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Thursday, April 28th, 2016

New role for an old hand
Published: Thursday, April 28th, 2016

If it wasn’t for Bonnie Schwartz’s mother, her career in the National Parks Service may have never happened.

“My sister was going to Yellowstone for a job. But my mom didn’t want her driving alone, so she put me in the car with her,” Schwartz said. “I was only a year older than her, so I didn’t understand how it would make a difference.”

But it did. 

As soon as the sisters arrived at Yellowstone National Park, Schwartz knew she had to have a career with the National Parks Service. 



Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Wind Cave road issue discussed again
Published: Thursday, April 28th, 2016

A road issue that started in 2013 was before the Custer County Commission again at the commission’s April 20 meeting, when representatives from Wind Cave National Park sought to upgrade a section line near the park known as 266th Street, which leads into the park.

The road is currently two-track  for the most part, but Wind Cave previously stated it wants to improve the road to county standards to “provide efficient and safe public access to a recently acquired area of Wind Cave National Park that includes the Carl Sanson Ranch and a documented pre-historic buffalo jump site that dates back over 1,000 years ago. The road will provide the only developed access to this extremely significant resource.”



Thursday, April 28th, 2016

STAR�employees have soft landing
Published: Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Although there is never an ideal time to lose your job, what happened earlier this month is probably as close as you will ever see.

That’s because, just as the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy was set to close, costing 64 people their jobs with the State of South Dakota, 32.5 jobs were opening 30 miles south in Hot Springs, thanks to some last-minute legislation passed during this year’s session.



Thursday, April 21st, 2016

More motions in Simianer case
Published: Thursday, April 21st, 2016

More motions regarding the case of former City of Custer planning administrator Scott Simianer were discussed in Seventh Judicial Circuit Court last Thursday morning before Circuit Court Judge Craig Pfeifle. Simianer’s attorney, Randy Connelly, said Simianer is no longer seeking a psychosexual evaluation, while going on record against one of the motions filed by Custer County States Attorney Tracy Kelley.



Thursday, April 21st, 2016

County IDs ‘collection areas’
Published: Thursday, April 21st, 2016

The Custer County Emergency Management Department, with the help of Custer County Search and Rescue (SAR), will soon identify community collection points around the county to both secure the safety of the public and first responders and to disseminate information in the event of an emergency.

The county’s emergency management director, Mike Carter, said the project has been on his to-do list for quite some time, with the biggest concern being the safety of both the public and first responders during an emergency, particularly wildfires.



Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Kleemann gets new life
Published: Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Ten years ago, the Kleemann House — one of Custer’s most historic buildings, visited by Buffalo Bill Cody, among  others — had a demolition order on it. Now, it’s breathing new life as the newest addition to Custer State Park. 

“It’s a really cool property in an area we really love to be in: the Black Hills,” said Josh Schmaltz, Regency vice president and director of Custer State Parks Resorts. “(Purchasing the Kleemann House) just made sense. It complements what we do in the park, with Rock Crest (Lodge & Cabins). We see a lot of potential.”



Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Carroll: Consider tax breaks for trees
Published: Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The number of healthy trees in the Black Hills National Forest and subsequently the logging industry isn’t what it used to be, thanks to wildfire and the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. Because of that, says Frank Carroll, former U.S. Forest Service employee and owner of Forestry Management, LLC, the Custer County Commission should consider lowering property taxes to private landowners who maintain a healthy tree population meant for wood fiber production.

At the April 6 meeting of the commission, Carroll said he wanted to get the conversation started on the possibility of rewarding those who lay out an approved plan to grow and maintain the trees for production, saying technology has not slowed the need for paper and that such a plan could go a long way toward supplying a logging industry.



Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Teachers receive raises
Published: Thursday, April 14th, 2016

With the 2016-17 budget hearing just a month away, the Custer School District Board of Education had a preliminary discussion on the budget Monday, April 12.

Due to the passing of Gov. Dennis Daugaard teacher’s plan, the teacher base pay increased to $32,500, up $1,000 from the 2015-16 base. 

However, superintendent of schools Mark Naugle, in meeting with the Partnership Council, said the governor’s plan is specific as to which certified staff members are to be included in the plan. The plan does not address other school employees. Raises will range from $1,000 to $2,500, depending on years of experience and educational degrees.



Sheriff Wheeler: FLDS is fracturing
Published: Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Elements of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in the twin cities of Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah, collectively known as Short Creek, are fracturing, according to Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler.

“They are fracturing down there and the same thing will happen here,” Wheeler told an audience of approximately 85 people at the second meeting of the newly-formed Custer County Citizen Coalition held last Thursday evening at the VFW downstairs meeting room in Custer.



Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Gun range targets safety issues
Published: Thursday, April 7th, 2016

In the wake of a second bullet striking a home just north of his gun range, Southern Hills Tactical owner Mike Mooney has made several changes at his range, including one that is quite drastic: it is now closed to the public.

On Feb. 23, two men using the rifle range at Southern Hills Tactical shot metal slugs from a shotgun. When they shot short, they over compensated and lifted the gun too high, shooting the slug over the 30-foot berm and blowing out another bathroom window at the Lynn Drive home of Dick and Barbara Dieter, which last August had been struck with another bullet, again shattering a window.



Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Jeffs released
Published: Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Seth Jeffs, bishop of the Fundamentaist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound in Custer County and brother of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs — who is serving life plus 20 years for sexual crimes against children — has been released to return to South Dakota. 

Jeffs, one of 11 alleged ringleaders of a multi-million dollar food stamp fraud scheme, was arrested Feb. 23 along with the 10 other FLDS heirarchy. 

Jeffs was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court on Monday for a detention hearing, but in a surprise decision last Friday, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart released Jeffs. Stewart stipulated that Jeffs wear a GPS ankle monitor, surrender his passport and remain in St. George, Utah, for at least the next 30 days, but allowed him to travel to South Dakota to conduct water testing if he notifies U.S. marshals first. 



Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Blaze kicks off fire season
Published: Thursday, April 7th, 2016

With dry conditions, powerful winds and unseasonably warm conditions, the Cold Fire has proved that it’s nothing like its name. 

The Cold Fire was reported Saturday, April 2, at 3:48 p.m. At the time of the initial report, it was 75 acres in size and on federal land. But in the span of three hours, the fire grew to 200 acres, with air resources being ordered. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire was at 1,900 acres with 30 percent containment. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.



Thursday, March 31st, 2016

School board discusses possible additions
Published: Thursday, March 31st, 2016

With budgeting season just around the corner, it’s time to think about plans for the next school year. 

During its March 21 meeting, the Custer School District Board of Education discussed possible additions to the 2016-17 curriculum. The additions stem from its discussions with the Partnership Council — made up of administrators, teachers, school board members and school support staff — in February.

The requests include changing the current competitive cheerleading assistant coach to a full-time coach, adding a yearbook advisor to Hermosa School and adding a student council advisor to Custer Elementary.



Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Teacher funding up in the air
Published: Thursday, March 31st, 2016

With the passing of House Bill 1182, school funding will be a bit different next school year. 

The half cent sales tax increase will go into effect June 1. The bill intends to increase teacher pay to $48,500.

“Whether it works or not, at least the governor tried,” said Mark Naugle Custer School District superintendent. 



Thursday, March 31st, 2016

County wants reimbursed for STAR runaways
Published: Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Custer County paid $7,220 to incarcerate two State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy youth who ran away from the facility late last summer and entered the former home of the late Elmer Flatt and caused thousands of dollars of damage.

The two were subsequently arrested by the Custer County Sheriff’s Department and incarcerated. Because one of them was a minor, he was sent to Juvenile Services Center (JSC) in Rapid City, while an 18-year-old offender was sent to the Pennington County Jail.



Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Crews eliminating fuels
Published: Thursday, March 24th, 2016

With the help of some chain saws, the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division’s Black Hat hand crew is making Pageant Hill and the entire Big Rock Park area more firewise and easier to access.

For over a month the crew has been busy at Big Rock Park working on hazardous fuels reduction by reducing the overgrowth of trees and prolific Ponderosa pine regeneration. The goal of removing the trees is not only to open up more space—particulary on the disc golf course terrain—but to eliminate ladder fuels in the event of a fire.



‘Joker’ explains his rationale
Published: Thursday, March 24th, 2016

While he may have been dressed as a popular comic book and movie character, the arrest of Heath Schmitz was no joke. 

Schmitz, 33, of Custer was arrested Monday, March 14, on one count of possession of a controlled substance and one count of ingestion of a controlled substance. Both counts are class five felonies, which are punishable by five years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and/or a fine of $10,000, if convicted. 

According to court documents, the arrest of Schmitz came after the Custer County Sheriff’s Depart-ment received a tip from Schmitz’s grandmother at around 1:17 p.m. In his report, sheriff’s deputy Nathan Chowning said the grandmother was concerned about Schmitz and believed he was under the influence of methamphetamine, adding that he had been under the influence of it for the past week.



Thursday, March 24th, 2016

STAR closure is all-around ‘disappointing’
Published: Thursday, March 24th, 2016

While the closure of State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy may have come as a shock to most people, there were a few who saw it coming. Some of those were STAR’s own employees.

“I’ve seen it coming for a few years,” said Mike Treloar. “I’ve seen them paring down programs for a couple years now. But I’ve always felt like this program had so much in one place. I don’t know if (kids) can get it all in one place. I hope this won’t be a disservice to them.”

STAR Academy will close its doors April 8 due to dwindling numbers of youth sent to the program. Since fiscal year 2007, the average daily population of youth in the STAR Academy programs has dropped from 166 to 51.



Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Amazing!
Published: Thursday, March 17th, 2016

The Amazing Daniel Ferraro wows the crowd after making a rabbit appear from his hat. However, the rabbit was downsized due to space issues. Ferraro — joined by his mom, Jenny — who also told jokes to the crowd, was one of many acts in the first ever Custer Elementary School talent show, Custer’s Got Talent. The talent show, which featured bike riding, dancing, singing and basketball tricks, was a senior project for Hannahâ��Kremer. The talent show was held Friday, March 11, at the Custer Jr./Sr. High School theatre.



Thursday, March 17th, 2016

City, county seats up for election
Published: Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Custer County voters will decide a bevy of races this election year, beginning with primary voting June 7.

Custer County has several positions open, including two county commission seats. The four-year terms of Mark Hartman and Oonagh Wood (who is finishing out the term of former commission David Hazletine) are both up for election, as is the four-year term for States Attorney, currently held by Tracy Kelley, the four-year term of County Coroner, currently held by Jim Sanders, and the four-year term for County Treasurer, currently held by Dawn McGlaughlin.



Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Horse camp causes neigh(bor) problems
Published: Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Broken Arrow Horse Camp on Sidney Park Road has grown from a small operation into a large horse camp home to 120 horses and hundreds of campers each summer.

And while it’s a success story for the way a business can grow in Custer County, it has become somewhat of a bother to its neighbors, some of which were before the Custer County Commission at its March 9 meeting to complain about several issues caused by the horse camp, not the least of which they feel is reduced property values.



Thursday, March 17th, 2016

STAR Academy announces closure
Published: Thursday, March 17th, 2016

The Custer community was rocked last Wednesday, March 9, when it was announced that the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy would close, effective April 8. 

“I thank the staff at STAR Academy for the service they have given to our state,” Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in an official statement. “They have done their jobs selflessly by placing the needs of the youth ahead of their own.”



Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Stabbing man, victim identified
Published: Thursday, March 10th, 2016

More information has been released on the Custer man who was arrested last week after stabbing another male. 

Ramon Two Bulls, 31, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault around 2:20 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, after law enforcement officers responded to a stabbing report on north 7th Street in Custer. The class three felony charge was given to Two Bulls after he attacked Lyndon Hawk, 40, with a deadly weapon — a butcher knife.



Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Eleven FLDS members in custody
Published: Thursday, March 10th, 2016

All 11 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government of food welfare funds are now in custody after the final of the group to surrendered to authorities. Kimball Dee Barlow, 51, of Hildale, was booked last week at Purgatory Correctional Facility in Utah on conspiracy charges in relation to the U.S. Department of Agricul-ture’s Food and Nutrition Service Supplemental Nu-trition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and money laundering.

The indictment alleges that the defendants defrauded the SNAP program by drawing in hundreds of members of the FLDS as part of a fraud totaling more than $12 million.



Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Burger & Bun has a beef
Published: Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Where there’s smoke, there’s nausea.

That is the stance of Claude and Christie Smith, owners of Black Hills Burger & Bun, who stood before the Custer City Council at the council’s March 7 meeting to complain that smoke from the wood stove at their neighbor’s business, Miners Mercantile, was wafting into their business, much to the detriment of their customers, employees and business.

Black Hills Burger & Bun, like most restaurants, employs a commercial exhaust and make-up air system as part of its kitchen. Commercial exhaust fans vent air from the kitchen to the outside. Make-up air fans pull fresh air from outside into the kitchen, replacing the air pushed out by the exhaust fan.



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