Federal judge declines to intervene ‘at this time’ in fight over abortion ballot measure • South Dakota Searchlight

A federal judge is declining, for now, to stop a lawsuit in state court against South Dakota’s abortion-rights ballot measure.
Judge Karen Schreier signed her order Friday. She said a state court should rule on a key issue in the lawsuit before she considers intervening.
But she added, “If the state court ruling contradicts a federal court order, this court will consider the issue at that time.”

The anti-abortion Life Defense Fund filed its lawsuit in state court last month. The group wants to...

Company applies to build 68-turbine, $261 million wind project in northeast SD • South Dakota Searchlight

An energy company has applied to construct another wind farm in northeastern South Dakota.
The company is Chicago-based Invenergy. It wants to build up to 68 turbines through its South Dakota subsidiary, Deuel Harvest Wind Energy South. The turbines would be spread across 54 square miles of privately owned land near the small town of Brandt in Deuel County. The project’s estimated cost is $621 million.
The “south” in the project’s name distinguishes it from the 109-turbine Deuel Harvest Wind Far...

Flood washes away Noem’s false veneer of leadership • South Dakota Searchlight

While the rain fell, she abandoned the state for a political conference and television interview.

When catastrophic floodwaters surged toward McCook Lake, her cursory appearance there — along with her lackluster crisis communications and departure for an out-of-state political fundraiser — left people without adequate warning about the danger they faced.

And after declining to use the National Guard for the flood preparations or response, Noem said activating the Guard would be “extremely expe

McCook Lake residents say their homes were sacrificed, and they want a new flood plan • South Dakota Searchlight

State and local authorities knew they were placing McCook Lake in the path of record high floodwaters but failed to adequately warn residents of the danger, according to some people who live in the flood-ravaged community.

Authorities rejected the criticism and said they executed a long-established flood mitigation plan that was simply overwhelmed by record amounts of water. They also defended their communications, saying they gave multiple warnings to residents before the floodwaters arrived.

Homes and roads in McCook Lake area ravaged by flooding • South Dakota Searchlight

Homes were ruined, roads were washed out, sinkholes opened up, a railroad bridge was destroyed, and rescuers worked through Sunday night into Monday morning to save people from rising floodwaters in the McCook Lake area of southeastern South Dakota.

“It looks like the Grand Canyon here, and it’s just pouring in. What a disaster,” said McCook Lake Association President Dirk Lohry while kayaking the lake and surveying the damage Monday morning. He waded through trash and navigated currents that h

Southeast SD flooding claims at least one life as focus shifts to Dakota Dunes • South Dakota Searchlight

Federal, state and local officials are focusing their efforts on a voluntary evacuation of Dakota Dunes and a levee construction project across Interstate 29 near McCook Lake as they continue responding to historic rainfall and flooding in southeast South Dakota that has claimed at least one life.

Gov. Kristi Noem led a press conference Sunday in North Sioux City. She shared news of the death but declined to provide any information about the person, circumstances or location, other than saying

Strained wastewater systems, swollen rivers remain threats in flooded southeast SD • South Dakota Searchlight

Sioux Falls is asking area residents to limit their contributions to the wastewater system, while state officials are warning of river crests that will arrive Monday and Tuesday as southeast South Dakota recovers from several days of historic rainfall totaling more than 17 inches in some locations.

Mayor Paul TenHaken said Sioux Falls is diverting wastewater into holding facilities that have never been used before, and those facilities are full.

“This is the most strained the system has ever b

Explaining the lawsuit against South Dakota’s abortion-rights ballot measure •

A new court fight over South Dakota’s abortion-rights ballot measure could hinge on a complicated answer to a simple question: Does a set of six-year-old petition requirements still exist?

The court fight started Thursday, when the Life Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in state court. The lawsuit challenges the legitimacy of a citizen-initiated Nov. 5 ballot question that would reinstate abortion rights. The Life Defense Fund is a ballot question committee organized to oppose the measure.

Dakotans

Helicopter tour companies lose early battle in fight against Rushmore and Badlands restrictions • South Dakota Searchlight

New restrictions on air tours at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Badlands National Park will stay in effect while a lawsuit against them proceeds, a federal court has ruled.

Three South Dakota helicopter operators want to overturn the restrictions: Badger Helicopters, Black Hills Aerial Adventures and Rushmore Helicopters. In court documents, they allege the new restrictions will cause “irreparable harm in the form of unrecoverable economic loss that threatens their existence.”

They asked

Incumbent Republican legislators suffer losses as pipelines and property rights surge to the fore • South Dakota Searchlight

At least 14 Republican legislators lost their races against fellow Republicans on Tuesday in the 2024 primary election, with a controversial carbon dioxide pipeline among the top wedge issues to emerge.

Voters also ousted two of the state’s Native American lawmakers (a mother and son), and brought back a Republican who served as speaker of the House until two years ago.

Some of the victors leaned heavily on their opposition to Summit Carbon Solutions’ carbon capture pipeline, a multibillion-do

A memorial’s abandonment says a lot about society. Hopefully its rescue does, too. • South Dakota Searchlight

RAPID CITY — Volunteerism may not move mountains, but today it rescued a memorial from a mountainside.

The memorial is for Alice Gossage, a pioneering journalist, businesswoman and philanthropist who was one of Rapid City’s first residents in the 1880s.

She ran the Rapid City Journal and wrote a column for many years while the newspaper’s founder — her husband, Joe Gossage — was often ill. She also operated a “Sunshine Room,” where she distributed clothing and other items to the poor. Her lead

Q&A: How an anti-vaccine bill motivated a South Dakotan’s award-winning response •

Dr. Allie Alvine went to Pierre in 2020 with a concern and came home with a mission.

At the state Capitol, she testified against a bill that would have repealed the immunization requirements that apply to most school children.

“I saw the anti-vaxxers there, and they were a large group,” she said.

Lawmakers rejected the bill, but Alvine, of Sioux Falls, feared the anti-vaccine movement was growing.

“I had to get more involved,” she said. “I had to create a presence at our state Capitol in Pie

Production jumps higher at Black Hills gold mine • South Dakota Searchlight

Gold production was up and silver production was way up last year at South Dakota’s only active large-scale gold mine, according to new numbers reviewed Thursday by a state board.

Chicago-based Coeur Mining owns the Wharf Mine, near Terry Peak and the city of Lead in the northern Black Hills. Gold production at the mine increased by 17% to 93,502 ounces last year, and silver production increased by 481% to 267,786 ounces.

Matt Zietlow is Coeur’s environmental manager at Wharf. He told South Da

Now that Noem knows what’s in her own book, she should tell us how it got there • South Dakota Searchlight

Kristi Noem owes South Dakotans an explanation for the embarrassment she’s caused herself and the state.

The Republican governor has not yet told us how or why she included a false story in her forthcoming book about meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Margaret Brennan of “Face the Nation” pressed Noem for an answer Sunday on CBS.

Noem replied, “This anecdote shouldn’t have been in the book, and as soon as it was brought to my attention, I made sure that that was adjusted.”

So Noem woul

Noem in political freefall as book inaccuracies emerge following backlash against animal killings • South Dakota Searchlight

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem was in political freefall Friday as embarrassing revelations continued to emerge from the scrutiny of advance copies of her memoir, which doesn’t officially publish until Tuesday.

Noem was already reeling from near-universal backlash against her disclosure in the book that she shot and killed a dog named Cricket and a billy goat years ago — the dog for its failures on a hunting excursion and its attacks on a neighbor’s chickens, and the goat for chasing

Noem’s dog killing was bad, but to really understand her, consider the goat • South Dakota Searchlight

Since Gov. Kristi Noem’s disclosure of her farmyard killing spree, everybody’s been focused on Cricket.

That’s understandable. Cricket was a 14-month-old dog. It’s easy to imagine her head jutting out of a pickup window, hair and tongue blowing in the wind. Like many dogs, Cricket probably had a personality and other human-like qualities that we so often attribute to canine companions.

Noem shot and killed Cricket on some undisclosed date years ago for being bad at pheasant hunting and good at

Noem blames ‘fake news’ for backlash against her killing a dog and goat • South Dakota Searchlight

Who’s to blame for the outrage about South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s fatal shootings of a dog and goat? “Fake news,” according to her.

Noem, a Republican, appeared Wednesday night on Fox News with anchor Sean Hannity for her first interview since the story broke last week. In his introduction, Hannity said Noem “is being attacked by both Republicans and Democrats, dog lovers and goat lovers.”

Noem replied, “Well, Sean, you know how the fake news works. They leave out some or most of the facts

Public forum highlights potential property tax political storm • South Dakota Searchlight

RAPID CITY — Some frustrated taxpayers attended a public forum Saturday to tell state officials they’re taking the wrong approach to taxation.

Several of the roughly 100 attendees said legislators and Gov. Kristi Noem should raise the sales tax rate instead of reducing it, and use the money to replace some of the local government revenue currently supplied by property taxes.

“I don’t think there’s any other way around getting our property taxes taken care of unless we raise the sales tax,” sai

Changed forest and market factors share blame for sawmill troubles, forest supervisor says • South Dakota Searchlight

Changed forest conditions and market forces likely contributed to layoffs at a Spearfish sawmill, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s top official in the Black Hills.

Last week, the owner of the sawmill blamed logging reductions in the Black Hills National Forest for the layoffs.

The forest’s supervisor is Shawn Cochran. He said this week that the Forest Service was saddened to hear about the laid-off employees, and the agency is concerned about the economic health of sawmills.

“The mills

Black Hills sawmill lays off workers and alleges Forest Service is to blame • South Dakota Searchlight

The owner of a Spearfish sawmill is laying off 50 people and alleges the U.S. Forest Service is to blame for not allowing the company to cut enough timber.

The Forest Service, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

Neiman Enterprises announced the layoffs at Spearfish Forest Products in a Thursday evening news release.

“The layoffs are the direct result of reductions to the Black Hills National Forest timber sale program,” the release said.

A Neiman spokesperson said about 150 employees r

Q&A: Johnson calls criticism of his forestry hearing ‘absurd’ •

Dusty Johnson resents the implication that he’s looking out for the timber industry at the expense of the Black Hills National Forest.

“The idea that anyone in government wants to allow the timber industry to cut what they want to cut is absurd,” Johnson told South Dakota Searchlight. “I think it does a tremendous disrespect to this process.”

Johnson, a Republican who is South Dakota’s lone U.S. representative, disliked a recent commentary written by retired U.S. Forest Service employee Dave M

South Dakota does well in regional college cost survey • South Dakota Searchlight

Several years of tuition freezes have helped make South Dakota’s public universities the most affordable for undergraduates in the region, according to new data.

“As a result of this past legislative session, we’re continuing to save students money,” said Nathan Lukkes, executive director and CEO of the South Dakota Board of Regents.

He made the comments during a board meeting Thursday in Vermillion, reflecting on the legislative session that ended last month. Legislators and Gov. Kristi Noem

Q&A: Thune adapts to the political ‘reality we live with’ as he seeks leadership post •

It may seem illogical for John Thune to run for Senate Republican leader after he was booed by Republicans in his own state, but as Thune says, “these aren’t normal times.”

The booing happened in September. Former President Donald Trump headlined a South Dakota Republican Party fundraiser in a Rapid City arena packed with 7,000 people. Thune did not attend.

When Thune’s picture appeared on a video board, many in the crowd voiced their disapproval. He heard about it later from members of his Ra

Lawmakers approve $10 million for airport grants as session winds down • South Dakota Searchlight

Airports across the state may soon be able to apply for a share of $10 million in state-funded grants to improve, expand and support the future capacity demands of their terminals, thanks to a bill headed to the governor’s desk.

The grants would be issued by the state Aeronautics Commission. Lawmakers said the grants would allow airports access to federal matching funds, thereby extending the value of the state’s investment.

“Some of those could see up to a 90% match for 10% of state investmen
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