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Thursday, August 21st, 2014

City approves animal control contract
Published: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Just as the county did a couple of weeks before, the City of Custer voted to enter into an animal control contract with Battle Mountain Humane Society that will see Battle Mountain handle the animal control within the city for $800 per month, just as it is doing for the county. The contract begins Sept. 1 and will run through the end of the year.

For calls responded to on weekends and outside normal hours of operation, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Battle Mountain Humane Society will be compensated at $25 per call. The city will also pay the society $10 per day to shelter the animals up to three days. If the animal is not claimed by its owner in three days, it will become property of the Humane Society.



Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Missing man found dead
Published: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

The body of a man missing since Aug. 6 was found on Friday, Aug. 15, at about 5:30 p.m. by searchers approximately a half mile to three-quarters mile north of the Iron Creek trailhead in the Black Elk Wilderness.  

An investigation at the scene was conducted and no signs of foul play were observed. 

It was reported that the missing person, Jordan Michael Baznik, age 23, of Naperville, Ill., was on a trip with three friends headed to Washington to cross over into Canada for a music concert. While passing through South Dakota, they wanted to see Mt. Rushmore. After seeing Mt. Rushmore, they got a motel in Keystone.

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What happened to Meshell?
Published: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

This is the first in a series on the death of Custer resident Meshell Will and the investigation into her death.

On Aug. 24, 2013, Meshell Will sent a text message to her sister, Amanda Dillon, telling her she was headed to Keystone and would talk to her later.

A week later, on Aug. 31, Will’s decomposed body was found just off Iron Mountain Road by a tourist who was taking pictures in the area. The body was found near mile post 54, in a wooded area between the higher and lower part of the road near one of the road’s famous “pigtail”â��bridges.



Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Animal control solution found
Published: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler might be the happiest man in Custer County, with his deputies close behind.

That’s because at the Aug. 6 meeting of the Custer County Commission, the commissioners inked an agreement with Battle Mountain Humane Society that will see the society take care of animal control in the county, freeing the sheriff’s department of the unwanted task that was dropped into its lap when former animal control officer Geney Ziolkowski retired at the beginning of the new year.

Wheeler can’t help but smile when discussing how much of a relief it is for his department to no longer have to respond to stray dog calls.



Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Blame the rain
Published: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The weather is to blame. Or maybe it’s the fact that next year will mark the 75th annual Sturgis Rally. No matter the reason, there’s consensus between Custer business owners: numbers are down this year. Custer Cruisin’ didn’t generate as much traffic —motorcycle or otherwise — this year as in years past. But that certainly didn’t stop those in attendance from having a great time. Or local business owners from appreciating the temporary increase in visitors.

Cindy Hammer, owner/operator of Beaver Lake Campground, attributes the lower numbers she’s witnessed to folks planning for next year’s 75th Rally. 



Thursday, August 14th, 2014

City may scrap three-mile planning rep
Published: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The City of Custer may drop the lone representative of the city’s three-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction from its six-person planning commission in the coming months. And although a clerical error prevented any formal Custer City Planning Commission vote on the issue at it’s Aug. 12 meeting, there was plenty of discussion. The discussion was supposed to be the first of a pair of public hearings on the issue—the other at this coming Monday night’s meeting of the Custer City Council—but because the issue was listed only as discussion and not a public hearing on the commission’s agenda, city attorney Chris Beesley said the commission could not take a vote for a recommendation to the city council, which in turn cannot take a vote on the issue Monday night.



Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Custer County fair starts this weekend
Published: Thursday, August 7th, 2014

The Custer County Fair and Achievement Days begins this week at the Custer County Fairgrounds in Hermosa and is once again full of education and interactive events for the entire family.

The fair begins Thursday at 5 p.m. with the annual kickoff supper. That will be followed by the Barn Yard Olympics.

On Friday, Aug. 8, the Kinda’ Korkie Wine and Beer Garden opens and there will be a free buffalo barbecue appreciation dinner from 5 to 6:30 p.m. That will be followed by the ranch rodeo, which will be preceded by a calcutta. The ranch rodeo will see teams of four compete in “cowboy events,” including the wild horse catch, team doctoring, team penning, obstacle race and more.  There will also be a kid carnival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.



Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Rally going smoothly for city
Published: Thursday, August 7th, 2014

It’s so far, so good, on the public works end of things during this year’s Rally, as public works director Bob Morrison told the Custer City Council at its Aug. 4 meeting that no major problems have sprung up yet.

“It seems like it started out slowly to me, but they’re catching up,” Morrison said of this year’s crowd. He added he believes the traffic is down from the west because of the construction in Hell Canyon.



Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Matt Brown nominated for 7th Circuit judge
Published: Thursday, August 7th, 2014

County Deputy State’s Attorney Matthew M. Brown was nominated Friday, Aug. 1, to be the newest member of the 7th Judicial Court in Rapid City.

Brown, 40, replaces Magistrate Judge Shawn J. Pahlke, who announced her retirement and whose last day on the bench is Aug. 8 after 19 years of service on the 7th Circuit bench.



Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Lipp:�West Dam is not being ignored
Published: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Patience.

That’s the word repeated by Custer Mayor Gary Lipp when discussing West Dam. Since 2011, the pond once home to fishing, ice hockey and the splash of errant golf shots, has sat dry and is now home to only the trickle of French Creek and weeds. That scene has left many wondering what, if anything, is being done.

The answer, Lipp said, is plenty—albeit slowly.



Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Helicopter flights upset residents
Published: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

When a helicopter swoops over his house, it sends Bill Birkholt into an anxiety attack.

Birkholt, a combat veteran who lives on Upper Elk Creek Road with his wife, Mary Marcy, moved here to be near the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. At the July 23 meeting of the Custer County Commission, Birkholt told commissioners that when the helicopters from Black Hills Aerial Adventures, located about six miles north of Custer, fly over his home, they often wake him up and startle him, forcing him to take more medication for his anxiety and high blood pressure.



Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Angry residents confront council
Published: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

A pair of upset residents came before the Custer City Council at its July 21 meeting, with one upset with a lack of communication from city hall over a question he raised months ago and another incredulous at what he said was a never-ending quest to get a vacation application heard by the city.

First up was David Kamienski, who in March had come before the council to protest being charged the city minimum of 2,000 gallons per month for water and sewer, saying he rarely uses that much water each month in his home, and asked if he could be billed on an average usage basis per year, a per-gallon usage basis or have the base amount lowered. The council told Kamienski at that time it would investigate what, if anything, could be done and get back to him. The fact that the get-back-to-him part never happened had Kamienski seething at the July 21 meeting.



Thursday, July 24th, 2014

School board concerned with keeping kids in school
Published: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Custer Jr./Sr. High School principal Derek Barrios addressed the Custer School District Board of Education at its July 14 meeting about exempting students from semester tests. 

In the past, students who had a perfect or nearly perfect attendance record were exempted from semester tests. Last school year, all students were required to take semester tests, which Barrios said may be one of the reasons why tardies and absences were up this year.

“There were nearly 600 more days missed this year than the past five years,” he said. “I think exempting certain students from semester tests will be an incentive for them to regularly attend classes.”



Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Bryan Woodhall is ‘Biggest Loser’
Published: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

After six months of competition, Bryan Woodhall has been named the winner of this year’s Custer County Chronicle’s “Biggest Loser” contest.

Woodhall beat the other contestants who finished the six-month competition, losing a contest record 27.56 percent of his body weight over the course of the sixth-month competition. Woodhall barely edged out his father, John Woodhall, who lost 25.07 percent of his body weight, and third place finisher Sam Boettcher, who lost 17 percent of his weight. The top three finishers all win prizes, which can be found in the Western Trader in this issue of the Chronicle and Hill City Prevailer-News.



Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Gold Discovery Days to start Friday
Published: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The 91st annual Gold Discovery Days celebration kicks off this weekend with a host of traditional and some new events for young and old alike.

The weekend begins at 10 a.m. Friday with the beginning of the arts and crafts festival at Way Park. The annual Custer Piecemakers Quilt Show begins at the same time at the Custer Armory. Both events run until 7 p.m.

At 2 p.m., the fifth annual Caroline Hatton Flower Show begins at Custer Senior Center. The event runs until 4 p.m.



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. 



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