Soil Health Road Show Scheduled for June 12-13

SDSHCLogoSOUTH DAKOTA SOIL HEALTH COALITION (SDSHC), Pierre, S.D. May 20, 2018:  A Soil Health Road Show has been scheduled for June 12-13, with events being held in four different locations throughout central and eastern South Dakota. Each event will feature nationally recognized soil health speaker Ray Archuleta as well as additional soil health specialists from the state and region. Archuleta is a farmer from Seymour, MO who teaches Biomimicry Strategies and Agroecology principles for improving soil health nationwide. He has over 30 years of work experience as a Soil Conservationist, Water Quality Specialist, and Conservation Agronomist with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Next month’s road show begins on June 12, with a bus tour in Moody County from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM. Stops will be made in Dell Rapids, SD and Pipestone, MN with soil and equipment demonstrations to be included as well as lunch and a producer panel. Beginning at 5:00 PM the same day will be an event at the Spink County 4-H Facility. This event will include a meal followed by a presentation by Archuleta which will cover topics such as soil biology, the benefits of diverse crop rotations and cover crops. The first event the following day, June 13, will be held at Dakota Lakes Research Farm and feature a farm tour and speakers Dr. Dwayne Beck, Dr. Cody Zilverberg, Dr. Jose Guzman and Ray Archuleta. Topics covered during the farm tour will include the importance of proper crop rotation techniques and their benefits, phosphate fertility associated with long-term use of no-till, the importance of understanding the carbon to nitrogen ratios in crop and cover crop selections, as well livestock integration into cropland.

The fourth and final event of the Soil Health Road Show will begin at 6:00 PM in Tripp County at St. Mary’s Hall. Speakers Bryan Jorgensen and Ray Archuleta will present sessions on the benefits of diverse crop rotations and cover crops as well as a discussion on carbon to nitrogen ratios. Attend an event near you to learn how you can work to improve your soil health this season and for years to come!

For full event details and flyers for each event please visit our website or contact Cindy Zenk, SDSHC Coordinator, at (605) 280-4190 or

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Magician Tries to Help Youth Avoid “Social Media Land Mines”

Cyber Safety & Magic don’t usually go together, but on Thursday, May 3 students at Dell Rapids and Dell Rapids St. Mary will be learning about social media safety in an unexpected & engaging way!  

Teaching students about social media safety is critical. Whether it’s getting addicted to technology, posting hateful things, hurting reputations, meeting people online or tarnishing your online reputation. It can be dangerous.

Magician and “edu-tainer” Robert Hackenson Jr. is slowly changing how teens post and use technology. This amazing presentation has allowed students across the country, in 46 states and counting, to see and understand what to post and what not to post.

His presentation infuses card tricks, eye-catching props, and illusion in a way that engages students while reinforcing the educational lessons. Every piece of magic, story, video clip, etc. is used to deliver a message and make it memorable, without making light of this serious issue. His presentation helps start a conversation amongst students about social media safety and responsible posting. It makes them think not only about their own safety, but also about how they can keep their peers safe.

Hackenson will also give a parent presentation on Wednesday, May 2nd starting at 7:00 p.m. in the Dell Rapids MS Commons area.  The Dell Rapids Connections group will be serving refreshments.


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Dell Rapids Native Jon Hansen to Run for State House

JonHansenCampaignDell Rapids, SD – Former State Representative Jon Hansen announced that he will run for a seat in the South Dakota House of Representatives for District 25.  District 25 includes the towns and rural areas surrounding Baltic, Colton, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Rowena, Sherman, Valley Springs, and eastern Sioux Falls.

Hansen lives in Dell Rapids with his wife Sheila and their three children.  “We’re so blessed to call this community our home, and if elected, I look forward to once again standing up for the people of our district so they know that someone out in Pierre has their back,” Hansen said.

Hansen previously served in the State House from 2010 to 2013.  During that time Hansen served in leadership as a majority whip and as vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  Hansen holds a law degree from USD.

While in Pierre Hansen, a fiscal conservative, advocated for low taxes and fees, open and efficient government, protection of life, preservation of family farms, and quality education for South Dakota children.

Hansen will face a primary election on June 5th, 2018.

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AT&T Brings Faster Network to Dell Rapids Customers

4G LTE Expansion Will Give Customers Better Access to Mobile Internet

AT&T Logo VerticalDELL RAPIDS, S.D. Apr. 2, 2018 — AT&T* added a new cell site to its 4G LTE network in Dell Rapids. The upgrade will give customers faster, more reliable wireless service.

With 4G LTE, customers will have a better network connection while streaming videos, sharing on social media or texting family and friends.

“Customers are doing more with their wireless devices than ever before, and our goal is to give them an effortless network experience,” said Cheryl Riley, president of AT&T Northern Plains States. “Thanks to this investment, Dell Rapids residents and businesses can now enjoy faster mobile speeds than ever before on our 4G LTE network.  We are proud of our continued investment across South Dakota.”

We’re also boosting network reliability and capacity as we expand our network. These upgrades will improve critical services that support public safety and first responders.

In 2017, South Dakota accepted the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state’s public safety community. AT&T, in a public-private partnership with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for South Dakota’s public safety community for the next 25 years at no cost to the state. The FirstNet experience will deliver innovation and create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders.

From 2014-2016, we invested more than $90 million in our South Dakota wireless and wired networks. These investments boost reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for South Dakotans and their businesses.

We continued our investment in South Dakota in 2017 and plan to keep upgrading our network throughout 2018.


*About AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) helps millions around the globe connect with leading entertainment, business, mobile and high speed internet services. We have the nation’s largest and most reliable network** and the best global coverage of any U.S. wireless provider. We’re one of the world’s largest providers of pay TV. We have TV customers in the U.S. and 11 Latin American countries. More than 3 million companies, from small to large businesses around the globe, turn to AT&T for our highly secure smart solutions.

AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. Additional information about AT&T products and services is available at Follow our news on Twitter at @ATT, on Facebook at and on YouTube at

© 2018 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the Globe logo and other marks are trademarks and service marks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

**Coverage not avail. everywhere. Based on overall coverage in U.S. licensed/roaming areas. Reliability based on voice and data performance from independent 3rd party data.

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St Mary Student Council Recognized as “Outstanding” by SDHSAA

DRSM LogoThe South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) announced today that 38 South Dakota high school student councils have been recognized as being “Outstanding Student Councils” for the 2017-18 school year. This is the 28th year this statewide program has been sponsored by the SDHSAA to recognize those South Dakota high school student councils that meet or exceed the rigorous standards of excellence that are necessary to achieve the “Outstanding Student Council” designation. Student councils that achieve this recognition can best be described as being very active within their school and community throughout the school year. Outstanding Councils excel in having a well-rounded program of activities and projects which benefit both their school and their community throughout the school year.

The “SDHSAA Outstanding Student Council” program requires each participating student council to complete a self-evaluation of their organizational structure and their successful completion of projects in a variety of areas. The evaluation also considers the involvement of the student council in their school and community. The High School Activities Association recognizes the student councils that have met the stringent standards and criteria demanded by this program. The 38 student councils that have been recognized this year are well organized, highly motivated and have met the rigorous standards necessary to be declared outstanding. The self-evaluation focuses on the structure of the student council as well as the positive involvement of the student council in the activities of their school and community.

To be recognized as an “Outstanding Student Council”, each council was involved in projects in the areas such as “Community and School Service”, “Health, Safety or Chemical Awareness”, “Education”, and “Leadership”. Completion of projects in a wide range of areas was necessary to fulfill a variety of goals for the student council. Each school receiving the “SDHSAA Outstanding Student Council” award has demonstrated a desire for self-improvement and individual growth by participating in leadership workshops and conventions, as well as other educational programs.

The 2017-18 “SDHSAA Outstanding Student Council” Award recipients are:

  • Aberdeen Central High School
  • Bennett County High School
  • Dakota Valley High School
  • Dell Rapids St. Mary High School
  • Douglas High School
  • Edgemont High School
  • Ethan High School
  • Harding County High School
  • Harrisburg High School
  • Henry High School
  • Herreid High School
  • Huron High School
  • Irene – Wakonda High School
  • Lead – Deadwood High School
  • Lemmon High School
  • Lennox High School
  • Lyman High School
  • McCook Central High School
  • Milbank High School
  • Mitchell High School
  • Philip High School
  • Pierre T.F. Riggs High School
  • Rapid City Stevens High School
  • Sioux Falls Lincoln High School
  • Sioux Falls O’Gorman High School
  • Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School
  • Sioux Falls Washington High School
  • St. Francis Indian School
  • Sully Buttes High School
  • Summit High School
  • Timber Lake High School
  • Vermillion High School
  • Wall High School
  • Watertown High School
  • Waverly-South Shore High School
  • Winner High School
  • Yankton High School
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Dell Rapids Resident Inducted to SDFCA Hall of Fame

2018SDFCAHoFDell Rapids resident Scott Freeman was inducted into the South Dakota Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame on March 24, 2018. He enjoyed a very successful coaching career in South Dakota nine-man football that included stops at Hurley, Montrose and Colman in the 1970s and 1980s.

He coached from 1971 through 1987, compiling a 109-29 career record that including mythical state championships with Hurley in 1972 and Montrose in 1974 before South Dakota implemented the high school football playoffs.

Montrose enjoyed an undefeated season in 1974 that included a 30-22 comeback win over Freeman in a game that matched No. 1 rated Montrose and No. 2 rated Freeman.

Freeman guided Hurley from 1971-73, winning three consecutive Tri-Valley Conference titles; Montrose from 1974-76, winning Corn Belt Conference titles in 1974 and 1975; and Colman from 1978-87, winning Sioux Valley Conference titles in 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1985.

He was named the Corn Belt Conference’s Coach of the Year in 1974.

Other coaches inducted with Freeman were Kent Mueller (West Central), and Bill Weber (Watertown).

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Help Improve the Lives of Patients, Give Blood

CommunityBloodBankDell Rapids, SD- Avera Dells Area Health Center and Community Blood Bank will join forces to host a community blood drive on Thursday, April 5 from 7:00 am to 11:00 am and 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm. All blood donations will directly benefit the local blood supply and patients in need at Avera Dells Area Health Center.

“Spring is the perfect time to provide a lifesaving gift and impact the community’s blood supply,” states Ken Versteeg, Executive Director, Community Blood Bank. “Your donation of blood with Community Blood Bank will save up to three patients, impacting a trauma, burn, surgery or cancer patient. Consider keeping your donation local and impact patients in need when we come to Avera Dells Area Health Center.”

Donors must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with a signed parent consent form found at, weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good general health the day of the donation. Please bring an ID with you. It is recommended that you eat and drink plenty of fluids before donating blood. It only takes 30 to 35 minutes to donate with Community Blood Bank.

Community Blood Bank is the sole provider of blood and blood products to 34 local area hospitals, including Madison Regional Health. For questions please contact Avera Dells Area Health Center at 605-428-2421, Community Blood Bank at 877-877-3070 or log onto our website at . Walk-ins are always welcome.

Community Blood Bank is not affiliated with other blood bank organizations and takes pride in being a self-sufficient organization, thanks to the generosity of our local blood donors.

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St Mary Student Wins Essay Competition

DRSM LogoPayton Park’s winning essay aims to help a leading nonprofit fulfill its mission through sound financial management, placing him first in the state of South Dakota for high school students

Spearfish, South Dakota March 15, 2018 – Many teens enjoy raising funds for nonprofit organizations, but 16-year old Payton Park wants to manage those funds! This exceptional sophomore from St. Mary’s High School in Dell Rapids, South Dakota channeled his inner financial advisor to create an investment plan for the World Food Program and become the South Dakota first-place winner of SIFMA (Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) Foundation’s Fall 2017 InvestWrite® competition. Park’s remarkable essay on how to help a nonprofit organization manage its assets for maximum short- and long-term sustainability has positioned him at the top of thousands of students competing nationwide. Should he ever wish to manage his own nonprofit organization, Park has the financials figured out!

Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the SIFMA Foundation’s acclaimed national financial capability programs engage 600,000 students and 15,000 educators annually with proven impacts in raising students’ math, economics and personal finance test scores and, through InvestWrite, their language arts and writing skills. The 4th-12th graders nationwide who compete each year are reinforcing what they have learned in The Stock Market Game an online simulation of the global capital markets that reinforces STEM learning, 21st Century skills, economics, investing and personal finance. Through InvestWrite, students are, in fact, building on what they have learned through their participation in The Stock Market Game, which has reached more than 17 million students since its inception in 1977.

InvestWrite enables students to develop the personal financial savvy needed to make practical financial decisions with confidence and gain a deeper understanding of economic opportunities, consequences, and benefits. Students consider real-world events and news, conduct research online, and develop investment recommendations. They work in groups during The Stock Market Game program and then write their InvestWrite essays individually to reflect their critical thinking, analysis and creative talents.

“SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game and InvestWrite are transformative programs that prepare students for college, career and life while teaching them about the capital markets and investing,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “Our students do measurably better on math, economics and personal finance tests. They also learn to work in teams, manage change, understand the impact of global economic activity, and become smart consumers ready for financial independence.”

Since InvestWrite was introduced in 2004, more than 215,000 students have submitted essays. Payton Park is among the 20,000 participants each year in InvestWrite, which bridges classroom learning in mathematics, social studies, and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for long-term personal financial planning.

An independent, double-blind, nationally randomized evaluation conducted by Learning Point Associates (now AIR) found that The Stock Market Game improves students’ academic achievement and personal financial behavior. Students who participated in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game scored significantly higher on mathematics and financial literacy tests than their peers who did not participate. They also found that teachers who taught The Stock Market Game reported that the program motivated them to better plan for their own financial futures. The Stock Market Game has been named the only program that successfully increased scores on the Jumpstart Coalition’s test of high school students’ financial literacy.

The Stock Market Game and InvestWrite are offered in South Dakota through the Center for Economic Education at Black Hills State University. “We honor and congratulate our InvestWrite winning student, Payton Park and his teacher, Amanda Geraets” said Donald Altmyer, Center Director & South Dakota Stock Market Game Coordinator. “Helping South Dakota students better understand our economy, our markets, the role of investors, and how to make good investments will pay dividends for the students, their education, and the South Dakota economy.”

The South Dakota Stock Market Game is sponsored by the Black Hills State University Center for Economic Education, the Securities Industry Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) and the South Dakota Council on Economic Education. For more information on the program or the webinars, contact Professor Don Altmyer, SDSMG Coordinator at or 605-642-6266.

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2018 SD Legislative Sessions – Tom Pischke Week 9 Update

Pischke_2017The main portion of the 2018 Legislative Session finished up on Friday, March 9th, and while it included many positives, people should be alerted to the dramatic expansion in government spending that is occurring each year and the increasing tax burden placed on the shoulders of our citizens.

South Dakotans take pride in the fact that their State Government, by comparison, is one of the more financially sound states in the nation. Our state retirement is fully funded, so we can keep our commitments to our teachers and state employees. We have a AAA bond credit rating, enabling us to construct buildings at low interest rates. Our state Constitution, approved by the voters, requires a structurally balanced budget, so we can’t spend more money than we take in.

But while we are not on the brink of insolvency like some other states, I don’t believe that’s enough to say that we are doing well at managing our responsibility to you, the citizens and taxpayers. If you’re like me, you expect that we will find ways each year to spend your dollars more effectively, and you expect our programs to help people toward personal responsibility, not create more dependency.

In 2017 the State spent $4.148 billion. In 2019, the budget is set to spend $4.688 billion. That’s an increase of $540 million or 13% in just two years. That’s $5417 for every man, woman and child and an increase of about $623 per person in 2 years.  Personally, my income hasn’t increased 13% in two years so it’s hard to justify that the government should increase it’s spending by that same mark.  We’ve also added 612 full time employees (FTE) in two years.

One substantial portion of the increased budget this year was due to the Federal Government changing the rules to comply with their responsibility to fund healthcare for our Native American population. They directed Indian Health Services to pay for 100% of the medical costs for their enrolled members who are eligible for Medicaid. This resulted in substantial savings to the state, which could have been used to reduce the tax burden on our South Dakota families, spent to ensure there are enough high quality workers caring for disabled citizens, or used to fund the education increases we passed so that you wouldn’t see your property taxes go up.

Instead, the proposal was to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, expand Medicaid services, and expand the number of people eligible to bill Medicaid for their services. Some targeted reimbursement rate increases are necessary to ensure we have the staff to help care for the truly disabled. But much of the benefit of this expansion goes to the big 3 hospital systems in our state, who put a lot of pressure on legislators to go along with the “grand bargain” and not to change it. Once these expansions are authorized, there is no discretion by the State. We simply have to pay the bills.

Some of us determined that it was not necessary or prudent to expand Medicaid services at this time, and fought to stop Medicaid expansion in the state budget. We have seen Medicaid expansion plans really sink state budgets in other states. It seemed wiser to wait until the next Governor takes office before saddling them with an expansion that could really get out of control. We got 17 legislators to oppose the budget presented, but were unsuccessful in stopping the expansion.

It will be important to watch carefully what happens with this in the session next year. Will the numbers come in as predicted, or will it be another bait and switch that promises savings, but really ends up growing government? The important thing is to remember history and stay watchful. If we do so, we can keep the government accountable to the promises made so that your taxes are being spent as wisely as possible and that your family budget is the one that grows, instead of the State’s.

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2018 SD Legislative Sessions – Dan Ahlers Week 9 Update

dan_ahlersGreetings from Pierre. We have completed the final week of session. I will cover the new Precision Ag Center at SDSU as well as provide a breakdown of the additions to this fiscal year and the state budget approved for 2019.

In this final week, the legislature approved a $55 million precision agriculture project at SDSU. SDSU will become the nation’s first university to offer a B.S. degree in Precision Agriculture. Precision Agriculture combines engineering, mathematics, agronomics and environmental analysis to improve traditional agriculture methods. GPS guidance systems in tractors during the 1990’s were the early stage of precision agriculture. An example of today’s precision agriculture combines GPS-based soil sampling, software and variable rate technology to maximize the distribution of fertilizer. Farmers, ranchers, foresters, etc. can use these tools to optimize yields and profits while protecting water, soil, livestock and wildlife.

Each session, we amend the current fiscal year’s budget. Sometimes we make cuts because revenues fall short of projections. Other years, we may have a surplus. During surplus years, we can choose to put the money in reserves or address other unmet state needs. In 2018, we added an additional $5.4 million in one-time money to education. An additional $2 million was approved for the Precision Ag Center at SDSU. We approved money to start the application for the State Veterans Cemetery near Sioux Falls. We also put $4.7 million toward state employee health insurance reserves. The Governor proposed an increase to a group of Medicaid providers to get within 90% of cost in 2019, so the legislature appropriated an additional three months of funding in 2018. We also included an additional $2 million in one-time money to all providers. Finally, we appropriated additional money in 2018 to increase starting wages for correctional officers and employees at the Human Services Center in Yankton. These facilities have experienced high turnover and overtime pay due to non-competitive wages.

For fiscal year 2019, we focused on three main areas: Medicaid providers, state employees and education. For providers, we approved a 1.5% overall inflationary increase. The newspapers reported a 2% increase, but that is not accurate. Our Medicaid providers are classified by a tier system. Providers like Avera and Sanford Hospital will see a .5% increase, while nursing homes will see a 2% increase to their reimbursement. State employees will receive a 1.2% salary policy increase. The legislature prioritized state employee salary policy early in this session. The departments have had a difficult time filling many positions throughout state government. This problem is due to wages not being comparable to the industry median. Finally, education will receive a 1% inflationary increase. This increase will apply to special education, education and technical schools. Newspapers reported that the legislature increased taxes again to give money to teachers. This statement was also inaccurate. The increase given to schools is not required to go to teacher salary. However, those schools that did not make their teacher salary accountability last year will need to use this money for salary in order to make accountability this year. With respect to taxes, the mil levy changes for property tax correspond with the increase in state general fund dollars. These levy adjustments happen each year with changes in state aid.

Thank you for electing me to represent you in Pierre. Your calls and emails during session were valuable in my decision-making process. Please continue to share your input on any issue or concern. Throughout the summer, I will continue to work on constituent issues. Sometimes these issues can be resolved without legislation. Otherwise, I use your input to create legislation for the next session. You may email me at

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