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Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Concert deemed overall success
Published: Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Despite lower attendance than was expected in the buildup to the event, organizers of the July 5 Firefall concert at Pageant Hill are calling the concert a success and say they plan to do a similar concert next year, albeit on a different weekend.

“Iâ��thought it went pretty well, other than the small turnout,”â��said organizer Van Arp. “We have had nothing but positive comments.”



Thursday, July 17th, 2014

City's newest planner resigns
Published: Thursday, July 17th, 2014

For the second time in three months, the City of Custer is in search of someone to lead it’s planning department.

That’s because Mike Packer, who had been on the job as interim planning administrator for just over a month, abruptly resigned June 26. This follows Mayor Gary Lipp’s decision to fire former city community development director Rex Harris in mid-April. Packer was hired to lead the planning department while the city conducted a search for a new planning administrator—a search that is especially crucial now.



Thursday, July 17th, 2014

County may refuse to pick up dogs in city
Published: Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The clock is ticking on  how long the Custer County Sheriff’s Department will corral loose dogs within the limits of the City of Custer—and it started counting down last week from 60 days.

That number isn’t even a guarantee, however.

At the July 9 meeting of the Custer County Commission, the commission once again wrangled with what to do with the animal control situation, to a man saying they are tired of “kicking the can down the road” and wondering aloud if picking up dogs within the city limits of Custer is stretching an already stretched sheriff’s department too thin.



Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The nation’s best!
Published: Thursday, July 10th, 2014

It’s not every day TripAdvisor  — or its users — names you the number 1 best burger in the United States. But that’s what just happened to Claude and Christie Smith, owners of Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. TripAdvisor made the announcement July 1 and word quickly spread. 

A TV journalist from Rapid City was the one to break it to the Smiths. 

“She wanted to be the first one to interview us, so she came down that evening so we could go live at 6 p.m.,” said Christie.  “We were shocked; we had no idea. My heart skipped a beat and then I almost cried,” she said.



Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Council quashes park plan
Published: Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The Custer City Council had big plans for creating the city’s newest park. The residents in the area around that park had other ideas.

At its Monday evening meeting, the council learned that a meeting between landowners in the area and the parks and recreation board in which the plan for the park was presented and feedback was taken did not go the way most expected it would.

“I don’t think they liked one thing about it,” Mayor Gary Lipp said. “I find it hard to believe.”



Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Tragedy mars eating contest
Published: Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Tragedy struck the City of Custer’s Independence Day activities when a local man choked to death during the hot dog eating contest July 3 at Way Park.

Walter Eagle Tail, 47, a contestant in the contest, began choking a couple of minutes into the competition that saw each contestant tasked with eating as many hot dogs—with buns—as they could within five minutes.

A witness to the competition said Eagle Tail appeared to be putting the whole hot dogs into his mouth to eat them and began to choke on the second one he tried to eat.



Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Man dies at hot dog eating contest
Published: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

We regret to inform you that Walter Eagle Tail of Custer died this afternoon, having choked to death while participating in the 4th of July hot dog eating competition. A full story on this tragedy will be in next week's Chronicle. For now, please join us in thoughts and prayers for Walter's family. The pie eating contest for tomorrow has been cancelled, as well. The rest of the weekend events will go on as scheduled.



Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Taxes prove to be a bumpy ride
Published: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Allison Jensen, Custer County’s Director of Equalization, has much to say about property taxes. For the past five years she has served in this capacity, locating, assessing and valuing properties — including land and structures on the property — in Custer County. Not only is it a pretty thankless job, but a difficult one, too, as county properties differ so widely.

“Custer County is very unique and, by state statute, we have to be market value. So what you can sell your property for on the open market is what valuations should be.” 



Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Animal control issued postponed
Published: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

The Custer County Commission tabled signing an animal control contact with the City of Custer at its June 25 meeting, pending clarification of an insurance issue that was raised when the commission reviewed the contract.

Commissioner Travis Bies pointed out a clause in the contract, presented by the city to the county, that says the county must have a $2 million insurance policy to protect the city from any lawsuits that could arise from the sheriff’s department’s handling of animal control. The Custer County Sheriff’s Department continues to handle animal control duties for both the county and for the city.



Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Tourism season looks hopeful
Published: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Despite thunderstorms and cooler temperatures, many business owners in the tourism industry are seeing high or comparable numbers of visitors and sales. While the cooler weather has deterred some from camping, many visitors are still flocking to the campgrounds. 

“Visitors make plans way in advance and it’s hard to alter them,” said Craig Pugsley, visitor services coordinator at Custer State Park. “Weather tends to impact local use and area residents. In terms of out-of-state numbers, we are good.”

In May, camping was up three percent at Custer State Park and is up eight percent year to date. While he doesn’t yet know the numbers for June, Pugsley believes the park is on par with June of last year. 



Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Rentals: More downs than ups
Published: Thursday, June 26th, 2014

“When I am ready to rent, I won’t rent in Custer. It’s worth the extra 30 miles driving to get a more reasonable rate elsewhere,” said Sage Keltner, who works at Jenny’s Floral. “I would like Hermosa prices closer to Custer.” Currently, she is living for free in a house that’s undergoing extensive remodeling. When she moved here in August 2013, she couldn’t find a reasonably priced rental.  

George Rankin, owner of Valley Hi apartments in Custer and another complex in Rapid City, believes there are no problems finding an apartment or rental in Custer. Even though his 28-unit complex is full and there is a waiting list to get in, he said there are other places in Custer with vacancies.



Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Skateboarders:�Stay off sidewalks
Published: Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Skateboarders, the Custer City Council wants you...to stay off the sidewalks.

At the June 16 meeting of the Custer City Council, the council decided it’s time to get tougher on skateboarders in town who continue to skateboard on downtown sidewalks, despite the fact there is an ordinance that prohibits them from doing so.



Tornado affects former residents, family
Published: Thursday, June 26th, 2014

A tornado that ripped through the town of Wessington Springs shortly before 8 p.m. June 18 damaged at least 43 homes, at least 26 of which are uninhabitable, along with 12 businesses. Some of those affected by the tornado are former Custer residents or family members of current Custer residents.

Among those affected are former Custer County States Attorney Dedrich “Deech” Koch, who is now Jerauld County State’s Attorney and is also serving as a spokesman for the response effort following the tornado. Wessington Springs is in eastern South Dakota, southwest of Huron and northwest of Mitchell. It has a population of 850.



Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Riding the real estate roller coaster in Custer
Published: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

This article is first in a series about the housing situation in Custer County.

Finding a home in the Black Hills can be a challenge. More specifically, finding an affordable home in the Black Hills can be a challenge. 

Ron Bradeen, third generation auctioneer and longest-tenured realtor in the Southern Black Hills – his grandfather started the business 91 years ago where it stands in Custer today — says, “The market is driven by supply and demand. Right now, the demand for homes in the Black Hills is much higher than the supply, so prices are up.” 

Sheila Green and Jared Carson, both of Green Real Estate and Investments, discussed the local, regional and national markets, focusing on how Custer was largely insulated from national trends. 



Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Project to close part of Norbeck Byway
Published: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

An upcoming project to widen the roadway and construct context sensitive barriers will lead to the closure of 1.7 miles of the Peter Norbeck Scenic byway later this fall. The stretch runs from north of Sylvan Lake Lodge back to Hwy. 16A, northwest of the Hwy. 89 junction.

Rich Zacher, area engineer for the South Dakota Department of Transportation, said the project is needed because the narrow roadway combined with the steep embankment directly adjacent to the pavement edge is a dangerous mix for the traveling public. The loss of so many trees along the roadway due to the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation has only exacerbated that danger.



Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Fennell presses city on building
Published: Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Fueled by rumblings of citizens questioning inactivity and possible rumors that he was to blame for that inactivity, Gene Fennell was before the Custer City Council at its Monday night meeting to press the city to move ahead with plans and construction on the Custer Community Center.

Fennell, owner of the architectural firm Fennell Design, Inc., reminded the council that it received the latest drawings of the building last August and he hasn’t received a response since.

“I was a little unhappy when I heard we are the problem,” he said. “I don’t think we are. We kind of need some direction.”



Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Missing teenager found after search
Published: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

A�missing Custer teenager was found in good condition just under 24 hours after she was reported missing last week just south of town.

Jazmin Hitshew, 15, was reported missing by a friend just after midnight Friday, June 6. At about 9:30 p.m. that night, she was located by officials who were searching for her. She was found in a ravine near Wittrock Road, about a mile north of her home. She was taken to Rapid City Regional Hospital to be checked out.



Denny McConnell plays father
Published: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Denny McConnell has fathered four children in the last four years. Well, not literally, but very much so in theory, in heart and in action. 

His children — all daughters — have come from Sweden, Denmark and Germany. They’ve wondered what sort of father Denny would make; what America would be like. And they have mourned leaving the families they were born into and, on the other end of their 10-month stay in Custer, they’ve mourned leaving their host family – Denny and his wife, Donna, in this case — just as much.



Man arrested after standoff
Published: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

A local man who entered the home of his estranged wife and refused to leave was arrested without incident after a four-and-a-half- hour standoff with law enforcement last Sunday in Woodland Meadows.

Louis Goodshield, 25, formerly of Custer and now of Rapid City, was charged with violating a temporary protection order  and for failing to vacate and was taken to Pennington Countyâ��Jail Sunday afternoon.



Thursday, June 5th, 2014

City approves flood plan
Published: Thursday, June 5th, 2014

A plan to mitigate the effects a flood could have on the City of Custer is now in the application phase after the Custer City Council approved the plan at Monday evening’s meeting of the council.

The plan, known as the pre-disaster mitigation plan, was presented by Dirk Jablonski, principal engineer for FourFront Design, Inc., out of Rapid City, the firm helping Custer through the process. The city was recently awarded $77,000 through a hazard mitigation grant program to put together an application that involves several steps, perhaps the most important of which is a cost/benefit analysis of any plan. For any grant to be awarded, the plan must show there is more benefit than cost to the plan.



Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Dr. Joleen resigns
Published: Thursday, June 5th, 2014

“It’s hard and will be hard from here out. I didn’t take this decision lightly,” said Dr. Joleen Falkenburg. 

The younger half of the Falkenburg doctor sisters in Custer turned in her resignation to Custer Regional Hospital CEO Veronica Schmidt Monday. She has served the medical community here for the past eight years.

It will be an emotional ride for Dr. Joleen in the next three months here.



Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Homage paid to ‘Mrs. Z’
Published: Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Even at her memorial service Tuesday, May 27, Ruth Ziolkowski was still in charge.

She died Wednesday, May 21, at the age of 87, after a short battle with cancer. Her Crazy Horse Memorial sculptor husband, Korczak, proceeded her in death in 1982.

“I want it to be upbeat,” repeated Crazy Horse Foundation board member Sid Goss of her instructions. “She had suggestions on where to borrow more chairs and who could be called upon to help with parking, someone like the Rapid City Diplomats,” Goss said.



Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Disaster exercise ‘very positive’
Published: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

A shooter with a hostage. Jammed phone lines. An evacuation of the Custer County Courthouse. An evacuee with a broken leg.

To say there were flies in the ointment for first responders to deal with last Thursday afternoon during the regional emergency management exercise would be an understatement.

In a scenario that kicked off under the pretense of a county taxpayer angry over property taxes and a perceived lack of accountability for county expenditures which escalated to a hostage situation and bomb threat, Custer County emergency management director Mike Carter said all of the entities that participated in the exercise performed well and gained valuable experience through their participation.



Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Lampert: ‘Ruth was the First Lady of SD’
Published: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

“She was just a good friend. South Dakota just lost one of its greatest assets,” said Custer businessman and long-time Custer State Park concessionaire Phil Lampert about the death last week of Ruth Ziolkowski.

“She was a very great and influential lady, but you would never know it by talking to her. She greeted everyone in the same friendly manner, no matter who you were,” Lampert said.



Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Crazy Horse matriarch Ruth Ziolkowski dies
Published: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Ruth Ziolkowski, the beloved matriarch of Crazy Horse Memorial, friend to many, champion of Native American causes and an icon in the tourism industry, has died.

Ziolkowski died last Wednesday night, May 21, while in hospice care in Rapid City at the age of 87. Despite recently being diagnosed with cancer, Ziolkowski remained active in the operations of Crazy Horse Memorial even until her death—a death that left a pall over the Black Hills and saw politicians, friends, family members, community leaders and business owners come together to mourn the death of the visionary who carried on her husband’s dream of honoring Native Americans long after his death.



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