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The 'Honey' Duckling
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Releasing domesticated ducklings to the wild could be their ugly death sentence, as proven at Capitol Lake in Pierre.

“Recently, on a mid-August Friday, my husband, Norm, and I stopped off at Capitol Lake while on date-night,” said Pierre resident Tricia Harrod. “We noticed a flock of domesticated ducks. Some looked OK and some had been injured in the past.” One, a female white Pekin, caught their eye. “She was so pretty and friendly we knew she had recently been dropped off there. She was very healthy and could not have been there long.”

They thought it would be nice to bring the flock some duck food. “Saturday, we arrived at Capitol Lake. There were white feathers scattered all around.”

The Harrods had learned so much about ducks through their own previous fowled up adoption of ducklings as temporary pets to be released into the wild as adults.

In spring 2018, they bought two ducklings at Runnings. “So cute, so fluffy, and sweet looking, we just had to surprise the kids with a couple,” Tricia said. “We picked out two with the idea that they would make great pets … just keep them for a few months until they were adults and they would fly away and live happily ever after. Not so.”

Most ducks for sale are domesticated. They are unable to fly away; they are too large. They are intended as pets, egg producers, or meat. The four Harrod kids soon became very attached to these two ducklings, Hansel and Gretel. “Our 12-year-old, Matthew, especially loved Gretel and would ‘fly’ him around our yard letting him flap his wings while he held him up and ran,” Tricia said.

“A few months later, we learned the hard way how vulnerable domesticated ducks really are. Neighborhood dogs attacked and killed our ducks while in their pen. Our kids were devastated,” Tricia said. “My husband couldn’t stand to see how upset the kids were.”

In September, the parents mail-ordered six ducklings. They chose two Saxony, one Jumbo Pekin, one Welsh Harlequin, and two Silver Appleyard. The anticipation grew.

“The Post Office called us at 5:30 in the morning. The three-day-old ducklings had arrived,” Tricia said. The kids named the ducklings Dynomite, Ming-Ming, Nibbles, Toki, Lulu, and Lucy.

This time, the ducks are intended as life-long pets, and have a fully enclosed pen with a roof. The Harrod family has learned ducks make wonderful, affectionate pets if hand-raised. The ducks even sit with and sleep on the kids as the kids do their homework. “It is common to see our family out in the yard with our ducks foraging nearby, occasionally coming over for a hug, a pet or treat,” Tricia said. The ducks swim in a kiddie pool.

“As we learned about domesticated ducks, we started noticing them showing up during late summer or early fall at Capitol Lake,” recalled Tricia. “We first found a pair in the parking lot. They were in poor shape, and in need of the human care they were used to.” The family asked and was allowed to take the ducks; eventually finding a good home for them.

Then the date-night sighting at Capital Lake, with white feathers scattered all around.

“The beautiful white Pekin was sitting by herself in the lawn under full sunshine, in spite of the hot humid day,” recalled Tricia. “I slowly approached her, she did not move. She could not move. She had been attacked leaving her immobile and in pain. A few hours earlier she had been completely healthy, but now she would not live much longer without care.”

Teen daughter, Keyana, said, “Mom, if we leave her here, she will die.” They took the near-dead duck home. “The attacker must have been a dog, as her reaction to a neighbor dog’s bark indicated great fear,” Tricia said. The family began doctoring the duck, with honey and more conventional fowl medications.

They warned themselves that the duck might not make it. Still, the family became attached. Norm suggested ‘Honey’ as a name, since they were using honey to help heal the wounds, and because the wounded duck was so sweet.

The duck barely moved the first two days. Eventually it slowly became mobile, and very vocal. Honey will never regrow the feathers and skin that was lost on her underbelly. When otherwise fully healed in a couple of weeks, she will join the other six ducks. “Ducks are very social, but the flock will need to re-establish the ‘pecking’ order. This will take time, and a few tussles among them,” Tricia said. Now the Harrod coop is at capacity.

Believe it or not, it was the 10-year-old daughter, Jenna, who stated it pretty well, “Domesticated ducks are not temporary pets. If you buy them, you must keep them and care for them.”

“The ducks at Capital Lake are so beautiful. The large ones walking the grounds are all so vulnerable. I just wish people understood that ducks are not throw-away pets,” Tricia added.

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Stanley County Goes Back To School
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  • 3 min to read

(Updated from original online version)

Stanley County Schools Superintendent Daniel Hoey said life carries risks for everyone, but people must do their best to mitigate the potential pitfalls, such as COVID-19.

By planning to clean students’ desks with a hydrogen peroxide-based formula between class periods throughout the school day, as well as strongly encouraging social distancing and the wearing of masks, Hoey said his schools were ready as possible when students returned to class on Wednesday.

For the district’s 400-plus students, it was their first time in class since March 12, two days after Gov. Kristi Noem confirmed the initial five cases of coronavirus infections in South Dakota.

“I look forward to the challenge of this year. I look forward to seeing parents, students and the staff of Stanley County Schools working to take care of each other as best we can,” Hoey told the Capital Journal during a Tuesday interview at his Fort Pierre office.

Positive Cases

On Tuesday, Hoey said he believed Stanley County Schools started the year with no positive COVID-19 cases among teachers or students. This was in response to the South Dakota Department of Health’s Monday announcement that 57 schools across the state already had at least one coronavirus infection. The department will not update this specific data again until Aug. 31.

In fact, as of Wednesday, state health officials showed only one active COVID case for all of Stanley County.

However, Hoey said he must also account for the COVID situation in Hughes County, which had 18 active infections on Wednesday.

“There is a large amount of fluidity between Pierre and Fort Pierre, so we also need to consider what’s going on in Hughes County,” Hoey said.

Masks and Social DistancingEarlier in the summer, Stanley County School Board members considered making masks “mandatory” for students. Hoey said public opposition to this concept was stiff.

“That would have been a tough sell here,” Hoey said. “A mandate would have created some concerns of its own accord.”

Therefore, board members eventually settled on language which states: “The district will strongly recommend and encourage staff and students to wear appropriate masks while on campus.”

Hoey said this is particularly important when the recommended social distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained. He said anyone who does not have a mask will be provided one, while all staff members will receive cloth masks.

Hoey also said he agrees with the sentiments expressed by Noem and Pierre School District Superintendent Kelly Glodt regarding the concept of requiring elementary school students to wear masks throughout the day.

“I don’t know that the probability of the that happening is very high,” Hoey said.

In emphasizing the need for masks in certain situations, Hoey said the school is confined to the limits of its infrastructure.

“You can’t create an entryway where everyone can be 6 feet apart,” he said.

As is the case with the Pierre School District, Hoey said Stanley County will allow fans to attend athletic events and other extracurricular activities, while encouraging them to use their best judgment in terms of social distancing and masks.

Under Pressure?Despite Noem’s growing national profile in conservative political circles, with some of this based on how well she says South Dakota has handled COVID-19, Hoey said he feels no pressure from Noem.

Instead, he feels a personal motivation to succeed for the school community.

“Do I feel pressure in a challenging, unprecedented, situation such as this? Absolutely,” Hoey said.

Hoey said only about 5% of parents in the school district chose the online learning option. This, he said, is because they realize that school in the year 2020 is not just about learning math, reading, science, social studies, etc.

“The socialization factor is an important consideration,” he said.

While he acknowledges that, eventually, there will likely be some problem in Stanley County this year because of COVID-19, Hoey said he believes community members will look out for fellow residents.

“We need to watch out, not only for ourselves, but for each other,” he added.

The First DayPrincipal James Cutshaw’s exuberant voice blared over the intercom: “Welcome to the COVID version of the new school year.”

He then gave the announcements, ending with his newest “Dad” joke. Every student received a sticker with the computer user name and password. The school district’s new website has been up and running since last week. The district also has a cellphone app.

“There’s quite a bit of involvement going on,” Hoey said Wednesday.

“It breaks my heart that we have to cancel some traditions, such as the Lions Club serving pancake breakfasts on the first day of school,” Hoey added. “We are maintaining a closed campus to outside visits, which includes a lot of local clubs and organizations. We have strong hopes and expectations to eventually have them back. You do your best. Everything is under different circumstances, but we still have big expectations.”

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Pierre Prepares For Trump Boat Parade
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(Updated from original online version)

From the Atlantic Ocean coasts of Florida, South Carolina and New England, to the heartland of South Dakota, supporters of President Donald Trump just want to hop in their boats to spread their message of support for the 2020 Republican nominee.

The Pierre event is set for 1 p.m. Sept. 12 at Steamboat Park and the Missouri River Causeway.

“The event is a wonderful opportunity for the people of our community to come together and celebrate President Trump and the positive changes he has brought about in our country,” organizer Brandi Barth, of Pierre, told the Capital Journal. “Decorate your boat, kayak, motorcycle, scooter, or just walk on the path with your favorite Trump gear.”

At the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday, Trump was formally renominated by the GOP to run for president this year. He and Vice President Mike Pence currently trail Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in national public opinion polls by an average of about seven points.

However, few states across the nation are likely to be considered more “Safe Republican” by political prognosticators in November than South Dakota. Not only has the state not voted for the Democratic nominee for president in 56 years, only once since 1996 (2008) has the Democratic candidate even come within 10 points of the GOP nominee in South Dakota.

Still, several prominent Republicans are actually endorsing Biden’s candidacy, including former U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and John Warner, R-Virginia, along with former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Nevertheless, Trump’s relatively strong popularity in South Dakota cannot be denied. He carried the state by 30 points in the matchup with Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago, while Gov. Kristi Noem continues as very strong supporter of the president.

“Please come down and show your support for our amazing, President Donald J. Trump,” Barth continued. “No other president in our lifetime has had an impact like this on us Americans. It’s raised up some patriots that didn’t even know they were patriots. Our president has created a movement of people with such pride and love for our country, so much that we want to gather the masses to spread the love. In times such as these, one thing we definitely need is love.”

Trump is expected to officially accept the GOP 2020 presidential nomination during Thursday’s proceedings at the RNC. On Wednesday, Trump announced plans to take action in the critical battleground state of Wisconsin. This is in response to protests sparked by the Sunday incident involving Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Viral video appears to show police shooting Blake in the back. Blake is reportedly in stable condition, but will be paralyzed as a result of his injuries. Trump took issue with Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and his response to the resulting protests.

“We will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets. My team just got off the phone with Governor Evers who agreed to accept federal assistance (Portland should do the same!) TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

This is similar in nature to Noem’s Tuesday tweets regarding out-of-control looting in liberal coastal cities.

“From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder. People that can afford to flee have fled. It took 244 years to build this great nation, flaws and all. But we stand to lose it in a tiny fraction of that time if we continue down the path taken by these radicals,” Noem stated.

Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes will be fiercely fought for by Trump and Biden in the coming weeks. The Badger State had voted Democrat in the Electoral College in every election from 1988 to 2012, but Trump managed to flip Wisconsin red for Republican in 2016.

Other states considered battlegrounds for this year’s presidential race include:

Texas — 38 electoral votes

Florida — 29 electoral votes

Pennsylvania — 20 electoral votes

Ohio — 18 electoral votes

Michigan — 16 electoral votes

Georgia — 16 electoral votes

North Carolina — 15 electoral votes

Arizona — 11 electoral votes

Minnesota — 10 electoral votes

Iowa — 6 electoral votes

New Hampshire — 4 electoral votes

Shown is a highly magnified photo of the virus that creates COVID-19.

COVID-19, By The Numbers
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Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Hughes County, according to the South Dakota Department of Health as of 4 p.m Wednesday.

18 (-1 From Monday)Active COVID-19 cases in Hughes County, according to the South Dakota Department of Health as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

1 (Same as Monday)Active COVID-19 cases in Stanley County, according to the state Department of Health as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

5,715,567Total COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

176,617Deaths attributed to COVID-19 across the U.S. as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

11,571Total COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, according to the state Department of Health as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. 5,801 of these are men, while 5,770 are women.

1,513 (-57 from Monday)Active COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, according to the state Department of Health as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

162Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in South Dakota.

58People “currently” hospitalized for COVID-19 in South Dakota.

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Fort Pierre takes to the sky to check on graves in Cedar Hill Cemetery
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“Is you in or is you ain’t?”

That could be the motto of the research being done in the venerable Cedar Hill Cemetery into the hills southwest of Fort Pierre.

For years, it hasn’t been clear exactly who is buried where, exactly, in this historic cemetery owned by the city, but quite a distance from it. Most graves are marked, some augustly.

 But the cemetery's records don't appear to include everyone buried here, so there are unmarked graves that need marking. More unusually, some remains were exhumed decades ago and moved to another cemetery northwest of Fort Pierre, without records of the emptied tombs being kept well.

A team of technologically advanced scientists are using a drone, globally positioned satellites, computers and, well, a tape measure and shovels, to try to find where empty graves and unmarked graves have bedeviled city officials and families when it comes to burying.

It was a decade ago or so that the city quit adding any more bodies to the rough-hewn graveyard because of the uncertainty about where to dig.

Cedar Hill is a few miles of winding gravel road up and through hills west and south from Fort Pierre. It's a beautiful drive and a beautiful place.

Even at 106 degrees on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

Chris Leatherman, who has a business of mapping by drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, in Gillette, Wyoming, and teaches such mapping at the University of Denver, spent several days this week photographing the approximately 40 acres of Cedar Hill Cemetery. He said he will create a large digital map from the hundreds of photographs, which themselves will help city leaders figure out if there are unmarked graves. He also will make this work part of the class on photogrammetry - measuring things using photographs - at the University of Denver this fall, he said.

On the ground, Matt Busch and Dustin Lloyd, archaeologists with the South Dakota State Historical Society’s Archaeological Research Center in Rapid City, looked for any depressions or mounds that might be unmarked graves, or emptied graves. Measuring such sites and recording the GPS coordinates for later checking, the two will provide more data for the city to use.

Although Busch grew up in Fort Pierre, graduating from Stanley County High in 1997, he has no ancestors laid to rest in Cedar Hill, he said.

Mayor Gloria Hanson said the city doesn't have to pay for this monumental task. Leatherman is donating his time and expertise; the city paid for his hotel room for three days. 

The State Historical Society's Archaeological Research Center has a fund set aside for such community-based projects, Lloyd said.

 It's important to Fort Pierre.

Hanson said the first call she got after being elected mayor in 2014 was from someone who couldn’t find a loved one’s grave in Cedar Hill Cemetery.

“It was so bad,” she said of how overgrown the cemetery had become, with brush and small trees.

She began organizing an effort to determine who, what, when and where people had been laid to rest in the city-owned cemetery.

She credits the Hiram Lodge #123 of Masons of Fort Pierre and Pierre for stepping up to the task.

"They brought chainsaws and went to work," she said. Upkeep of the cemetery had fallen away over the years so that brush and trees and prairie grass had obscured quite a few headstones and markers, she said.

The city crews take care of the general mowing and weeding, but the heavier work got done by the Masonic volunteers for the most part, she said.

The cemetery dates to about 1894, first called “Union Cemetery” because Civil War veterans were some of its first early but late clients. There was a “Boot Hill” over to one side, reportedly, because Fort Pierre used to have a reputation of sorts that included gun fights, Hanson said.

A bank robber was buried here shortly after he helped knock off a Fort Pierre bank. In 1927, after he helped four pals rob the Fort Pierre National Bank, Mike “Dago” Hovart - or "Frank 'Dago Mike' Hovart," or "Mike Hill" or "Mayo Hovart"  among other names he used -  was shot by a tailor who knelt with a rifle to try to stop, or at least punish, the bank robbers who fled in a big Studebaker with about $1,500 in cash.

Joe Depner, besides being a tailor and shop owner, was a crack shot, and hit a few of the five robbers. His last shot went through the car's back window and mortally wounded Hovart, according to news reports at the time.

Nearing the Condon ranch across the Cheyenne River northwest of Fort Pierre, the robbers found Hovart unresponsive and dumped his body in a dry wash where it was found face down a few days later.

Hard feelings or not in Fort Pierre, Hovart's corpse was brought back and buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery. The gang mostly was from Huron. 

The other bank robbers were sentenced to prison by Judge Hughes, who no doubt is buried with the several other Hughes in a major section of Cedar Hill, Hanson said.

There are more humble headstones.

One aged, weathered grave with a stone lamb resting on top as was common on children’s graves, tells a poignant story concisely: Winnifred Ella, daughter, of Herman and Mattie Ostendorf; born March 6, 1900, died March 24, 1909.

George D. Mathieson was only about 15 when he was put on the roster in Yankton to the newly formed Company B of the Dakota Cavalry in 1862 to protect the frontier settlers from the Dakota Indians who had risen up in Minnesota against starvation. In 1863, it appears Mathieson was part of Gen. Sully’s army that fought the Dakotas on Killdeer Mountain west of Bismarck.

In 1909, according to the city directory, George D. Mathieson was running a meat market in Fort Pierre which had become one of the nation's biggest markets for the thousands of cattle fattened on the rich grass on the Indian reservations west of the Missouri River. He died in 1916 and local veterans still make sure there is a small American flag planted next to his plain white headstone here.

The question many might ask when seeing this scenic and historic cemetery is why was it built here? It’s far from Fort Pierre and there wasn’t a church here. Getting a filled coffin in a wagon up these hills on a dirt road or less 125 years ago must have been quite an undertaking.

For years, the grave digger, Bill Morgan, walked the two or three miles from town up and across the hills to dig graves in Cedar Hill, Mayor Hanson said.

But once the Scotty Philip Cemetery was opened northwest of the city about the time of World War I, more people went there post-mortem. Family members even came to Cedar Hill to dig up loved ones's remains and move them to the new cemetery where the expanded family could have plenty of room to have everyone together in the long term, said Doug Runge, who manages the Scotty Philip Cemetery.

The records of who was exhumed and who was buried were not kept carefully enough at Cedar Hill, Hanson said. Enough so that it became a problem to have new burials when no one was sure if a certain plot was empty or not.

So about a decade ago, the city stopped allowing burials or selling plots at Cedar Hill.

Hanson said she’s looking forward to seeing the new research help get the cemetery opened up again.

“The long term goal for us is to be able to make our records more accurate,” Hanson said while looking over the cemetery on Wednesday. “And we are hoping to create a self-guided walking tour, where people can use their cell phones or a brochure, and identify graves.”

Ken Stewart, recently retired from the State Historical Society in Pierre, said this is a pilot project that should provide a program for other cities and perhaps churches to use in mapping and studying old cemeteries.

Mayor Hanson knows the personal connection people in and around Fort Pierre have to Cedar Hill Cemetery.

“My uncle, Ernest Caldwell, is buried here. He was a carpenter and a bachelor. He came to live with us. And we lived in a house that was 24 feet by 24 feet and there were six of us. But my parents found room for him. When I was 10, he taught me to play checkers.”

Slate Creek Counseling opens in Pierre
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Jon Rapp has opened a counseling service in Pierre: Slate Creek Counseling.

“I know there is a need out there in our two communities, especially for a male counselor, as there are hardly any in Central South Dakota. With telehealth, I can ‘see’ someone from anywhere,” Rapp said. “Too many people are out there feeling miserable, and it just doesn’t have to be that way. It just takes a little bravery to get things started, but, after the first session, it just takes work. I have spent my whole professional life helping individuals from all over South Dakota. I think it’s the perfect time to start helping people right here.”

Starting out with clients through telehealth/teletherapy, he renovated an office space on the second floor of his wife’s law firm at 319 S. Coteau St. in Pierre; phone 605-220-1093; website slate-creek.com, and is now seeing clients in person as well. “It is straight up mental health counseling — I use the Cognitive/Behavioral Therapy — assisting people to see and understand what is going ‘wrong’ in their lives, and developing personal coping strategies that help alleviate their current problems. I am seeing individuals, couples and/or families.” He accepts many local health insurance plans, and is securing others.

A 1989 graduate from T.F. Riggs High School, Rapp finished his B.S. degree in 1995 at the University of South Dakota — Vermillion in Biology and English. He earned his Master’s in Social Work in 1999 at Yeshiva University in New York, N.Y.

After working in Austin, Texas, at a group home for developmentally disabled men, Rapp worked for about five years with Black Hills Special Services Cooperative in Sturgis. The CEO financed Rapp’s master’s in a non-traditional program in NYC, going to school full time over three summers and working at BHSSC the whole time. “I found out I was pretty good at helping others in need/at risk, and enjoyed the work,” Rapp said.

“After BHSSC, I went to work for Rapid City Regional Hospital — Behavioral Health, working in the psychiatric unit. I then moved on to work at Behavior Management Systems. After a couple of years, in 2005, I struck out on my own and created Slate Creek Counseling, P.C. (private corporation),” Rapp said.

Rapp has a reason for the Slate Creek Counseling name. “There is an incredible little trail that runs along Slate Creek in the central Hills. On its banks, I asked my wife, Lindsey, to marry me. We met for the first time at Rapid City Regional West at the psychiatric unit — not your typical meeting place,” Rapp said.

He contracted with the Bureau of Indian Education to provide mental health counseling services for students who attended Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Schools. When school begins in September, Rapp will be working there part-time.

“When COVID hit in March, the reservation completely shut down.” Rapp put together a website, and started a private practice in Pierre/Fort Pierre. “I had always hoped to transition into a private practice, but it’s very difficult to leave a place with so much need and such special kiddos,” Rapp said.

“COVID — There does not appear to be the counseling ‘boom’ across the country like everyone expected. To be honest, it isn’t easy for most people to go to therapy, so any good excuse can keep certain individuals away,” Rapp said. “Also, people don’t seem too keen on the whole idea of telehealth, even though studies show it can be just as effective of a form of treatment as in person sessions are. Not sure everyone is ready for the digital age of mental health therapy, but I think it’s totally the future of the profession. It will just take time. Also, I’m not sure that the real economic and emotional shock of this thing has hit us yet. The full emotional toil of the pandemic hasn’t hit our area, but I worry it still could be coming. Let’s hope not.”