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   From the desk of News Director Kevin Larsen

Category: Local News

Pierre School Board Accepts Retirements, Resignations

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Pierre School Board accepted nine teacher retirements and three resignations at their meeting Monday evening.

Out of those retiring, there is a combined total of 228 years of service to the district. Retiring teachers need to submit their retirement notices to the board by Feb. 1st to take full advantage of early retirement benefits.

Those teachers retiring at the end of this school year include:

Buchannan Elementary School Counselor Joan Crabtree, Riggs High School Science Teacher Jeff Dyksta, Riggs High School Computer Teacher Bob Gill, Buchannan Elementary Teacher Betty Hanson, Jefferson Elementary Special Education Teacher Bridgette Magilke, Kennedy Elementary Speech/Launguage Pathologist Barb Mitchell, Riggs High FACS teacher Denise Thompson, Georgia Morse Special Education Teacher Mary Titzie, and Early Kindergarten Jefferson Elementary Teacher Christie Zander.

The board also accepted the resignations of Georgia Morse Middle School Teacher Chelsey Coverdale, Kennedy Elementry 4th Grade Teacher Jordi Terca, and Georgia Morse Middle School Custodian Mark Hiatt.

The school board thanked all the staff for the continued years of service. 

CategoriesLocal News,

Pierre School District To Become The First In South Dakota With Staggered Start Dates

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Starting in August, the Pierre School district will become the first district in the state with staggered start dates.

The Pierre School Board Monday approved the school calendar with the staggered start dates. The Riggs High School students will come to school two days earlier than their fellow students in the elementary and middle schools. The start date for the next school year will be Aug. 22nd at Riggs. The elementary schools and Georgia Morse Middle School will start on Aug. 24th.

The middle school was initially going to start school along with Riggs two days earlier, however, they polled their teachers via survey. The majority of those teacher felt that they should start at the later date.

The school calendar has to be set for the 2016/2017 school year by March per state law. Pierre School Superintendent Dr. Kelly Glodt says the calendar committee surveyed numerous people on the issue over the last several months.

In order for high school students to take their semester tests before Christmas break next year; they would have to start school no later than Aug. 21. That was a little early for some parents according to Calendar Committee Chairman School Board member Randy Hartmann.

Glodt adds that he was hesitant at first going along with the staggered start date, due to sympathizing with parents of kids in both the elementary and middle/high school. However, he had a change of mind during the process.

The driving factor for the staggered start date is that the high school needs to start early so the students have enough time in class to be able to take their fall semester tests before the Christmas Break.

The staggered dates will not change the total amount of school days in the calendar. 

CategoriesLocal News,

Pierre School Board Adopts Resolution Supporting Governor's Teacher Pay Proposal

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Pierre School Board Monday night formally endorsed the Blue Ribbon Task Force's plan to increase teacher pay in South Dakota.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed the task force to examine the issue of teacher pay in South Dakota, which ranks lowest in the nation. In response to the task force's findings, Daugaard has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay, but his plan needs two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate.

The Pierre School Board adopted the resolution of support for such legislation during its regular meeting Monday. Many other school boards across the state are adopting similar resolutions this week.

To fund his plan, Daugaard proposed a half-cent increase in the state sales tax from 4 percent to 4.5 percent. That would generate $107.4 million, $67.4 million of which would go toward schools to boost teacher pay. The remaining $40 million would be used for property tax relief, according to Daugaard. The new formula sets a target statewide average salary of $48,500. This legislation is part of House Bill 1182.

A legislative panel has approved HB 1182 Monday afternoon.

The House Committee on Appropriations voted unanimously for the bill. It now heads the House floor Wednesday afternoon.

House Republican leader Brian Gosch is pursuing a separate avenue to raise teacher pay without increasing taxes. Gosch says one proposal would use current state dollars and put $30 million toward teacher pay in the first year, and $20 million each in the second and third years.

Another proposal is HB 1130, which would dedicate revenue from video lottery for the purpose of supplementing teachers' salaries. It also establishes a teacher salary enhancement fund to transfer certain moneys to that fund, and to make an appropriation therefor. Representative Lance Russell of Hot Springs is the prime sponsor on that bill. 

CategoriesLocal News,

Pierre's "Referendum King" Contemplating Run For Pierre City Commission

Monday, February 8, 2016

A retired Pierre lawyer, who has been dubbed the “referendum king” by some local residents, says he is now highly considering a run for a position on the Pierre City Commission.

There are two positions open this year on the Pierre City Commission. The terms of Commissioners Steve Harding and Jeanne Goodman expire this year. Harding will be running for re-election. Goodman says she will not be.

David Braun of Pierre is now retired after serving many years as general legal counsel for the South Dakota Department of Social Services. Braun has picked up a petition to fill one of the open positions. He can’t circulate the petitions until March 1st however.

Braun is currently considering the possibility of filling one of the open positions on the commission…

(Dave Braun 1)

Braun says there are two issues he keeps hearing a lot about in the community. The first issue has to deal with the proposed event center…

(Dave Braun 2)

The second main issue has to do with the recent increases in utility rates according to Braun…

(Dave Braun 3)

Braun unsuccessfully ran for a spot on the Pierre City Commission in 2002 and 2006.

Braun also on two occasions gathered petitions to refer a proposed increase in the Hughes County wheel tax to a vote of the people. Both times it resulted in popular votes against the increase, most recently in 2012. On another occasion, Braun talked to the commissioners and convinced them not to go ahead with an increase.

Although it is not official, Braun is highly considering a run for the Pierre City Commission.

CategoriesLocal News,

Future Of Pierre's Essential Air Service To Be Discussed Tuesday

Monday, February 8, 2016

The future of air service at Pierre will be discussed at tonight's Pierre City Commission Meeting.

Pierre recommended Aerodynamics Inc (ADI) for the city of Pierre’s endorsement for its Essential Air Service proposal over a year ago. The Department of Transportation approved just last week that ADI could perform commercial air service.

Over the weekend, ADI’s parent company, SeaPort Airlines, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. SeaPort did say their daily operations will not be interrupted.

SeaPort’s financial standing was called into question this month when Executive Express Aviation filed an objection over the US Department of Transportation’s impending decision to award SeaPort’s sister carrier ADI scheduled interstate passenger service rights. Those rights would extend to Watertown, Pierre and Denver.

Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill says Tuesday’s discussion will focus on “where do we go from here”…

(Gill ADI Tuesday 1)

The second option would be going back out for bids according to Gill…

(Gill ADI Tuesday 2)

Action on this issue will be made this evening, because February 12th is the deadline for the city to make recommendation to the Federal Government. 

CategoriesLocal News,

Onida Couple Arrested On Marijuana Distribution Charges

Monday, February 8, 2016

An Onida couple was recently arrested on charges of possession of Marijuana over one pound and possession with intent to distribute over one pound of marijuana.

On January 26th the local drug task force was contacted by the Rapid City Drug Task Force. They were assisting the South Dakota Highway Patrol. The Patrol had stopped a Larry Hogeland in Hot Springs for possession of marijuana. He admitted that he was delivering the marijuana to a person in Pierre.

The Rapid City Drug Task Force drove Hogeland to Pierre. Text messages and recorded calls were exchanged between Hogeland and 25 year old Kyler “Kyle” Onken of Onida. Hogeland met Onken in the Ramkota parking lot in Pierre.

Agents observed both meeting at Hogeland’s vehicle, and Onken exited with an unknown package and put it in his pickup. Agents were then able to apprehend Onken as he entered the Ramkota.

A search warrant was obtained for his vehicle and motel room. Three pounds of marijuana was found in his pickup. According to court documents, in his motel room, agents found Kyle’s wife Devin and her child. They also found THC extracted wax. Both Devin and Kyler were subsequently arrested for possession of the three pounds of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Kyler posted bond in the amount of 2,000 dollars. His next court appearance will be in the afternoon March 15th in Hughes County.

This is an ongoing investigation. Additional charges might be forthcoming. 

CategoriesLocal News,

Pierre Teacher Awarded Earth and Space Science Grant

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Pierre teacher was been awarded an Earth and Space Science Cash Award.

Dorothy Marie Gillespie of the Pierre Indian Learning Center won a $1,620 Kelly Lane Earth & Space Science award for her project titled: "Student Exploration in Near Space". The award was presented by Thomas Durkin, Deputy Director of the SD Space Grant Consortium during the SD Science and Math Teacher’s Conference Friday.  Gillespie is a teacher at Pierre Indian Learning Center and a coach for the NASA Rising Star Educator program at the SD Discovery Center.

The purpose of Gillespie’s project is to bring the science standard concepts of weather, atmosphere, and space together through high-altitude ballooning.  Gillespie students will design the balloon payload, select a launch date using their knowledge of meteorology, analyze data collected by the payload instruments, and watch as the balloon rises through the various layers of the atmosphere and finally gives them a glimpse of space.

CategoriesLocal News,

City Of Pierre Kicks Off 7th Year Of "Go Green And Clean"

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The City of Pierre’s “Go Green and Clean” campaign is kicking off its seventh year. 

The campaign, first organized in 2010 by Mayor Laurie Gill, is a “call to citizens to volunteer” and give back to the community. 

Gill says this is a call to community service to prepare the City for the visitors we welcome each year…

(Gill Green 1)

The Go Green and Clean campaign is a year round event.  In the spring, the campaign focus is on cleaning up after the winter season.  Gill says “Go Green and Clean” has been very successful…

(Gill Green 2)

Gill says activities are more than just picking up trash. They coordinate many educations events as well.

The next monthly meeting is March 2 at 9am at City hall. They will target projects to be completed between April 18 and April 30th

Pierre is always looking for new Go Green initiatives and partnerships. Citizens with an interest in the campaign should contact Tom Farnsworth, Director of Parks and Recreation at 773-2527.

CategoriesLocal News,

USS South Dakota Crew Visits Pierre

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Several crewmembers of the recently commissioned USS South Dakota paid a visit to the Capitol and the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre on Thursday. The USS South Dakota is a Virginia-class nuclear submarine that’s set for launch in 2018.

Commander Ron Withrow is the sub’s commander, and says this is an honor for him…

(Withrow 1)  

Many South Dakota leaders, including Pierre’s Steve Harding are part of the commissioning committee for the submarine. Fellow committee member Michael Samp of Sioux Falls invites South Dakotans to be a part of the vessel’s crest design…

(Samp 1)

 For more information on the crest contest, visit

The 377 foot USS South Dakota has a compliment of 15 officers and 117 enlisted men. A nuclear reactor will power the sub for its 30-plus year life-span.

CategoriesLocal News,

Herried Woman Convicted Of Burning Down Her Bar

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Herreid woman accused of setting fire to her bar to get insurance money has been convicted of arson.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says a jury found Road House Bar and Grill owner Lori Brandner guilty Friday of aiding and abetting arson, conspiracy to commit arson and submitting a fraudulent insurance claim.

Authorities alleged Brandner and three others set fire to her bar in the northern South Dakota town of Herreid on January 21st, 2015. The fire significantly damaged the bar, which Brandner co-owned with her husband. After the fire, Brandner submitted a $310,000 insurance claim.

Her three co-defendants each previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson in exchange for testifying at Brandner's three day trial.

This case was investigated by the Campbell County State’s Attorney’s Office and the South Dakota Attorney General’s office.

A sentencing date has not been set. Brander was remanded into custody at the Selby County Jail.

CategoriesLocal News,
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