The Department of Defense and VFW Join Forces to Help Find the Missing.

The Winner Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary would like to encourage the assistance of the public in the Winner and surrounding area to help spread the message below.

The Department of Defense with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency whose mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation has put out the following statistics regarding POW & MIA military findings.

DNA Samples Needed for MIA Identifications: There are 83,000 missing and unaccounted for Americans from World War II forward, yet many families of the missing have yet to provide a family reference sample to assist in DNA identifications. Currently, 89 percent of Korean War families have provided samples, as well as 83 percent of Cold War families and 81 percent of Vietnam War families, but only 4 percent of WWII families have.

The government last year identified 107 MIAs, but more could have been identified—and faster—if more family reference samples were on file.

If you know of anyone who has a family member unaccounted for, please help them get to the right agency or give their name to the appropriate office listed below.

Army: 800-892-2490

Marine Corps: 800-847-1597

Navy: 800-443-9298

Air Force: 800-531-5501

State Department: 202-485-6106

For more information, please call the local Veterans Service Officer at the Tripp County Court House and/or go to: http://www.dpaa.mil/Resources/FAQs.aspx.

Letters to Grads

By Katie Hunhoff

Thousands of young South Dakotans will celebrate graduations this month, and they’ll hear heartfelt advice from well-qualified speakers urging them to dream big, change the world and dance like no one is watching.

In our 30 years of publishing South Dakota Magazine, we’ve met some interesting people who’ll probably not ever be invited to give a commencement address, and so we decided to collaborate with some of them. The end result is a collection of 18 “letters to grads” published in our May/June issue. Their advice is unconventional, and perhaps more personal than what you’ll hear on graduation day.

For example, one letter comes from Chol Atem, a 23 year old here in Yankton who fled from his home in Sudan at the age of 5 in 1988. He was one of the  “Lost Boys of Sudan” and arrived in South Dakota 13 years later to study at Mount Marty College. His advice is to never take home for granted, a lesson he learned the hard way.

“It was as if someone took me out of my family at the young age and abandoned me on a deserted island,” he says of being displaced and separated from his family. “It took 23 years before I was reunited with them in April 2011. And during that period there was no form of communication. That experience taught me that you do not know how important it is to have a home until you do not have one.” Atem urges South Dakota youth to invest and build in their home state.

Demi Beautiful Bald Eagle, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, grew up in Dupree. She encourages youth, especially reservation youth, to try to ignore statistics and low expectations when they begin to carve their paths for the future. Easier said than done, but Demi is living it right now as a college student at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, N.D.

“Now that I’m in college, I see why so many drop out. It’s not the work that’s hard or being away from home. I’m weary from the expectations, the expense and the pressure. I was, and still am scared to fail. Fail in my community’s eyes. Fail in mine,” she writes. Demi encourages youth to keep trying. Her motivation is to carve a path for her brother and sister, and “all kids who have great minds but get overlooked and repressed.” She hopes to return home to teach.

 

Another one of my favorite letters comes from writer Linda Hasselstrom. Linda has an enviable life. She is a well-known, well-respected author and lives on a beautiful West River ranch with her husband, Jerry. But as a young lady just leaving college, she envisioned her life a bit differently. “I expected to be a wife, mother, writer, teacher, rancher and Great American novelist,” she wrote. “I’d ride Arabian horses across the South Dakota range with my gorgeous husband and our three beautiful children. At night I’d write brilliant novels that would sell millions of copies. We’d vacation in Paris, but live in South Dakota.”

Now her best material is what happened to her instead of the life she planned. “Like most folks, I spend much of my time doing the small routine tasks of daily life. I spend more time picking up the waste products deposited by my dogs than accepting awards; more time removing hairs from my chin than counting my money. But she also learned that what her father used to say was true: A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be. “I was skeptical. Now I believe,” she writes to young South Dakotans. “I create my joy by something as simple as watching a sunrise or scratching a dog’s ears.”

Other letters were written by cowboys, teachers, poets and even a young lawyer from Lemmon. Like them, we also wish congratulations to all our high school and college graduates. Enjoy your day in the sun. Wherever life takes you, be glad you started your life’s path in South Dakota.

New Dates Set for Pipeline Hearings

The state Public Utilities Commission set new dates Thursday for taking testimony whether TransCanada can still meet the conditions set five years ago for building the proposed Keystone XL pipeline through South Dakota.

The evidentiary hearing will be July 27-31 with Aug. 3-4 if needed. The hearing had been scheduled for May 5-8 until the commission decided to push it back.

State law requires the certification hearing because TransCanada wasn’t able to proceed on the project within four years after the state permit was granted in 2010.

The company is waiting for clearance from President Barrack Obama’s administration for the pipeline to cross the Canada-U.S. border.

The commission listened to the sides argue for some 90 minutes Thursday about the protective order that had been granted earlier to TransCanada.

The order allows TransCanada to keep information out of the pubic domain but be available to lawyers and consultants working on the case.

The interveners opposing the pipeline’s construction wanted the commission to scrap the protective order

National Military Appreciation Month

PIERRE, S.D. At the encouragement of the South Dakota Department of the Military, Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proclaimed May  as “National Military Appreciation Month,” a time  for all to honor, remember, recognize and appreciate those who have served in the past and those now serving, as well as their families.

National Military Appreciation Month includes:  Loyalty Day on May 1, Victory in Europe Day on May 9, Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 8, Armed Forces Day on May 16 and Memorial Day on May 25.

These days provide an opportunity to learn more about military members and the families who have given of themselves to support and defend the principles we hold dear.

“Less than one percent of Americans currently serve in the armed forces to preserve the rights and freedom that we all enjoy,” said Adjutant General Timothy Reisch, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of the Military. “May is the month that we recognize the patriotism, service and sacrifice of all military members, both past and present.  We also recognize our military families who contribute in very meaningful ways as well.”

Ask a Lawyer

Since 1986, the State Bar of South Dakota has been presenting the “Ask-A-Lawyer” program, providing free legal advice to hundreds of South Dakotans through a toll-free call-in service.

The State Bar of South Dakota will again offer this free service on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, May 5, May 6, and May 7, form 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m Mountain Time and 7: p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Central Time.

McLean Thompson Kerver, coordinator for the West River portion of the project announced that “Experienced lawyers answering phones in Sioux Falls and Rapid City will answer questions on a wide range of legal issues. Each call is anonymous and we urge the public to take advantage of this fine service.

Call toll-free at 1-877-229-2214 to ask a lawyer your question about the law.

Veteran Receives Past-Due Medal

clarence jerke getting pin

By Hot Springs Star staff  

HOT SPRINGS – At the command, “Sergeant Jerke, Front and Center!” Army Korean War veteran Clarence Jerke, formerly of Winner,  jumped to his feet and walked to the front of the auditorium during the Resident’s Council meeting at the State Veterans Home in Hot Springs.  Unbeknownst to Jerke, he was about to receive a long-overdue medal for his service.

As State Home Director of Operations Randy Meyers read from a letter signed by Kim Dae-jung, the President of the Republic of Korea and dated June 25, 2000, State Home Superintendent Brad Richardson pinned the Korean Service Medal to Jerke’s shirt front.

The Korean Service Medal was awarded by the Republic of Korea in 2000, 50 years after the start of the conflict, as a way to thank the American Servicemen and women for their efforts in safeguarding the country.

Athlete Safety Becomes Priority at Activities Association

By Dana Hess for S.D. Newspaper Association

PIERRE, S.D. – Policies dealing with student-athlete safety will be studied during the next year for possible implementation, the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors was told by staff April 21.

The study will be led by SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand who attended a meeting about athlete safety.

“I came back scared,” Krogstrand said of the meeting the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the National American Society for Sports Management that dealt with high school athletic injuries.

Key areas covered at the meeting included emergency action plans, sudden cardiac arrest, contact and concussions and heat exposure.

“These are real things that happen,” Krogstrand said of the incidence of heart attacks in young athletes.

He said many schools have automated external defibrillators but the speakers at the meeting pointed out that the machines may not be charged or properly maintained.

Krogstrand said he learned that heat exposure isn’t necessarily just an occurrence in Southern states.

“It can take place anytime, anywhere,” Krogstrand said.

The states that had rules in place to guard against these injuries had one grim similarity.

“It seemed like every state, before they’d address these issues, kids would die,” Krogstrand said.

During the next year, SDHSAA staff and sports medicine experts will work on policy recommendations to bring to the board.

“We really need to do a better job of this within the next 12 months,” Krogstrand said.

Farming In Right of Way Is Not Allowed

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Transportation says it is against the law to plant crops within the right of way of a public road and it also can be a safety hazard for motorists.

According to director of operations Greg Fuller,  the purpose of the highway right of way is to create an obstruction free area for the safety of the traveling public. Farmers who unlawfully plant crops in the right of way can create a visual obstruction and possibly limit sight distances for motorists, especially near intersections.

Tall crops also can cover important signage and create cover for deer and other wildlife. That gives motorists less of a chance to see wildlife in time to avoid a serious accident. Highway right of way also is used by utility companies to install gas lines, power lines, telephone lines and fiber optic cable. Plowing and tilling can damage these lines and create a potentially dangerous situation for farmers, utility workers and area residents. It also can cause possible service interruptions.

Along with safety concerns, farming activity in the right of way can create erosion and landscape changes that can affect proper drainage, clog culverts and jeopardize the stability of the shoulders and the roadbed itself. Right of way widths can vary depending on location. Landowners should verify where the right of way line is prior to farming. If there are any questions on where the right of way line is, they should contact their local region or area DOT office.

Contact information can be found on the SDDOT website: HYPERLINK “http://www.sddot.com/contact/”http://www.sddot.com/contact/.

USDA Rural Development Invests $463.8 Million in South Dakota’s Economy in Fiscal Year 2014

USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Bruce Jones announced  that $463.8 million was invested in rural South Dakota communities from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014.  As outlined in HYPERLINK “http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/SD2014ProgressReportUpdated.pdf”South Dakota’s 2014 Progress Report, the program funds assist housing, business and community development, water and waste water, energy, distance learning and telemedicine, electric companies and telecommunications. Water and waste water funds are limited to communities of less than 10,000 population. Community facility funding is available to towns of 20,000 population or less. Businesses and industries in communities with up to 50,000 residents can obtain funding through the business programs.

“USDA Rural Development is pleased to assist rural communities with their infrastructure needs and support efforts to improve the quality of life for rural residents living in South Dakota’s rural communities,” said Jones.  “We look forward to continuing to meet the needs of rural residents in Fiscal Year 2015.”

Rural Development’s investment include $7 million in South Dakota rural businesses, supporting 37 projects; $196.8 million in loans and grants to build, repair, rehabilitate, and purchase homes – the agency obligated 71 direct loans and 1,465 guaranteed loans; $6.9 million in community facilities loans and grants – the 26 projects included funding for schools, fire and safety equipment to benefit 6,378 rural South Dakota residents; and $238 million through 32 infrastructure projects to provide reliable and clean drinking water, waste treatment systems, electric power, and telecommunications services in about 40 rural communities in South Dakota.

For example the Deuel Area Development, Inc. (DADI) received a USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG), now known as HYPERLINK “http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-business-development-grants/sd”Rural Business Development Grants,  and leveraged it with other funding to provide technical assistance to small businesses in eastern South Dakota; the Mni Waste’ Water Company will soon have a new water treatment plant connected to an abundant water supply – the Missouri River – thanks to USDA Rural Development HYPERLINK “http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/water-waste-disposal-loan-grant-program/

State Urges Residents to be Cautious with Fire

Vegetation is extraordinarily dry this spring season and fire danger is very high in the Black Hills and surrounding areas.

Fire restrictions are in place on state, federal and county lands within the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District.

South Dakota Wildland Fire division director, Jay Esperance, is asking everyone to be cautious during this current dry spell to help prevent wildfires.

“It’s essential local area residents and visitors comply with the fire restrictions,” Esperance said. “One carelessly tossed cigarette could have tragic consequences for our state’s communities.”

State officials would like to remind area residents the increased potential for wildfires necessitates fire prevention precautions for all.

Ways to aid in prevention efforts include never driving or parking a vehicle in dry grass, making sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished and ensuring your outdoor equipment is maintained and equipped with proper spark arrestors.

“We are in a time of year where vegetation has yet to green-up, further increasing the fire risk,” says the Halley Legge, fire prevention technician. “Please be vigilant and abide by current fire restrictions for your area.”

Current restrictions can be found at www.blackhillsfirerestrictions.com for the Black Hills area.  For statewide fire danger, visit https://gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc/dispatch_centers/r2gpc/fuels.htm.

South Dakota Wildland Fire can be found on Twitter @SDWildlandFire and on Facebook by searching SD Wildland Fire.