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Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Trash unsightly, expensive to clean up
Published: Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Trash dumping has been a problem in the Black Hills public lands for decades. While it may be a convenience to some — dumping trash in a remote location on Forest Service land — it is costly for everyone else. From taxpayers, Forest Service employees and the volunteers who spend hours cleaning up the mess, it costs more than just money.

“It’s really a Forest-wide problem. It’s not confined to just one area.” said Bonnie Jones, acting Forest recreation program leader for the U.S. Forest Service. Jones said two places with chronic trash problems are Spearfish and Beretta Road just outside of Rapid City. There have also been issues on Forest Service land by Custer over the years. 



Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Talking trash
Published: Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

The selection of the Black Hills as the location for the 44th annual gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light has sent local agencies into roles as information providers and mediators. Last week two meetings were held to facilitate communication as well as provide information about the group, the gathering and the impact it may have on Black Hills communities and residents. 

The first was set up by Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce at the Hill City Senior Citizens Center on Tuesday, June 23. It was open to the public with invitations provided to Rainbow members, law enforcement, Forest Service and Native American tribal members. The second meeting was organized by the Forest Service, attended by the National Incident Management Team and directed by Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) supervisor Craig Bobzien and BHNF Mystic District Ranger Ruth Esperance. It was held Friday, June 26, at the Boys and Girls Club of the Black Hills in Hill City.



Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

No change to Harney Peak name
Published: Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

After much debate and comment, the South Dakota Board on Geographic Names recommended in its Monday afternoon meeting that the Harney Peak name should remain for the popular Black Hills landmark.

This recommendation, which was made June 29 in Pierre, was revised from the board’s initial recommendation of renaming Harney Peak to “Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls).”



Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Early tourism strong
Published: Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Insane.

That’s how Fort Welikit owner Steve Saint described his business through the first half of June. And yes, that’s a good thing.

Kelly Saint, Steve’s wife, said Fort Welikit is up 30 percent from last year. A year ago, the campground didn’t start getting busy until the end of June. This year, by mid-June, the campground was packed and other campgrounds in the area were calling to see if they had any room, as they were full as well.

“We’re probably now (as of June 18) where we were at the end of June last year,” Kelly Saint said.



Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Rainbow gathering chooses site
Published: Thursday, June 25th, 2015

A site about three air miles southwest of Deerfield Lake in southwestern Pennington County has been chosen as the location for this year’s Rainbow Family of Living Light national gathering, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release.

The site is in the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest about 20 miles northwest of Hill City.

“Now that the site has been selected, we’re going into operational tempo,” said Craig Bobzien, Black Hills National Forest supervisor, Custer.



Summit to tackle summit name
Published: Thursday, June 25th, 2015

In just a few days, the name of Harney Peak may change, based on the South Dakota Board of Geographic Names’ final recommendation of its name after a series of public hearings on the matter.

The recommendation, which will be made Monday, June 29, will be to either change the name of Harney Peak — named after Gen. William S. Harney — to “Hinhan Kaga,” which translates to “Making of Owls,” or to leave the name as is.



Thursday, June 18th, 2015

A sign, and things to come?
Published: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Discussion about a business owner’s plan to replace a sign for his recently purchased business outside of Hermosa led to a larger discussion on the county’s 2008 sign ordinance at the Custer County Commission’s June 10 meeting.

Ray Devorak, new owner of BJ’s Food & Fuel (formerly Heartland Convenience) was before the commission at the meeting requesting to change the sign for his store, which is located at the intersection of Hwys. 36 and 79 in eastern Custer County. However, because of some wording in the county’s current sign ordinance, county planning director Rex Harris recommended Devorak discuss the issue with the county before any permits were issued.



Thursday, June 18th, 2015

City aids Hill City in flood cleanup
Published: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

The City of Custer is lending its neighbor to the north a helping hand as it continues to clean up from a flash flood that roared through town June 6.

It was on that day that a rainstorm poured several inches of rain on Hill City, causing a flash flood that rolled through town, strewing debris and causing damage throughout town. Prior to that, City of Custer workers had been in Hill City helping that town’s public works department clear out its storm sewers with Custer’s jetting truck. When the flood came through, it completely erased the work that had been done, as new debris infiltrated the system. Since that time, city workers have been back in Hill City, helping with the jetting — and cleanup — once more.



Rainbow gathering 2015 here
Published: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

A former 38-year U.S. Forest Service official has a history with the Rainbow Family of Living Light group expected to gather by the thousands near here for July 4.

The official, who prefers to remain anonymous (“They don’t like me”), says the group picks a different national forest to gather in every year. This year they chose the Black Hills National Forest somewhere around Deerfield Lake or China Gulch in western Pennington County.



Thursday, June 11th, 2015

School board approves budget
Published: Thursday, June 11th, 2015

The 2015-16 budget is set, as the Custer School District Board of Education unanimously approved the $11.4 million budget Monday, June 8.

The budget is broken into five categories: general fund, $6,370,892; capital outlay, $2,676,645; special education, $1,401,612; pension fund, $219,696; and Impact Aid fund, $750,000. No changes were made to the budget from its adoption in May. 



Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Sign ordinance sparks debate
Published: Thursday, June 11th, 2015

A public hearing regarding revisions to the City of Custer’s sign ordinance had a few local merchants questioning the ordinance—and the need for changes in it—at the June 1 meeting of the Custer City Council.

City planning administrater Scott Simianer told the audience he believed the new ordinance is more user friendly than the current ordinance, which calls for business owners to pay a fee for their signs every three years, a rule the city is not enforcing. Under the new ordinance, he said, businesses owners will pay only a one-time permit fee for permanent signs. Few existing signs will be affected, as it was tailored so as few of the current signs as possible would be in violation. Those existing non-conforming signs will have to be brought back into regulation.



Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Seizing the seas
Published: Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Defining “navigable waters” or Waters of the United States (WOTUS) might sound a bit difficult to most people, but not for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers. 

According to a recent article, they’ve defined it as “traditional navigable waters; interstate waters, including interstate wetlands; the territorial seas; impoundments of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, including interstate wetlands, the territorial seas, and tributaries, as defined, of such waters; tributaries, as defined, of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or the territorial seas; and adjacent waters, including adjacent wetlands.”



Thursday, June 4th, 2015

It was a wet May
Published: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

On March 10, conditions were so dry around Custer County that grass and forest fires were breaking out at an alarming pace. Two months later, county residents may start growing gills.

Custer County—and the Black Hills in general—has experienced one of the wettest Mays in recorded history as Custer received 6.6 inches of precipitation last month, two and a half times the average the city usually receives in May, which is 2.66 inches.

In fact, last month was so wet that Custer received as much precipitation in three weeks—the first week of May was dry—as it usually does for the first five months of the year, 6.65 inches.



Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Commissioners piqued at peak name change
Published: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

The Custer County Commission has sent a letter to the South Dakota Board on Geographic Names (SDBGN) opposing its proposed name change of Harney Peak to Hinhan Kaga, which means “Making of Owls,” the traditional Lakota name for the peak.

The recommendation came after several hearings on the issue, after Native Americans said they felt the name Harney is offensive, since the peak’s namesake, General William S. Harney, was a U.S. Army military officer who led troops against the Sioux at the Battle of Ash Hollow, one of the first battles of a 20-year war waged against the Plains Indians.



Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Harney Peak ties recalled
Published: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

For many residents of Custer, Custer County and the Black Hills in general, Harney Peak is more than just a geographic location. Long before it became a destination for swarms of tourists looking to hike to the highest point in the continental U.S. west of the Rocky Mountains at 7,242 feet, and even longer before it became the topic of debate over its namesake, Harney�Peak was a source of pride, family ties and adventure.

For some, Harney Peak is as much a part of their lives as their job or the place they call home. For some, Harney Peak is family.

For David Hazeltine of Custer. Harney Peak was home for the better part of his childhood.



Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Revised sign ordinance now available
Published: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015
A copy of the most recently revised proposed sign ordinance for the City of Custer is available at the following link: http://files.custercountynews.com/Revised%20Ordinance.pdf Director all comments...


Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Where tax dollars go
Published: Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Have you ever wondered how sales tax dollars affect Custer residents? Or whether all the tourists during summer months make a difference year round? Well, wonder no more.

Laurie Woodward, city finance officer, explained some of the finer points of sales tax dollars. The break down is as follows: there is a two percent sales tax that goes into a general operating fund and an additional one percent sales tax goes into its own separate fund. 



Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Chronicle takes home 21 awards
Published: Thursday, May 28th, 2015

The Chronicle once again nailed up more first place plaques on the wall, as three staff members brought home five more first place awards, as well as other placings, in the Better Newspaper contest held May 15-16 in Bismarck, N.D. The Chronicle was entered in the weekly category of 1,150-2,000 circulation.

Chronicle general manager Jason Ferguson took home two first place awards. He won first for Best Local Humorous Column, for which three columns were submitted. “Winner is ‘Love the hugs, but I’m not 40.’ Amusing. Sounds like the columnist has a good work atmosphere,” the judges wrote.

He also took first for Best News Story on community development director Rex Harris being fired by the city. “Solid reporting with good detail. Not easy issues to cover in a small community without backlash against the paper covering it,” the judges noted.



Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Four vie for school board spot
Published: Thursday, May 28th, 2015

On June 2, Custer County voters will have choices to make. In the Custer School District Board of Education race, four candidates are running for the sole seat open for a three-year term.

Larry Baker, 40, was born and raised in Hermosa, where his family owns and operates a cattle ranch. He attended Hermosa School and graduated from Custer High School in 1993. He worked for Dunham Associates in Rapid City in 1995 and later Malone Engineering in Rapid City, until 2010. He now is a project manager for Action Mechanical. 

Baker and his wife, Valena, have have two daughters, Madilyn, 6, who will be a first grader at Hermosa School next year, and Miah, who turns 5 next month and will enter kindergarten this fall.



Thursday, May 21st, 2015

County discusses pay raises
Published: Thursday, May 21st, 2015

The Custer County Commission began the process of crafting its 2016 budget at its May 12 meeting by looking through a possible wage scale change presented by county auditor Nancy Christensen. The paperwork presented by Christensen presented a few different options of how the county could raise the pay of courthouse employees with the hope of better retaining those employees.

Christensen said since May of 2013, the county has made 44 hires. Of those who left, five eventually returned, while some employees retired. 



Thursday, May 21st, 2015

An end and a beginning
Published: Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Sixty-one seniors finished a major chapter of their lives Saturday, May 16, graduating from Custer High School in commencement exercises held at the Custer Armory.

“Congratulations on your milestone. This is one of many, many you will have in your lives,” said Mark Naugle, Custer School District superintendent. “Our goal here is to prepare you for these milestones. Some are going to be difficult and you will have to work very, very hard to achieve; most of them are going to be a lot harder than this one. Hopefully, we have given you the tools to succeed.”



Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

City of Custer Draft Sign Ordinance now available for review.
Published: Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
To access the City of Custer's proposed draft sign ordinance, paste the following link into your browser. Direct all feedback to Scott Simianer, planning administrator for the City of Custer, at 673-...


Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Freshman get ‘Caught in the Moment’
Published: Thursday, May 14th, 2015

A high school girl, now a senior, remembers well her experience in attending a Freshman Impact Day.

“She was planning to end her life, but since she had recently heard the Freshman Impact message about getting help, she messaged a friend instead,” said Stephanie Schweitzer Dixon of the Front Porch Coalition.

According to Dixon, the girl’s situation has a happy ending, as the girl got the help she needed and for the past three years she has shared her story during many of the Freshman Impact Days, including the one held at Crazy Horse, Wednesday, May 6.



Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Board recommends Harney Peak renaming
Published: Thursday, May 14th, 2015

After hundreds of comments and numerous public meetings, the renaming of Harney Peak could become a reality. 

The South Dakota Board of Geographic Names recommended by unanimous vote to change the name from Harney Peak, named after Gen. William S. Harney, to the Lakota phrase “Hinhan Kaga,” which translates to “Making of Owls.” The name — which the peak was originally referred to by Native people — was proposed in earlier public testimony. The official name would be “Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls),” should the name be approved.



Thursday, May 14th, 2015

City scraps pre-disaster mitigation plan
Published: Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Citing never ending governmental red tape, too many unknowns and rising costs, the Custer City Council, at the recommendation of Mayor Gary Lipp, has voted to scrap the city’s pre-disaster mitigation plan for the French Creek drainage area that winds through Custer. The unanimous vote took place at the council’s May 4 meeting.

At the meeting, Lipp said he didn’t believe the project was worthwhile any longer, saying he didn’t think it would meet the expectations the city has for it, or the city’s needs.

“I don’t think we should spend any more time or money on it,” he told the council.



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