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Post 8’s Andy Gordon gets the bat on the ball during Monday’s game against the Bismarck Governors. Gordon had the game winning single against Sioux Falls East Post 15 on Sunday.

Mansour Karim, Pierre philanthropist, dies at 90

Long-time Pierre resident and acclaimed state-wide philanthropist Mansour Lincoln Karim passed away at 90 on July 5, in Rapid City.

Coming to America in November of 1950 from troubled Iran, cash-strapped 22-year-old Karim came to South Dakota to study English at Huron College, then study engineering at South Dakota State University. Since then, he did well — very well — in his career at the South Dakota Department of Transportation. He purchased property and managed it well, and had a reputation for thrifty living.

Over the decades, Karim has donated more than $1.5 million to charities in his adopted state. He did this because kindness had been shown to him.

Fresh to America, he saw that prices for many things were far better than in Iran, especially for the American iconic blue jeans. Still, he befriended a person on the train from Pennsylvania, who offered him a sandwich, which eventually ended up more like five sandwiches. His continuing-on bus ticket was also a gift. “I didn’t take it for granted at all. I was blessed to come to this country,” said Karim in an years-ago interview.

Much of Karim’s life in America, and of his giving, is illustrated in a 2016 book written by his daughter-in-law, Jess Karim. Often using amusing anecdotes, it tells of how Karim learned America was a safe country compared to Iran, how it took a while for him to realize just how big America is, and how much he wanted to help others.

“I consider myself a very proud American. I love this state. I love the state of South Dakota. It’s very good to me. And I’m also grateful that the community of Pierre and Fort Pierre. I could not do it without them. So I love all of you, and I’m honored to be a good friend of you,” he once said.

Much of his philanthropy with so many organizations is through dollar-to-dollar matching programs. He has donated to many causes, including a matching grant challenge to the Boys & Girls Club, to the South Dakota Historical Society, nursing scholarships through the Capital University Center, statues for the Trail of Governors, and more. Even the sales of some of the books went to the Cultural Heritage Center and the Boys & Girls Club, two of his favorite projects.

“He was one of the community’s biggest benefactors,” said John Clark, Pierre Chamber of Commerce member. Though Karim had recently moved to Rapid City to be with relatives, he had benefited, and had been honored in return, by many institutions and people in the state.

Karim was presented the George S. Mickelson award by the S.D. Teenage Republicans, for service to the community. “My main object is education. Education was a big help of mine,” Karim said. “I like to help the children be a good citizen.”

February 27, 2019 was declared by Pierre Mayor Steve Harding as “Mansour Lincoln Karim Day” in Pierre. Harding said, “through hard work and keen savings, Mr. Karim was able to reinvest in the community by generously sharing his financial success and kind heart with the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area, Avera St. Mary’s Hospital, the South Dakota Community Foundation, the Trail of Governors, the State Historical Society and numerous other organizations throughout the community and state.”

Stephanie Judson of the South Dakota Community Foundation, and Kellie Yackley of Avera St. Mary’s Foundation, and Jay Vogt of the South Dakota Historical Society all spoke at City Hall on Feb. 27, 2019, to thank Karim for his generous support of their nonprofit organizations. Yackley, who knew Karim before she was with the Foundation, said. “I was a newly single mom when I lived back to Pierre and he was my landlord and took great care of us,” she said. Judson said Karim “brought his wealth to the community but more important, he brought his heart to the community.”

After hearing of Karim’s death, Dennis Pfrimmer, director of the Capital Area Counseling Center, said, “He loved children, and from what I could tell they loved him too. He was a wonderful supporter of the Boys & Girls Club. He initiated an endowment, and that money will be there for far into the future.”

“Where do I begin …. I feel like the words I share do not do justice for the impact Mansour has made on the Boys & Girls Club and myself as a friend,” said Rebecca Spoehr, director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area. “Mansour Karim has shared so much of himself with us; to the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area, his community, his family and to me, his friend. Mansour’s genuine heart of gold impacted everyone he encountered. His name will live on through the wisdom he had shared, the smiles he gave, the compassion he showed, the support he gifted and of course the famous hugs he presented to all of us. Mansour has left an unforgettable legacy and I’m truly honored to have crossed paths with Mansour eight years ago. He will be greatly missed by all.”

Summer recreation Session II beginning

The Pierre Parks and Recreation Department holds activities all summer. Session II began July 8 and runs through August 1. Check online at www.cityofpierre.org to see which classes and activities still have openings.

As can be attested through the summer activities guide, the various classes are geared for preschool, youth, older youth, teenagers, adults, and senior citizen interests.

For example, “Sharks and Minnows” is a tag-like game taught to three-to-five year olds, while adults can learn golf and Tai Chi and pottery and other things. And everyone can join in on aquatics, library activities, and others. The online summer activities guide has 29 pages of information.

Costs vary according to age of participants and the activities themselves. Some are free, most notably the three Movies in the Park at the Steamboat Park Amphitheater: “The Little Mermaid” July 18 9:30 p.m.; “Space Jam” July 25 9:30 p.m.; and “The Goonies” August 1 9:15 p.m. Bring your own seating, snacks and bug spray, and enjoy the show.

The ‘Old Gym’ in the Georgia Morse Middle School at 309 E. Capital Avenue in Pierre, had already been busy with other classes, when the Squeaky Sneakers held its first Session II meeting at 2 p.m., July 8. Katy Honeywell, recreation intern, leads others in teaching and encouraging the three-to-five year olds. During the class, the kids play common games such as soccer, duck duck goose, and never-the-same obstacle courses. Some newer-named games include Toy Story (a variation of the Freeze game), and tag-like Sharks & Minnows.

“The number of helpers depends on the class and the number of participants. More kids, more helpers,” said Honeywell. For this particular day and class, the helpers included Nikky Farnsworth, Jayd Mullen, and Kylee Hanson.

SD legislators vs. voters?

SIOUX FALLS — In 1908, South Dakota became the first U.S. state to let citizens vote directly on laws through the initiative and referendum process, but a political blogger says state lawmakers are slowly eroding the process.

Cory Heidelberger maintains the ways used by voters to pass proposals at the ballot box have been under attack since 2017.

That’s when Republican Party lawmakers used emergency powers to repeal a voter-approved anti-corruption referendum establishing ethics and campaign finance reforms, saying constituents didn’t understand what they were voting for.

“There’s no data saying that any specific number of people went to the polls and didn’t get what they were voting on,” Heidelberger stresses. “It’s an ideological position. When you say to me that voters don’t understand what they’re doing, you’re saying to me you don’t trust the voters, you don’t respect the voters.”

Heidelberger, a Democrat and Aberdeen native, fell short in a recent signature-collection effort to repeal legislation passed this year that creates a state registry of petition circulators and requires them to wear badges.

Supporters of HB 1094 say the law brings transparency to the initiated measure process.

A citizen-led initiative was used successfully three years ago when state residents voted overwhelmingly to cap interest on payday loans, after lawmakers refused to consider such legislation.

Heidelberger worries the new laws passed this year that add more regulations to the initiative and referendum process will be followed by more.

“It’s only in the last several years when the South Dakota voters have maybe broken a different way from what their legislators want,” he states. “The Legislature just kind of had enough of us raining on their parade.”

In the U.S., 26 states have an initiative and/or referendum process, most of them west of the Mississippi.

Dueling Duo performing

Capital City Band free concert “Pops for Mom & Pop”

In its summer agenda of free public concerts at the Steamboat Park amphitheater, the Capital City Band will perform a free concert “Pops for Mom & Pop” on July 10.

Now that the Fourth of July week is over, the band goes back to Wednesday performances, and back to starting at 8 p.m.

This, the band’s sixth concert of this summer, features a variety of popular tunes spanning from the 1920’s through the 1980’s. “Popular music has been a favorite of audiences for several centuries, often serving as a mirror of social issues and happenings,” said director Larry Johnson. “The Senior Citizens Center will be serving root beer floats again this week. The concert is guaranteed to be a toe-tapper, so bring your lawn chair or blanket and take a trip with the band down memory lane.”

The instrumental pieces include “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin, “Stranger on the Shore” by Acker Bilk, “A Fifties Time Capsule” arranged by Paul Jennings, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” by George Gershwin, “Georgia On My Mind” by Hoagie Carmichael, “A Sixties Time Capsule” arr. by Paul Jennings, “The Roaring Twenties” arr. Paul Jennings, “The Wind Beneath My Wings” by Larry Henley & Jeff Silbar, and “The Eighties arr. John Higgins.

Pierre School District finalizes $1.1 million budget increase

Members of the Pierre School District board approved a fiscal year 2019-2020 total budget of $30,191,845, a 3.8 percent increase ($1,098,387) over the previous year. This, if all spent, leaves $1,522,789 in reserves.

District Business Manager Darla Mayer explained the budget before it was approved.

The general fund, the largest single fund in the school district’s budget, is $19,594,556, a 3.4 percent increase ($642,623) over last year. This represents a 5 percent increase in salary increases for certified, classified and administrative personnel, and a 5.4 percent increase in extra duty/activity contracts. Though the staff has been reduced by one administrative office position, six positions have been added. Three of these are legally required elementary positions to help improve attendance, completion of homework, tutoring, and the Jumpstart Kindergarten program.

The Capital Outlay fund — for buildings and grounds — is $3,533,487, a 7.6 percent increase ($249,102) more than last year. Two notable items are the summer 2020 replacement of the Riggs building roof and the Jefferson gymnasium floor. The fund also includes upcoming security enhancements.

The Special Education fund, admittedly very heavy in staffing, is the most unpredictable fund. It is $4,100,272, a 3.3 percent increase ($131,260) over last year.

If a number of special needs students move into the district, the budget would need to be increased, perhaps drastically.

Currently, according to Mayer, the district has 340 such students, out of approximately 2,700 total students. Special Education includes certain students until they are past the age of 21. Mayer said that number is expected to increase over the next few years.

The Bond Redemption fund will no longer be needed after August of 2020.

It is $1,361,738, a 4.1 percent increase ($53,514) over last year. This is the payment of principal and interest for bonds issued for major additions constructed on the high school and the middle school. The principal payment increases annually.

“Our taxpayers will feel the reduction,” said Mayer.

The School Lunch fund is $1,570,400, a 1.4 percent increase ($21,888) over last year. Even with a 5 percent salary increase for all staff, the “all other items” (mostly food) is well over half of the budget.

The Other Proprietary Fund is $31,392, with no increase over last year. Out of this fund comes the summer strength and conditioning program, for which participants pay $100 for the summer. It also includes the high school summer school, for which there is “a small fee for certain students for credit recovery,” said Mayer. In the Pierre School District, drivers’ education classes are not paid by or through the district.

Mayer stressed that this budget and its resulting reserves is if “every penny is spent,” though she has worked in every fiscal year to have a budget that is a tiny bit over-anticipated, thus expecting to not spend every penny.

In other business, the board approved some changes in leadership and new terms of office.

Cari Leidholt will take over as board president. This is the third time she has held the position.

Dan Cronin is the new vice president.

Leidholt and Joan Adam took their oaths of office, each beginning a new term.

Members of most standing committees remain the same. Leidholt and Randy Hartman make up the new Safety Committee. The Capital Journal remains the official newspaper for legal publications. Yearbook prices remain the same at $45. The truancy policy remains the same, with the administration able to request city and county law enforcement officers to assist in the enforcement of the compulsory attendance laws.