Representatives of the Verendrye Museum Board of Directors, along with many Fort Pierre and Stanley County residents and representatives of the Fort Pierre Development Corporation, unveiled a historic bell in Fort Pierre on July 4.
The bell was previously a fixture of the Orton Country School in Mission Ridge, a rural public schoolhouse in which many older residents of Stanley County — including the famous Casey Tibbs — received their primary education.
The Orton School operated between 1925 and 2015, when a lack of students forced it to officially close.
The bell itself remained on the school building until October of 2018, when it was taken down and sold to the Verendrye Museum by the Stanley County School Board for one dollar, former Orton teacher Phyllis Fravel said.
“The bells were very important to the country schools; I went to one myself,” Sunny Hannum, who serves as a secretary for the Fort Pierre Tourism Board, said. “When that bell rang, you knew you better be headed for your desk… they carried for miles.”
The bell unveiling took place directly after the Fort Pierre Independence Day parade, and involved a small ceremony. Some time prior to the ceremony, the heavy cast-iron bell was installed on a seven-foot-tall steel fixture with a concrete base, made by local residents Brian Scott and Darby Nutter.
While the July 4 parade was still ongoing, the large fixture was placed in front of the Sansarc Schoolhouse, another country school which was moved to Fort Pierre for historical preservation. Sansarc operated between 1910 and 1969. A number of former teachers and students of the local country schools elaborated on the schools’ histories, and told stories about their memories of rural education.
“As a kid growing up there, we kind of took the bell for granted. We thought — I thought, anyway — that everyone had bells,” Darla Tibbs said. Tibbs had been a student and teacher at Orton School, and fondly remembered the time when — as a teacher — a rattlesnake had squatted in the school’s heat vents.
“That whole week we were listening to that snake whenever we’d go in and out the door for recess,” she said. “Every now and then we’d just go over there and stomp on the floor and make sure he was still there, because I said I was a lot more comfortable knowing where he was than where he wasn’t.”
After the stories ended and the bell was finally unveiled, it was Verendrye Museum Board of Directors member Zay Norman who had the honor of giving it its first ring.
“I want everyone to just listen to it; let it ring,” Norman said. “It’s like a prayer, in a way.”
By 8 a.m., people had started streaming into Fort Pierre. By 9:30 a.m., the curbs of Deadwood and Main Streets were packed. By the time the parade started a little after 10, even standing room was getting hard to find. One observer outside the Fort Pierre Cowboy Country Store quipped, “Half of Pierre is here!”
An exaggeration, perhaps, but one that captured just how many people had come out and enjoy the Independence day festivities and sunshine after a week of rain.
Here are some highlights from Fort Pierre’s celebration of the 243rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General William P. Barr’s Advisory Subcommittee on Native American Issues (NAIS) convened during the U.S. Attorney’s National Conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss a wide range of justice issues affecting Indian country, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores (OK-N), Chair, and U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme (MT), Vice Chair. U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons (SD), who heads the NAIS Law Enforcement Resources Working Group, was also in attendance.
“The Native American Issues Subcommittee is focused on reducing violent crime against women and children in Indian Country, including missing and murdered indigenous persons,” said Shores. “I am thankful for Attorney General Barr’s leadership on these issues. He understands the law enforcement and jurisdictional challenges faced by Native Americans and Alaska Natives. We look forward to working with him and with our federal, tribal, state and local partners to find viable solutions that will improve public safety in Indian country.”
“It was an honor to be hosted in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House to work on these important issues,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “The Department of Justice is committed to doing everything it can to improve public safety in Native American communities across the United States.”
On Tuesday, July 2, the NAIS met with Tara Sweeny, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, and discussed cross-agency collaboration in order to provide more responsive and effective justice services to Indian Country. They further discussed Indian Country case investigations, case intake and tracking databases, and tribal law enforcement resource allocation. The NAIS also reviewed President Trump’s priorities for Indian Country justice. Those priorities include protecting Native American children in the Indian Health Services system, collaboration among Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and tribal law enforcement agencies, reducing violent crime, and providing services to help victims to overcome trauma.
On Wednesday, July 3, Shores moderated a panel titled “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women: A Crisis in Urban America & Indian Country.” Panelists included Charles Addington, Director of the Office of Justice Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs; Kurt Alme, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana; Tracy Toulou, Director of the Office of Tribal Justice; Laura Rogers, Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women; and Bryan Vorndran, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI. The panel discussed the development and implementation of protocols to investigate murdered and missing indigenous persons and how to more accurately measure the scope of the problem in both urban America and Indian Country in order to develop strategies to address it.
In August, the subcommittee is scheduled to reconvene in Indian Country in New Mexico.
The NAIS consists of the approximately 53 U.S. Attorneys serving in districts that include Indian Country or one or more federally recognized tribes. The NAIS focuses exclusively on Indian Country issues, both criminal and civil, and makes policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding public safety and legal issues that impact tribal communities.
The NAIS is the longest standing subcommittee to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and helps develop, shape, and otherwise implement justice policies affecting Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The NAIS has identified four priority areas: 1) Violent crime 2) Law enforcement resources 3) Drug trafficking and substance abuse, and 4) White collar crime.
Early morning June 3, the city of Pierre warned residents of a precautionary water alert.
According to Brad Palmer, city utility director, a water main on Henry Street broke around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening. Two-block-long S. Henry Street runs from W. Sioux Avenue (the main east/west route through Pierre) southward to W. Missouri Avenue near the river.
“The old cast-iron pipe had been weakened by corrosion caused over time by the corrosive soils — ‘hot’ soils — found in the Pierre area. It’s a fairly common thing,” Palmer said.
The crews replaced a short section of the water main with C900 piping. C900 is the American Water Works Association standard for cast-iron-pipe-equivalent polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pressure pipe for potable water transmission distribution. City crews had completed the repair work by 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.
“Any time we open up a pipe like that, we have the water tested at the state laboratory to make sure the water is safe to drink,” Palmer said. “Normally that is done within 24 hours, but with the Fourth of July holiday we added on another 24 for the testing to be completed. The lab tests for the presence of bacteria. If there is any unsafe bacteria, the water is retested and we give the chlorine in the Pierre drinking water time to kill the bacteria.” Bacteria can be killed by boiling for a sufficient amount of time.
The distributed warning concerning the city water reads:
“Notice to customers. Drinking water boil order. Work was recently completed on the water main in your neighborhood by the city of Pierre. The city recommends as a precautionary measure, that water for drinking or cooking should be brought to a rolling boil for three minutes before use. Drinking water is being sampled and tested by city personnel. Until further notice is given, the drinking water boil order will expire at 5:00 p.m., July 5, 2019. After the drinking water boil order has expired, you may resume normal water use.”
Can you tell the difference between gunshots and fireworks?
Every year around the 4th of July, law enforcement agencies around the country are inundated with phone calls from people concerned about random gunfire in their neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, there are irresponsible gun owners out there who decide that shooting their guns into the air in celebration is a good idea.
Responsible gun owners know that shooting guns into the air is not a good idea. In fact, it’s a really, really dumb idea. When a bullet goes up into the air, it will eventually come down. When it comes down, it’s going to hit something. Sometimes, that something is a person, and tragedy ensues. So, if you’re thinking about shooting your guns into the air on the 4th of July, or any other time, don’t.
Law enforcement officers responding to reports of gunfire that turn out to be nothing more than the use of celebratory fireworks takes time and resources away from the other important duties law enforcement provides for us. Because it is often hard to tell the difference been the sound of gunfire and that of fireworks, we headed to the shooting range with some firecrackers and a firearm to see if there is a way to tell the difference between the two just by how they sound.
Testing the sound of gunshots and fireworks
The gun we chose to test with is a very common pistol: a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield in 9mm. The fireworks we tested are a commonly-available string of firecrackers. We tested to see if we could tell the difference between them by sound alone. We recorded the sound of both the pistol and the firecrackers at close (two yards) and long (200+ yards) distances. We used a 9mm Smith & Wesson Shield with 115-grain American Eagle 9mm ammunition, two strings of Phantom Fireworks “Wolf Pack” firecrackers, a Nikon D7500 video camera, and an iPhone 7+ camera
It is very difficult to discern the difference between the gunshots and the fireworks just by listening to their individual sounds. However, there are three noticeable differences between them. There is a rhythm to the gunshots that is not there with the firecrackers. When a pistol fires, the pistol needs to cycle the action and reload another round, and the recoil of the pistol discharging forces the muzzle to rise. The time needed to complete these mechanical actions is identical for each shot. As a result, the gunshots happen at regular intervals. This is not true of the firecrackers. They ignite at random intervals, some of which are almost simultaneous and occur faster than gunshots do.
Because firecrackers use black powder and not modern smokeless gunpowder, there is a significant amount of smoke associated with their discharge. This means that if a person hears a “pop pop pop” sound and there is no smoke appearing, chances are it’s random gunfire and not fireworks. In addition, there is a secondary “crack” of the bullet from the 9mm pistol that is noticeable under certain conditions. This is a noise that the firecracker does not produce.
We hope this will help you determine if it’s just fireworks you are hearing, or whether it is dangerous gunfire instead. Please be safe with your fireworks. If it really is gunfire you are hearing, please immediately contact law enforcement and make a report.
Kevin Creighton is on the team at Ammoman.com. He has been a gun writer since 2006. He is an active competitor and is an NRA-licensed firearms instructor.