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Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Tesla rally a welcome event
Published: Thursday, May 21st, 2015

The latter part of 2012, Rod Hoffman of Evergreen, Colo., was thinking about buying a new Mercedes Benz for around $100,000. The retired engineer then started looking into an all-electric Tesla car in about the same price range.

He weighed his options and decided to go with the Tesla, which requires no fuel, oil or liquids of any type, save windshield washer fluid. He ordered the car in December 2012 on the internet, clicking on the options he desired on his black Model S rear-wheel drive.

“It was the most expensive thing I  ever bought on the internet,” Hoffman said with a grin. The car was delivered to his home in March 2013, three months later, and he wrote a check. “That was it,” he said.



Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Name change is getting confusing           &n...
Published: Thursday, May 21st, 2015

The S.D. Board of Geographic Names came up with a doozie of a recommendation following a recent series of five public hearings on a proposed name change for Harney Peak. One of those public meetings was held April 28, at the Custer County Annex. Black Elk Peak and Harmony Peak were two of the names recommended at the Custer meeting.

Remarkably, the board came up with a proposed name change of Harney Peak to Hinhan Kaga, which supposedly translates to Making of Owls. This reportedly is the name originally referred to the peak by native people. We never heard of that before. Maybe this name came up at one of the other public hearings.



Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Farewell advice to future graduates
Published: Thursday, May 14th, 2015

There’s excitement in the air here in Custer — can you feel it? With graduation this weekend it’s easy to see why: the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next is a very exciting time. However, it can also be a little scary. 

When I graduated from high school, I was preparing not only for college, but also for a big move to South Dakota. I didn’t get the chance to share the same excitement with my friends — going to the same college, picking classes and buying stuff for our dorm room. I also didn’t have a lot of people I could talk to about college life. None of my cousins and close family members had attended college. My older friends just told me it was “great” and “cool.” And my parents, well…why would I listen to my parents? (Trust me now, listen to your parents!!) 



Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Thank you for my education
Published: Thursday, May 14th, 2015

With another cohort of Custer youths ready to walk across the graduation stage, I find that only half of my thoughts are turned toward hopes for them in all their future endeavors. The other half of my mind is occupied by that group of people who hold the smallest seating section at the procession. Not the deserving graduates, not the devoted families, not the supportive student section. My thoughts rest with the teachers and administrators of Custer School District and school districts across this country.



Thursday, May 7th, 2015

It’s decision time: What would you do?
Published: Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Let’s play “Pretend” today, dear readers. We will set a scenario for you after which you will have to make a decision. Grab a cup of coffee and prepare to struggle mightily.

To begin with, you are not a set-for-life retired couple, living in the woods with deer and turkeys in your backyard and a breath-taking view of the Black Hills through your living-room window. Actually you are a couple struggling to keep it together. And what you see through the window is pretty much what your neighbors across the street see when they look at your place.



Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Harney Peak should not have its name changed       &nbs...
Published: Thursday, May 7th, 2015

The S.D. Board of Geographic Names held a public meeting in Custer last Tuesday morning, April 28, at the Custer County Annex to consider a proposal to re-name Harney Peak. The highest geographical point east of the Rocky Mountains is located in southern Pennington County in the Black Elk Wilderness Area of the Black Hills National Forest.

The peak was named by Lt. Gouverneur K. Warren in honor of Gen. William S. Harney, who commanded military troops in the Black Hills area in the late 1870s. Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy is believed to be the first to climb the 7,242-foot summit. He served as an Army surgeon on several campaigns and later as Indian Agent at the Red Cloud Agency. His ashes are buried on Harney Peak.



Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Low income doesn’t equal lowlife
Published: Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Never in the 30 years since the Federal Reserve first starting collecting wealth data has the divide between the rich and everyone else been so large, according to analysis by the Pew Research Center.

The wealth gap in the U.S. last year was the biggest since at least 1983, according to the report. The median wealth of upper-income families was 6.6 times that of middle-income families in 2013, up from 6.2 in 2010.

Those same upper-income families are now nearly 70 times wealthier than low-income families—also a record gap.



Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Let’s clean up Custer—for us and visitors
Published: Thursday, April 30th, 2015

It’s no secret that the Black Hills is expecting a much higher number of visitors this summer than usual, thanks to the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the 50th annual Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park. We owe it to ourselves and our community to make Custer sparkle by doing our part to “shine the apple.”

This Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, have been designated as annual cleanup days in Custer. As is the case every year, there will be no charge for city residents hauling their unwanted items to the Sander Sanitation transfer station located a half mile north of the Highway 16A-Highway 89 intersection, behind the Hills Materials batch plant. A city resident must show a residential city billing statement receipt at the transfer station. Commercial customers are not allowed free access to the transfer location.



Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Fires are a risky business
Published: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

It’s risky business, lighting fires. No one who ever fought or managed or played with fire ever got away without some hair raising memories, and, usually, without scorching something.  

I know feelings are tender at the moment, just like the tender dry conditions in the forest around us, but I'm just going to take a moment to write an opinion column about prescribed fire and the fire at Wind Cave National park in particular.

In my opinion, the National Park Service (NPS) took action to burn an area that would burn sooner or later, with or without its help.  I am not shocked the fire escaped control lines and I hope this escape does not stop NPS firefighters from continuing to burn in the future.



Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Progress Editions full of good news for another year
Published: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

It's hard to believe we are publishing our 15th consecutive Progress Editions in the Southern Hills communities of Custer and Hill City today. You have to understand that this would not be possible in most any other place or places in the country. We can do this only because of the progressive business people and citizens doing business and residing in these two special Black Hills communities.

In Custer, progress is readily seen in main street buildings that are coming alive with new or expanded business endeavors. The wildly successful Black Hills Burger and Bun operation has moved around the corner downtown in a larger newly-renovated building on Mt. Rushmore Road. Their old 5th Street location will soon open as a new food venture, Black Hills Tacos and Tortillas. Both eating places will be staffed by members of the Claude and Christie Smith family.



Thursday, April 16th, 2015

But God had other plans
Published: Thursday, April 16th, 2015

I went into Rapid City Hospital on Oct. 17 for what I was sure would be a quick pitstop to conduct some tests. God had other plans.

After a high blood pressure reading at my obstetrician’s office, she recommended heading to the hospital just to ensure everything was OK with the baby and me. 



Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Police coming under more public scrutiny
Published: Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Smart cell phones with video capability are everywhere today. That’s the only reason we saw a South Carolina police office shooting a fleeing unarmed man in the back. This video prompted a national outcry and once again brought to the public’s attention questions about police conduct when confronting an uncooperative suspect. This man didn’t appear to pose any kind of threat to law enforcement, yet he was shot in the back five times. 

Officer Michael Slager of North Charleston Police has been charged with murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott who had been stopped for a broken tail light on his newly purchased car. It turns out Scott was behind on his support payments for his four children and afraid that the police were going to arrest him and put him in jail.



Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Can you really believe what you read?
Published: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Jason Ferguson — who over the past several years has “interviewed” Santa, one of Santa’s elves, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and Frosty the snowman in our Christmas editions of the Custer County Chronicle — has always wanted to write for the Onion,  a news satire organization that runs an entertainment website featuring satirical articles reporting on international, national and local news.

When he told me several weeks ago that we had a paper coming out that would fall on April 1 and asked if he could write a satirical article for that issue, I first checked with Charley (who is leery of such stories), who OKed it, and then gave Jason the go-ahead. I personally enjoy such articles and have always encouraged Jason to write his Christmas “interviews.”



Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Anti-Semitism trend alarming
Published: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Because of a growing trend of anti-Semitism around the world, Jews in Europe are being advised to return to their homeland in Israel. In our own country, there seems to be a disturbing trend along the same line with some of our government officials in Washington, D.C. This has become apparent with idealogical clashes between President Obama and Israeli President Netanyahu over nuclear negotiations the U.S. and other countries are conducting with the terrorist state of Iran.

Our country has a long history of supporting the only democracy in a part of the world that is not experiencing violent upheaval. Israel has always had a friend in the United States since its inception in 1948. We have always been there to help that besieged country with military and humanitarian aid. It’s too bad that the leaders of these two great countries are not seeing eye to eye at this time.



Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Road rage is all around us
Published: Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

You hear about instances of road rage from time to time, but don’t think much about it until it happens to you. A few weeks ago it was reported that a women driving on the North Freeway in Houston was shot in the head by a driver whose vehicle she had honked at. The driver of a white Chevy Tahoe followed Kay Hafford after she honked at him and tried to get her to pull over. 

When she sped up, he sped up. She thought she was OK when she checked her rear view mirrors and didn’t see him after pulling onto an off ramp. But about 30 seconds later she heard a loud boom and discovered she had been shot in the head. She pulled over and had the presence of mind to call 911 on her smart phone.



Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

State doesn’t need 80 mph speed limit
Published: Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

South Dakota legislators passed a bevy of tax and fee increases this past session, including a hike in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees. Nine members of the State Transportation Commission meet monthly to discuss DOT issues and the five-year transportation plan in the state. Four of these commission members publicly oppose the Legislature’s adoption of the 80 mph speed limit that will take effect April 1 (today) on some long rural stretches of Interstate 90 and 29 in South Dakota.

For some reason, the Legislature added this caveat as a late addition to the tax and fee increases approved by legislators March 13 for more highway and bridge funding. The present 22 cents per gallon state gas tax is on top of the federal government’s 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax and will be increased six cents today, April 1, bringing the total state and federal gas tax drivers will pay to 46.4 cents per gallon.



Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Oh the things to have seen at 100!
Published: Thursday, March 26th, 2015
 year old.  That sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. It’s just a cooler way of saying I’m 25. In my 25 years of life, I have seen some pretty amazing stuff &mdash...


Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Help support our losers
Published: Thursday, March 26th, 2015

For the better part of a decade now, the Custer County Chronicle has held an annual “Biggest Loser” contest, in which brave area residents participate in a six-month-long contest to lose weight. The contestants must come in once a month to weigh in and see how much weight they lost, or in some cases, didn’t lose. The people who enter this contest deserve the community’s support. Those who enter the contest are brave for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they have their picture and monthly progress put in the paper for the world to see each and every month. If they have a bad month, everyone is going to know about it. Even admitting you need to lose weight in a public forum takes guts. Dedicating six months to that very goal isn’t easy, either.



Thursday, March 19th, 2015

How did we get here?
Published: Thursday, March 19th, 2015

On one Sunday morning some time during the six years I lived in Vermillion, Pastor Steve Miller asked in his sermon, “How did you get here to this particular place at this particular moment?”

He wondered aloud what all had to have happened when and where it did in each of our lives for us to be sitting in the pews of his church on that specific Sunday in Vermillion.

No matter where you are as you read this column, think for a minute all of the thousands of little things that had to happen in your lifetime for you to be in the specific place where you are at this moment, doing what you’re doing in the situation in which you find yourself.



Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Fire season begins way too early
Published: Thursday, March 19th, 2015

The lack of snow, and precipitation in general, the area has received was painfully evident last week when several fires (the North Pole fire being the largest) broke out around Custer County. In addition to the North Pole Fire, which broke out several miles west of Custer, just east of Hell Canyon, a few other small fires started and consumed a few acres, including one by Hermosa. After an extremely wet and snowy past couple of winters and springs, this winter has seen very little in the way of snow or precipitation. The result is increasingly rising fire danger.



Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Will the BHC ever have parity?
Published: Thursday, March 12th, 2015

As I watched the St. Thomas More High School boys and girls basketball teams punch their respective tickets to their Class A tournaments (barring a huge upset last night), I couldn’t help but wonder—will Custer ever send another basketball team to the state tournament? That led to the broader question: Will any Class A team ever go to state again out of the Black Hills Conference that doesn’t have Cavaliers across its chest? Will this cycle of dominance ever end? History tells us nothing lasts forever, but it’s sure starting to feel like it.

The More girls, while not as dominant for as long as their male counterparts, are looking for their third state championship in the last four years. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion they will get it, since seemingly the only team that can beat the Cavaliers resides in Crofton, Neb., which More obviously won’t have to play in the South Dakota state tournament. Class A South Dakota teams can’t stay within 40 points of More, much less beat them.



Thursday, March 12th, 2015

We’ve had enough of Bushes, Clintons for long, long time
Published: Thursday, March 12th, 2015

John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, former two-term Republican governor of Florida, son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush and brother of George W. Bush, apparently has changed his mind and is now a candidate for president in 2016. Initially, he said he did not intend to run for the office and his mother, Barbara, did not exactly encourage him to do so, either. Later, she became one of his strongest supporters.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of former Arkansas governor and president Bill Clinton, former U.S. Senator from New York and former U.S. Secretary of State, has always wanted to be president. Until just recently, she seemed like a shoo-in, lone, unchallenged candidate on the Democratic ticket in 2016. However, Mrs. Clinton seems to have picked up her share of baggage along her political career.



Thursday, March 5th, 2015

The beetles aren’t dead yet
Published: Thursday, March 5th, 2015

In about a month the April edition of National Geographic magazine will hit our mailboxes. Among the lead stories is an article on the impacts of pine beetles on millions of acres of forests across the Northern Hemisphere. Among the 30 or so pictures will be one by Peter Essick, the lead photographer for the story, of our very own Bark Beetle Blues event, The Burning Beetle Festival in January 2014. 

This past week the Custer Arts Council, the City of Custer and many other organizations and individuals launched the third season of the bark beetle version of championship wrestling…something for the body, mind and spirit for all of us affected by the tiny little hellions. A horde of volunteers will pile not-so-exotic, weed free logging slash on Pageant Hill, the big open park in town, spruce up the spruce trees, peddle hoodies and sell fine art, s’mores, hot dogs and every needful thing for a big mid-winter bonfire.  It’s a blast…really.



Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Unbelievable as they are, we try to keep our facts straight
Published: Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Apparently there are some questions and disbelief about what the Obama administration aims to do with his recent executive action on granting amnesty to some four million people here illegally. It’s worse than it appears.

In our recent Feb. 18 editorial entitled “Illegals shouldn’t get tax refunds,” we took our information from a Feb. 11 article by Stephen Dinan in The Washington Times. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, a most credible source, was quoted extensively by the writer.



Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Tales from the crib
Published: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

My mother is celebrating her 98th birthday today.

I think perhaps it is typical that when you get up there in age, you tend to look back at your childhood. I’ve been hearing lots of new stories from my mother about her youth.

She told me that when she was a little girl in Auxvasse, Mo., an artist came to town and painted on the street while people looked on. She crowded in close to watch and he turned around to look at her.

“Can you draw?” he asked her.



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