First National Bank Donates to Dell Rapids Schools

FirstNationaltoDellRapids_2018First National Bank in Dell Rapids has one again made a donation to both Dell Rapids and Dell Rapids St Mary schools in 2017 as part of their innovative Community Card program, which was created to help the bank and their customers give back to the community.

First National Bank presented a check to Dell Rapids school for $3,736.  Since the program started in 2012, First National Bank has donated a total of $12,760 to Dell Rapids school. FirstNationalDRSM_2018

Dell Rapids St Mary school also received a 2017 donation from First National Bank.  St Mary received a check for $1,392.  First National Bank has been able to donate $6,070 to the St Mary school since the program started.


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2018-2019 School Calendars Planned

Both Dell Rapids and Dell Rapids St Mary schools have their 2018-2019 scheduled planned.  The Dell Rapids School board approved the calendar during their regular meeting on Monday, February 12th.

“This 18-19 calendar is very similar to what we’ve been doing.  The start date…we’re kind of creeping back up there to earlier in that third week (of August), which if I didn’t do that, we were right up against Memorial Day which people have also said they don’t want.  They don’t want to start early in August, but they want to be done by Memorial Day.  So in order to do those two things, this is kind of where it had to be,” said Dell Rapids Superintendent Dr. Summer Schultz during the board meeting.

The 2018-2019 school year will begin on Thursday, August 23rd for both schools.  The scheduled last day of school would be Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 for both schools.  The Christmas break will run from Monday, December 24th until Wednesday, January 2nd with students returning to class on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019.  The Dell Rapids St Mary graduation is scheduled for Friday, May 17th, 2019 while the Dell Rapids graduation is scheduled for Saturday, May 18th, 2019.

​The Dell Rapids St Mary 2018-2019 calendar is almost completely set.  Dell Rapids St Mary 7th-12th principal Casey Michel said, “We’re pretty set on it. Only thing really up in the air is Carnival date, but I have both dates on there that it could be.”

 Dell Rapids St Mary Calendar  Dell Rapids Calendar
StMary18-19Calendar DellRapids18-19Calendar


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2018 SD Legislative Sessions – Dan Ahlers Week 6 Update

dan_ahlersGreetings from Pierre. This week, I will provide an update on bills pertaining to the initiated measures, referendums and rural healthcare as well as an update on the Appropriation budget hearings.

HB 1282 would require any ballot question receiving more than $10,000 in out of state contributions to include a disclaimer stating it is paid for in part by out of state interests. At first, this bill seemed reasonable, but it became clear the intent was to single out certain ballot measures. The bill did pass out of the House 49-16 and will be debated in the Senate.

HB 1216 would limit out of state contributions by out of state entities to $100,000. Limits on contributions by PACs and other special interests have been adjudicated numerous times. Each time limits like these have been imposed the Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional on the basis that you cannot limit freedom of speech. This bill passed the House by a vote of 42-24. Ironically, the sponsors of this bill have asked an out of state entity to help finance a ballot measure to fix problems with Marcy’s Law. The amount of funding needed for this type of statewide campaign will exceed the $100,000 limit proposed in this bill.

HB 1201 will be require any initiated, referred or constitutional ballot measure to include the name, address and compensation for a petition circulator. Opposition to this bill fears a requirement to include personal information like a petitioner’s address could lead to acts of violence. This bill will be heard on the House floor this week.

Workforce development has been a reoccurring theme this session. This week we will vote SB 31 which reimburses $832,972 to doctors and other healthcare professionals that serve in rural South Dakota communities. The Recruitment Assistance Program is designed to assist rural communities recruit physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives. Participants must agree to practice in the community for three years. The Rural Healthcare Facility Recruitment Assistance Program is designed to assist hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities retain healthcare professionals. Eligible professions receive an incentive payment of $10,000 upon completion of a three year commitment. Participating facilities are required to pay a portion of the incentive payment based on community size.

In Appropriations, we heard SB 91 which provides funding to establish a state veterans cemetery in Sioux Falls. The land will be donated by Sioux Falls and various veterans organizations have raised $100,000 to put in an endowment to help pay for ongoing costs. The funding request from the state is $600,000 which would be reimbursed by the federal government upon completion of the cemetery. A last minute amendment has threatened to derail the efforts of our veterans. This amendment would require 9.4 million dollars in the endowment before the application process could begin. Currently, South Dakota is in a race for this cemetery with Minnesota. If we do not apply by July 1st, Minnesota will most likely get the cemetery grant and South Dakota would not be eligible due to the proximity of Minnesota’s proposed cemetery location east of Brookings. This amount is more than what would be necessary to annually maintain the cemetery. Annual costs for this cemetery would be $261,000. While the governor has denied this amendment comes from his office, they will not support the bill without this amendment.   Hearings for this bill will continue this week. I encourage readers to voice their support by contacting the governor’s office and emailing members of the appropriations committee.

It will be important to hear from you during session. I would appreciate your input on any issue or concern. You may email me at

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2018 SD Legislative Sessions – Tom Pischke Week 6 Update

Pischke_2017The South Dakota Legislature concluded its sixth week of session Thursday.  We are finally starting to get caught up with our heavy workload.  2018 has been one of the busiest sessions in recent history with over 500 bills that have been submitted for consideration.  This is among the largest number of bills submitted in over a decade.


•HB 1109 would allow inmates who are over the age of 55, have not committed a crime in the first degree, have served ten consecutive years of their sentence, and have a serious medical condition that requires heavy medical supervision to be paroled provided they have a plan for medical care. HB 1109 passed the House Judiciary Committee 10-1 and passed the House Floor 48-17.

•HB 1250 would have raised the legal smoking age in South Dakota from 18 to 21. HB 1250 passed House Health and Human Services 8-4 but died on the House Floor 21-45.

•HB 1268 would change the prefiling date for legislation and would allow legislators to pre-file legislation as early as July. HB 1268 passed House State Affairs 11-1 and passed the House Floor 66-0.

•HB 1199 prohibits collective bargaining by employees of the Board of Regents. HB 1199 passed House State Affairs 8-5 and passed the House Floor 37-28.

•HB 1184 allows for waste disposal lines to be laid along or underneath highways. HB 1184 passed the House Transportation Committee 7-6 and passed the House Floor 45-20.

•HB 1216 would prohibit citizens or entities not from South Dakota or registered with the Secretary of state 4 years prior to the election from donating more than one hundred thousand dollars in the aggregate. HB 1216 passed the House State Affairs Committee 7-6 and passed the House Floor after being reconsidered 36-30.

•HB 1230 would make texting and driving a primary offense. HB 1230 passed the House Judiciary Committee 11-2 and passed the House Floor after being reconsidered 40-26.

•HB 1305 would have allowed Independents to vote in party primaries. However, the bill would have also required the voter to indicate in which primary they would like to vote. HB 1305 passed House State Affairs 10-2 but died on the House Floor 29-37.


•SB 214 would create an independent commission to set legislator pay. The commission would be set by the executive board and require that no more than 6 members of the same party comprise the board. The commission would examine salaries in other state legislatures and consider a number of factors to determine the appropriate compensation and give this report to LRC each January. SB 214 passed the Senate Committee on Appropriations unanimously and will be heard on the Senate floor next week.

•SB 185 allows for the expungement of criminal charges if an individual avoids going to trail by agreeing to a diversion program. In order to qualify, the individual must finish the diversion program and remain drug free for one year following release from the program. SB 185 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Floor with zero no votes.

•SB 65 changes the criminal penalties regarding drug deliveries. If an individual dies from an illegal substance, whoever sold the substance to the victim is subject to the principle offense being 2 classes higher not exceeding a Class C Felony. SB 65 passed Senate Judiciary 6-0 and passed the Senate Floor 32-3.

•SJR 3 To apply for a convention of states under Article V of the Constitution of the United States to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government and limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. SJR 3 passed Senate State Affairs 7-2 but died on the Senate Floor 16-18.

•SB 24 extended the effective date of provisions regarding the recreational use of non-meandered water. SB 24 passed Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources 7-2 and passed the Senate Floor 26-9.

If you have any questions and/or comments on these bills or any other legislation, please email me at

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Dell Rapids Chamber Annual Banquet Held


Photo courtesy of Melissa Van’t Hof

The Dell Rapids Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet on Saturday, February 18th.  This year the chamber was able to involve different businesses with the banquet.  The event was held at the Dell Rapids Pizza Ranch, the meal was provided by Cricket’s Catering of Dell Rapids, and dessert was provided by LaDelle and Fourth Coffeehouse.

During the banquet the Dell Rapids Chamber of Commerce handed out three annual awards.  The first award given was the “2017 Community Spirit” award.  This award is given to a person or business in Dell Rapids that volunteers in the community, contributes to local campaigns that benefit community projects, or collaborates with one or more organizations to create an event or program that benefits an individual or the community.  This year’s Community Spirit Award went to Tim Schwebach.


Photo courtesy of Melissa Van’t Hof

The second award given was the “2017 Volunteer of the Year” award.  This award is given to a person or group who volunteers time to improving their community through various contributions and community service.  The nominees must live in Dell Rapids and the nominee must have spearheaded or assisted a campaign that benefited another individual or the community, or gives selflessly to the community without monetary compensation, or is considered a mentor to others based on their volunteer efforts.  This two groups won “Volunteer of the Year”.  The local chapter of the ESA won for their contributions to the community with the “Christmas for Our Kids” program.  The committee from Norby’s that runs the Christmas for Kids fundraiser also won “Volunteer of the Year” for the record-breaking donation to the ESA “Christmas for Our Kids” program.


Photo courtesy of Melissa Van’t Hof

The final award of the night was the “2071 Business of the Year”.  The business must be an active business for at least three years with a location in Dell Rapids and have revenue or job growth, innovative products or services, provide exceptional customer services, volunteers in the community, or encourages and provides professional development for staff.  This year’s winner was Always Your Design for their recent recognition of being a Top 10 quilt shop in the United States.

After the awards were given and President Dan Ahlers provided a brief update on the happenings of the Dell Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Rebekah Scott of Rebekah Scott Designs presented to those in attendance as the guest speaker.  Scott spoke for about 30 minutes giving insight and information about what makes her business successful.  She also provided tips and motivation to bring success to business owners and employees that attended the event.

ChristmasForOurKidsDonation*Norby’s committee also won 2017 Volunteer of the Year award

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Several Area Students Participating in Music Festival

music-2618342_1280Numerous middle school students from both Dell Rapids and Dell Rapids St Mary schools will be participating in the Brandon Valley Music Festival.  The festival will be held Wednesday, March 7th.

Students are selected for the festival based on nominations and recommendations sent to coordinators by music directors from area schools.

Six students from Dell Rapids were chosen for the choir portion of the festival.  They are Kerrigan Kindopp, Cara Rice, Desirae Horton, Cariss Montgomery, Winston Strauss, and Tristen McDaniel.  Five students from Dell Rapids St Mary will also be a part of the choir.  They are Rebecca Geraets, Briar Hansen, Ella Swift, John Pica, and Noah Olund.

Five students from Dell Rapids and four students from Dell Rapids St Mary were selected for the band.  Abby Greenhoff, Gunnar Chamley, Michaela Witte, Weston Mason, and Josie Geraets were selected from Dell Rapids.  Maya Heinitz, Gabe Nelson, Seth Roemen, and Kyle Bares were selected from St Mary.

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St Mary Students Give Back During Catholic Schools Week

StMaryFoodDrive2018_3Each year at the end of January St. Mary Catholic Schools celebrates National Catholic Schools Week.  One of the ways in which St. Mary celebrates is by giving back to the community through the Food Drive.  This annual event brings in food, water, and money for the Dell Rapids Food Pantry and continues to be the largest food drive for the food pantry each year.

Each day of the week is given a theme that indicates the items to be brought that day.  The themes for this year were “Macaroni Monday”, “Toiletry Tuesday”, “Whatever Wednesday”, “Thirsty Thursday”, and “Free Will Friday”.  K-6 and 7-12 classes compete to see who can bring in the most items. StMaryFoodDrive2018_1_FrSo

On Monday, students brought in 346 pounds of macaroni and other pasta noodles.  On Tuesday, 633 toiletry items were donated.  Tuesday morning, St. Mary freshman and sophomore students delivered the items to the food pantry to be sorted.

Wednesday’s “Whatever” theme allowed students to bring in any items they could to help.  A total of 997 items were brought in that day.  “Thirsty Thursday” had students bringing in StMaryFoodDrive2018_2_JrSrwater and juices, and a total of 23,392 ounces of drinks were donated.  St. Mary juniors and seniors delivered the items to the food pantry on Thursday morning.

The last day of the week was “Free Will Friday”, in which students brought in monetary donations to help the food pantry.  A total of over $1,400 was brought in and donated to the pantry.

A huge thank you to the St. Mary students and families for giving to the food drive each year StMaryFoodDrive2018_4during Catholic Schools Week!  Your generosity continues to help numerous families throughout the Dell Rapids community!

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2018 SD Legislative Sessions – Dan Ahlers Week 5 Update

dan_ahlersGreetings from Pierre. This week, I will provide an update on three bills I sponsored as well as an update on the Appropriation budget hearings.

HB 1076 will allow townships to use an existing tax levy to support emergency medical services. The bill allows local government the flexibility to use property tax in a way that best serves local needs. Local government could create an ambulance district, but it would require a vote to increase taxes. This bill has passed through the House of Representatives and just passed Senate Taxation 7-0. It will be on the Senate floor on Monday.

HB 1154 will allow cities to extend municipal lease-purchase agreements to 20 years. Currently, these agreements are limited to 10 years. This bill will benefit communities that are considering a community center or similar projects that involve real estate improvement and construction. The lease-purchase agreement has several advantages over bonding. Bonding will have a slightly lower interest rate, but require significant investments in time and money to comply with regulatory debt restrictions. Municipal lease-purchase agreements do not require a bond election, underwriting fees or long term administration of the bond. This bill passed the House 67-0 and moves to the Senate.

Finally, HB 1155 will create an advisory board under the Department of Education to assist with the education of deaf and hard of hearing students. Since the South Dakota School for the Deaf closed its campus, deaf and hard of hearing students have been relocated to their local school districts. Outreach services provided by the School for the Deaf do not involve daily instruction and often do not involve interaction with the student. Due to the natural language barrier, a deaf student often struggles in a typical classroom. A deaf student often becomes isolated when he/she is unable to communicate with peers. The best example to illustrate this situation is to imagine a Spanish speaking student in an English speaking class without anyone to assist in translating classroom instruction. This board will be comprised of professionals, parents and representation from the department of education. The board will create benchmarks for students and resources for schools to assist in the education of deaf and hard of hearing students. The bill aims to reverse the trend of students with this disability graduating at an average 3rd to 4th grade reading level and improve post-secondary success. HB 1155 passed out of House Education 13-1.

In Appropriations, we heard budget requests from the Tech Schools and Department of Education. The department outlined 4 outcome goals: 1) All students enter the 4th grade proficient in reading; 2) All students enter the 9th grade proficient in reading; 3) Native American students will have increased academic success; 4) Students graduate high school ready for postsecondary or the workforce. These goals will be challenged by the governor’s recommendation for a zero inflationary increase to the per student allocation. The governor has also recommended a zero inflationary increase to teacher salary. This recommendation creates a paradox since, in 2016, the legislature passed the ½% percent sales specifically to increase teacher salaries in an attempt to stay competitive with surrounding states. The Appropriations Committee to this point has remained committed to finding additional money for education. We will do revenue projections this week and receive an economic forecast for the next fiscal year.

It will be important to hear from you during session. I would appreciate your input on any issue or concern. You may email me at

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2018 SD Legislative Sessions – Tom Pischke Week 5 Update

Pischke_2017The South Dakota Legislature concluded its fifth week of session Thursday with one of the heaviest legislative loads most of the current legislators have ever experienced.  Currently there are over 500 bills that have been submitted for consideration which is among the largest number of bills in over a decade.


•  HB 1070, a 65-page measure to revise and repeal certain provisions regarding alcoholic beverage laws, many of which are considered antiquated and unenforceable, passed the House of Representatives this week on a 63-5 vote. The ‘liquor law reform bill’ enjoyed unanimous support in committee last week, and is expected to easily move through the State Senate in coming days.

•  HB 1157 authorizes alcohol manufacturers and wholesalers to enter into certain licensing agreements with certain alcohol retail licenses. This was a state practice for many years, but a recent interpretation of the law did not allow for it. This bill passed the House Judiciary Committee 11-1 and passed the House Floor 40-27.

•  HB 1219 allows sportsmen to use night vision when hunting. However, they may only use certain kinds of ammunition and must receive written permission from the landowner. This bill passed House Agricultural and Natural Resources 10-2 and passed the House Floor 46-21.

• HB 1190 revise the time period for which certain motor vehicle plates are used. Instead of issuing new license plates every 5 years, this changes it to 10 years. The reason for the change is savings to the state of roughly 6 million dollars for the roads and bridges fund. This bill passed House Transportation 9-4 and passed the House on a vote of 41-27.

• HB 1250, a measure to raise South Dakota’s legal smoking age from 18 to 21 passed House Health and Human Services 8-4. The matter is still pending, as a fiscal note was requested. This bill will likely be voted on by the entire house chamber early next week.

• HJR 1001 would change the current law regarding legislator pay and amend the Constitution to make it one fifth of median South Dakota pay. This resolution would submit the issue to the ballot for the voters to approve the change. This resolution passed out of House State Affairs 9-3 and passed the House floor as amended 38-26. HJR 1001 was referred to Senate State Affairs and will be heard next week.

• House Bill 1071 moved through both the State House and the Senate at a rapid pace, with the unusual step of the Senate suspending committee assignment after the House heard it as part of the joint appropriations process. The bill to authorize the relocation of the School for the Blind and the Visually Impaired and transfer of its existing real estate and facilities to Northern State University passed the Senate on a 34-1 vote. This measure will provide for the construction of a new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which will cost an estimated $13.6 million, but will be paid for through private donations.


• SB 137 changes the minimum hunting age in South Dakota from ten years old and effectively leaves the matter to parental discretion. The child must be hunting with a parent or a “hunting mentor.” A hunting mentor is the child’s parent or guardian or any other competent adult who has the written consent of the child’s parent or guardian. The hunting mentor shall be a resident of this state, shall be unarmed except as provided in this section, shall have successfully completed a hunter safety or hunter education course and they must also have a license for the game being hunted. This bill passed Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources 9-0 and passed the Senate Floor 30-4.

• SB 50 allows for the construction of the American Indian Student center at South Dakota State University and allows for an appropriation. SB 50 passed the Joint Committee on Appropriations without opposition and passed the Senate Floor 28-6.

• SB 54 to provide additional funds to counties to pay for extraordinary litigation expenses on an emergency basis passed the Senate 25-9, and now moves to the House. This fund assists counties with the cost of prosecuting criminals, and the additional appropriation reflects higher than anticipated expenses in the current fiscal year.

• House Bill 1043 was passed unanimously by the State Senate 35-0 to provide for the construction of a National Guard Readiness Center at the Rapid City Airport. This represents the first installment of $500,00o to help fund the construction of a $20 million building next to the Guard’s existing Army Aviation Support Facility at Rapid City Regional Airport.  The state’s ultimate share of the project cost is expected to be $5 million, while $15 million in federal funding has already been secured.

If you have any questions and/or comments on these bills or any other legislation, please email me at

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Planning and Zoning Board Gets New Member

DellRapidsTowerThe Dell Rapids Planning and Zoning Board will have a new member after the Dell Rapids City Council accepted the resignation of board member Paul Zweifel on Monday, February 8th during the council’s regular meeting.

Dell Rapids City Mayor Tom Earley brought an appointment to fill the open spot on the board to the council.  Mayor Earley’s appointment is former Dell Rapids Superintendent Tom Ludens.

“Tom certainly has experience with dealing with the public over his years of school superintendent.  I think he’ll bring another element of value to planning and zoning.  I think it’s important that we do what we can to make sure that it’s a vibrant board, and it has the resources to do the things they need to be doing,” said Mayor Earley.

Ludens commented, “I’ve enjoyed living here for almost 22 years, and I have nothing but positives about Dell Rapids.  Thanks for your appointment.”

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