Joe Belak, 84

Funeral services for Joseph Belak, 84, Rapid City, formerly of Gregory, were held July 6 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Gregory. There was a private burial.

Joseph was born on Feb. 21, 1934, in Gregory, South Dakota to Joseph and Frances (Chvala) Belak. He attended grade school and middle school at the St. Joseph’s Catholic School. He then attended Gregory High School.

Joe was a talented athlete in multiple sports during his high school years. He received many awards in both football and baseball, but baseball was his true calling.

In 1951, he led the Gregory American Legion team to a Class B State championship and was named the South Dakota American Legion baseball player of the year. He was being scouted by several professional baseball teams because of his outstanding performances.

With the rise of military action (and ultimately war), Joe knew that he would be one of the first to be drafted, so he enlisted in the United States Army and served in Korea during the Korean Conflict. His tour of duty included being an Infantry soldier and skilled Paratrooper which earned him the rank of Senior Jump Master. Some of his duties included the dangerous task of laying land mines and then also picking them up.

He was stationed at Camp Zama, Japan and joined the military baseball team. His performance caught the eye of other baseball scouts from the United States Olympic Team. In 1956, Joe flew to Melbourne, Australia to participate in the 1956 Olympics and helped his team win the Bronze Medal.

Another more tender life changing moment for Joe was meeting his future bride, Hisaka Kimoto, while stationed in Japan. After a whirlwind romance the couple married in Japan.

Upon completing his duty in Korea and Japan, he and Hisaka, along with their son, Joe Jr., returned to the United States. He returned to his home town and began his college career at Black Hills State University.

He returned to Gregory following his time at BHSU and he continued to play the sport of baseball which he loved; playing in the Basin League for the Winner Pheasants and also the Rapid City Chiefs until 1958. His participation in amateur baseball continued until 1978 and was honored in 1983 by being inducted into the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. He continued to participate in the ‘old timers’ game’ during the annual 4th of July festivities until his health would not allow him to do so.

Joe attended both the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Burke, SD and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Gregory. He was a member of the Burke VFW and the Gregory American Legion.

Joe was quiet man who spent countless hours serving others. He set aside his love for baseball and the future possibilities in the sport to answer the call to serve his country, family, and community. He spent many endless days and nights serving as a lineman to restore electricity to members of the surrounding areas. He was a skilled handyman and laborer and answered many calls to help with house repairs, yard work, etc. He made it a mission to visit those less fortunate in the nursing home and assist during feeding times. He loved to sit outside in the evenings and just be present in the glory of the sights and sounds of the outdoors.
Joe was very proud of each of his children, grandchildren and great-children. He and Hisaka loved their grandchildren and welcomed opportunities to care for them. Although Hisaka was not able to experience the birth (and lives) of the great-grandchildren, Joe was able to be present to share his love (and her spirit and love) for them. They will always be a part of their lives and will watch over them.

Joe was challenged by multiple health issues over the years and although he continued to decline in the most recent years, he continued to have a strong spirit, passion and drive for life. Joe passed away at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD on June 23, 2018 at the age of 84.

Joe was preceded in death by his wife Hisaka, his mother, father, and grandparents, 7 brothers (Felix, Pete, Steve, Frank, Jim, Tony and John) and 3 sisters (Mary, Anna, and Agnes), their spouses, several nephews and nieces.

Survivors include:
Son: Joseph and wife Colleen (Rogge);
Daughters: Fran and husband Doug Sletten; Anna (Atteberry-Gustafson) and husband John Gustafson;
5 grandchildren: Jesse Atteberry and wife Ashley (Miklos), Brandon Atteberry, Jasmine (Atteberry) and husband Dan Thelen, Carly Sletten, and Garret Sletten.
4 great-grandchildren: Michael Joseph and Blair Elizabeth Atteberry, and Emma Violet and Harper Jo Thelen.
1 sister: Susan Connot
And a host of many relatives (nephews, nieces, cousins, etc.) and friends.


Goochey Team Wins Golf Tourney

The Goochey team won the championship of the Budweiser, KWYR, Grossenburg, Jorgensen Farms and Pepsi golf tournament Saturday at Winner Country Club.

The team shot a 64. Members of the winning team were Amanda Murphy, Brett Swan, Cody Goochey and Mac Johnson.

Second place in the championship flight went to Bud 1 and third to Zeigler/Novonty.

Winner of the first flight were Williams/DeMers followed by Swan second and Grossenburg/Schramm, third.

Meiners were the winners of the second flight. Second went to Vaughn/Steele and third to Lovejoy/Nespor.

Junior Teeners Split Games in Regional

Winner Junior Teeners put up five runs in the fourth inning on its way to a 7-1 victory over Mt. Vernon-Plankinton Saturday in the regional tournament in Platte.

The offense was led by Owen Duffy, Adam Bohnet and Pierce Nelson, all driving in runs.

Mt. Vernon/Plankinton tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the third inning. Winner pulled away for good with five runs in the fourth inning. Duffy tripled on a 2-1 count scoring two runs. Bohnet doubled on a 2-2 count scoring two runs and Nelson singled on the first pitch, scoring one run.

Justin Hausmann was credited with the victory. He surrendered one run on eight hits, striking out four and walking one.

The Winner Teeners played Sunday in Platte and they lost 5-3 to Platte-Geddes.

Winner scored two runs in the third inning and one in the fifth.

Platte-Geddes scored two runs each in the fourth.

Ethan Bartels was on the pitcher’s mound for Winner and he pitched three and two-thirds innings. Pierce Nelson came in to pitch and pitched two and a third innings.

Leading hitters for Winner were Adam Bohnet who was 2-3, Nelson, 2-4, Aiden Barfuss, 1-3 with a double.

Winner Junior Teeners played at 7 p.m. on Monday in the double elimination tournament.

Winner Jr. Legion Beat Gregory 8-2 in the 4th of July Game at Gregory.

Winner Jr. Legion beat Gregory 8-2 in the 4th of July game at Gregory.

On offense Phillip Jorgensen went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI’s. Kameron Meiners went 2 for 2 with a walk an and RBI.
Joren Bruun started on the mound and pitched 6.1 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits while striking out 7 batters. Meiners recorded the final two outs.

“This was a great game for our kids. The atmosphere was fun with all the 4th of July activities going on around the park. It was a big game for us, as we’ve split 2 games with them so far this year. It was a tight game all the way through until the 7th inning and then put up 5 runs to kind of put it out of reach. Joren really battled on the hill. He didn’t have his off-speed working, but he fought through it and challenged their hitters with his fastball,” said coach Kory Foss.
“We had some big hits in some key spots and capitalized on their mistakes in the 7th. It’s always nice to get a win against a solid team like Gregory.”

With the win the junior Legion record moves to 14-3.
Selby 4-Winner Junior Legon 2

The Winner Junior Legon lost to Selby 4-2 at home on Saturday, July 7.

Offensively Fred Whiting was 1 for 3 with 2 RBI’s. Colby Kaiser had 2 hits, while Joren Bruun, Oscar Pravecek, Phil Jorgensen, and Landon Thieman each added a hit.

Kameron Meiners started on the mound and pitched a complete game giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits, while walking 3 and striking out 7.

“We started quick with 2 runs in the 1st inning, but left a few more runs on the bases and then struggled at the plate from there. Selby’s pitcher was very good, and we had a hard time making contact most of the day,” said coach Kory Foss.
“Our defense played well and Kameron threw a great game, so even with our difficulties at the plate we still led the entire game. We were up 2-1 with 2 outs in the 7th inning and Selby just strung together some big hits. They had a 2-on-2-out triple that gave them the lead and we couldn’t answer in the bottom of the 7th.
“It’s a tough game to lose when you lead the entire way, and it’s a difficult loss for Kameron to take because I think he really did a nice job on the hill. But that’s baseball, and you have to take these games and learn what you can from them so that the next time you’re in a similar situation you come out on the right end,” said Foss

After the loss Winner’s record is 14-4.



Jr. Teeners Fall to Gregory

Winner Junior Teeners fell behind early and couldn’t come back in a 14-2 loss to Gregory on the Fourth of July in Gregory.

Gregory scored five runs in the first inning and added seven more in the third inning.

Winner had runs in the second and third innings.

Pierce Nelson was on the hill for Winner as he pitched two and a third innings allowing 12 hits and ten runs while striking out 2. Coy Brickman threw two-thirds of an inning in relief.

Nelson, Aiden Barfuss and Ashton Klein had one hit for Winner.

Legion Downs Valentine

Winner/Colome Legion grabbed an early lead on its way to a 5-2 victory over Valentine, Neb., on Thursday in Winner. This was a make-up game with the Badgers.

The Royals scored on a triple by Levi McClanahan, a single by Chase Dufek and a ground out by Calvin Ringing Shield.

After Valentine scored one run in the top of the fifth, Winner/Colome answered with one run of their own. The Royals scored when Riley Calhoon singled on a 2-2 count, scoring one run.

McClanahan got the win for the Royals. He went four and two-thirds innings allowing two runs on three hits and striking out nine.

Dufek threw two and a third innings in relief.

McClanahan led Winner/Colome with two hits at three at bats.

Winner/Colome in Garretson

Winner/Colome Legion baseball team split a doubleheader Sunday in Garretson.

In the first game, the Royals fell short as they lost 6-5 to Garretson and then defeated Vermillion 11-1.

In the game with Garretson, Levi McClanahan hit a two run home run in the seventh inning. Jackson Kinzer and Ty Bolton each drove in runs. Riley Calhoon and Bolton led Winner/Colome with 2 hits each.

Kinzer pitched for the Royals. He struck out six batters.

In the second game with Vermillion, Winner/Colome scored eight runs in the first two innings.

McClanahan had a home run, Bolton, a triple and Calhoon and Calvin Ringing Shield, double.

Bolton was the winning pitcher.

The Royals had 14 hits and players with multiple hits were Calhoon, Carter Brickman, Bolton, Kinzer and Cale Meiners.

Winner/Colome is at Valentine on July 11, at Wagner on July 14 and are at home for a 6:30 p.m. game Sunday with Gregory County.

Pheasants Down Wagner

Winner/Colome amateurs were powered by Zach Harter’s three run home run on their way to a 5-2 victory over Wagner Sunday.

J. J. Farner fanned nine batters in his six innings on the mound for Winner/Colome.

Kelly O’Bryan and Reed Harter both had two hits.

The Pheasants host Corsica/Stickney in Winner on Thursday.

Elephant Rebellion in Elkton

Elkton had a rollicking start. In 1893, during a national depression, the local businesses printed their own aluminum money and a federal agent came to town and confiscated $15,000 worth of the coins. Three years later — seven years before the Wright brothers took flight — resident Henry Heintz got a patent for what may have been the United States’ first airship. Built by Frank Woulf in Aurora, the contraption rose in the air but didn’t move. Elkton’s biggest adventure happened May 15, 1916 when a large elephant named Hero escaped from the Orton Family Circus.

As the legend goes, a circus worker was drinking heavily and began to abuse the elephant while they were pulling up the stakes. Hero, who stood 9.5 feet and weighed 9,500 pounds according to Criley Orton, knocked the man to the ground and began a rampage. No matter where the trainer tried to hide, Hero followed, tipping over equipment and leaving a trail of debris. Eventually the elephant made his way to the business district. He poked his head through the milliner’s window, then charged through the pool hall. He then ran east of town, ripping out fence posts as he went.

Criley Orton later said that 100 men joined the chase. Many had guns, and the big pachyderm’s tough hide was riddled with holes before Paul Hohnke finally killed him with a shot from his Savage big-game rifle. An autopsy showed that Hero had 200 small bullets and 100 large bullets in his hide.

According to historical reports, the Elkton hotel took some of the meat, and the bones were transported to the college at nearby Brookings for study. However, they were forgotten until the 1960s, when nursing dean Inez Hinsvark found them while searching for classroom space. The bones were dusted off and moved to the W.H. Over Museum on the University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion.

Hohnke’s rifle is in the Elkton museum, along with other memorabilia from the circus.

Hero was killed in Elkton and forgotten in Brookings. It’s not likely he would want to travel north if he had his choice.

Katie Hunhoff is the editor of South Dakota Magazine, a bi-monthly print publication featuring the people and places of our great state. For more information visit

SD National Guard Leading The Nation

By Lt. Gov. Matt Michels

One of the greatest honors of serving as lieutenant governor is getting to work with the South Dakota National Guard. Our Guard members are some of the most dedicated, capable and reliable men and women I know. Under Adjutant General Tim Reisch’s leadership, we have an exceptional group of soldiers and airmen serving our nation and state.

The latest example of the SDNG’s reputation of excellence came last month, when we heard that South Dakota continues to lead the nation in unit readiness. The SD Army National Guard received 30 of the 31 Superior Unit Awards from the National Guard Bureau. Though we make up only 9/10 of a percent of the nation’s National Guard, we earned almost all of the awards for 2017. That’s pretty impressive!

The Superior Unit Award is presented to units who meet highly-enforced military standards in the areas of personnel, training and readiness. Units must achieve 95 percent in unit strength, monthly drill attendance, annual training attendance and weapons qualification, as well as 90 percent in physical fitness tests and duty-qualified soldiers. Unit administration and maintenance inspections are also a factor. We can be proud that so many of South Dakota’s units met this rigorous set of standards.

A number of units have received this distinction in previous years. Six units received the award for the second time in a row, four units for a third straight year, four units for four consecutive years, four more for five consecutive years, and the 211th Engineer Company of Madison and De Smet has earned the designation six years in a row now. Additionally, the 114th Fighter Wing has been one of the top five flying units in the nation for the past four years in a row.

This past week we celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Our forefathers declared that every individual is born free with inalienable rights, and that government must respect those God-given rights and allow people to live freely. But ideas do not deserve the sole credit for our way of life here in America. Rather, it is those ideas coupled with the sacrifices made by Americans who wear the uniform. We can be grateful the SD National Guard is so well prepared to answer the call to defend our freedoms.


High Water Impacts Boating, Swimming Facilities on Lake Francis Case

PIERRE, S.D. – According to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), rising water on Lake Francis Case is impacting facilities in state parks and recreation areas along the Missouri River.

The following areas in Charles Mix and Gregory counties are affected.

At North Point Recreation Area, the North Point Bay boat ramp will be useable in a limited capacity. Boaters may launch off the boat ramp parking lot through July 1. Beginning July 2, boaters should use St. Francis and Prairie Dog Bay boat ramps. The boater pump out station will temporarily be unavailable.

Portions of the bike trail are expected to be underwater at North Point and trail users may have to detour around sections of the path. All swimming beaches will have a limited amount of space. Campsites are not expected to be impacted.

Beaches at Pease Creek Recreation Area and South Shore Lakeside Use Area will have limited use space.

Whetstone Lakeside Use Area’s main boat ramp will be closed. A high water ramp is available on the north side of the main boat ramp parking lot.

The boat ramp at White Swan Lakeside Use Area will be usable in a limited capacity. Boaters may need to launch off the boat ramp parking lot.

Use will also be limited at the Snake Creek Recreation Area’s main boat ramp. A high water ramp is available south of the primary ramp if reservoir elevations allow. Beach areas at Snake Creek may not be available.

Conditions are subject to change with additional rainfall.

For more information, contact North Point Recreation Area at 605.487.7046 or Snake Creek Recreation Area at 605.337.2587