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Accessibility for government business increases in Pierre

Options always makes life better. Since last Friday, Sept. 27, United Airlines through Sky West, at Pierre Regional Airport now receives flights from District of Columbia area airports for government employees on official business.

“This is not necessarily gonna affect very many people in Pierre,” City Commissioner Jamie Huizenga said. “But one of the issues we had is where Pierre sits in the middle of South Dakota with federal employees coming and going from DC and other parts of the country, they fly under a government contract and up until this point Pierre has not been included as an option to fly in and out of here with the rates.”

The “rates” are a General Services Administration contract through United to allow for government employees on official business to fly, though not directly, to Pierre.

The GSA is an independent agency of the US designed to help manage and support basic functioning of government agencies. In short, logistics.

According to Mike Isaacs, Pierre Regional Airport’s manager, the city hired a consultant. The consultant was able to broker a deal between United and the airport to add onto an existing contract between United and the government.

The next open bidding for contracts does not begin until fiscal 2021, according to Isaacs. What this means, in the meantime, is GSA flights are no longer only relegated to “both coasts.”

According to Isaacs, there was no cost to taxpayers.

Before the flights, government employees had to fly into either Rapid City or Sioux Falls, rent a vehicle and hit the pavement for a two- to four-hour drive, depending on which metropolis they landed in.

While it may not be the most efficient way to travel to Pierre, options are still an improvement.

The time it would take to fly from DC to Pierre should take a little more than six hours, but the reality of the situation is flights from DC through United, because every flight is not direct and must pass through Denver, CO, for a layover, increasing the flight times to roughly nine hours, according to United Airlines’ website.

In contrast, a flight from DC to Rapid City, is around five hours. The subsequent road trip takes a little more than two and a half hours, according to Google’s maps.

Technically, it might be quicker to opt for the multi-faceted vehicle adventure, but there are other factors to consider.

“Weather,” Isaacs said. “It is a factor.” It is. If the roads are closed due to inclimate weather, the direct approach would be worlds more efficient, and safer.

Isaacs points out, it is not just military and representatives who could benefit. With access to a large amount of tribal business done out of the vicinity of Pierre, it makes sense.


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Stanley High School students again host student council workshop

The student council members at Stanley County High School again hosted the annual Capital Region Student Council Workshop.

The annual workshop was Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the Casey Tibbs Center in Fort Pierre. Students represented the attending schools of Winner, Stanley County, Lower Brule, Lyman, Riggs, Jones County and Kadoka.

“South Dakota Student Councils are divided into regions. We are the Capitol Region,” said Shirley Swanson, student council advisor at Stanley County. “Last spring at the state student council convention, I was made the Capitol Regional advisor. That means I am supposed to help the kids organize the regional meeting, along with other duties that I am not really sure of as of yet, as I have never held this position before now.”

“The regional meeting has been held at the Casey Tibbs Center for the past three years, partially because many of the smaller towns do not have a space large enough to accommodate over 100 kids. This year, there were just over 100 kids,” said Swanson.

“The more interesting items of the workshop are the group sessions. These sessions are planned by the students, and, in most cases, run by them,” said Swanson.

Each school has a local student council, and each region has a regional student council. The Capitol Region student council members are Bryson Muirhead, president, Lyman County; Tracy Nielson, vice-president, Stanley County; Shannon Calhoon, secretary, Winner; Taylee Stroup, treasurer, Stanley County; Ella Hand, reporter, Stanley County; and Daysen Titze, parliamentarian/sergeant-at-arms, Stanley County.

Each school has a regional representative. Those kids and their advisors are Lyman County’s Bo Pretty Sounding Flute with Gayle Mohr; Stanley County’s Kaylie Rathbun with Shirley Swanson; Kadoka’s Joey O’Daniel with Susan Sudbeck; Winner’s Brennan Backmann with Mona LaCompte; St. Francis’ Shaylee Black Bear; Jones Cunty’s Liz Fullen with Missy Valburg; Lower Brule’s Mason Jandreau with Heather Collins; and T.F. Riggs’ Morgan Jones with Kate Olson.

This year’s workshop sessions included the mandatory parliamentary procedure session. The kids taught this using a version of an on-line Jeopardy game. The other mandatory session is on Campaign Essentials, which describes the ins and outs of campaigning for office while at the state convention. Students designed their own campaign posters, and learned about the deadlines they need to meet in order to run for a state student council office. The kids took part in a Jeopardy-style game concerning the rules of parliamentary procedure. “The kids did seem to enjoy this method of learning what some people might consider an extremely dry topic,” said Swanson..

Another session the kids chose for this year’s workshop was tourniquet usage. This “Stop the Bleed” session was instructed by Stanley County Sheriff Deputy Dustin Baxter. Students practiced correctly applying tourniquets to themselves and to a partner. “Because we live in a rural community, often far away from medical facilities and first responders, time is of the essence. Knowing how to stop a bleed after an accident or injury can save lives,” said Swanson.

In another workshop, group leaders had students pair up, then one in the pair was blindfolded, while the seeing partner described to them a photo to draw. They then switched blindfolds, and had to instruct the blindfolded partner how to move about a small space to successfully pick up objects that had been placed on the floor.

The other required session, campaign essentials, included many activities including students designing campaign posters. They then described the poster to the group, and group members gave feedback on the designs.

In one presentation, the large group was informed on the various media sites the state student council operates.

For this session’s community service, students put together “birthday bags” for other children who may be living at the Missouri Shores Domestic Violence Center. Students decorated plain white bags, made birthday cards, and added the components for a birthday party to the bags. Items such as a cake pan, cake mix, frosting, balloons, forks, candles, plates, and even party favors became the contents of the bags. Missouri Shores director Sarah Reinhart, picked up the birthday bags from the Casey Tibbs Center. “We made about 85 bags that were given to Missouri Shores, and then a few of the attending schools took theirs home to give to their shelters as well,” said Swanson.


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Former Stanley County highway shop sells for $275,000

On October 3, a county surplus property auction of land and improvements was held in Fort Pierre.

The property was the Stanley County Highway Shop, located at 213 Stanley Road in Fort Pierre. It had previously been declared surplus property with public notice of the auction. Three owners of property in Stanley County — Tim Hughes of Bottom-Line Welding; Cody Hostler of Sioux Nation Supply; and James Huebner of Garage Doors Etc. — served as a volunteer appraisal committee. The committee reviewed the land and improvements on the property and filed a report regarding its value, estimating it as $260,000.

In 1965, Stanley County purchased the property from Robert and Donna O’Day for $10,000. In 2008 an appraisal conducted assessed its value as $172,000.

The auction was conducted by auctioneers Don Bourk & Gib Hart.The auction was in conjunction with a meeting of the Stanley County Commissioners: Sonny Harrowa, Craig Heller, Dennis Booth, Mike Kenzy, and chairman Dana Iversen, along with the Stanley County Auditor, Philena Burtch, and others in attendance onsite.

The property sold from Stanley County to the highest bidder, which was Bryan Hanson of Fort Pierre Livestock Auction, Inc. The winning bid was for $275,000.


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Intersection closure for eight days

There will be an intersection closure starting today, Thursday Oct. 3 in downtown Pierre.

The intersection at N. Harrison Ave. and Currant Dr. closes at 2 p.m. and will remain closed until Friday Oct. 11.

The intersection will be undergoing gutter and curb maintenance for the next eight days.

North Harrison Ave. will be open for through traffic but access to Currant Dr. can be mitigated by taking Winchester Dr. to the north.

Each year, Pierre City staff assess and maintain 80 miles of streets, according to the City’s website.


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IRS extends relief for S.D. farmers/ranchers affected by flooding or drought

The Internal Revenue Service has extended tax relief for farmers and ranchers who were forced to sell livestock due to drought, flooding or other severe weather in recent years.

Farmers and ranchers in the South Dakota counties of Brown, Edmunds, Faulk, Haakon, McPherson, Spink, and Ziebach are eligible for federal assistance. Counties that border those stated are also eligible for federal aid.

In most cases, qualified farmers and ranchers whose drought-sale replacement period was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2019, now have until the end of their next tax year to replace the livestock and defer tax on any gains from the forced sales. Sales of other livestock, such as those raised for slaughter or held for sporting purposes, or poultry, are not eligible.

“Because the normal drought-sale replacement period is four years, this extension immediately impacts drought sales that occurred during 2015,” said IRS spokesman Naweed Lemar. “The replacement periods for some drought sales before 2015 are also affected due to previous drought-related extensions affecting some of these localities.”

More information on reporting drought sales and other farm-related tax issues can be found on IRS.gov; in:

Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide

IR-2019-161, IRS relief provides drought-stricken farmers, ranchers more time to replace livestock