2017 SD Legislative Session – Dan Ahlers Week 2 Update

dan_ahlersGreetings from Pierre. Because this program affects so many South Dakotans, I would like to focus on the proposed changes to the South Dakota Retirement System. Due to economic factors, SDRS is recommending changes to protect the longevity of the fund as well as member benefits.

The South Dakota Retirement System was created to provide members and their families the opportunity to achieve financial security due to retirement, disability or death. The goal of the plan is to implement, manage and efficiently administer a sustainable retirement program.

The South Dakota Retirement System has a membership of more than 84,000 people. SDRS pays benefits in excess of $500 million each year. The majority of money paid each year goes to individuals that still live in South Dakota.

In the last 26 years, SDRS has been over 100% in actuarial valuations 21 times. SDRS’s fund ratio remains nearly 30% greater than the national average. Most states would love to have a retirement system funded as well as ours. However, due to lower than assumed investment performance the fund is 97% of its Fair Value Fund Ratio. In order to avoid the catastrophic situations of other state retirement funds, the Board of Trustees has a 100% funded objective. To maintain this objective SDRS is introducing 3 bills to ensure its longevity and commitment to its members.

HB 1016 will revise the methodology for calculating the annual cost of living adjustment or (COLA). If the fair value funded ratio is 100% or greater the COLA payable is equal to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage earners or (CPI-W). It will have a maximum increase of 3.5% and a minimum increase of .5%. If the fair value funded ratio is less than 100%, a maximum COLA is calculated that results in SDRS being fully funded and a minimum of .5%. It is important to note that this change will not cut benefits. The change only impacts the amount of increased benefits.

HB 1017 revises the definition of compensation of SDRS and establishes a penalty for false reporting. Compensation is defined as wages earned for services rendered during a specific time frame. Employer funded benefits, allowances or reimbursements for expenses are excluded. Payments in lieu of insurance, temporary pay for additional duties or incentivize retirements are also excluded. An example would be a teacher that would take an additional $1000 cash instead of opting into a group insurance plan. The $1000 payout would not be considered compensation.

HB 1018 revises the computation for benefit compensation. The reason for this change pertains to large, late-career increases in compensation. These incidents create inequities that result in a significantly higher benefit and liability. These benefits and liabilities exceed the amount the contribution and investment income can fund. This bill will phase in a longer averaging period of 5 years for people hired on or after July 1, 2021. Compensation for each year considered is limited to 105% of the highest compensation in any of the final 10 years of employment. This bill will prevent losses from large increases just prior to retirement and keep ongoing cost benefits in balance with contributions.

All 3 bills passed the House Retirement Laws Committee and are headed to the House floor. If you missed last week’s article, it should still be available on Big Sioux Media. If you would like to contact me, you may email me at dan.ahlers@sdlegislature.gov or call 940-3071. I would be happy to answer any questions.

Dell Rapids Baseball Association Update

DellsBaseballLogoThe snow is nearly gone, the ice is melting, and the grass is turning green—all signs pointing toward spring and the start of baseball season.   Yes, it’s nearly here and the Dell Rapids Baseball Association (DRBA) is diligently preparing for the upcoming season.   The DRBA is looking forward to building off of last year’s success, as both the A and B Teener teams earned “runner-ups” in their respective state tournaments.  Little League also had two “runner-ups”, but also crowned a championship team in the MinnDak League.  Other highlights included:  High School Club Baseball saw Dell Rapids make the final four of the state tournament for the second year in a row; Legion baseball won its first game at regions before losing to the eventual state champion; and, both amateur teams (PBR and Mudcats) qualified for the state tournament and advanced past the first round.   Dell Rapids hosted the “B Teener” state tourney to many compliments and a huge success, even mother nature could not damper the mood of our guests.
DRBA is writing this column to simply update the community of the needs, changes, and future of baseball in Dell Rapids.  There are many exciting projects underway to improve our love of baseball in Dell Rapids—such as field improvements, tournaments, equipment updates, and tons of fun.  Currently, the Dell Rapids Baseball Association and Dell Rapids Little League (DRLL) are joining forces to form one entity to better accommodate baseball fans, parents, and kids in Dell Rapids. The current structure is still being formed; however, all information regarding baseball in Dell Rapids will be conducted through one website, dellrapidsbaseball.com.  To eliminate confusion, all ages of baseball will be using the same online registration site, same as last year.  You can register for Little League, High School Club Baseball, Teeners, and Legion Baseball.  Online registration will open on February 1, 2017-so register early.  Registration costs will remain the same as last year.
Of course as in every year, the DRBA and DRLL are both looking for coaches.  If you’re interested in coaching at the High School Club, American Legion, Teener, or Little League levels, please send us a note or contact a board member—all through the website.   We are always looking for coaches to teach, mentor, and encourage our youth in Dell Rapids.   You don’t need to be an expert, but a background check is required for all coaching positions, at all levels.   If you have questions, please contact a board member so we can get an answer for you.  If you are new to town and part of a new business and interested in becoming a sponsor, please see the website for more information.    DRBA and DRLL thanks all those businesses who have supported Dell Rapids baseball in the past, and would like to just give a “heads-up” that our yearly letter will be arriving shortly.   We would not have baseball if not for the support of many local businesses—so a big thank you again.
Also, with change comes the departure of board members—long time DRBA board members LeAnn Kerzman and George Henry both have stepped down from the board after many years of service; their advice and expertise will be missed. DRBA appreciates their time and efforts put forth for the youth of Dell Rapids.  Please thank them when you visit with them in the community.  Until next time, LET’S PLAY BALL!

2017-2018 School Calendar Set

The Dell Rapids School Board approved the 2017-2018 school calendar during their last regular meeting on Monday, January 9th.

Dell Rapids High School Superintendent Dr. Summer Schultz presented the calendar to the school board that includes two three-day weekend spring breaks.

“This upcoming calendar would be the second year of doing the two spring breaks instead of a longer spring break, and I just thought we should wait that out and then make a decision that we’re going to do a multi year with a spring break or spring breaks, make sure that that’s what we like,” said Schultz.

Schultz also mentioned, “Other things that we’ve implemented seem to be working.  People seem to really like those four day breaks after conferences.  The day before Thanksgiving has been popular.”

School will begin on Thursday, August 24th, 2017.  The last day of school is scheduled for Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018.  Thanksgiving break will be November 22nd – 24th.  Christmas break will run from December 21st – January 2nd.  March will have breaks on March 9th and March 16th for spring break, and then March 30th for Good Friday.

“I did not put an early out in for staff development that month (March) just because I felt like the three Fridays chopped it up too much,” commented Schultz.

“I guess from my standpoint, the comments I’ve heard, the feedback, has been positive too,” said Dell Rapids School Board President Tom Morris.

The school board will still make decisions on make-up days for snow days in a meeting prior to the end of the school year.


Josh Roemen to Play Baseball at Mount Marty

RoemenSigning2017_1Dell Rapids senior Josh Roemen signed a letter of intent on Thursday, January 12th.  Roemen has signed to play baseball with the Mount Marty Lancers next season.  Lancer head coach Andy Bernatow and assistant coach Josh Teichroew were at Dell Rapids High School for the signing.

Roemen was selected to the 2016 Class B All-State Team for Dell Rapids High School baseball last season.  He was also named to the All-Region team as he helped lead the team to the four-team state tournament.

Dell Rapids High School head coach Nate Alfson said,  “Josh has been the type of athlete that most coaches hope to have.  Qualities like work ethic, ability and willingness to grow and improve his game, and an overall confidence that can be contagious to his teammates.  Since Josh first began playing for my program, I would notice how intense he was as a player, and when I would challenge the guys with a situational question, Josh would most likely be the first to answer.  He is very knowledgeable and has tons of experience as a player.  I have seen Josh at his worse, and I’ve seen Josh at his best, but my favorite part about Josh is that when he has an off day, he finds ways to bounce back and make the next day a better one.  Whether that be practice or a game, Josh is always looking to perfect his game.  I’m incredibly proud of Josh on his accomplishments and his signing to Mount Marty.  He is going to be very successful there! I am very proud of all the Dell Rapids student athletes.  They are full of talent and all have bright futures if they continue to work at it!” RoemenSigning2017_2

Roemen will play for the Dell Rapids High School Baseball team again this spring also for the Dell Rapids Legion baseball team this summer, along with playing for the Sioux Falls Cyclones.

Dell Rapids Legion coach Bruce Mogan said, “Josh has worked very hard to turn himself into one of the best players in the state.  He has always been a skilled hitter and is at his best against the top pitchers.  The last two seasons Josh has been solid at shortstop for the high school and Legion teams.  He puts in a lot of hours taking ground balls and it has really paid off.  Josh also is a skilled pitcher.  He doesn’t get a lot of innings because he is so valuable at shortstop.  I have really enjoyed watching Josh grow as a player and teammate.  He is a great representative for Dell Rapids baseball.  I expect him to have a great deal of success his senior season in high school baseball and carry that success into the summer and college at Mount Marty.”


2017 SD Legislative Session – Dan Ahlers Week 1 Update

dan_ahlersDear Constituents,

Thank you for choosing me to represent you in Pierre. Each week during session, I will give updates on issues in Pierre. This week I will cover the Northern Natural Gas pipeline easements, the state budget hearings and Initiated Measure 22.

Several of our local farm families are impacted by Northern Natural Gas and its agreement with Northwestern Energy to provide gas service to farms with easements that contain a service contract. Northwestern Energy’s contract with Northern Natural Gas is set to expire in 2017. Without a utility provider, gas supply to area farms will be cut off. The office of the Public Utilities Commission met with Northern Natural Gas and Northwestern Energy this week to facilitate negotiations. Unfortunately, an agreement could not be reached. On Tuesday, January 17th, the PUC Commissioners will give a declaratory ruling. This ruling will resolve the following issues: 1) Does the Commission have jurisdiction over the utility providing gas to farm tap customers? 2) If so, which company is defined as the utility? 3) Are the farm taps in whole or in part subject to state jurisdiction? If you wish to join this meeting by conference call, please contact the PUC at (605) 773-3201. One may also listen to the meeting live at www.puc.sd.gov and click on the live link. I spoke with Commissioner Nelson on this issue. He recommends that anyone impacted should send a letter to the PUC explaining your situation. I would also encourage those impacted to seek legal counsel with a lawyer that specializes in contract law and easements. Updates on this issue can be found on the PUC website.

Appropriations began state agency hearings this week. The legislature will be taking a different approach to the state budget. In the past, we would work off of the Governor’s proposed budget. This year, the legislature will create its own state budget. This decision is an important step that will lead to greater scrutiny over how your tax dollars will be spent. This week, we have reviewed 12 agency budgets including the Legislature, Secretary of State and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. One of the more interesting budget requests is funding for the Sanford Underground Research Facility at the old Homestake Mine in Lead. For more than 15 years, the state has been providing funding to rehabilitate and renovate the mine. Research at this facility brings scientists from all over the country as well as provides research opportunities for students at most of our state universities. This research project is the largest in the country. With our many needs and limited funds, one might ask, why are we literally throwing money down a hole? It’s a valid question. The research at Homestake involves cutting edge experiments that study neutrinos. These experiments have real world applications that will improve communications technology as well as technology that will help detect nuclear weapons in hostile nations. The Dark matter research at Homestake could ultimately lead to unlimited clean energy. There is also an economic impact for South Dakota. This project has created 163 jobs. The economic impact of the neutrino facility over the next 10 years could mean as much as $340 million in income for South Dakota households.

Finally, a brief update on Initiated Measure 22. This measure was passed by South Dakota voters to reform campaign finance, limit the influence of lobbying and create an ethics commission to monitor the activities of our elected officials. Since its passage, it has been attacked by many legislators and the governor. During the budget address, Governor Daugaard suggested the voters had been “hoodwinked” by out-of-state interests trying to influence South Dakota politics. Certainly, there has been out-of-state money that supported the initiated measure, but the people that brought this measure are citizens of South Dakota. The people that put the measure on the ballot were registered South Dakota voters and it was South Dakotans that passed this measure. I believe this measure is a reflection of how South Dakotans view government. As legislators, we should respect your voice. There will be an effort to repeal Initiated Law 22. I will do my part to ensure your vote matters and fight the effort to repeal IM-22. I have encouraged leadership to speak with the people who crafted this law. It is important to hear their intent specifically for sections of the law that are vague or have potential constitutional issues. That way, if we do make changes, we have input from those who initiated the reform.

It will be important to hear from you during session. I would appreciate your input on IM-22 as well as any other issue. You may email me at dan.ahlers@sdlegislature.gov.

Christmas for Our Kids Say Thank You

Please accept our sincere “Thank You” on behalf of “OUR” kids and their families for your generous support this Christmas. Your help for families came in the form of child or family adoptions, cash donations, toys, clothing, homemade pillow cases or scarves, hams, and gift cards – all representing your love for others in our community. We found a thankful home for each gift donated and used the financial contributions to buy toys and gift cards. You opened your hearts to spread Christmas joy to families currently experiencing difficult times. Thank you so very much!!!

Because of your generosity, “Christmas for Our Kids” was able to sponsor 44 local families this Christmas. You helped to ensure that all the children of Dell Rapids had a Merry Christmas.

Thank you on behalf of “OUR” kids and their families for your contributions to our 2016 Christmas drive. You’ve made the “Dell Rapids” difference!

Here are a few excerpts from the many thank you notes sent by the families we helped:

  • “God bless you and thank you so much!!! You are the reason for our smiles!”
  • “You helped make a 5-year-old’s Christmas come true.”
  • “Thank you again for your kindness.”
  • “Thanks again I appreciate all the help during the holidays.”
  • “Thank you so much for helping make my girls’ Christmas better.”
Back row (L to R): Lori Morris, Kim Berven, Glenda Siemonsma, Natalie Sundvold.  Front row (L to R): Sheba Schlaikjer and Jeanine Schnieders.

Back row (L to R): Lori Morris, Kim Berven, Glenda Siemonsma, Natalie Sundvold.    Front row (L to R): Sheba Schlaikjer and Jeanine Schnieders.


Dell Rapids Teen Plays in ESPN All Star Tournament

steineke1A Dell Rapids teen recently had the opportunity to play in the 2016 Disney New Year’s Baseball ® Classic.  Jake Steineke, a freshman at Dell Rapids, played for the Game Day USA 14U Red team during the tournament.

Steineke’s journey started last baseball season.  Steineke earned Most Valuable Player honors while playing in a tournament in Wisconsin.  Because of that award, he was able to sign up for an All-Stars tournament in Ohio in August.  2,600 players from across the nation played in the tournament in Ohio.  Of those players, 24 of those players were selected to play on two teams, Game Day USA 14U Blue or Game Day USA 14U Red.  Steineke was one of the 24 players selected and was assigned to the Game Day USA 14U Red team. steineke2

The Game Day USA 14U Red and Blue teams competed against other teams from across the country December 28th-31st.  Steineke’s team finished pool play with a 2-1 record.  They defeated Crabfest All Americans (MD) 18-7, fell to Lake Erie Lugnuts (NYW) 8-12, and beat Big Game Batting Garage 14U (NC) 10-0.  Game Day USA 14U Red team finished as the top seed in their pool.

Game Day USA 14U Red went on to defeat B1000 Seminoles (NYE) 7-3 on December 30th.  Steineke’s team won the championship by beating Game Day USA 14U Blue by a score of 12-8 on December 31st.

In the tournament Steineke hit a 400-ft triple and had a few doubles.


Growth in Dell Rapids Strong in 2016

2016buildingpermitsThe city of Dell Rapids eclipsed the $11 million mark in improvements again through building permits in 2016.  The city had $11,816,021.31 worth of improvements in 2015, which was a record year.  This year, Dell Rapids had a total of $11,023,410.08 worth of improvements.  The city received a total of 261 building permit requests during the year that included 12 new buildings and 11 new homes.

The numbers were presented to the Dell Rapids City Council during their regular meeting on Tuesday, January 3rd.  City Administrator Justin Weiland commented, “It was a positive year in building permits.  Totals were really strong again and in line with the previous year.”

Dell Rapids has seen steady growth in construction over the last few years.  In 2014 the city had $6.5 million worth of improvements with the big project being the new Ace Hardware building.  In 2013 the city had $9.4 million in improvements on projects such as the new County Fair store, Casey’s, and Family Dollar.

Not only were building permits strong, the city also exceeded the $1 million mark in sales tax revenue through the month of November in 2016.  Currently the sales tax revenue total is $1,060,266.89.  This total is about a 6.13% increase over the total during the same time last year.  Weiland mentioned to the council that the final numbers for sales tax revenue for the month of December should be available in the next couple of weeks.


ERC Adds a Partner

travispeperDell Rapids, SD – January 5th, 2017 – ERC, Inc. announces the addition of Travis Peper as a partner to lead it’s Banking, Trust, & Finance Divisons.

“Travis brings with him a wealth of sales and search experience and an unparalleled track record of professional success which will do everything to enhance our effectiveness in serving our client’s needs, as well as, strengthen ERC’s position within the Banking & Finance community in the upper midwest,” said Craig Libis, Chief Executive Officer of ERC, Inc.

Travis has been a team member at ERC, Inc. since June of 2013.   Travis and his wife Heather reside in Flandreau, SD with their two children.

Founded in 2002, ERC, Inc. is an executive search and recruitment firm that has averaged a growth of 15% each year for the past 15 years.  With the simple mission of making our client companies stronger and better.   For more information, please visit http://www.ercjobs.com/.

Blood Drives Scheduled

CommunityBloodBankDell Rapids, SD- Avera Dells Area Health Center will host a blood drive on Thursday, January 5 from 7:00 am to 11:00 am and 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm. All blood types are in need.

“Just coming off a busy holiday season, blood needs continue to be very strong,” states Ken Versteeg, Executive Director, Community Blood Bank. “When you donate blood on Thursday, January 5, you directly impact hospital patients receiving treatment at Avera Dells Area Health Center. Your donations will make blood readily available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   We encourage new donors as well as those donors that have donated multiple times to give the gift of life.”

A person must be at least 16 years old (16 year olds require a signed parent consent form found at www.cbblifeblood.org), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good general health. It is recommended that a person eat and drink plenty of fluids prior to donating blood.

Community Blood Bank is the sole provider of blood (platelets, plasma and red blood cells) to 31 local hospitals including Avera Dells Area Health Center, Avera Heart Hospital, Sanford Medical Cener, Avera McKennan Hospital and the V.A. Medical Center. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please contact 283-2321. Walk-ins are always welcome.