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Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Mother Nature is not so funny
Published: Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Even though the first day of autumn officially starts next week, that didn’t stop Mother Nature from dumping over eight inches of the heavy white stuff in Custer. 

Last week’s temperatures started out in the low 80s, but by the time Wednesday night rolled around, temperatures dropped to as low as 34 degrees, before dropping even further on Thursday with a high of 31 and low of 25. And with the unusually low temperature came snow — over eight inches of it.



Stockade algae is not abnormally high
Published: Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

When Larry Lacy took a friend of his from out of town fishing at Stockade Lake, he was appalled at what he saw. Along the banks of the lake were large blooms of algae that made him think Stockade was less of a lake and more of a sewer pond.

“Iâ��didn’t think too much of that until we went around and looked in the spillway, and it was just gross,”â��Lacy said.â��“Something is definitely going on. It’s just nasty green, and where the water runs down, there is sudsy-type green yucky stuff bubbling down there.”



Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Merchants want changes on snow ordinance
Published: Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

It’s only September and snow has fallen only once this summer, but a handful of downtown merchants were before the Custer City Council at Monday night’s council meeting — as many have been before them — questioning the way the city’s snow ordinance is written, complaining about fines and asking the council to reconsider the ordinance as it stands. 

This time, Barb Edwards of the Gold Pan Saloon, Jim Understock of Frontier Photo and Robert Paceley of Custer Industrial led the objections to the ordinance.

Edwards read a letter to the council, in which she said she felt “preyed upon like an animal by the city.”



Thursday, September 11th, 2014

New student program started
Published: Thursday, September 11th, 2014

It was a light meeting for the Custer School District Board of Education on Monday, Sept. 8. 

Custer Jr./Sr. High School principal Derek Barrios addressed the board and audience about the new Intensive Care Unit (ICU) program active in the Custer School District. The program is for students who have missing assignments, whether it be from absences — school-sponsored or illnesses — or incomplete work. Barrios said this program helps not only students, but also teachers.



Thursday, September 11th, 2014

City budgets $5.8 million
Published: Thursday, September 11th, 2014

The City of Custer plans to spend $5.8 million in 2015, after passing the first reading of its 2015 Appropriations Ordinance at its Sept. 2 meeting.

The total budget is set at $5,810,776, up from $5,134,194 a year ago. The city’s general government fund will raise slightly, from $613,335 to $615,545,  and the public works budget increases from $976,880 a year ago to $1,261,135 this year, mostly because of $855,000 in planned capital improvement projects. 



Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Johnson believes city is harassing him
Published: Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Robert Johnson was back in front of the Custer City Council at the council’s regular meeting Sept. 2, claiming harassment by the city as he says he continues to be stonewalled in his request to get a vacancy at his property.

Johnson had been to a council meeting in July claiming he had been trying for five years to apply for a vacancy for some of the city land adjacent to his property in town, but continued to get the runaround. Johnson said he applied in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The vacancies, he said, are “no more and no less” than similar vacancies he said were given to property owners around him. The vacancies, he said, would make his property line the same as his neighbors.



Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Cruisin’ hears from merchants
Published: Thursday, September 4th, 2014

After another successful Custer Cruisin’ Rally, the Custer Cruisin’ committee met Friday, Aug. 29, to hear feedback from the community and downtown merchants.

First to address the committee was Laurie Arthur, treasurer of Art Expressions Gallery and Gifts. After thanking the committee for its time and work, she presented suggestions for next year’s event.

While the committee set aside five designated parking spots for Art Expressions guests in the chamber parking lot, they were all used during the Sue Hopper Art Show on Sunday, which was held in the chamber parking lot. 



Thursday, September 4th, 2014

How cool was it?
Published: Thursday, September 4th, 2014

On July 24, the thermometer hit 95 degrees in Custer. It was significant in that it was the hottest it got all year and was only one of two 90-degree days Custer had all summer.

Custer County, much like the rest of the country, saw an unusually cool summer in 2014, one that broke records across the nation, particularly in July.

Temperature records set as far back as the 1880s were broken, as unusually cool air blanketed a large part of the country in the heart of summer, making it feel more like fall than summer many days.



No more magic
Published: Thursday, September 4th, 2014

After three seasons full of laughs, illusions and wonder, the Grand Magic Show is leaving Custer for Branson, Mo.

Magician Duane Laflin and his wife, Mary, made the decision two weeks ago after it was made public that Flintstones, the property where Grand Magic is located, is going up for sale.

“We’ve had a marvelous relationship with them. But Joe (Speckles, owner) is 73 and wants to retire. I can’t blame him,” Laflin said. “The fact is, we’re not guaranteed a place should a new owner buy Flintstones. With marketing, rent and (other funds) put into the show, we could lose everything we invest in it and that’s just too risky.”



Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Help available for ‘back- to-school’ expenses
Published: Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Eve and Casey Trandem, both fourth grade teachers at Custer Elementary, have the advantage of a dual perspective when it comes to understanding the costs associated with sending kids back to school: they’re parents as well as teachers. 

They have two children — a daughter, Siri, in eighth grade, and a son, Graysen, a junior. School supplies (including scientific and graphing calculators which can cost $70 or $80) and clothes are the two largest back-to-school costs for their own kids. There’s a large disparity between the costs for the two children, they say, because of their ages, personal preferences and what’s required for each grade.



Baznik search costs county little
Published: Thursday, August 28th, 2014

The search for and eventual recovery of the body of Jordan Baznik had minimal cost to the county, according to Custer County emergency management director Mike Carter.

At the Aug. 18 meeting of the Custer County Commission, Carter told the commission the costs of the search were kept down, thanks to the help of a multitude of mutual aid and volunteers, including a helicopter from the South Dakota Highway Patrol.



Officials, friends want justice for Meshell
Published: Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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

Angie (not her real name) thought it was strange when Meshell Will and her male companion left the Brookside Motel in Keystone that the room had been thoroughly cleaned. 

“The beds were made and the room was spotless,” she said. 

It was so unusual, she added, that the maids even made mention of it on their maid sheets.

“I may not be an investigator,” she said, “but all signs would lead me to think that he killed her there. I don’t know if they have come up with more information of what happened to her after I last saw her, but I will say she was not in a state to where she could’ve walked herself out of the motel.”



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.”



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