South Dakota Ends Fiscal Year With Surplus


South Dakota state government closed the 2017 budget year on June 30 marking the sixth consecutive year with a surplus, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced today. Despite lower revenue, the state general fund budget for Fiscal Year 2017 ended with a $7.9 million cash surplus due to lower expenditures than budgeted.

The fiscal year ended better than anticipated due to reduced expenses that sent more funds back to the general fund. In total, state agencies spent $15.6 million, or 1 percent, less than was appropriated by the Legislature. Revenue for Fiscal Year 2017 finished lower than estimates adopted by the Legislature in February by $7.6 million, or 0.48 percent. Combined, the state’s budget for Fiscal Year 2017 ended with a $7.9 million surplus.

“Finishing Fiscal Year 2017 with a surplus, without using our reserve funds, was a major accomplishment given the weakness we have experienced in our general fund revenue. This spring, I asked state agencies to reduce spending by $10 million to $15 million because of our lower revenues” Gov. Daugaard said. “State agencies responded, and all areas of state government were able to spend fewer tax dollars than appropriated to contribute to the budget surplus.”

Collectively, the three branches of state government spent $15.6 less than appropriated. Of the general fund reversions, $14.4 million came from Executive Branch agencies, and $1.2 million came from the Unified Judicial System, the Legislature, the Board of Regents and constitutional offices.

South Dakota’s sales and use tax receipts, the state’s largest revenue source, finished the fiscal year slightly above revised budgeted levels, growing 10.49 percent compared to the prior year. This high rate of growth is due to the increase in the sales tax rate that took effect on June 1, 2016. Collections from the sales and use tax accounted for nearly 61 percent of total general fund receipts in Fiscal Year 2017.

Sources of revenue with notable increases were the severance tax, the bank franchise tax and the contractor’s excise tax, which grew 46.3 percent, 39.7 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, over FY2016. Ongoing receipts to the general fund totaled $1,540.9 million which grew 7.1 percent compared to the previous year.

South Dakota state government ended FY2017 by transferring $7.9 million to the Budget Reserve Fund, as required by law. The state’s Budget Reserve Fund now has a $121.3 million balance and the General Revenue Replacement Fund has a $44 million balance. The combination of those two funds, totaling $165.3 million, represents a combined reserve of 10.7 percent of total general fund spending for FY2017.

GOED Rolling Out New CDBG Program


The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) is pleased to announce the details for the Bulldoze, Build, and Beautify (BBB) activity under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. GOED has set aside $1 million of its FY 2017 CDBG allocation to support this activity.

“We’re excited to launch this program after a lot of hard work and planning,” said Commissioner Scott Stern, GOED. “For communities to determine eligibility, and to address blighted properties in and understand the application process and timeline, we invite you to please review the eligibility requirements carefully. Interested applicants can also talk to regional planning districts for support and answer to questions as you prepare your materials.”

All interested communities should work through their regional Planning District for support in completing the application process described below, as well as for the administration of awards.

Extreme Drought Conditions Expand


PIERRE – Extreme drought has worsened over the past week in north-central South Dakota.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows nearly 11 percent of the state in extreme drought, up from a little over 4 percent last week.
Roughly 31 percent of the state is rated in severe drought, which is up slightly from a week ago.

Another nearly 31 percent of South Dakota is experiencing moderate drought conditions, an increase from just below 24 percent last week.
The Agriculture Department estimates that the state’s winter wheat crop will total 28 million bushels, down 56 percent from last year, and the spring wheat crop at 32 million bushels, down 32 percent.

The department has designated numerous counties in the Dakotas and Montana as natural disasters, paving the way for federal aid.

Persons Arrested on Drug Charges


Authorities say they have arrested six people after a search warrant found drugs firearms and thousands of dollars inside a home in White River.

According to the Mellette County Sheriff’s Office, the search warrant was issued on the home early Friday morning. Cocaine, hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana wax, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, firearms and $2,210 in U.S. currency were seized as evidence.

The sheriff’s office said three males and two females were arrested for drug offenses. One juvenile was arrested on grand theft.

Pump Prices on the Rise Following Last Week’s Lowest Gas Prices of the Year


For the first time in five weeks, the national average gas price is increasing. At $2.26, today’s price has been moving higher since July 6 and is three cents more than last week. The moderate price surge follows a week of solid demand growth and a third straight week of gasoline inventory drawdowns across the country.

“Gas prices are still at some of the cheapest prices we’ve seen this year, but consumers should take advantage of them while they can,” said Marilyn Buskohl, AAA spokesperson. “This week, drivers in 31 states are paying more than last week for a gallon of gas. And we expect to see slight price increases throughout July, so now’s the time to hit the road.”

Current Price Averages per Gallon of Regular Gasoline

Sioux Falls – $2.14, down 10 cents from one month ago … up 5 cents from 6/26/16
Rapid City – $2.23, down 19 cents from one month ago … down 20 cents from 6/26/16
South Dakota – $2.25, down 12 cents from one month ago … down 7 cents from 6/26/16
U.S. – $2.26, down 8 cents from one month ago … up 3 cents from 6/26/16

Of the states seeing jumps in gas prices, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky top the charts with double-digit increases. Thirteen states, mostly on the West Coast and in the Rockies, saw prices decrease by pennies. Across the country, consumers can find gas for $2.25 or less at 58 percent of gas stations.

Keystone XL Foes May Appeal to State Supreme Court


Foes of the Keystone XL pipeline said Friday they may appeal a South Dakota judge’s decision upholding state regulators approval for the pipeline to cross the state.

The Associated Press reported two groups are weighing whether to raise the issue to the state Supreme Court while an attorney for an American Indian tribe in South Dakota also said its lawyers are examining an appeal.

A state judge last month affirmed a Public Utilities Commission decision that tribes, landowners and others challenged.

Robin Martinez, an attorney for Dakota Rural Action called the judge’s decision a “disappointment.” The organization is considering an appeal

“The clear effect is on the landowners who are now living with this perpetual threat of having their land taken away from them for this pipeline that may or may not ever happen,” Martinez said. “That is a heavy burden.”

The Keystone XL pipeline would move crude oil from Alberta, Canada across Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines feeding refineries along the Gulf Coast.

The line would cross a portion of Tripp County.

Terry Cunha, a spokesman for the pipeline developer TransCanada, praised the decision in a statement saying the project will help U.S. energy security, create well paying jobs and offer substantial economic benefits.

American Indian tribes, some landowners and environmental groups oppose the pipeline fearing it would contaminate water supplies and contribute to pollution.

The PUC initially authorized TransCanada’s project in 2010 but the permit had to be revisited because construction didn’t start within the required four years.

The panel last year voted to accept TransCanada’s guarantee that it would meet conditions laid out by the commission when it first approved that state’s portion of the project.

Opponents appealed the commission’s decision to the state court. Judge John Brown wrote that the issues opponents raised have been adequately addressed by the commission or aren’t appropriate to be addressed in this case.



The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) is joining a national effort to highlight boating safety.  Operation Dry Water took place June 30 – July 2 promoting boating safety and responsible use of alcohol while boating across the country.

“We want to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, kayakers and others have a safe place to enjoy South Dakota’s waters,” said Joe Keeton, boating law administrator. “Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as it does when driving a car, even more so because with the added stressors of sun, heat, wind and noise on a boat. Choosing to consume alcohol while boating puts everyone at risk, including passengers and people in the water. Our goal is to remove anyone choosing to operate a vessel impaired and to keep everyone on the water safe.”

Alcohol consumption and boating continues to be an issue and is listed as the leading known contributing factor in all fatal boating accidents nationwide. As part of the national event, GFP will conduct extra boating safety patrols statewide to promote safe and responsible boating practices heading into the holiday weekend.

Tips to staying safe on the water this summer:
Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths*. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.

Wear your life jacket. 83% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket*.

Take a boating safety education course. 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction, where instruction was known.

Use your engine cut-off device. Many boating accidents involve operators or passengers who have fallen overboard. Wearing an engine cut-off switch lanyard or wireless engine cut-off device will shut the engine down if the operator is ejected or falls overboard.

File a float plan. Leave a float plan with at least one person on land so they know where to find you if needed. You should be able to rely on this person to notify local law enforcement if you do not return within a reasonable hour of expectancy.

Check the weather. Not only can poor weather spoil a trip, but it can also cause an emergency situation out on the water.
Keeton noted that state regulations require all children under age seven to wear an approved personal flotation device anytime a boat is moving at greater than no-wake speed. He recommends taking the next step and keeping a personal flotation device on all occupants in the boat at all times.

“Before heading onto the water, check your equipment,” Keeton said. “Fire extinguishers, life jackets, throwable flotation devices are required and must be in good working condition. The best way to prevent an unwanted tragedy on the water is to be prepared.”

The South Dakota Building at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

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New York Tribune Editor Horace Greeley encouraged people to go West, but a South Dakota newspaper editor admonished people to go East.

“Any person who can take in the world’s fair and does not do so, makes a great mistake, and they will surely regret it as long as they live,” read an article in the June 8, 1893, Turner County Herald in Hurley, published by William C. Brown.

It’s no wonder. The editor and his wife had spent 10 days taking in the sights at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair. The fair had opened on May 1, 1893, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World. Those attending the fair on the south side of Chicago adjacent to Lake Michigan would have seen buildings that stretched a third of a mile long, the world’s first Ferris wheel, exhibits from 86 foreign countries, buildings representing 43 states and territories, and much more.

Many South Dakotans heeded the advice to see the world’s fair, as 19,684 South Dakotans signed the guest register in the South Dakota State building from June 1 until the fair closed on Oct. 30. South Dakota’s estimated white population in 1890, according to the census, was 328,808. The population had increased by 2,167 five years later. South Dakotans were part of an estimated 28 million people who visited the Chicago World’s Fair.

“The South Dakota State building was not only a surprise to strangers, but to many of our own people,” stated the Report of the South Dakota World’s Fair Commission, made to Gov. Charles Sheldon. “Situated on the 57th street entrance, near the gate, it was in the path of all visitors passing in or out of the grounds at that gate. The building itself was a very important state exhibit. The outside walls were covered with the Yankton Portland cement; the beauty of color and flint-like hardiness attracted much attention. The front entrance was under a large arch composed of Sioux Falls quartzite and Black Hills sandstone, supported by two beautiful, polished quartzite columns.”

Those entering the 100-foot by 60-foot building saw rooms packed with agricultural, commercial and mining displays. The main exhibit hall held more than 100 varieties of wheat, oats and other cereals. An arch was made of 14-foot cornstalks loaded with large ears and the sign, “We want you to know that South Dakota is a corn state.” The wool growers’ exhibit was considered “the best arranged wool exhibit on the grounds.” There was also a ladies’ and gentlemen’s parlor, bathrooms, gentlemen’s reading and smoking room, private offices and storage rooms.

The purpose of the South Dakota Building was to showcase the state’s advantages in order to encourage immigration and to correct erroneous impressions people might have of the state, then 4 years old, according to the commission’s report. South Dakota was in dire straits, as the loss of crops to drought had caused the state’s economy to crash and forced many South Dakotans to leave the state or accept outside aid.

Due to the state’s treasury troubles, private citizens provided much of the financing of the building.

Gov. Sheldon formally dedicated the South Dakota Building on July 12, 1893, extolling the state’s rich soil, mild climate, deposits of minerals and other virtues.

The South Dakota Building contained what South Dakota claimed to be not only the largest guest registers on the fairgrounds, but the largest in the world.

The guest registers were 17 inches thick, 25 inches high and 26 inches wide, and had a combined weight of 400 pounds, according to the fair commission’s report. The guest registers are now in the safekeeping of the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre.

Most of the fair’s buildings were designed to be temporary structures, removed after the fair closed.

While the fair was underway, Old Main at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion was destroyed by fire. Many of the materials from the South Dakota Building were saved and found new life in building a new Old Main.

This moment in South Dakota history is provided by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. Find us on the web at Contact us at to submit a story idea.

First WNV Case Of Year Reported In Davison County


The Department of Health reminds South Dakotans to get in the habit of using mosquito repellent as the state’s first human West Nile virus (WNV) case of the year has been detected in Davison County in the 60-69 age group.

“Most people who contract West Nile virus, about 70-80 percent, don’t get sick but those who do can be severely ill,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the department. “While typical symptoms include fever, headache, body aches and rash, in severe cases WNV can invade the brain and spinal cord leading to stiff neck, confusion, paralysis, coma and even death.”
Kightlinger said South Dakota has a disproportionately high number of WNV cases and he encouraged residents to reduce their risk with the following precautions:

· Apply mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535) to clothes and exposed skin. Limit exposure by wearing pants and long sleeves in the evening.

· Limit time outdoors from dusk to dawn when Culex mosquitoes, the primary carrier of WNV in South Dakota, are most active.

· Get rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed. Regularly change water in bird baths, outside pet dishes, and drain water from flower pots and garden containers.

· Support local mosquito control efforts.
These precautions are especially important for people at high risk for WNV – those over 50, pregnant women, transplant patients, individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure, and those with a history of alcohol abuse. People with severe or unusual headaches should see their physicians.

Since its first human WNV case in 2002, the state has reported 2,359 human cases, including 745 hospitalizations and 38 deaths. Every county has reported cases.

Visit the department’s website at for more information about WNV.

Gov. Daugaard Issues State Of Emergency For Drought Conditions


Gov. Dennis Daugaard has declared a statewide emergency because of the ongoing drought conditions in South Dakota. As part of the State of Emergency, the state will ease haying and transportation restrictions to assist agriculture producers.

“The drought has really hurt grass and hay production in much of the state, which is making our ag producers scramble to keep livestock fed. I’m hopeful that these changes will help keep livestock on the farm until the drought breaks,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

Effective immediately, farmers and ranchers may cut and bale state highway ditches adjacent to their property. The South Dakota Department of Transportation has suspended their mowing operations until July 5 to allow farmers to access more of the hay along the ditches. During this time SDDOT will continue to mow in urban areas. For safety reasons, mowing in the medians of divided four-lane highways is prohibited and a permit is still required for mowing interstate right-of-ways. Because of the dry conditions, farmers and ranchers are strongly encouraged to carry fire extinguishers on mowing equipment. Producers are also reminded to be watchful of traffic along the highways and to always yield to oncoming traffic.

The state is also authorizing producers to travel statewide without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to ease transport of feed in the drought stricken area.

With the emergency drought disaster declaration federal trucking regulations are waived for the transportation of goods such as hay. FMCSA regulations ranging from 390-399 are waived for the next 30 days. Those include general regulations, driving training regulations, special driving considerations, parts and accessories, medical cards, hours of service, and proof of annual inspections.

Also as part of an emergency declaration, permits are available to allow oversize movement of hay up to 12 feet wide and to extend the time allowed for movement of vehicles from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., provided the load has reflectorized or lighted oversize load signs on the front and back of the vehicle(s). The permits are free and available by contacting the South Dakota Highway Patrol Permitting Office at 605-698-3925.

For more information on state highway ditch mowing, call Greg Fuller, SDDOT director of operations at 605-773-3256.