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Reitzel competes in National History Day in Washington

Emma Reitzel won first place in her category in the National History Day (NHD) Region 3 Competition on March 10. This qualified her to compete in the state competition in Brookings, April 10, where she took second place. This qualified her to compete at the national contest in Maryland, June 9-13.

“I first started working on my history project a couple of weeks after school started my eighth grade year,” said Reitzel. She chose her Individual Documentary topic with the help of her history teacher, Taylor Hamblin. “The theme of my history project was that women can do things just like men can do.”

“This year’s contest theme was ‘Triumph and Tragedy in History’,” said Sarah Jacobs, National History Day in South Dakota affiliate coordinator. “Students create a historical research project using in-and-out of school time. Projects are student lead: they pick their topic, and what kind of project they want to make — documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website.”

“I chose my topic because I was interested in women’s history, specifically women’s suffrage,” said Reitzel. “As I was looking online about women’s suffrage, I came across the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and conducted my research from there. My documentary was on Temperance — not drinking, prohibition. I was really doing my project on women working together for a common cause. I decided to make a documentary for my project because that was what I thought would best show my work.”

At the local competition, the two judges awarded Reitzel first place, “giving me the opportunity to participate in the state competition at South Dakota State University in Brookings,” said Reitzel. “I didn’t really think that I would get first place, but I did, and after that I was really proud of myself.”

The next judging stage was April 10.

Though the in-person event was canceled due to a snowstorm that shut down the entire state, competition was done via virtual judging. “I received second place in my category, giving me the opportunity to participate in the national competition in College Park, Maryland. I was surprised. I worked really hard at getting there,” said Reitzel.

“At the welcoming ceremony, I got to meet kids from other states who were participating in the NHD competition. We traded buttons. Before I left, I got state buttons/pins. Every state had them. I got 40 different states and one from Puerto Rico.”

National judging was done in the Arts and Sociology building on the University of Maryland,College Park Campus. Reitzel competed against 101 other junior-level individual documentaries. Each faced three judges.

Reitzel was assisted in trip costs by the AAUW (American Association of University Women), Zonta Club International of Pierre/Fort Pierre, the United Way Youth Booster Program, friends, even acquaintances, and her family. “Part of our family vacation was my daughter competing in the National History Day event at the University of Maryland,” said Reitzel’s father Matthew.

“Fifty-one students from the state of South Dakota represented our state at the 45th annual National History Day Contest in Washington D.C,” said Jacobs. “Students had their projects judged against over 3,000 other exhibitors from 57 affiliate programs including every state, Washington D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and international schools in South Korea, South Asia, and China. When students weren’t competing, they toured the Capitol building, meet congressional delegates, went on behind-the-scenes tours at museums, visited the monuments, and participated in workshops.” Reitzel even visited with senators and representative at the Capital.

“It was a pretty fast trip to go on. It was my first airplane flight; it was pretty good. I also went to the National Mall, walked about 11 miles the whole day. The whole thing was a good experience,” said Reitzel.

“I thought that history was pretty fun last year, and I think history can be fun,” said Reitzel. “This year, I’ll be focusing on what I want to do as a job in the future. I don’t see history as a part of that. Maybe medical. But I learned a lot from this.”

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Pierre leaders coping with growing passenger numbers at airport

A new problem has developed at the Pierre Regional Airport — a lack of parking for cars and pickup trucks, not planes.

There’s still plenty of runway space at the small airport that is seeing growth in the number of passengers again. But the municipal parking lot next to the terminal on the far northeast end of town is mostly full each day, as it was Thursday.

“I guess that’s sort of a negative, but it’s kind of a positive,” Mayor Steve Harding told the Capital Journal. “It shows our boardings are up.”

Last week, City Commissioner Jamie Huizenga touted the higher passenger numbers at the Commission’s regular meeting, saying again that everything with the carrier is going better than expected and much better than service in recent years.

United Airlines, flying as SkyWest, began flying from Pierre to Denver a few days into April and by the end of July had ferried 5,390 passengers from Pierre.

California Pacific Airlines, which quit flying the route abruptly Jan. 17 after weeks of problems, delayed and cancelled flights — carried 328 passengers in the first half of January from Pierre to Denver, making the total through July 31 from the airport 5,718, according to figures provided by Airport Manager Mike Isaacs.

Taking the three months — May, June and July — in which United/Skywest flew the full month, it totaled 4,586 passengers, or a monthly average of 1,529.

That shows marked gains from recent years.

Under Aerodynamics Inc., or ADI, in 2018, those three months saw an monthly average of 895 passengers; in 2017, 937.

In 2016, the last year Great Lakes Airlines had the Pierre business, those three months averaged 212 boardings per month; in 2015, Great Lakes averaged 563 passengers each of those three months.

The city parking lot at the airport charges no parking fees. And this summer the lot usually is mostly packed.

This week, Huizenga pointed out that a significant change in flight schedules will start next month and no doubt also will increase passenger numbers.

As of September 2, Watertown, South Dakota, which has teamed with Pierre for four years on a federally subsidized Essential Air Service contract of a dozen flights per week to Denver, will begin its going its own way. Which is to Chicago.

That means Pierre will get more seats and probably better service, because a jet will be parked in Pierre overnight, Huizenga said.

Since April, Pierre and Watertown have been sharing one jet for one flight each day to Denver, giving each community, in theory, half of the 50 seats. Meanwhile, each city has had one flight a day dedicated to just that city. With Watertown getting approval to start flying to Chicago, not Denver, Pierre now will have all of two planes per day.

Airport Manager Mike Isaacs says that means instead of 75 seats available each day to passengers in Pierre, there will be 100 seats per day.

(Under the current plan, the jet that flies from Watertown to Pierre before ending in Denver in theory offers each community 25 seats. But it’s first come-first served, so it depends on who buys the tickets first.)

Starting in September, instead of parking in Watertown the night before, the Skywest jet will park in Pierre.

“That is critical,” Huizenga said at the Commission meeting on Tuesday.

It means that Pierre passengers won’t have to wait for the aircraft to arrive from Watertown each morning.

“Now we have to rely on weather issues for the first flight leaving Watertown,” Huizenga said. “Watertown is a nice community, but in the winter it can be challenging with the snow and ice.”

Under the new regimen next month, the plane will be in Pierre, and taking off in difficult weather always is easier than landing in difficult weather, Huizenga has said.

The numbers will keep going up fast this fall, because the legendary hunting season around Pierre tends to double passenger numbers in Octobers and Novembers, Isaacs said.

So it’s clear more parking lot space is needed.

The parking lot at the airport is a municipal parking lot, just like any other city parking lot in town. So the $1 million in federal funds received by the airport each year — on the condition that at least 10,000 passengers board a plane per year — can’t be used on the parking lot, Harding said.

Mayor Harding said Thursday that the City Commission just began forming a budget for 2020, hearing from interested groups seeking funding and meeting last Thursday in its first work session poring over proposed spending for next year. On Friday, Aug. 16, the Commission will hold its second budget work session starting at noon in City Hall.

“Right now we do have money to expand the (airport) parking lot in the 2020 budget,” Harding said. “Hopefully some of that will stay in there.”

But there is room around the lot to add parking spaces and some money in the still-unfinished 2020 budget.

“I think the money we have now in the budget would give us an additional 20 to 25 parking spaces,” Harding said.

The key 10,000-passenger count for a year should be reached in October, Isaacs figures. And that’s including nearly three months with no airline service.

That means that even before the city’s 2020 budget is on the books, some expansion of parking is needed to handle the traffic from more seats being available on the 50-passenger jets, and from hunting season’s influx.

So he’s planning with other airport leaders and city crews to use gravel or other fill in an area adjacent to the parking lot soon, to “find a temporary solution for hunting season,” when many more people are expected to be flying into Pierre, Isaacs said.

Not only the parking lot has gotten tight on space, but the boarding area inside the decade-old airport is getting too crowded every day, Isaacs said. So he and the city are working on plans to find some more space for people to wait after clearing security and waiting to board.

“The business model has changed, too,” Isaacs told the Capital Journal on Thursday. “Airlines now are encouraging people to have carry-on (luggage) only, not checking bags (for baggage compartments.) So everyone flying has a large carry-on bag, which is taking up more space in the boarding area.”

Isaacs is not complaining.

“These are good problems to have,” he said.

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Judge rejects woman's guilty plea to being on meth because woman was on meth

Luticia Falcon pleaded guilty last week in state court to ingesting meth back in June at Poplar and Pleasant in Pierre.

But Judge Bridget Mayer threw out the plea because Falcon was too high on meth . . . in court.

Falcon, 34, appeared before Mayer on Aug. 6, with her attorney, Tara Adamski, who said Falcon was ready to take the deal offered by Hughes County State’s Attorney Roxanne Hammond: cop to one meth count, have another one dismissed. Both counts are Class 5 felonies that each could mean 5 years in prison.

Mayer grilled Falcon to make sure she knew it was meth and could recount, roughly, how she went about snorting it and getting arrested back on June 6.

They talked about Falcon not keeping to the required regimen of testing to make sure she hasn’t been using drugs since June which has allowed her to be free on bond.

It appeared there was a problem.

Mayer started talking about having Falcon give a urine analysis test right in the courthouse.

Adamski then told Mayer that, “at this point in time, she did have a relapse.”

In other words, Falcon was saying she would test "hot" for drugs.

Mayer told Falcon she appreciated her candor and began discussing arrangements for Falco to be taken into custody for a drug test.

Then a court services officer asked Mayer: Was Falcon to be considered sober enough a few minutes earlier to plead guilty to using meth back in June?

Mayer said the plea would not stand, would have to be vacated.

She ordered Falcon jailed “until further notice,” meaning until she could enter a plea while not intoxicated. The law doesn't allow an impaired person to plead guilty, Mayer told Falcon.

Mayer also revoked Falcon’s bond.

A sheriff’s deputy handcuffed Falcon to take her to jail.

She is slated to appear again before Mayer on Tuesday, Aug. 20, when she will be able to plead guilty again - or not guilty, for that matter - to using meth on June 6. And she also will have the opportunity to plead guilty, or not guilty, to a new charge of using meth on or shortly before Aug. 6, not long before she appeared last before Judge Mayer.

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Girl, 15, dies in rollover; 3 teens critically injured near Parkston, SD

A girl of 15 was killed and three other teens were critically injured Thursday afternoon in a one-vehicle rollover southwest of Parkston, South Dakota, which is about 23 miles south of Mitchell.

According to Tony Mangan, spokesman for the Highway Patrol, the girl was driving a Ford Ranger pickup truck north on 409th Avenue, about a mile southwest of Parkston at about 2:36 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15.

The girl swerved to miss a mud hole in the road and lost control as the Ranger went into the ditch, rolling several times and catching fire, according to Mangan.

At that site, the avenue appears to be a dirt road, according to online maps.

The driver died at the scene.

Three passengers — a girl of 15, a boy of 16 and a boy of 14 — received life-threatening injuries, Mangan said in a news release on Friday.

The three passengers were not wearing seat belts and were thrown from the vehicle. The older boy was taken to the Parkston hospital; the other two passengers eventually were flown to Sioux Falls hospitals.

Mangan did not release their names pending notification of relatives. He said the information is preliminary and the Highway Patrol investigation continues.

State optometrists under close examination

Optometrists (eye doctors) holding South Dakota licenses are under the constant scrutiny of the South Dakota Board of Examiners in Optometry.

This scrutiny includes the grounds for revocation of certificates.

Most of the board’s August 16 meeting in Pierre, was fine-tuning the wording in the board’s administrative rules.

One change in the rules is the now-nonrefundable application fee of $175 for taking an initial examination. Also nonrefundable is the $175 fee for applying for licensure by endorsement. The annual license renewal fee is still $300.

The board must approve any continuing education that an optometrist attends and wishes to count toward their required numbers. Another procedural change, to be initiated as each optometrist renews their license, is recording any child support listing. A person can lose their license if their child support is in arrears.

A list of law and ethics protocol was adopted. As with many other states, the law part of the examination is open book. The timed exam is limited to 45 minutes. “It has always been understood this is the method (for arranging and taking of examinations), but now it is in print,” said Board President Craig Docker. “We want to make it as easy for a qualified applicant to become licensed in South Dakota.”

New accepted procedures

Two optometric procedures were approved for South Dakota. One, commonly called lipiflow or ilux or miboflow, uses thermal pulsations to clean out glands around the eye. The second, called maskin probing, requires topical anesthesia before using small probes to break through scar tissue. “It involves some pain for the patient and the optometrist,” reported Vice President Allen Haiar. Other procedures, some being more like surgery, were tabled until after more investigation. “We have to be careful these are used appropriately and safely by those in our profession,” said Haiar.

The Board of Examiners in Optometry administrative rules must be presented as legislative updates to the Legislative Research Council, around December.

New optometrists

The number of licensed optometrists in South Dakota is 236, with 12 of those earning new licenses in Fiscal Year 2019.

The newest South Dakota members of this medical field include Shon Weaver, Pierre; Taylor Kneip, Brookings; Jordyn Stevens, Crawford, NE; Ryan Rudloff, Dakota Dunes; Cole Bruscher, Mitchell; Matthew Barnett, Rapid City; Jarrell Freitag, Sioux Falls, Delaney Kent, Sioux Falls; Krista Letzring, SiouxFalls, Brett Lorenz, Sioux Falls; and Larae Zimprich, Sioux Falls.

Board finances

The board’s expenses for fiscal year 2019 totaled $61,624. Total revenue was $75,524, thus a positive increase of $13,900. This is not always the case, as with FY2013 when the board went in the hole $16,695 for that year. The cash balance is currently just over $65,900, though it has been down to just over $38,000 in FY2014.

Board make-up

Members of the South Dakota Board of Examiners in Optometry are Craig Docker, president, Mobridge; Allen Haiar, vice president, Sioux Falls; Scott Schirber, Rapid City; new member Angela Hase, Aberdeen; consumer member Jamie Farmen, Pierre; and executive secretary Deni Amundson. Also attending meetings are is Naomi Cromwell, board attorney, and Ann Meyer, assistant Attorney General. Each member holds a three-year governor-appointed term, and may not hold more than three consecutive full terms. The board’s mission is to protect the public by ensuring competent visual care, licensure of qualified applicants, inspection of optometric offices, and enforcing updated statutes, rules, and regulations, including consumer complaint review and processing. Guests are welcome at the meetings.

The South Dakota Board of Examiners in Optometry met in Pierre, though its contact address is in Wall — phone 605-279-2244, email sdoptboard@goldenwest.net, or visit http://optometry.sd.gov. Under the South Dakota Department of Health, it grants, revokes, or suspends certificates of registration.