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SD legislators file letter opposing "Red Flag" legislation with Trump

Twenty-six current and former South Dakota Republican legislators sent letters to President Donald Trump, Senator John Thune, Senator Mike Rounds and Representative Dusty Johnson opposing proposed legislation to provide taxpayer funded grants to encourage states to enact “red flag” laws similar to those enacted by 17 states such as California, New York, Maryland, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and others.

“Red flag” laws refer to statutes that allow complaints to be made against persons that claim they may be a danger to themselves or others, and which seek to invoke gun seizures of any firearms the accused may own.

Standards for issuing these ex-parte orders are minimal and judges err on the side of caution a reported 95 percent of the time in issuing orders for gun confiscations, often without witnesses testifying, and with accused persons not allowed to defend themselves and unaware of such complaints until law enforcement shows up at their homes.

Accused persons are effectively considered guilty until proven innocent under such procedures and proving oneself innocent and clearing your name under these actions is a very costly and timely struggle.

There has been no evidence that any homicides or suicides have been prevented with these “red flag” laws and opponents point out that any “feel good” hopes out of such laws, pale in comparison to the constitutional rights abuses law-abiding citizens are being subjected to.

Senator Stace Nelson (R-Fulton), a retired federal agent, agrees these mass shooting incidents are horrifying and he agrees that changes need to be made to alleviate the conditions that these murderers use to massacre innocent people, but says “red flag” laws do not work, are counterproductive, threaten the rights of innocent law-abiding citizens, and do not address the core problems contributing to these mass murders.

“It is impossible to predict or prevent someone from committing murder under these laws. If they are in fact intent on mass murder, there is no way to prevent them from using a knife, or a vehicle, or a myriad of other lethal weapons.

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Senator John Thune (R-SD), both have common-sense pending legislation that actually address the conditions of law-abiding Americans being disarmed by petty bureaucracy and worthless “gun-free zones.” Their legislation builds on the success of states’ “shall issue” conceal carry & “constitutional carry” laws that experts believe have fueled the massive decline in violent and property crimes in the USA since 1993.”

Former Representative Elizabeth May (R-Kyle), a rancher and grocery store owner with deep roots in the Native American community, expressed grave concerns that such subjective laws are reminiscent of laws enacted in the South after the Civil War against blacks and those historically imposed on Native Americans.

“There’s a long history of discrimination when it comes to gun control,” she said. “These ‘red flag’ laws will result in a disproportionate impact and economic burden on the poorest and most vulnerable people of our society who are the least able to defend or recover their rights.”

Legislators believe that the more South Dakotans understand the realities of these “red flag” laws, the more they will understand the real threat to their own rights that such subjective laws present.

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Police: woman,man accost, rob woman in Pierre park

Pierre police arrested a man and woman Monday evening in Griffin Park after another woman called 911 while she was being assaulted and robbed by the pair, who took her wallet, according to Capt. Bryan Walz.

Just after 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 12, police responded to a 911 call from a woman who said a man and woman were confronting and frightening her in the park next to the Missouri River.

“Out of fear, she called 911 for assistance, at which time the female grabbed the phone from her and threw it to the ground and then stole her wallet,” Walz said in a news release on Tuesday morning.

From the woman’s information, officers located Teri Hairybird, 28, and Patrick Lebeau, 28, in the tent camping area in the park.

Walz told the Capital Journal the victim and Hairybird and Lebeau “are known to law enforcement.”

Hairybird had the woman’s wallet in her possession, Walz said.

Hairybird and Lebeau were taken into custody.

Hairybird was cited on a ticket with an expected charge of second-degree robbery, which is a Class 4 felony with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on conviction. She also is cited and expected to be charged by the Hughes County attorney’s office, with misdemeanor counts of petty theft, intentional damage to property and interference in an emergency communication.

Lebeau was arrested on a ticket citing expected misdemeanor charges of simple assault using intimidation — which could become a felony depending on a person’s criminal history — and disorderly conduct.

The victim told the Capital Journal on Tuesday that she does not know Hairybird or Lebeau, who approached her and her husband Monday about 6 p.m., in a threatening manner, she said.

Hairybird wrestled with her and when the victim called 911, Hairybird “grabbed my phone and threw it on the ground,” she said, showing a reporter. She also showed bruises on her upper left arm that came from the attack in which the woman stole her wallet, the woman said.

She and her husband have been staying in a tent in Griffin Park for about a month, she said.

It appeared at least three tents were pitched among evergreen trees next to an RV parking spot.

“We move it every three days, or they will evict us,” she said of the city park rules.

A red tent next to their has been empty for weeks, she said. Others stay in this pleasant spot next to the Missouri River. She and her husband are waiting to hear about jobs based on applications they have filled out, she said.

“Then we will be able to move into a place of our own,” she said.

They had to move out of their previous home in Pierre because of black mold, the woman said.

This is her home base, the woman said.

“I was born and raised in Pierre,” she said.

The police returned her wallet on Tuesday, with everything intact, the woman said. “I didn’t have any money, it’s all cards.”

Her husband hurt his leg in the altercation, the woman said.

Meanwhile, Lebeau is being held in the Hughes County Jail on a detainer from the state prison system, as well as on the new misdemeanor citations, Walz said.

Lebeau is on parole from the state prison as part of an escape conviction from 2017 in Hughes County, according to Department of Corrections records.

Lebeau was sentenced on June 13, 2017, to five years in prison on a conviction for escape, with three years suspended. His initial parole date, when he typically would be released from prison, was Sept. 25, 2018.

His parole had been slated to expire on Sept. 12, 2023, according to prison records.

Parole and probation conditions typically require a person to avoid breaking the law.

Hairybird was discharged in September 2018 from the state women’s prison in Pierre after completing a sentence, according to DOC records.

Hairybird and Lebeau had not yet appeared in court on the expected charges Tuesday morning.

Pierre schools out of the starting gate for 2019-2020 school year

The 2019-2020 school year is suddenly upon the Pierre School District.

During the last two weeks, students have been registering for classes, checking out computers and posing for official photographs for all district schools.

For new students and parents, these schools include T.F. Riggs High School, Georgia Morse Middle School (GMMS) and Buchanan, Jefferson and Kennedy Elementaries.

Riggs’ classes start Aug. 19, while classes in all other schools start Aug. 21. The first day off from classes is Sept. 1, Labor Day.

Many of the fall season’s sports have already been in practice, with others holding opening practices this week. Friday brings the first competitive games: girls’ and boys’ junior varsity and girls’ and boys’ varsity soccer will host Brandon Valley. Next Monday, the boys’ varsity golfers host Sioux Falls Washington.

A new teacher in-service was held Aug. 13.

“We had our new teachers in today, and three board members were present,” said Superintendent Kelly Glodt. “It’s a welcome to the school and community, then we get into the nuts and bolts of our everyday operations. We have a good mixture of brand new teachers fresh out of college and those who have a wealth of experience.”

According to business assistants Dalaney Paxton and Teri Carter, the new certified staff for Riggs HIgh School include: Alison Bowers, English; Matt DeBoer, social studies; Brody Gilbertson, math; Brenda Gortmaker, special education; Kaci Keinholz, personal finance; Lexi Lafave, math; Sam Naasz, science; and Nicole Thorson, counselor.

The new middle school certified staff include: Sean Clancy, eighth grade history; Elizabeth Clancy, special education; Randi Diehm, physical education and health; Alicia Ferrilli, language arts; Tori Moore, seventh grade science; and Patrick Skroch, sixth grade science.

The new faces at Buchanan are Kasey Gibson, fourth grade; and Karen Pogany, kindergarten.

Jefferson’s new staff include: Martha Johnson, early childhood — special education; Kirstyn Larson, occupational therapist; Stacy Mertes, fourth grade; Megan Neuharth, first grade; and Nicole Roth, special education.

Kennedy has seven new certified staff: Holly Cole, early kindergarten; Shana Davis, Title I — reading; Ashley Grambihler, second grade; Allie Hedman, third grade; Carley Lehrke, fifth grade; Jana Polston, kindergarten; and Meggie Steiner, fourth grade.

“This 29 is the biggest number of new teachers since I’ve been here, and this is my 13th year,” said Glodt. “Last year there were 18. Maybe, some veteran teachers stayed on a few years more than they had to before retiring.”

Glodt said the total staff members for the district are in the 380 range, with less than 200 being teachers.

“It takes all of us,” he said, “A custodian or cook affects a student’s day, just as a teacher does. Our goal is to have a good ongoing staff; the fewer resignations the better. I give credit to the principals for finding and retaining outstanding teachers; we don’t just want to fill a position.”

The district held a parent meeting the evening of Aug. 12, which centered mostly on Riggs’ significant security changes. Now all doors will be locked, and people must ring at the front door to be buzzed in once the school day starts.

“A big change at the high school,” said Glodt. “I think the students and staff will welcome it.”

The monthly “Governor” is the high school student-created newspaper. The “Infinite Campus” is a student/parent portal. Parents may sign up in order to monitor their child’s school records via computer. To create your own portal, contact your student’s school.

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Final Sturgis Rally vehicle figures down 1.2 percent; traffic deaths at 3

The number of vehicles counted entering Sturgis during the 10 days of the annual Motorcycle Rally that ended Sunday, Aug. 11, was down 1.2 percent from 2018, according to the state Department of Transportation, which has been counting since 1990.

Meanwhile, a third traffic fatality was reported Sunday when Tony Weber, 67, of Yuma, Colorado, died Sunday, Aug. 11, in a Rapid City hospital from injuries he sustained during a crash on Friday, Aug. 9, announced Tony Mangan on Tuesday. Mangan is spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety and reports on the daily traffic crashes and law enforcement arrests during the 10 days of the Rally.

Weber lost control of 2015 Harley Davidson near Johnson Siding and went into a ditch and a barbed wire fence. He was not wearing a helmet.

In 2018, four people died during the Rally in traffic crashes in the Highway Patrol’s Rapid City District and in Sturgis.

The 10-day total was 499,654 motorized vehicles of all kinds, from Saturday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Aug. 11, down from 505,969 in 2018, according to a DOT news release on Tuesday.

DOT counted for seven days during the Rally starting in 1990 and in 2015 added several days before the longtime official Monday start because the Rally was attracting more early birds..

In 2017, DOT began reporting a 10-day total vehicle count for the Rally — Friday, Aug. 2, this year, through Sunday, Aug. 12.

In 2017, the 10-day total was 469, 103; in 2018, it was 505,969; in 2019, 499, 654.

The record vehicle count was 604,441 for seven days — Monday through Sunday — of the Rally in 2000, the 60th anniversary, according to DOT figures.

The DOT’s vehicle counting is perhaps the most consistent and simple way of gauging the human size of the Rally each year; it counts every vehicle as it enters Sturgis. A semi-truck counts as 2.5 vehicles; cars count like a motorcycle. More and more people have begun attending in cars and trucks, not bikes, organizers say.

Vehicles that leave and re-enter Sturgis get counted again. The method, of course, does not count how many people on or in each vehicle.

The city of Sturgis and the nonprofit Rally do their own more complicated method of counting the people at each Rally, using several measures, including garbage pickup, utilities usage, sales tax and a giant photo taken each year on the same day about the same time on the main drag.

That number won’t be available until September or October, organizers say.

But Rally spokeswoman Christina Steele has said she expects attendance to be slightly above last year’s 495,000.

The record attendance, by head count, was an estimated 738,000 in 2015, the 75th anniversary, Rally officials say, although organizers had hoped for a million.

Mangan said more DUI and drug arrests — 171 DUI collars, up from 149 in 2018, with felony drug arrests at 131 compared with 77 — might be related to lower traffic crashes.

That’s because of a commonplace for the Highway Patrol: when there are fewer traffic problems, troopers have more time to do other types of law enforcement, Mangan told the Capital Journal. Several law enforcement agencies work at and around the Rally, including volunteers from agencies across the state.

There were three crashes resulting in deaths this year, compared to four crashes and deaths in 2018; 52 injury crashes, down from 56; 41 non-injury crashes compared with 50 in 2018, according to Mangan.

Daily vehicle totals at the 2019 Sturgis Rally:

Friday, Aug. 2: 52,099 entering – up 5.4% from Friday last year

Saturday, Aug. 3: 59,572 entering – down 0.9% from Saturday last year

Sunday, Aug. 4: 55,551 entering – up 6.5% from Sunday last year

Monday, Aug. 5: 61,126 entering – up 2.9% from Monday last year

Tuesday, Aug. 6: 59,361 entering – down 1.5% from Tuesday last year

Wednesday, Aug. 7: 56,204 entering – down 7.3% from Wednesday last year

Thursday, Aug. 8: 51,540 entering – down 8.5% from Thursday last year (revised number)

Friday, Aug. 9: 45,369 entering – down 6.9% from Friday last year

Saturday, Aug. 10: 36,661 entering – down 2.3% from Saturday last year

Sunday, Aug. 11: 22,171 entering – up 3.6% from Sunday last year

Total: 499,654, down 1.2 percent.

Local youth compete in Best of the West 4-H event

WESSINGTON SPRINGS — Four 4-H youth from Hughes and Stanley counties participated in the Aug. 11 “Best of the West” 4-H county showcase held in Wessington Springs. This event is the first Best of the West showcase, and 33 counties were invited to participate in it. Best of the West was patterned after the Sweet 16 showcase in Aberdeen and the Showdown of Champions in Salem.

“We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to attend if they weren’t already invited to one of the other showdowns,” said Audra Scheel, member of the event committee.

Fourteen counties paid their $200 entry fee as well as some great sponsors including: First Dakota National Bank, Bankwest, Grossenburg Implement, FK Ranch –Justin & Krista Krell, Werk Weld, Farm Aid Equipment and the Lyman County Sheriff’s Office.

All monies were paid back to the top five in each division in cash and prizes.

The planning committee consisted of Kama Bruns, Marty and Mandy Michalek, Garrett Bischoff, Steve Zoss and Audra Scheel.

Sweet Grass Eatery served a brisket supper on site, and the barn was packed with spectators. The committee plans to grow the event and looks forward to seeing everyone again in 2020.

Champions in each county were invited to attend in each of the divisions listed below.

● Top Five Breeding Rams — Champion, Jessica Kott, Brule County; Reserve Champion, Blake Peskey, Beadle County; 3rd Overall, Wesley Linke, Jerauld-Buffalo County; 4th Overall, Bailey Feistner, Sanborn County; 5th Overall, Aidan Ferens, Hyde County.

● Top Five Breeding Ewes — Champion, Carissa Scheel, Jerauld-Buffalo County; Reserve Champion, Cannon Zoss, Sanborn County; 3rd Overall, Isabelle Mairose, Brule County; 4th Overall, Blake Peskey, Beadle County; 5th Overall, Spencer Skatvold, Clay County.

● Top Five Market Lambs — Champion, Spencer Skatvold, Clay County; Reserve Champion, Colton Michalek, Brule County; 3rd Overall, Royce Bruns, Aurora County; 4th Overall, Kyla Peskey, Beadle County; 5th Overall, Macee Haase, Bon Homme County.

● Top Five Breeding Goats — Champion, Carissa Scheel, Jerauld-Buffalo County; Reserve

Champion, Ryder Michalek, Brule County; 3rd Overall, Mikayla Ray, Bon Homme County; 4th Overall, Brielee Conkey, Hand County; 5th Overall, Emmitt Feistner, Sanborn County.

● Top Five Market Goats — Champion, Riley Larson, Jerauld-Buffalo County; Reserve Champion, Ryder Michalek, Brule County; 3rd Overall, Peyton Hellmann, Bon Homme County; 4th Overall, Sutton Senska, Sanborn County; 5th Overall, Ella Fagerhaug, Aurora County.

● Top Five Breeding Heifers — Champion, Chesney Effling, Hyde County; Reserve Champion, Memphis Peterson, Brule County; 3rd Overall, Rachel Derksen, Beadle County; 4th Overall, Logan Zemlicka, Hand County; 5th Overall, Jayna Blume, Hughes-Stanley County.

● Top Five Market Beef — Champion, Payton Beare, Hand County; Reserve Champion, Riley Hellmann, Bon Homme County; 3rd Overall, Kindra Wolter, Jerauld-Buffalo County; 4th Overall, Gage Manger, Lyman County; 5th Overall, Regan Derksen, Beadle County.

● Top Five Market Swine — Champion, Teagan Moody, Sanborn County; Reserve Champion, Chesney Effling, Hyde County; 3rd Overall, Jessica Kott, Brule County; 4th Overall, Paton Coyle, Hand County; 5th Overall, Teagan Scheel, Jerauld-Buffalo County.