VA Black Hills Health Care System Nursing Home Receives 4-Star Rating

VA Facilities Compare Closely With Private Sector Nursing Homes Overall

The VA Black Hills Health Care System (VA BHHCS) announced that its nursing home received 4-stars as part of its annual performance rating.

VA BHHCS announcement comes after VA extended its unprecedented 18-month record of transparency disclosures by making public for the first time its annual nursing home ratings for every facility in the country. View the ratings here.

The data show that, overall, VA’s nursing home system – composed of more than 130 community living centers – compares closely with private sector nursing homes, even though the department on average cares for sicker patients in its nursing homes than do private facilities.

In fact, the overall star rating for VA’s nursing homes compared to the 15,487 private sector nursing homes rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that VA has a significantly lower percentage (34.1 percent lower) of one-star, or lowest rated, facilities than the rest of the nation.

Of note, 60 of VA’s nursing homes improved their quality score from last year to this year (2nd Quarter FY17 to 2nd Quarter FY18). Only one facility had a meaningful decline in that metric, and that facility was already rated with four stars.

Extending VA’s Commitment to VA Transparency, Quality Improvement VA has become the first hospital system in the nation to post its: · Hospital wait times · Opioid prescription rates · Employee settlements and accountability actions · Chief executive travel

“VA Black Hills is committed to providing our Veterans with the highest level of quality care. We operate in an environment of transparency and continual improvement to ensure the safety of our Veterans, said Sandra Horsman, VA BHHCS Director.

How VA Nursing Homes Compare with Private Sector The best comparison of VA nursing homes to the private sector is in the overall star rating. Using that overarching and most important metric, VA’s performance compares very closely with that of the private sector. See here for a comparison of quality ratings using CMS’ Nursing Home Compare Five Star Quality Rating System as of April 2018.

VA’s Unique Patient Base Of note, VA nursing homes often serve residents with more numerous and challenging medical conditions than do private sector facilities.

Specifically, VA nursing homes serve a much higher proportion of residents with conditions such as prostate obstruction, spinal cord injury, mental illness, homelessness, PTSD, combat injury, terminal illness, and other conditions rarely seen in private nursing homes.

Also, private sector nursing homes admit patients selectively, whereas – unlike the private sector – VA will not refuse service to any eligible Veteran, no matter how challenging the Veteran’s conditions are to treat. In other words, VA nursing homes often house residents with more complex medical needs that private sector facilities will not accept, which makes achieving good quality ratings more challenging.

As a result, VA nursing homes at times rate lower than private sector facilities on specific metrics such as pain and type of treatment. Despite that fact, VA nursing homes compare well with private sector facilities in overall facility rankings.

VA Nursing Homes Provide More Direct Nursing Care Additionally, VA nursing homes have a higher staff-to-resident ratio than private sector facilities, meaning residents in VA facilities get more direct attention from nursing home staff than do residents in the private sector.

Pump Prices Continue to Decline as U.S. Demand Dips

At $2.92, the national gas price average has dropped four cents since the beginning of June. Today’s average is three cents less than a week ago, six cents more than a month ago and 58 cents more expensive than a year ago. On the week, only eight states saw prices increase while all others dropped by as much as 13 cents or remained stable.

“Gas prices continue to dip across the country, but remain nearly 50-cents more expensive than last summer in every state,” said Marilyn Buskohl, AAA South Dakota spokesperson. “The higher prices seem to be influencing driving habits. While consumer gasoline demand remains strong, it is slowing and not growing.”

South Dakota Average Gas Prices:
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The Rosebud Economic Development Corporation’s (REDCO) Rosebud Construction broke ground June 12 for the renovation of the Rosebud powwow grounds.

Rosebud Construction will be working with Sicangu Nation Employment Training Program (SNETP) to provide on-the-job training and mentorship to SNETP employees. The renovation will replace the existing arbor and press box in time for the 2018 Rosebud Fair.

Rosebud powwow grounds are over fifty years old and require yearly maintenance. The joint project with Rosebud Construction and SNETP will utilize modern materials and reduce facility upkeep. William Kindle, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe said, “This partnership is about strengthening our community and creating jobs. When tribal programs collaborate, our people prosper.”

The mentorship program allows SNETP employees to gain field experience while learning new skills. Lauri Bordeaux, Director of SNETP said, “I would like to thank everyone including the RST Council for entrusting the SNETP as well as our collaborating partners REDCO Construction Group. We hope to give the members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe a pow wow and rodeo arena that is beautiful and large enough to accommodate our annual event and that we will be proud of and take care of for years to come”.

Improvements to the rodeo grounds, which will include a new announcer stand, rodeo grandstand, and shelter are scheduled to be complete in Fall 2018.

Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal to Keystone XL

South Dakota’s Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline saying a lower court lacked jurisdiction to hear their cases.

The Associated Press reports an attorney battling the project says the “fight is not over.”

Groups fighting TransCanada’s pipeline appealed a judge’s decision last year upholding regulators’ approval for the pipeline to cross the state.

But the high court said in a ruling last Wednesday that justices didn’t “reach the merits of the case” because he lower court didn’t have jurisdiction to weigh the appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s decision.

Robin Martinez, an attorney for Dakota Rural Action, called the high court’s decision disappointing.

That’s really disappointing that the court didn’t reach the merits, because the risk to South Dakota’s land and water resources is clearly there,” Martinez said. “It’s a shame that they did not get a closer look by the court.”

TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha said in an e mail that the pipeline developer is pleased with the court’s decision.

Keystone XL would cost an estimated $8 billion. The 1,179-mile pipeline would transport up to the 830,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska where it would connect with lines to carry oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

A portion of the pipeline will run through Tripp County.

TransCanada announced in April it as meeting with landowners and starting aerial surveillance of the proposed route. The company hopes to begin construction in early 2019.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Yankton Sioux Tribe and Dakota Rural Action appealed to the South Dakota high court after a judge had affirmed state regulators approval of the pipeline.

The PUC initially authorized the project in 2010 but the permit had to be revisited because construction didn’t start within the required four years. The panel voted in 2016

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

Cunha said the company is working to get needed land easements for the pipeline in Nebraska.

Sutton Adds Silvia Christen as New Finance Director

Billie Sutton, candidate for South Dakota Governor, announces Silvia Christen, former Executive Director of the SD Stockgrowers Association, has joined the campaign as finance director. Christen will head up all fundraising efforts and manage the budgetary operations of the campaign.

Christen said, “I’ve had my thumb on the pulse of South Dakota policy for years, and I’ve been so impressed with Billie’s ability to build coalitions and work for common sense solutions. I’m proud to join the Sutton campaign and ready to continue my work for a stronger South Dakota from this new capacity.”

A Rapid City resident, Christen has served as the executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association for the past seven years. While earning a degree from the University of Missouri in Ag Economics and Rural Sociology in 2005, Christen conducted research on ag policy and rural development in the US and South Africa.

Her resume includes previous involvement with the Vote Yes Rapid City campaign, local and regional elections, the Rapid City Chamber Ag Committee, and several other service organizations in the region and state. She was an integral part of the disaster recovery efforts following the 2013 Atlas Blizzard, and she was named the Black Hills Stock Show’s Ag Business Person of the Year in 2015.

Christen will work to continue the unprecedented fundraising success the Sutton campaign has achieved so far in this election cycle.


China Hits U.S. Agriculture with Retaliation

China placed a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on multiple U.S. goods, including sorghum. The retaliatory tariff also applies to U.S. soybeans, cotton, wheat, vegetables, beef, pork and others and will go into effect on July 6. This action was in response to the U.S. issuing a 25 percent tariff earlier today on 1,102 Chinese goods.

Today’s tariff announcement comes a month after China terminated anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations into U.S. sorghum, which ended the 178.6 percent duty. The newly enforced 25 percent tariff will bring higher prices for Chinese consumers who purchase over half of U.S. sorghum exports. National Sorghum Producers Chairman and Nebraska farmer Don Bloss issued the following statement:

“National Sorghum Producers, alongside our producers, stakeholders and partners, have already seen the market uncertainty and price fluctuations that occur when China retaliates on U.S. goods. We urge President Trump and the Administration to move forward with constructive trade negotiations that will end tariffs on U.S. agriculture, especially during times of existing economic stress.

“We understand the grave impact tariff decisions can inflict on producers. American farmers depend on trade with China, and these tariffs will have devastating effects on U.S. agriculture. We greatly value our business relationship with Chinese buyers and hope to see this win-win relationship move forward. We have witnessed the Administration’s efforts in positive trade negations in the past that lifted sanctions on U.S. sorghum and hope to see similar efforts going forward.

“National Sorghum Producers will continue to work with and encourage officials to achieve long-term trade solutions with China. Protecting our markets remains the No. 1 priority for U.S. sorghum farmers and the agriculture industry.”


Carney Joins Activities Foundation Board

By Dana Hess
For the S.D. Newspaper Association

The former executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association will join the board of directors of the SDHSAA Foundation.

Wayne Carney will join the foundation board as a non-paid member according to Dave Stevens of Mitchell, a member of the foundation board who provided an update to the activities association’s board of directors at their Thursday meeting.

Carney was instrumental in the formation of the foundation during his tenure as executive director.

“Quite frankly, the foundation has had a hard time getting started,” Stevens said, adding that the organization would benefit from Carney’s experience.

Stevens said the foundation has a balance of $382,000 with $10,300 available to distribute in grants.

According to Stevens, the foundation would like to form a distribution committee consisting of four foundation board members, three association board members and SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos as a non-voting member.

The appointment of the board members from the association will likely take place at the group’s August meeting.

Late in Carney’s tenure as executive director, the association’s corporate sponsors asked that their donations be redirected to the foundation. While they all initially stayed with the association, First Premier Bank/Premier Bankcard has decided to take its yearly donation to the foundation.

At its Thursday meeting, the SDHSAA board welcomed a new banking sponsor, Dakotah Bank, which signed a five year agreement to make yearly donations of $75,000 to the association. Corporate sponsors receive a variety of marketing benefits for their donations.

The association’s other corporate sponsors are Sanford Health, Farmers Union Insurance, Billion Automotive and the South Dakota Army National Guard.




Brooke Swier Schloss of Swier Law Firm was recently honored as one of the “Top 25 Women in Business” by Prairie Business magazine.

Now in its fifth year, the award honors successful businesswomen in North Dakota, South Dakota, and western Minnesota. The award emphasizes professional achievement, community contributions, and work-life balance.

“I am so honored that Prairie Business magazine recognizes the accomplishments of professional women in our region,” said Brooke Swier Schloss. “As the mother of two small daughters, I am thrilled to tell them ‘Look at the opportunities you have to chase your dreams.’ I am humbled to be part of such a successful group of businesswomen.”

“We are very proud of Brooke’s achievement in being named one of the ‘Top 25 Women in Business for 2018,” said Scott Swier. “She is the epitome of a dedicated professional and selfless volunteer.”

A reception was held on Thursday, May 17, in the Dakota Ballroom at the Avalon Events Center in Fargo, to celebrate the 2018 Top 25 Women in Business.

Coyotes Nab Second-Straight Showdown Series

The South Dakota Coyotes have topped the South Dakota State Jackrabbits 14-13 to win the annual South Dakota Showdown Series presented by South Dakota Corn for the third time in the last four years. The official announcement was made Wednesday by South Dakota Corn Utilization Council officials.

The South Dakota Showdown Series is a point-based athletic and academic competition between the two in-state university rivals.

The Yotes outscored the Jacks 11-10 in athletic competitions for the second-straight year to keep the traveling trophy in Vermillion. Those points were decided by head-to-head competitions and Summit League Championship finishes in 17 men’s and women’s sports. Both programs scored the maximum three points allotted for academic achievement by compiling a student-athlete grade-point average above 3.0.

“I am so proud of all our student-athletes and coaches and happy for Coyote fans,” said University of South Dakota Director of Athletics David Herbster. “Maybe more impressive than that is how our schools have played a part in helping the South Dakota Corn Council and Feeding South Dakota generate $70,000 to feed those in need. That’s teamwork and the biggest win.”

Feeding South Dakota, the Series’ philanthropic partner, will be able to provide 280,000 meals for adults and children throughout the state because of the $70,000 generous donation from South Dakota Corn. Funds were raised throughout the year at a variety of activities, including the “Get Off the Bench” campaign. Now in its second year, the campaign took place at USD-SDSU rivalry games during the 2017-18 season where fans were encouraged to support the overall goal to provide funding in the state’s fight against hunger.

“Through this continuing partnership with Feeding South Dakota, our state’s farmers are making a commitment to provide hundreds of thousands of nourishing meals to individuals and families who are less fortunate,” said South Dakota Corn’s Teddi Mueller. “The Showdown Series and other events throughout the year raise awareness of the state’s needs and generate a substantial amount of money to ensure South Dakotans do not go hungry. We are all partners in this meaningful cause.”

Fans can visit,, or to track progress and see point totals. Spearheading the initiative between the athletic departments and South Dakota Corn are Coyote Sports Properties and Jackrabbit Sports Properties, the multimedia rights holders for USD athletics and SDSU athletics, respectively. Both are properties of Learfield, which manages multimedia rights for nearly 130 collegiate properties around the country.

A breakdown of the scoring follows:

South Dakota (14)
3 – cumulative GPA above 3.0
2 – volleyball sweeps Summit series 2-0
2 – women’s basketball sweeps Summit series 2-0
1 – women’s cross country
1 – men’s basketball splits Summit series 1-1
1 – men’s swimming and diving
1 – women’s indoor track and field
1 – women’s tennis
1 – men’s golf
1 – women’s outdoor track and field

South Dakota State (13)
3 – cumulative GPA above 3.0
2 – football
1 – women’s soccer
1 – men’s cross country
1 – women’s swimming and diving
1 – men’s basketball splits Summit series 1-1
1 – men’s indoor track and field
1 – softball wins Summit series 2-1
1 – women’s golf
1 – men’s outdoor track and field

Showdown Series History
2013 – SDSU wins 14-13
2014 – SDSU wins 18-9
2015 – USD wins 14-13
2016 – SDSU wins 16-11
2017 – USD wins 14-13
2018 – USD wins 14-13

How to Pick a Perfect Steak

Written collaboratively by Amanda Blair, Holly Swee, and Adam Rhody.

As grilling season is getting into full swing many grillers are in search of the perfect steak. With so many different options out there it’s good to have plan before you head out to shop. Type of steak is a personal choice so if you know your preferences for flavor, tenderness or marbling that’s a good place to start. If you’re unsure we’ve put together a quick guide for finding the perfect steak to try.

Traditional Steak Options
A general rule of thumb is the more expensive the steak is the more tender it should be. But finding a great steak really depends on what you like. If your top priority is tenderness, a Tenderloin – also known as a Filet or Filet Mignon – is a great option. If you’re after an extremely flavorful cut a Sirloin should be on your list. Ribeyes and Strip Steaks have great beef flavor and are also tender. One reason that Ribeyes and New York Strips are so flavorful is the amount of marbling. Marbling is the small flecks of fat within the meat. The amount of marbling determines the grade. The USDA beef grades you will typically find in grocery stores or at restaurants are Select, Choice, and Prime and these are also related to price. Select cuts will have the least amount of marbling and Prime will have the most and typically be the most expensive.

Other popular beef items for summer grilling are fajitas and kabobs. Grocery stores will sell these items, but you can save a little money by cutting them yourself. A sirloin works great for kabobs since it is a tender, lean cut. For fajitas, try a beef skirt steak or flank steak that you can grill whole and slice thinly across the grain.

New Value Cuts
Speaking of price, the beef industry has developed several new value cuts over the past few years including the Flat Iron, Denver Cut, and Chuck Eye Steak. These cuts have great flavor and tenderness and generally sold at retail for less than more traditional steaks such as the ribeye. However, since they’re new to the market they may not always be available at retail so if you can’t find them ask your butcher or grocer, they are worth a try. The Flat Iron in particular is gaining popularity because it is very tender and flavorful, but they’re sold in the meat case cut a couple different ways. One cutting method results in an oval shape with a long section of connective tissue down the middle, which can lead to tenderness issues. The more preferred cutting method results in a rectangular shaped flat iron.

Lean Beef Options
Beef is a great option to add to your diet because it contributes important nutrients such as protein, iron and zinc. There are also plenty of lean beef options that can be incorporated into a balanced diet. In fact, there are over 37 cuts that meet the government guidelines for lean. Many popular cuts in the meat case qualify as lean such as Flank Steak, Tenderloin, T-Bone steak and 95% lean ground beef. A good rule of thumb is to look for the word loin or round in the name and that usually indicates a lean cut. The American Heart Association has also named 9 fresh lean cuts of beef that meet the Heart Check-mark certification.