Growing In Agriculture

Thanking our Farmers, Ranchers and Consumers 

A column by Secretary Lucas Lentsch 


This week marks National Ag Week with National Ag Day celebrated  which was on March 18.  We celebrate the farm and ranch families who supply our world with safe and affordable food. We also appreciate the consumers who place their confidence in our American feed, fuel, fiber and food system.

Consumers put their trust in America’s farmers and ranchers every day. Every time you visit the grocery store to pick up that gallon of milk or pound of beef, you place your trust in our nation’s food system. You trust that farmers and ranchers make good choices for animal care and plant health which in turn yields wholesome, nutritious and safe food for your family. As a result, we have the safest, most reliable food system in the world. Producers are also able to provide consumers with an abundance of choices among products and practices used to grow those products.

Here in South Dakota, we are proud of our 31,700 farm and ranch families and the wide variety of products they grow every year. From sunflowers to bison and corn to cattle, South Dakota continues to rank in the top 10 states for production. South Dakota farmers and ranchers continue to supply the food found on consumers’ plates around the world.

Our state’s agricultural industry realizes we would not be able to continue doing what we love without consumers’ support. During this National Ag Week, let’s celebrate the hardworking and productive farm and ranch families across our state. Let’s also thank our consumers for being a partner in this effort.  We are in this food system together.

Looking at You: Rusty Blare

rusty blare

Name: Rusty Blare

Birthplace: Winner SD

Family: Wife, Rita and 8 children; Cody, Jessica, Nick, Elijah, Meagan, Amanda, Austin and Jedediah

Currently reside where: Hamill, SD

Occupation: Farmer/Rancher, part time police officer, full time dad

The best thing about my job is: variety

My favorite childhood memory: Working with my grandfather on the farm

When growing up, I wanted to be: 

A fighter pilot

My most prized possession: My family

Favorite current television show: NCIS

Favorite past television shows: MASH

Favorite movie(s): Crocodile Dundee

Favorite book(s)/author(s): Louis L’Amour

Favorite holiday(s) and why: Easter because it is when my Savior arose

Favorite Bible verse: Jeremiah 29:11

Hobbies: Family

Three things that can always be found in my refrigerator: Milk, eggs and cheese

My favorite snack: Mixed nuts with M&M’s

Someone I most admire and why: Abraham Lincoln, because of his perseverance and faith.

Three words that best describe me: Honest, sincere and happy

I’ve never been able to: Play the banjo

When nobody is looking, I: Dance and talk to myself.

The best time of my life: Becoming a father

I’d like to have a dollar for: Every time my mom chewed me out.

If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to: Home

If I won the lottery: I would keep farming until it was gone.

My definition of a great evening is: Watching my children playing and having fun with each other.

The best thing about where I live: The people of this community, they all really care about each other.

If I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s: To be patient.

FFA, Ag Classes Preparing Students for the Future

ag class with ffa and ag feature

Dan Bechtold, Editor

The Winner Future Farmers of America chapter in Winner has grown. Together with FFA and ag classes offered at Winner High School, today’s students are being training to be tomorrow’s future farmers and good stewards of the land.

Wyatt DeJong is the FFA adviser along with teaching ag classes. The classes that he teaches this semester are: introduction to agriculture, food and natural resources, animal science, ag business and marketing, horticulture and natural resources.

DeJong sees the classes as a way for students to find their interest.

DeJong explains he has been able to work with businesses in Winner who have allowed the students do some job shadowing. Country Pride Coop has hosted students in the agronomy and feed departments.

In class the students are growing plants and the school recently received a grant from the South Dakota FFA Foundation to purchase a science kit to help students learn more about plants. This kit will be used in the horticulture, agronomy and some in the ag business class.

Soon, a 24×30 greenhouse will be set up where students will be able to grow plants during the month of April and May. “We will look at all facets of  growing plants,” said DeJong. He said the class will look at grown fruit, vegetables and some shrubs.

The teacher said a lot of his classes are small and he uses a lot of hands on training so students can see how science is applied to the agriculture world.

“I tell students when they don’t know what they want to do past high school is to experience something and see what is out there,” DeJong said.

In the ag business class there is a lot of math. All students in this class have a specific project they work on outside of class. DeJong said they could be anything from babysitting, working at Elder Inn or owning their own cattle. “They can use the some of the principals we talk about in class to manage their own projects,” he explained.

DeJong has seen a growth in FFA in Winner. The officers are: Calah Covey, president; Leslie Soles, vice president; Sydnie Peters, secretary; Jace Assman, treasurer; Cody Amidon, reporter and Dacey Kocer, sentinel.

Recently 14 FFA members attended a Career Development Experience (CDE) in DeSmet. The Winner natural resources team took 8th place. Members of the team are: Kayleb Brozik, Avery Gilchrist, Bethany Cable, Sydnie Peters and Amanda Boerner.

Individually, Gilchrist took 10th place.

Peters had the highest test score of the 110 students.

Nathan Ducheneaux was one of five students who scored well on welding quality.

John Kludt will be competing at state in ag broadcasting. The state contest is April 12-14 in Brookings.

Two Winner seniors, Leslie Soles and Nick Hossle, will receive their state FFA degree at state convention.

Also at state, Payton Eagle will be recognized for her work in equine science.

“This year has been a huge growing year for FFA,” said DeJong. The adviser has a lot of experience in FFA as he served as a state officer when he was in school and was  also the national central region vice president in 2010-2011.

The adviser said one of the highlights of the fall FFA work was working with the parliamentary procedure team. He explained each one of the students on the team spent over 40 hours on their own working on this project.

“FFA opens doors for students,” said DeJong. He said the focus of FFA is leadership, personal growth and career success.

As an adviser DeJong likes to help his students succeed.

The teacher loves being the classroom and helping students become more curious of the world around them.

Mike Henderson Joins Swier Law Firm

Mike Henderson


Swier Law Firm, Prof. LLC  announces the expansion of its nationally recognized legal practice with the addition of Mike Henderson.

Mike will lead the law firm’s Appellate Law Practice Group and focus his practice on complex legal research and writing.  Mike has extensive experience and has been involved in numerous appeals before the South Dakota Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Mike grew up on what is now a fifth generation family ranch in northwestern South Dakota. He graduated with honors from the University of South Dakota School of Law where he served on the Board of Editors for the South Dakota Law Review.  Following law school, Mike served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Roger L. Wollman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  Upon completing his clerkship, Mike joined a Sioux Falls law firm where he practiced for several years.

“Mike Henderson brings a keen analytic mind and an excellent understanding of appellate law to our firm’s practice,” said Scott Swier.  “Mike is one of the foremost appellate attorneys in South Dakota and we are thrilled to welcome a lawyer of his caliber to our law firm.”

Commissioners Hire Custodian Assistant

By Dan Bechtold, Editor 

Tripp County Commissioners interviewed candidates for the position of custodian assistant at the March 10 meeting. A total of five persons were interviewed for the full time position.

Hired for the position was Blake Benedict at $12 an hour with benefits. He will start work on March 30.

Treasurer Marla Liggett presented two abatements which were approved by the commissioners.

Highway superintendent Roger Sund presented a map of the areas in the county where mulching work will be completed.

The commissioners granted Golden West permission to cross county roads in areas where they are doing work on fiber optic cable.

The county board will advertise for a full time highway department employee.

The commissioners approved travel and expenses for EMT Kim Nagel who attended a refresher course in Rapid City.

The commissioners met in executive session for a personnel issue.

The next meeting of the commissioners will be Tuesday, March 24, at 5:30 p.m.

Student government day will be held on Thursday, March 26.

The commissioners will meet as a  board of equalization on April 14.

City Hires Summer Help, Swimming Pool Employees

By Dan Bechtold, Editor

The Winner City Council  approved hiring summer labor and swimming pool employees at a meeting Monday afternoon.

Summer ball field labor include:  Derek Ferwerda and Shayden Drey, both at $10.75 per hour.

Summer labor will include: William Boner, $10.75 per hour; Landon Engel, $10.75 per hour; Ben Connot, $10.50 per hour; Coleton Schuyler, $10.50 per hour; Trevor Sachtjen, $10. 50  per hour and Kelly Kidwilier, $10.50 per hour.

Cemetery/summer labor includes Garrett Gronlund, $10.75 per hour and Tyrel Haley, $10.50 per hour.

April to October parks employees are James Padmore, $13  per hour; Austin Cerv, $10.50 per hour and Brandon Olson, $10.50 per hour.

Parks maintenance/janitorial—Matt Hagen, $10.50 per hour

Light department labor—Ryan Sherman, $10.50 per hour

Pool managers are Lorna Phillips, $14.75 per hour; Lorrin Anderson, part-time $14.25 per hour and Paige Stickland, part-time, $13.75 per hour.

Lifeguards-counter/slide attendants: Lorrin Anderson $11.75 per hour; Nathan Naasz, $11.50 per hour; Cole Phillips, $11.50 per hour; Tawny Sherman, $11.25 per hour; Natalie Gronlund, $11.25 per hour; Hayley Halverson, $11 per hour; Rachel Sherman $11 per hour; Katie Mathis, $11; Sam Naasz, $10.75; Sara Husher, $10.75; Sydney Fritz, $10.75; Kennede Mathis, $10.50; Paige Stickland, $10. 50; Brendan Harter, $10.50; Kelsey Bertram, $10.50; Bailey Volmer, $10.50; Grant Winter, $10.50 and Lesley Soles, $10.50. Council member Val Sherman abstained from voting on summer and pool personnel.

The council awarded the bid from Northern Plains LLC of Winner in the amount of $518,322.50 for the 8th St. improvement project this summer. The other bidder was Rosebud Concrete, Winner, $785,645.89.

Doug Sherman of the South Dakota Department of Transportation office in Winner invited the council to a public meeting set for March 31 at the Holiday Inn Express to discuss a highway project in Winner which will be done in 2020 and 2021. The DOT is in the planning stages for this large project and will have persons at the meeting to answer questions.

Deb Bice, communications supervisor, reported there were 2,100 incidents entered into the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) for February. She said there were 767 911 calls and 64.8 percent of them were wireless.

Police chief Paul Schueth reported there were 94 inmates in jail on Monday. The average inmate count for February was 89 with U.S. Probation averaging 8.

There are 18 participants on the 24/7 program and four are on Scram bracelets.

On a split vote, the council rejected the bid of Rosebud Concrete of Winner for work on the nodes on Main Street.

Voting no were council members Val Sherman and Zach Anderson. The rest of the council voted yes.

Councilman Brad Schramm explained he has received several volunteer organizations who will take care of the nodes. Councilman Anderson said he does not see this eliminating the city cost.

The city said they would try the volunteer approach for one year on the nodes.

Government Day will be held March 26 at the Tripp County Courthouse. The city will participate and will hold sessions from 11 a.m. to noon and from 1-2 p.m.

The city election will be held April 14. The election board will include: Joy Tyburec, superintendent; deputies Kay Berg, Linda Goodell, Marlene Burns and Cheryl Schroeder.

The council will advertise for proposals for the summer recreation program for 2015. The city appropriates $2,500 for this program.

A public hearing has been set for April 6 on a preliminary plat for Mathis Brothers.

The city will hold a public hearing on April 6 on a variance requested by Brad Jelinek at 425 W. 4th St.

The city will advertise for sale a 2006 John Deere F687 box mower; 2008 John Deere 850A mid-mount mower and a 1989 Ryan sod cutter.

The council approved selling a sander truck to the city of Colome in the amount of $2,500.

The local Bassmasters will be holding a fishing tournament at the new bass pond. The council said they will require a $250 deposit which is refundable.

The city will donate $500 to the rescue dog unit in Gregory. This organization picks up stay dogs from the dog pound in Winner  and finds a home for them.

Prior to the council meeting, the city met as a board of equalization. There were no appeals presented to the board.

The circle of life means the son returns

vanneman farm with story ag page


By Dan Merritt, Advocate reporter

It’s the circle of life, though we’re not talking about “The Lion King” and Simba. Well, maybe we are to some extent.

Justin Vanneman returns from college this spring to work the Clint and Kim Vanneman farm along with his parents (rural Winner-Ideal).

Actually, the younger Vanneman and his future wife, Tasha, will be working along with his parents. Justin and Tasha will get married in June.

It is similar to when Clint Vanneman returned home in 1979 after college to work full-time along with his folks, Ryal and Peggy.

Clint  married  Kim in 1980. Kim is originally from the Chamberlain area.

His arrival was the beginning of transition of owning/operating the farm.

Weather Records Set

Winner set weather records this past week.

Sunday the temperature soared to 86 degrees, a new high for March 15. The previous high on this date was 75 in 1999.

On March 12, the high was 82 degrees breaking the previous record of 72 set in 1995.

The temperature on March 9 was 73 breaking the record of 67 set n 1974.

‘Red Velvet Cake War’ is Super Funny

play cast with review


By Dan Bechtold, Editor

Who thought the notion of baking a red velvet cake could be so funny.

Riotously funny is the only way to describe the wonderful production of the “Red Velvet Cake War” presented by the Winner Community Playhouse. The opening weekend was Friday and Saturday. But you still have a chance to see this  great play that showcases some wonderful talent on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21. To make a reservation persons can call the playhouse at 842-1958. The  doors open at 7:30 p.m. and play starts at 8 p.m.
This southern fried comedy takes place in Sweetgum, Texas, as the three Verdeen cousins are planning a family reunion. Gaynelle, Peaches and Jimmie Wyvette could not have picked a worse time to throw their family reunion. You see, it is a traumatic time for Gaynelle. Her husband has run off with his girlfriend and in retaliation Gaynelle has “accidentally” run her car into the double wide trailer home of what she calls a man-stealing woman. Gaynelle subsequently faces various legal charges as well as being observed by a court appointed psychologist who is checking on her sanity.

Now the Verdeen family reunion is usually presided over by an  overbearing aunt LaMerle. The aunt wants to cancel the reunion because of Gaynelle’s scandal but the Gaynelle and her cousins insist the reunion go forward.

Besides, Gaynelle bets her house with LaMerle that she can make a better tasting red velvet cake than her aunt who annually takes home the prize for the best cake. Let the war begin!

Cast in the roles of the Verdeen cousins are Sarah Gustafson as the suitably attired proprietress of Whatley’s Western Attire. Gustafson’s droll delivery and deadpan approach to this character are wonderful.
Tami Comp is good as Gaynelle who takes up the challenge to make the best red velvet cake.

Kara Connot has a grand time as Peaches whose trucker husband left home one night years ago and never returned.

The chemistry between the women who play the cousins is a delight to the audience.

Michele Hagenlock is matronly as the overbearing aunt.

Barb DeSersa has fun as busybody neighbor, Bitsy, who has her eyes on a recently widowed neighbor. But she has competition as one of the Verdeen cousins, Jimmy, also eyes the same man. I don’t want to go into too much detail but you have to see the fight scene between DeSersa and Sarah Gustafson.

Enter into this  wild family mix a one eyed suitor Newt Blaylock, owner of the Wig N’ Worm outlet founded by his late mother. Winner High School teacher Wyatt DeJong is wonder as Newt. This is DeJong’s second appearance in a Winner Community Playhouse Production.   DeJong has some  eye popping lines in this production.

Rounding out the cast are Tia DeSersa as a German psychologist, Kenzie Irick as Cee Cee Windham, a local TV personality; Jack Frantz as the sheriff and Chris Frantz as Purvis Verdeen. All were wonderful.

But for me, the show stoppers were Maurice Gustafson as the old uncle Aubrey and Linda Waton as Mama Doll Hargis. What a super job!!! They can shuffle along with the best of them.

Sandra York directs this funny play and used her ability to allow the characters to act their part for all its worth. York was able to bring out the best in the actors and actresses.

Dan Patmore, as technical director, designed the set of the Verdeen living room.

Though there area a lot of scenes in each act, good use is made of having some scenes played in front of a drawn curtain. It was effective and kept the play moving.

It is a must see and one of the funniest plays the Winner Community Playhouse has ever presented.

Kudos to all who made this possible.