Angus beef cattle in South Dakota

Jorgensen Ranches, Ideal, ranked as second largest in registering the most Angus beef cattle in South Dakota with the American Angus Association during fiscal year 2020.

Roger Joseph, Winner, ranked seventh largest in registering Angus cattle and Raven Angus of Colome ranked ninth largest. Angus breeders across the nation in 2020 registered 305,531 head of Angus cattle. “Despite a challenging year, our Angus breeders continue to see strong demand for Angus genetics,” said Mark McCully, association chief executive officer.


Retail shops across South Dakota are preparing for resident and non-resident hunters to hit the fields on October 17, the opening day of the 2020 pheasant hunting season. With an emphasis on outdoor activities this year, retailers welcome visitors to engage in good, clean, open-air fun! “Communities around the state are ready for hunters, with many shops and stores working together to create special events,” said South Dakota Retailers Association Exec. Dir. Nathan Sanderson.

“Hunting season is a great opportunity to showcase our world-renowned hospitality and wide-open spaces while supporting our communities and local businesses .”Casey Weismantel with the Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau highlights optimistic outlooks from area businesses.

Positive reports from the field have local shops hopeful for strong hunting traffic on Main Street and in the open spaces around Aberdeen. Like many towns across South Dakota, Aberdeen rolls out the blaze orange carpet for visiting hunters and travelers.”We give out visitor bags filled with valuable hunting information on the area along with coupons and incentives from local businesses in Aberdeen,” said Weismantel. “We treat you like family. We know the value of what hunters bring to the community. We work hard to establish a long-standing tradition of hunting in Aberdeen. “While nearly all South Dakota businesses welcome the increase in foot-traffic, many retailers actively serve the hunting and shooting community.

Pheasant lodges, hunting outfitters, and hundreds of stores that sell guns, ammunition, licenses, hunting gear, and food look forward to our state’s fall hunting tradition. Each year they open their doors and even their homes to visitors nationwide.

Michael Bollweg of Tumbleweed Lodge in Harrold highlighted how his lodge guests view South Dakota. “Without question, their most significant appreciation is for the vast uninterrupted landscapes,” he said. Bollweg continued by saying, “Our guests continually remind us how special a place we live in and raise our families in while managing our abundant natural resources.

“Local mom and pop businesses understand the significant impact hunters have in South Dakota. In 2019, resident and non-resident hunters spent $202.4 million statewide. “We love meeting and talking with the new people that come in, whether it is their first time in the state or just their first time in the store,” said Mike Fairchild, General Manager of Trav’s Outfitter in Watertown. “Of course, we love seeing returning folks when they walk through the door â this year, next year, and the one after that â we know they’ll keep coming back to hunt. “Pheasant season in South Dakota runs October 17, 2020, through January 31, 2021.As you travel around the state this fall, thank the men and women in blaze orange who make a significant contribution to small communities and local businesses statewide.

Because of them, we’re able to live the good life here in South Dakota.

Tripp County cases inch upward

In a week, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Tripp County went up by 61.The total number of cases in Tripp County as of Monday was 158, which is up three from Sunday’s count of 155.

There are 70 active cases and 88 have recovered. There have been 14 persons hospitalized due to COVID-19. Statewide, there were 198 new cases on Monday.

There are 3,828 active cases in the state and 17,692 recovered cases. Currently, there are 209 persons hospitalized. The death total is at 218.

South Dakota Trucking Association, driver of the month

Photo by Michelle Wells, SDTA
Claude Raschke

September 11, 2020 – The South Dakota Trucking Association (SDTA) held their 85th Annual Convention in Deadwood, SD, on September 9-11, 2020. Each month the SDTA Safety Management Council selects a Driver of the Month to honor their safe driving accomplishments.

On Friday afternoon, the twelve monthly winners between the 2019 and 2020 SDTA Conventions were invited to interview with a panel of three judges. Each were given six minute to interview. The drivers were asked the same three questions. The one who receives the highest accumulated score is then named the 2020 Driver of the Year.

It is very difficult to select one driver, especially when each driver has to their credit so many miles of safe driving. The 12 monthly winners have a combined total of nearly 22,475,000 safe driving miles and over 309 years of experience. Each monthly winner was presented a plaque and an embroidered jacket for their accomplishments.

During the Chairman’s Banquet on Friday evening, Claude Raschke, Cliff Viessman, Inc., Gary, SD, December 2019 Driver of the Month was honored with the title of 2020 Driver of the Year. He was presented a plaque from SDTA and $1000. (picture attached) Claude has been a professional truck driver for 26 years. He has 18 years over the road (semi-tractor + trailer), 5 1/2 years local (light duty). He has over two million accident-free miles logged in his career.

He has been active in the SD Truck Driving Championships, both a participant and a volunteer when working in the office. He placed third in the 5-axle class in 2019. The Truck Driving Championships is where drivers with no less than 12 months of accident-free driving can compete in a three part competition: 1) Written Exam; 2) Pre-trip Inspection; and 3) Driving Course.

The top winner from each class (Straight, 3-Axle,!4-Axle, 5-Axle Van, Sleeper Berth, Tank, Twins Trailers, Flatbed and Step-Van) then goes to a national competition, sponsored by the American Trucking Associations, where they compete against winners from the states.!

Claude is a US Army Veteran. We are proud of him and thank him for his service!! Claude and his wife Destine are a blended family with five children: Danyelle Raschke (28), Denver Raschke (26), Zach Reilly (22), Alexis Reilly (19) and Kacie Reilly (16). They reside in Woonsocket, SD.

GFP Commission Extends Pheasant Hunting Season, Keeps Bag Limits at 3 andAllows Unrestricted Harvest on Shooting Preserves

PIERRE, S.D. – For the first time in the history of South Dakota pheasant hunting, pheasant hunters will be able to begin hunting pheasants at 10 a.m. CT (9 a.m. MT) for the entire pheasant season, including the resident-only season, which begins this year on Saturday, Oct. 10.   

Hunters will also have the opportunity to hunt ringnecks for a couple of extra weeks as the Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission extended the season to Jan. 31, 2021.    

These extensions will provide additional opportunity for hunters and bring South Dakota in line with pheasant hunting states like Nebraska and Kansas that surround the pheasant hunting capital.   

“It’s very exciting to offer these expanded opportunities to those who want to experience the greatest pheasant hunting inthe nation,” said Kelly Hepler, Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.   

“Behind Governor Noem’s Second Century Initiative, this is one more way we are working to secure South Dakota’s great outdoor heritage and the next 100 years of pheasant hunting in our state.”     

The commission ultimately decided to retain the daily bag limit of three pheasants for the statewide season, but did vote to adopt an unrestricted harvest opportunity for those hunting on a private shooting preserve from Sept. 1 through the end of the statewide pheasant season.

The commission amended the original proposal and voted to approve the modification allowing preserve hunters the opportunity if they obtained a statewide nonresident smallgame license plus a habitat stamp and, for residents, a combination license and the habitat stamp.   

To view the proposals in their entirety, visit Audio from the meeting is available through South Dakota Public Broadcasting and will soon be available on the GFP website as part of the meeting archive.

Defending Those Who Defend America

By Sen. John Thune

The Senate recently completed consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – annual legislation to authorize funding for our military and national defense. Like the last two NDAAs, this year’s bill focuses on restoring military readiness and ensuring that our nation is prepared to meet threats posed by major powers like Russia and China.

A lot of people tend to take it for granted that we have the strongest military in the world. But the truth is, years of underfunding and budgetary uncertainty, combined with heavy operational demands, left our military under-equipped, under-manned, and under-prepared to meet the threats of the 21st century.

In November 2018, the bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission released a report warning that our readiness had eroded to the point where we might struggle to win a war against a major power like Russia or China. And the commission noted that we would be especially vulnerable if we were ever called on to fight a war on two fronts. Over the past two years, we’ve made real progress on restoring military readiness. But we still have more work to do.

This year’s NDAA continues our investment in ensuring that our military is prepared to meet current and future threats – in any domain. In particular, it focuses on implementing the National Defense Strategy by building on the work we’ve done to ensure our country is prepared to counter the threat posed by great powers.

Most notably, the bill establishes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which will act as a check on Chinese aggression in the Pacific region. It will help ensure that American troops are better prepared to meet threats in that area of the world. And it will send a clear message to China that America is committed to the security of our allies in the Pacific and keeping global waterways open and free.

No matter what weapons or ships or technology we have, our greatest resource will always be the men and women of the United States military. And we have an obligation to them – and to their families – to ensure that they have all the resources they need to meet the threats we ask them to face. We also need to make sure that we are supporting a high quality of life for our military members and their families.

This year’s NDAA supports a 3 percent pay raise for our troops. It also builds on previous measures to improve military health care and housing. And it contains measures to support families in areas like child care and professional development for military spouses. Recognizing that our obligation to the men and women in uniform continues beyond their service, it also expands presumptive coverage for Agent Orange exposure.

The NDAA is one of the most important pieces of legislation we pass every year, a sentiment underscored by the fact that our adversaries have been making significant investments in their militaries – making their goals clear to not only challenge the United States and our allies, but intimidate their neighbors and expand their spheres of influence.

Alarmingly, we have seen such aggressive activity include attempting to steal medical data and coronavirus vaccine research, threats that necessitate the expanded investment in cyber capabilities provided in the NDAA.

This NDAA likewise continues our military modernization efforts. I’m honored to represent Ellsworth Air Force Base in the U.S. Senate, and as we look forward with great anticipation to the future B-21 bomber mission, I am committed to helping the base prepare for their arrival. This will not only include investments in base infrastructure, but also working to optimize the Powder River Training Complex airspace to ensure adequate space for realistic combat training.

While the Senate has passed its bill, we have more work ahead of us, and I look forward to working with my colleagues of both parties to advance this NDAA and get our military men and women the resources they need to defend our nation.

Making Telehealth Permanent

By Rep. Dusty Johnson

In March, when things went from 0 to 100 at the beginning of the pandemic, our health care system was forced to adapt quickly on so many levels. With patients no longer allowed to visit hospitals in-person for regular appointments, we needed a solution – and fast.

Telehealth was the answer. The administration quickly expanded Medicare’s telehealth coverage during the pandemic, ensuring our seniors had access to their providers from the safety of their own home.

Prior to COVID-19, Senator Thune and I supported the CONNECT for Health Act, which would make the Medicare telehealth expansion permanent – I will continue to push for this bill as a long-term solution.

If you’ve utilized telehealth throughout the last several months – we probably shared a similar thought: “Why wasn’t this an option years ago?” The answer is two-fold – lack of awareness it existed and lack of coverage through programs like Medicare and other health insurance providers.

Telehealth is no longer a secret, and it’s likely more Americans are going to take advantage of it moving forward. That’s why I signed onto the KEEP Telehealth Options Act, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services to study the current state of telehealth and inform Congress about the areas that require improvement on the path to permanence.

It’s been a difficult few months, but I’m proud of our health care community for stepping up in more areas than one.

Because of the CARES Act, hospitals around the country were able to apply for funding through the Federal Communications Commission to increase state access to telehealth services. South Dakota hospitals were awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase telehealth equipment, ensuring our hospitals could meet the needs of patients virtually.

South Dakota is home to providers like Avera that have led the charge on telehealth services in rural communities for decades. We still have more work to do, but one thing is for certain, telehealth needs to be a permanent option for all Americans.

Changes proposed to pheasant season

Several changes to the state’s pheasant season are being proposed.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks accepted the proposals during its regular monthly meeting held Thursday and Friday via conference and video livestream.

Two of the major changes include extending the season’s end date to either Jan. 15 or 31 and increasing the daily bag limit from three to four from Dec. 1 to the end of the season.

The proposals can be reviewed for 60 days and will be up for public commentary in future meetings. They could be finalized later this year, with the season extension potentially going into during the upcoming season.

The increased bag limit will not start until next season. Another proposal is to modify shooting hours to begin at 10 a.m. all season.

That could also be changed for this upcoming fall season.

In June, the GF&P commission agreed to discontinue South Dakota’s roadside brood survey that’s that conducted each year since 1949. Several letters of public input were submitted to the commission prior to the July meeting stating disagreement with the decision.

The decision to discontinue the state’s annual brood count was made after GF&P Secretary Kelly Hepler explained in June the survey does not impact the season structure or harvest limits.

A Historic Day at Mount Rushmore

By Governor Kristi Noem
July 10, 2020

On July 3rd, South Dakota got to showcase our state to not only the rest of the nation but also the world. For the first time in more than a decade, we celebrated America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore. The excitement leading up to the event could be felt by everyone in attendance. Over just three days, more than 125 thousand people tried to get tickets to the event, and the lucky 7,500 who witnessed it in person saw quite a show.

South Dakotans know just how beautiful and magnificent the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore are, but it was wonderful to share them with millions of viewers from around the globe. Early estimates suggest more than 5.5 million people tuned in to watch our celebration on just one cable news network.

Our team at the Department of Tourism spent countless hours pulling together this great event. The Department of the Interior’s Secretary David Bernhardt was instrumental in helping us overcome countless obstacles to make it a reality. And of course, none of this would have been possible without President Trump’s dedication to making this event happen. Before I was even sworn in as Governor, I asked for his help to bring fireworks back to Mount Rushmore, and he went to work on it immediately.

In addition to the wonderful fireworks display, we were also thrilled to be the audience for President Trump’s best ever speech. It was unifying and focused on his dedication to the things that make America the greatest country in the world. But he also warned of a sinister threat to that greatness: the radical movement to re-write American history.

Make no mistake, this movement is not about equality. This movement’s attempt to “cancel” the founding generation is an attempt to cancel our own freedoms. Our Founders had their flaws, certainly. But every person has flaws. Without our Founders’ words, ideals, and sacrifice, the world would not have a ringing example of true freedom. We can write, worship, work, defend ourselves, and even protest as we see fit because of these men and their ideals.

That’s what the celebration of America’s birthday is about. It’s about our core American ideal: “All men are created equal.” It’s about the day our ideal was forever enshrined in one of the most important statements of purpose ever written, the Declaration of Independence. It’s about the work of countless brave men and women, including the four presidents enshrined on Mount Rushmore, to live up to that ideal and make America the greatest country ever.

Everyone who tuned in for our celebration also learned about South Dakota’s commitment to that American ideal, to freedom, and to trusting our citizens to exercise their personal responsibility to do what’s best for themselves and their loved-ones. Let us, like our Founding Fathers, pledge our own lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause of liberty and self-government, so that we may continue to have the freedom to follow our consciences, build our lives, and live in peace.

And let’s continue to celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore!

Garth Brooks accomplishes the impossible

Submitted Photo
Garth Brooks entertained over 350,000 fans on June 27 in a live concert at drive inn theaters. Winner Drive Inn was one of the theaters in South Dakota that hosted the event.

Entertaining Over 350,000 Fans With A One Night Only Live Concert At Drive-In Theaters Across North America

Garth Brooks managed to accomplish the impossible! On Saturday night, June 27, he entertained over 350,000 fans with a one night only live concert at drive-in theaters across North America. Fans were able to enjoy this special event, with friends and family, from the safety of their own vehicle.

The Winner Drive In Theater was one of the theaters to host the event.

It was the first time anything like this had ever been done. The concert was created exclusively for this event. It was recorded in Nashville, with the full band.

“This time, I was the fan and the people were the entertainment. Watching people all night from coast to coast, in Canada and here in the U.S., laughing, dancing, and singing, made me smile,” said Garth Brooks. “It reminded me how much I miss the crazy, happy, and unpredictable life we lead as entertainers. For one night, things seemed…right.”

The event was produced by Encore Live.

The show adhered to guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as all state and local health mandates.

About Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks is the 7-time CMA Entertainer of the Year, a first for any artist.

He is also the first and only artist in history to receive eight Diamond Awards for the now eight albums certified by the RIAA at over 10 million album sales each.

He remains the #1-selling solo artist in U.S. history, certified by the RIAA with 156 million album sales. In March, Garth received the esteemed Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He has received every accolade the recording industry can bestow on an artist.

In January, Billboard announced that Garth Brooks was the first artist to make it on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in the 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s and now 20s.