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Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Let’s all get ‘SHMAAFd’!
Published: Thursday, August 25th, 2016

It never ceases to amaze me just how many events are hosted in our community — Crazy Horse’s Volksmarch, the Tesla Rally, the Studebaker Car Show, Mickelson Trail Trek, the Buffalo Round-up, the Custer Stampede Rodeo, the Old Time Country Fair, Gold Discovery Days and various running marathons, amongst others! 

What makes all those events so great is the people supporting those endeavors: businesses, volunteers, the city, the county and the chamber of commerce. Because of these great people, we Custerites are benefiting from their hard work.

And we’re about to do it again this weekend with the Southern Hills Music and Arts Festival (SHMAAF).



Thursday, August 25th, 2016

It’s time to get ‘SHMAAFd’
Published: Thursday, August 25th, 2016

This weekend marks the first (organizers hope there are many more to follow) annual Southern Hills Music and Arts Festival in Custer, an event that will offer a variety of musical entertainment and plenty else to see, to eat and drink Friday and Saturday at Pageant Hill.

The action starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday night when Brulé performs on the main stage at 6:30 p.m. Brulé is a locally-based musical group performing contemporary Native American music. Following Brulé will be Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., who will present “Up, Up and Away! a musical fable.” 

McCoo and Davis are seven-time Grammy award winners and have released nine albums with the original 5th Dimension, as well as releasing albums as singing duos. 



Thursday, August 18th, 2016

The Olympics are costing me sleep
Published: Thursday, August 18th, 2016

I’m an unapologetic Olympics lover (summer, not winter. I can take or leave the Winter Olympics), so I have found myself staying up later than usual cheering on the red, white and blue on NBC. For those of you with Dish Network, NBC is that news channel you used to get before it got locked into a dispute with Dish and disappeared, much like AMC has disappeared off of Golden West’s cable lineup. For you Golden West employees reading this, if AMC hasn’t returned to Golden West’s lineup before “The Walking Dead” resumes, I’m going to be a very unhappy camper. But I digress



Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Meth education is badly needed in our schools
Published: Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Gov. Dennis Daugaard wrote a column last week entitled “Meth Changes Everything,” citing the fact that South Dakota has seen a rise in the use of the illegal drug methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, in the past several years. Especially alarming is the use of meth by our high school students. If smoking is bad for your health, meth is much more addictive, fast-acting and deadly.

The governor said 3.8 percent of South Dakota high school students have tried meth, which is just slightly higher than the national average of 3 percent. About 15,000 South Dakotans age 12 and up were dependent on or abused illicit drugs in 2015. This included meth.



Thursday, August 11th, 2016

The history of George Custer
Published: Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Our complex historical relationship with the many Army officers and others whose names dot the map of the Black Hills is more puzzling as time goes by. We’re actively fighting over Gen. Harney and his name on the highest peak between here and the Pennine Alps to the east, while ignoring other luminaries, particularly George Armstrong Custer.

Western history’s most famous, and one of its best, historians and chroniclers, Larry McMurtry, has written a book about Custer in an attempt to understand the man. Actually, it’s more in the vein of hoping sufficient research directed at one particular figure will somehow bring clarity to a very dark and dirty glass. The book does not meet its objective, but it is interesting on many levels.



Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Governor’s race starting early in Custer County
Published: Thursday, August 11th, 2016

State District 13 Rep. G. Mark Mickelson has made at least two treks to Custer County in the past several months in anticipation of an official announcement that he is running for governor in 2018. We can only assume that he is making similar trips and making appearances around the state.

But first, Mickelson has to turn his sights on the upcoming election in District 13 in Sioux Falls where he is seeking his third term in the legislative House. Last year he chaired the Judiciary Committee and was a member of the Legislative Procedure and State Affairs Committee.



Thursday, August 4th, 2016

The world is not the same as in ‘my day’
Published: Thursday, August 4th, 2016

My little 20-month-old grandson and I were swinging on the front porch recently when we heard someone in our road district target shooting. The unexpected sound sent him into my arms. 

“Up, up, muh, muh,” he said each time a shot was fired in the distance. When an airplane went over our house, that sound also sent him scrambling for safety into my arms.

The world should not be a scary place for him, I thought later, as I contemplated his actions. 



Thursday, August 4th, 2016

It’s Rally time
Published: Thursday, August 4th, 2016

It’s almost rally time in South Dakota. What started in 1938 as a single motorcycle race in a small town has grown into one of the largest and best-known motorcycle gatherings in the world. This year is the 76th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and though we don’t expect the numbers will approach the levels we saw last year, the rally is sure to be well attended.

Motorcycle enthusiasts won’t just be visiting Sturgis. They will be traveling all around the Black Hills – staying in our local hotels and at our campgrounds, eating in our local restaurants, shopping in our local stores and refueling at our gas stations. Each year the rally has a big economic impact on Sturgis and all of the Black Hills, and that creates benefits for our state too.



Thursday, July 28th, 2016

You look great from up above
Published: Thursday, July 28th, 2016

How many of you have attended the annual Gold Discovery Days Saturday morning parade and watched the six or seven helicopters come flying from the east to the west and then back again over Mt. Rushmore Road to help kick off the big parade? Did you ever wonder what it would be like to fly over and wave to the crowd below? I sure have thought about that for the past several years. 

A few months ago when Mike and Shelly Jacob at Black Hills Aerial Adventures were hosting a Custer Area Chamber of Commerce social mixer at their place just north of Crazy Horse, I asked Mike if it would be possible for me to ride in the lead helicopter when he led his string of rotary aircraft over Mt. Rushmore Road in Custer. He does this precisely at 10 a.m. to add a little excitement to the annual GDD parade.



Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Air conditioners said to be a bigger threat
Published: Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Sometimes you just can’t make things up. Speaking in Vienna last Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that air conditioners and refrigerators are as big of a threat to life on this planet as the threat of terrorism posed by groups like the Islamic State. It kind of reminds you when Sen. Bernie Sanders said climate change was “directly related” to the growth of terrorism in the world when he was at a Democrat debate in Iowa.

We can sort of understand how Sanders came up with his questionable conclusion, but have to really wonder about Kerry’s threat analysis from Vienna. We actually have not seen any particular brands of refrigerators or air conditioners shooting at people or blowing things up.



Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Memories are made at GDD
Published: Thursday, July 21st, 2016

In my nine years of living in Custer, I’ve always enjoyed Gold Discovery Days. The arts and crafts, the games and races and the parade — who doesn’t love a parade?! There really is something for everyone. 

Even though I didn’t grow up here, Gold Discovery Days and the community’s support always reminds me of back home in Michigan, where every town had a festival. 

Seriously. Every. Single. Town. 

In Coloma, where I lived, it was the Glad Peach Festival, because we were known for our peaches. In South Haven, there’s the blueberry festival, filled with the big “Ps” — pies, parades and polka. Yes, in that order. 



Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Gold Discovery Days will be as good as ever
Published: Thursday, July 21st, 2016

A few weeks ago we reported that the big annual Gold Discovery Days celebration in Custer was on life support and may not recover in time to be pulled off with the usual flair this year due to a lack of volunteer committee help. We’re more than glad to report that the patient has made a full recovery and is now healthy enough to run a marathon. Look out for this weekend!

If you think the town has been busy so far this summer, you will really be impressed by the number of people in here for all the festivities and high school class reunions this coming weekend. Thanks to the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce staff and willing volunteers, we will have a celebration worthy of being one of the best.



Thursday, July 14th, 2016

On the hunt for Poet’s Table
Published: Thursday, July 14th, 2016

I have several personality traits that those close to me don’t like. I talk a lot sometimes. I can be a bit of a pessimist. And I’m incredibly impatient. I want what I want when I want it. Sometimes I do a good job of controlling it, and sometimes I don’t. Never was that more obvious than July 4 weekend, when my girlfriend and I set out on a hike to find Poet’s Table in Custer State Park.

Since neither of us had ever been to Poet’s Table, we already had our work cut out for us. Since it’s 2016, we both figured directions to the table would be readily available online. Wrong. The directions we found were vague, and most people who wrote about Poet’s Table online only wrote about how great it is, intentionally leaving out directions on how to get there. One even wrote that it was “only for the worthy to find.”



Thursday, July 14th, 2016

We are a county at war with ourselves
Published: Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Never before have we seen such a division in our country. We are a divided nation. We are divided racially, economically, politically and, most of all spiritually. We seem to be a country at war with itself.

On a regular basis we hear and see of public shootings that end up with calls for more gun control.

We see law enforcement officers being shot by snipers as the police attempt to monitor and protect protestors.



Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Welcome new Forest supervisor
Published: Thursday, July 7th, 2016

There’s a new Forest supervisor coming to town.  He was just a kid when I first met him. Now he has 33 years in the Forest Service under his belt and he’ll do just fine. I hope he’s excited. He’s coming here from Texas, so it’s a foregone conclusion he’s excited, of course. 

Mark Van Every is walking into a big office where big things happened over the last 10 years. There were all the usual fires and calamities, deaths and triumphs, relationships built and alliances made. And it all happened against a backdrop of our manageable timber lands diminishing in productivity under the relentless, ruthless, merciless attack of wave after wave of bark beetles.



Thursday, July 7th, 2016

District 30 results were not surprising
Published: Thursday, July 7th, 2016

For the most part, District 30 Republican primary results were not surprising as it seemed to be a race of who was the most conservative candidate for the state senate and State House. If there was a surprise, it was the margin of victory in the Senate race that saw incumbent Bruce Rampelberg fall to former House member Lance Russell. Another surprise was the close margin of victory for the top two vote-getters in the House race. After a recount, there were only 14 votes separating second and third places.

Russell took 59 percent of the vote compared to 41 percent for Rampelberg in the Senate race. One obvious difference in the candidates, and highlighted by Russell in his campaign mailing pieces, was his opposition to the half cent sales tax increase that was favored and supported by Rampelberg, who said he did what he thought was right to increase pay so we could keep quality teachers in the state.



Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Staying home may be a good idea
Published: Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Many years ago, when my children were young, I complained to my mother that our family never got to go on vacation. She responded that people come to the Black Hills from hundreds and even thousands of miles away because it’s a vacation spot and that I should appreciate it as such because I get to live in this vacation paradise all year.

She was right, of course, and I’ve never looked at a vacation in the same way since. Still, I sometimes take for granted this beautiful place we are blessed to call home.



Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Brits celebrate their freedom from the EU
Published: Thursday, June 30th, 2016

In just a few days, we Americans will celebrate the annual anniversary of declaring  our independence from Great Britain. Last week, the citizens of that same country declared their independence from the European Union by a 52-48 percent margin at the voting polls. This seemed to be a surprise outcome, according to most media outlets and political pundits who never thought the vote would go that way. They thought citizens would vote for the status quo.

In voting to leave the EU, the Brits rejected membership in this organization which hasn’t seemed to benefit them much at all. They didn’t agree with being part of this new globalism and didn’t like being told what to do by officials in Brussels, Belgium, the EU’s unofficial capital. In essence, the Brits wanted their old country back. They wanted their freedom from the EU.



Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

We have a prairie dog problem
Published: Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

We received an email and a copy of a letter from Custer realtor Ramona Flaig last week warning of an established prairie dog town just outside the city limits at the east edge of town. Her fear is that these critters may move into Custer itself. Fear not, it has already happened as she pointed out in a letter to the Custer County Commission,  County States Attorney, County Sheriff’s Department and her fellow realtors.

Last Thursday I believe it was, we were alerted to some excited activity in front of the building next to us to the west. Visitors were pointing and laughing at a prairie dog, of all things, sitting next to a parked car. A prairie dog in downtown Custer! How did it get here?



Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Immigration insanity has got to end now
Published: Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

We don’t go along with those who are calling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a bigot and a racist, among other things, because he wants to temporarily suspend refugees coming into this country from mostly Muslim countries. After the killing of 49 people and wounding of 53 others at an Orlando nightclub last week by an avowed follower of ISIS, it is time we get a grip on this entire refugee immigration mess.

The U.S.-born shooter in this case appeared to be self-radicalized, but also had made two recent trips to Saudi Arabia. He was not a recent refugee, but he was a Muslim, apparently following the teachings in the Koran. Most people would say he was a radical Muslim, but actually he was merely following the teachings in the Koran. He was a Muslim carrying out the dictates of Muhammad.



Thursday, June 16th, 2016

My father, my partner-in-crime
Published: Thursday, June 16th, 2016

While randomly searching the Internet one night, I read a quote saying something to the effect that a child’s parents are the first friends they will have in their life. While I don’t know if “friend” is the most accurate word for the first relationship bond a child will have, it got me thinking about my own parents, mainly my father. 

My father has had many roles in my 26 years of life. He’s been a teacher — showing me the ways of riding a bike, camping in the great outdoors (OK, our backyard) and how to write a good term paper. He’s been an encourager, mentor, therapist and even tutor, sitting down with me many a night at the kitchen table, going over math homework. Lots and lots of math homework. 



Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Common sense needed with bathroom issue
Published: Thursday, June 16th, 2016

During this past legislative session in Pierre, the Legislature passed, and Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed, a bill that would require students to use the bathroom and shower facilities of their birth gender. This seemed to be a no-brainer piece of legislation. The governor apparently caved to those in the business world who believed such a bill would give the state a bad rap for being intolerant of this small group of people.

In this relatively new (to us at least) transgender world we appear to be living in, some strange societal changes are taking place, thanks in no small part to the Obama administration. We didn’t know the transgender issue was such a big deal in our schools. 



Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Graduation memories are foggy
Published: Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Take it from one like me who sometimes can’t remember why he walked upstairs or why he went to the supermarket. Recalling details of one’s own high school graduation 60 years after the fact is a challenge.

But there are a few facts about Onida High School's commencement on that night in May 1956 of which I am certain.

1. There were no eardrum-shattering air horns piercing the dignity of the occasion. 

2.  Nobody in the crowd was “dressed” in blue jeans. In fact, most of our dads were in shirts, ties and jackets and moms were certainly in dresses.



Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Pot calling the kettle black
Published: Thursday, June 9th, 2016

We find it ironic when people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton criticize people for lack of this or that experience. Obama is still on the campaign trail after about seven and a half years in office. He has never stopped making partisan comments about anything, which has greatly contributed to the deep divide this country has experienced in the past nearly eight years.

Obama’s latest criticism of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is that the candidate lacks foreign policy experience. It’s almost as if Obama is criticizing himself eight years ago when he ran for president on the Democrat ticket as a freshman senator from Illinois. Pray tell, what foreign policy experience did Obama have to qualify him for the highest office in the land?



Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Will GDD go the way of the Edsel?
Published: Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Every July, thousands upon thousands of tourists, family, friends and local citizenry gather in Custer for the fun and pageantry that is Gold Discovery Days (GDD). However, if a recent trend continues, that may not be the case much longer.

The fact of the matter is, volunteers to help with GDD are dwindling. There are fewer and fewer volunteers every year, putting more and more stress on the remaining volunteers. A handful of people spend an entire year planning and then executing GDD weekend, with little to no fanfare. They do it because they love Custer, love GDD and want to see it continue and thrive. Most everyone loves GDD and participates in it in some form or fashion. But is there enough love to help keep it alive? That remains to be seen.



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