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2 men on overturned sailboat rescued in Lake Oahe

Late summer, warm water and cell phone technology helped the Pierre Fire Department Rescue Squad as it fought a thunderstorm and waves to find two men hanging on to their tipped-over sailboat on Friday in the middle of giant Lake Oahe, said Fire Chief Ian Paul.

The Central South Dakota Dispatch Center in Pierre passed on a 911 call about 3:21 p.m., Friday, Aug. 9, from a person on shore who saw the sailboat turn over, said Paul on Monday.

The department’s two rescue boats were soon on their way, knowing the weather was too rough at the time to try launching into the deep.

“When the rains came, the visibility was very poor,” he said. “You couldn’t see the road in front of you.”

The person who saw the accident lost sight of the boat due to the driving rain in 35 mph winds, Paul said.

The problem then was to find the boat on the huge lake that is more than a mile wide and 200 feet deep.

“We deployed our rescue boats from two different locations, Corp Bay boat ramp and from Peoria Flats boat ramp, to heighten our advantage of locating the boat,” Paul said.

The two men, who are from Spearfish, were at one point able to get into their “dry box” on the 18-foot catamaran to get a working cell phone and call 911 themselves, Paul said.

“So dispatch had communication with them so we knew they were doing OK,” he said. “The water temperature is about 78 degrees so we knew we had plenty of time before any type of hypothermia set in. So we were just waiting for a break in the rain.”

The wind was blowing the boat generally to the west, Stanley County side.

But it still is a huge lake to find a little boat in waves and wind and rain, he said.

Another key element in finding them was the men’s cell phone.

The dispatch center was able to use the boaters’ cell phone pings off different towers to give the rescue squad “a general area where the cell phone was likely to be at,” Paul said. “So they were able to to do that; and give us a pretty solid area for us to move our search.”

“The waves did not hinder the rescue as much as the general (lack of) visibility from the rain,” he said. “The waves were not extremely bad. We have been out in worse waves. We just had to wait a bit longer to get it cleared off to get our boats out.”

The overturned boat with two men in the water holding on was found about 1.2 miles north of the West Short boat ramp still near the center of the lake, he said. It took about an hour to find them, Paul said.

“They were in good shape, in good spirits and very thankful we were able to get to them,” Paul said. “They were a little bit cold. But nothing a little heat inside a pickup couldn’t fix.”

Paul and two others ran the rescue from shore with three crew in one rescue boat and two in another.

He said he wasn’t sure if the men had been wearing life jackets

The rescue squad doesn’t do boat recovery, he said.

The two sailboaters hired Steamboat’s Inc., in Pierre to bring the boat in on Saturday, Paul said.


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Hail ruins 100s of crop acres in Sully County

Hail cut down crops across central South Dakota last week, especially in Sully County.

Todd Yackley sent out photos of one of his farm’s sunflower fields, showing a before and after effect of the hail that chopped down hundreds of acres of the tall, big-stalked plants on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Yackley manages his family’s farm and ranch operation based just west of Onida, growing wheat, sunflowers, corn and soybeans.

Last summer a similar band of hail moved across the same region, also from northwest to southeast, but it was smaller hailstones in 2018 that sliced grasses like a flail, killing pheasants, hawks and deer.

This one had bigger stones and high winds.

“It was pretty devastating,” he said.

“We had one 300-acre field of sunflowers and one 160-acre field that just got wiped out like that. Up in that part of the county, northwest of Agar, got hit pretty bad. West of Agar along the highway we had 800 acres of corn that got hit pretty good.”

Agar is a few miles north of Onida, about 40 miles north-northeast of Pierre, not far from Lake Oahe.

“This one went all through Sully County,” said Sully County Emergency Manager Curt Olson, who also is a deputy sheriff. “It went from northwest to southeast. That area west of Agar was heavily damaged. Several buildings and homes got windows broken and damage to siding.”

The National Weather Service described the large area damaged by the storm on Aug. 6: “Extensive crop and property damage resulted from up to 80 mph wind gusts and/or large hail to baseball-sized-plus across portions of Corson, Dewey, Walworth, Potter, Sully, Hughes and Lyman counties. Two rounds of severe storms about an hour apart affected those roughly from Blunt to Lower Brule to Iona.”

Several reports of hail 3 inches in diameter were corroborated by the weather service.

Already, Sully County has sustained several millions of dollars damage this year from the winter storms and spring rains that caused flooding, said Olson, who has applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial aid for those losses.

The federally subsidized crop insurance program covers hail damage for farmers when it’s a total loss, like it was in some cases here.

To break down the six-foot-tall sunflower plants with the big heads took quite a hailstorm, Yackley said.

He didn’t get over to see them before they melted down.

“But I think they had to be 2 inches,” he said, judging from the damage to buildings and crops and from reports from other victims. “And it was really windy. I know it rolled some big round bales through a fence, through fields, a quarter mile into another field.”

He’s in the middle of harvest, too.

“We are about three-fourths done with winter wheat harvest and some of the spring wheat is ready to go,” Yackley said.

The wet spring meant many of his crops were planted late, which means he’s banking on good weather to allow them to mature before they are cut off by winter temperatures..

“The corn and sunflowers look really good, the ones that didn’t get damaged. But we are going to need a long fall. If it freezes the first part of September, a lot of the corn will be in trouble.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, Aug. 12, USDA pegged corn acres and bushels per acre higher nationwide, which sent crop prices down, according to news reports.

USDA’s production report said 90 million acres had been planted to corn; the average estimate of the industry was 87.7 million acres. Corn production will be 13.9 billion bushels, USDA projected, compared with traders’ expectations of 13.1 billion, and USDA’s July estimate of 13.8 billion.

South Dakota’s corn crop is in good condition but it remains behind the normal pace, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service based in Sioux Falls reported Monday in its weekly crop progress survey of county crop watchers.

NASS said 64 percent of the state’s corn is in good or excellent condition and 28 percent is looking fair. Silking is going on over 85 percent of the crop, below the 96 percent by this time in the five-year average. The report said only 25 percent of kernels are in the dough stage by the week’s end on Sunday, Aug. 11, compared with 69 percent a year ago and 51 percent in the five-year average.

Soybean condition rated 2 percent very poor, 8 poor, 37 fair, 40 good, and 13 excellent.

Soybeans blooming was 83 percent, behind 96 last year and 94 average. Setting pods was 47 percent, well behind 79 last year and 76 average.

Winter wheat harvested was 68 percent, well behind 96 last year and 90 average.

Spring wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 4 poor, 32 fair, 47 good, and 15 excellent.

Spring wheat harvested was 16 percent, well behind 76 last year and 61 average.


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What some call garbage, Keller calls recyclables

Val Keller loves her job — she is Pierre’s solid waste superintendent — and she loves giving in-depth tours of her facility. What some people call garbage, Keller calls recyclables.

Keller is not alone, she leads a crew of 12 others.

“My staff for the Pierre Solid Waste Department includes: one scale operator, two crew leaders, five baler/equipment operators, two refuse collection drivers who help with the baling operation two to three days of the week, one part-time operator and a summer seasonal employee,” said Keller. “This department actually functions seven days a week for most of the year. We are only closed six holidays of the year. People generate garbage every day; there isn’t a holiday from that.”

The department's hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Open or closed, the facility — located at 2800 East Park Street in Pierre — is still conveniently available for those who will want to get rid of garbage and will put the recyclables in the correct bins or piles.

“Drop-off for yard waste, trees and recycling are available to our customers 24/7,” said Keller. “Our facility offers other conveniences, too. When a load of debris is brought to the facility, there are bins for scrap metal, treated lumber, bulky items and construction debris (rubble) such as wood, sheetrock, shingles and other inert types of waste. Household garbage and wastes such as paper, plastic, fabric, carpet/padding, etc. are dumped inside the baling facility building. The employees of the department operate equipment including the baler to bale the waste and load the bales into the back of a walking floor semi-trailer, which is used to haul the bales to the city-owned and operated regional landfill. That landfill services several mid-state counties."

Some of the other recycling/reuse options include the paint swap, bicycles, and pallets. “There is more information on the web pages with that,” said Keller. Paint swapping is encouraged. Drop off usable paint that you no longer need, or pick up paint that someone else has donated. Visit during normal operating hours to see the ever-altering selection There is no fee to drop off paint or to take paint.

The solid waste facility has used bikes for sale for $5 each. Visit during normal operating hours to see the selection. There is no charge for recycling a cell phone. Old cell phones can be deposited at city hall or at the solid waste facility located at 2800 East Park Street. There is no charge for recycling rechargeable batteries (Ni-Cd, Li-ion, Pb, and Ni-MH). They can be deposited at city hall or at the solid waste facility. The facility even takes light bulbs for recycling.

As stated, Keller and her department have their own link on the city’s website: https://www.cityofpierre.org/207/Solid-Waste. To set up free tours for groups, organizations, students, etc., call 773-7434.

“I am always open to tours of all ages,” said Keller. “It is great to be able to provide tours of the operations to kids; they learn and take the information back home to their parents.”

Roll off containers are available evenings and weekends for yard waste, trees and recyclables. “You are not required to cross the scale for these items. The bins are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Keller. All items — other than yard waste, trees and recyclables — must cross the scale to make payment and receive dumping directions.

Garbage or not; the operation is a clean one. Vehicles hauling loads of garbage, rubble or trees that are not secured or covered to eliminate spills can be hit with a $20 fine.

Scrap metal items include stoves, microwaves and water heaters. Appliances containing freon (refrigerators and freezers) are only accepted if the freon has been removed by a certified person, and the completed form with signature from a certified freon removal service is provided with the appliance.

Recyclable items that can be dropped off in the bins include aluminum cans and corrugated cardboard (the stuff with “waffling”). Please do not bring other food, beer, soda containers or waxed corrugated cardboard. Other recyclables for the bins include home office paper (please place in plastic bag and tie), magazines, newspaper and inserts, numbers one and two hard plastic and steel (tin) cans.

Recyclable items that must come across the scales are crushed asphalt, concrete and pallets.

Non-recyclable items include: glass containers, blueprints, brown envelopes, brown paper bags, carbon paper, cardboard food containers, chipboard, construction paper, EKG paper, Fed-Ex, UPS or priority mail envelopes, food containers/paper cartons, hanging file folders, hardcover books, magnetic ink strips, microfiche, paper towels, paperback books, pendaflex folders, plastic bags, plastic or metal spiral bound paper (unless spiral is removed), ream wrap paper, tissues and wax laminated wrapping paper.

Each year more than 3.5 million pounds of yard waste — autumn leaves, garden waste and grass — is recycled and turned into high-quality compost. After the compost is screened to remove any inorganic material, it is used to reestablish soil throughout the Pierre area.

Keller said the city and the public have used the compost by mixing it with topsoil, which helps grow very good lawns and vegetation.

“We monitor the compost throughout the year to make sure it’s receiving optimal levels of heat, air and moisture and morphing into the good stuff,” she said.

It takes anywhere from three to 12 months for yard waste to become good compost. The decomposition process generally slows in the colder winter months. The yard waste is piled into large windrows. Temperatures of the decomposing stuff in the windrows is between 130 and 140 degrees, and the staff runs a compost turner over the windrows to aerate the stuff and help the biological composting process. Completed compost sells for a certain amount per ton plus tax. The compost is analyzed and registered as a fertilizer with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.


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Stanley County School Board readying for school year

During its Aug. 12 meeting, the Stanley County School District board discussed the opening of school.

The 2019-2020 school year classes for the Stanley County School District start Monday, August 19. An open house is set for Thursday, August 15, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Classes start August 21.

Booster Club President Tina Titze, representing the entire organization and its many volunteers, discussed the club’s updated promotional brochure that “will go out with every child to the parents.” “The Boosters, for this year’s activities, are gearing up for doing fun events that really hype school pride,” said Titze. “And, before you know it, the Homecoming activities will be here.”

Titze described 10 years of information on what the Booster Club gives back: a total of $115,000, mostly through wish-list equipment items for teachers, classes and school organizations. A lot of that funding comes from concessions, football yard-line sales and other fundraisers. This year, the football yard-line sales will give away $300 — as opposed to last year’s $200 per home game prize — making a total season’s give-away of $900.

The Booster’s watermelon feed is Aug. 27. Other activities include the Homecoming Whopper feed (Sept. 27), chili feed, coronation, athletic banquet and the concessions.

“We are excited for the new year,” said Titze.

In other business, Superintendent Daniel Hoey reported that through ongoing training and the furthering staff education, Stanley County School District retains its full accreditation and certification.

Recently passed state legislation calls for ‘In God We Trust’ to be posted in a prominent place in every school. This will start the year out as a simple sign, but Hoey said, “We have local artists in our classrooms, why would we not take advantage of that?”

When new ChromeBooks arrive at the end of August, student in grades six through 12 will receive one. Students in grades nine through 12 will have the option of taking the computers home after school each day. Insurance on each tablet was discussed. Hoey commented on technology which seems so good but leads to new aspects of out-of-school considerations, such as some families not having WiFi to go along with the tablets.

The 2019-2020 student handbook, staff addendum and board policy handbook were accepted “as updated.”


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Rinehart to sing at the state fair

Once again, Frankie Rinehart, of Highmore, was invited by Sherwin Linton to play and sing with the Cotton Kings opening the Sherwin Linton Show at 1:30 p.m. on Labor Day, Monday, September 2, at this year’s South Dakota State Fair in Huron.

The stage is on the west side of the fairgrounds. Sherwin Linton stage is sponsored by AARP.

Rinehart has enjoyed performing, and being invited by them in the past. This is her seventh year as a guest appearance. She said she appreciates all the hometown support, and it is always nice to see all the familiar faces out in the audience.

“It is just great to be on stage with the Cotton Kings and Sherwin,” she said. “They make you feel so at ease. It is really fun! See you at the Fair!”

Rinehart also performs in Pierre at the Hughes County Senior Center and Parkwood Apartments, besides her regular performances at Highmore Health.