as well as high school, college, and Young Democrats organizations, Hawks said. These grants are to help further the various groups’ efforts to register and organize voters in their areas.

A second party program is placing a digital ad buy to help raise awareness of its logo and messaging, and build its activist and donor base.

A third program is hiring summer organizing interns in the Party’s Sioux Falls and Rapid City offices, who will help meet, register, and organize voters, and recruit and train volunteers.

“I was elected in March by the State Central Committee during a general meeting in Chamberlain,” Hawks said. “I sought this position because I want to see the Democratic Party in South Dakota move forward with a progressive message that resonates with all South Dakotans. We also need to bring the Democratic voters of South Dakota together under a central message and brand. We are currently working on that.”

The Party’s planks and points are clear, though continually being fine-tuned. “The South Dakota Democratic Party Platform is available on our website: https://sddp.org/about/what-we-believe/. This will continue to be evaluated/amended as we meet over the next several months and up until the election,” Hawks said.

The party is preparing for the known fight.

“The Republican Party has held a strong majority for many years in South Dakota — holding many/most/all of the major statewide offices and a majority in both chambers of the legislature,” said Hawks. “With that majority, they have a great deal of power over the drawing of district lines. Take a look at our district boundaries to see what that looks like in South Dakota. This leads to a lopsided representation across the board.”

“We also face a new generation of voters who are looking at the general state of politics in the state and the nation, and are seeing a situation that they don’t necessarily want to be a part of. So, they register as independents. The Democratic Party must take the responsibility of reminding these new voters of the benefits they have access to because of the work of Democratic representation — Social Security, Medicare, work-place protections including weekends and 40-hour work weeks, Women’s Vote, civil rights, and more. The Democratic Party is the party of the people, and we must remind voters of that.”


Pierre Band concert helps kick off Oahe Days with “Salute to Superheroes”

The Steamboat Park amphitheater resonated with the Capital City Band’s rendition of its “Salute to Superheroes” free concert. Moved from its usual Wednesday performances because of annual Oahe Days, the hour long concert featured themes from comic book superheroes and movie blockbusters. At one point, Director Larry Johnson, had band and audience members show off their costumes. Music included “Superman,” “The Avengers,” “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Meet the X-Men,” “Wonder Woman,” “Medley from Shrek,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “Black Panther,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark March.”


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Five for the 4th of July

Here are five things to do during the July 4th weekend

1 Friday and Saturday, June 28-29 — Oahe ABATE Fun Run — Come and party with the Best Bikers By a Dam Site! Bike Show and Walking Picker Run Friday night, Saturday Poker Run. Sign up at Nystrom’s Goose Camp, located 14 miles north of Pierre, on Hwy 1804, by 11 a.m. Kickstands up at 12 noon. Return to camp after the run for a free supper and motorcycle games and stay for the Sweet Grass Band. Raffles, prizes, and lots of old school biker fun! Fees are $30 Gate, $20 for electric hookups. For more information, call Brad at 222-8955 or Brandon at 770-3319 of visit the website http://oaheabate.com/pokerruns.htm

2 Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 — Sioux National Challenge Tour of Champions. The Horse Nations Indian Relay Council invites you to experience the traditions and culture of Indian Relay. Events include the Indian Relay, Chief Race, Warrior Race, Maiden Race and Youth Race. This takes place at the Ft. Pierre fairgrounds both days at 2 p.m. Contact Calvin Ghost Bear at (605) 381-0823 or Jamie Howard at (605) 209-3905 or Visit http://www.horsenationsrelay.com/ for more information.

3 Sunday, June 30 — In Concert for America, this concert features many great patriotic songs. There will be refreshments and time to greet the performers after the concert. The concert is being held at the First United Methodist Church, 117 N. Central Ave. from 2 — 4 p.m. For more information, contact Elaine Scott at (605) 224-5939. Admission is free

4 Fort Pierre 4th of July Rodeo, Parade & 4K Run — This event takes includes three days of rodeo, a 4th of July 4K Run at 8 a.m. which begins in Lily Park, and is capped off by the largest parade in South Dakota beginning at 10 a.m., followed by a 7 p.m. rodeo, followed by the largest fireworks display in the state. Rodeo fees are $15. It all takes place at the Stanley County fairgrounds from 8 a.m. — 11 p.m. For more information, contact Scott Deal, 280-7010. Rodeo fees are $15.

5 The Capital City Band Concert takes place Thursday, July 4, from 9 — 11 p.m. at Steamboat Park’s amphitheater, where you could also watch the Ft. Pierre fireworks. The theme of the concert is Let Freedom Ring! New musicians are always welcome! Bring your instrument and join us at 6:30 p.m. the night of each concert for a brief rehearsal. (Uniform: dark green shirt, kahki pants/shorts) Visit the website at http://www.capitalcityband.org/ or contact Larry Johnson via email ljohnson@pie.midco.net for more information.


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Pierre Veteran Affairs health Outpatient Clinic to move to Northridge Plaza

Pierre’s Veteran Affairs Outpatient Care Clinic will be changing locations next week, VA officials reported in a recent news release. The Department of Veterans Affairs/Black Hills Health Care System, contracting with employment services corporation STG International, Inc., said that the VA clinic will be moving from its current home in the Linn Medical Clinic at 1601 N. Harrison Ave. to slightly larger accommodations at 1615 N. Harrison Ave., Suite 20, in the Northridge Plaza Mall.

The new clinic space officially opens Monday, July 1, with an open house planned for Tuesday July 2, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. All veterans and members of the general public are invited to attend, the news release said. The clinic space is located between Hobby Lobby and the Tokyo Japanese Restaurant. Clinic staff will give tours of the facility and help explain what services will be available to eligible veterans.

The Public Affairs Official for VA Black Hills Health Care, Teresa Forbes, said that the VA hopes the new space will provide better accessibility than its current location.

“We’ve had a clinic there for a number of years, so this is just a location change,” Forbes said. “Parking will be great, plus we just think it will be better for access.”

The decision to move the clinic came earlier this year, Forbes said, when the VA care contract transferred from Dr. Bernard Linn to STG.

“What we do in VA is if we don’t provide direct care, we contract with a group to provide care,” Forbes said. “After Dr. Linn said he was retiring, STG won the contract.”

“My first knowledge of it was the end of January,” Susan Urbach, the Nurse Clinical Manager of the both the current and soon-to-open VA clinic, said. “Dr. Linn was going to retire at the beginning of April, and the new company that contracted with the VA decided we needed a bigger space.”

While Dr. Linn decided not to retire, Urbach said, the care contract still transferred to STG. According to a profile of the company on Bloomberg.com, the total federal VA contract awarded to STG for the clinic was $6,195,142.

The clinic will provide basic outpatient care to all eligible veterans, Forbes said. According to the news release, it will also feature larger exam rooms and waiting areas than the current clinic, as well as a new Women’s Health Suite.

Of course, not every veteran is eligible for every kind of care coverage. Some will only be able to receive covered treatment for injuries or illnesses directly related to combat injuries, while others may be eligible to be treated for unrelated ailments.

“We just encourage veterans to check their enrollment… Some veterans are just eligible for their service connections, but some have, we’d call it ‘100 percent eligibility,’” Forbes said. “It all depends. Every veteran is different.”

Veterans seeking more information regarding the clinic or their health care eligibility can call VA Patient Services at 1-800-743-1070.