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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.



Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Global warming being debunked
Published: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

If you happen to mention global warming to some 100 million Americans who have been subject to record snowfalls and freezing temperatures for the past three or four weeks, you are liable to end up with your head stuck in one of those eight-foot tall snowbanks. The state of Massachusetts and entire northeastern part of the country has been especially hard hit. We can’t imagine the hardships our fellow Americans in that part of the country are facing after being  socked in for so long.



Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Illegals shouldn't get tax refunds
Published: Thursday, February 19th, 2015

It seems that the federal government just has so much money that it can now grant illegal immigrants tax refunds, even if they haven’t paid any taxes like the rest of us. Apparently being illegally here in America does not have the stigma it once did, thanks to President Obama granting so many of them amnesty. Once again, we have learned there are unintended (or intended) consequences of the president's executive action.

Last Wednesday, Internal Revenue Service commissioner John Koskinen told members of Congress that illegal immigrants who did not pay any taxes will be able to claim back-refunds once they are issued Social Security numbers. Members of the House oversight committee were informed by Koskinen that if illegal immigrants obtain a Social Security number and go to work, they will be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.



Thursday, February 19th, 2015

What’s wrong with some people?
Published: Thursday, February 19th, 2015

All the talking heads on the television networks were dissecting the Brian Williams debacle last week. In case you missed it, the NBC news producer and long-time anchor was caught in a lie by some Army soldiers who questioned his narrative of an incident in Iraq in 2003. 

Since that time, Williams has been embellishing the story of one of the helicopters in the sortie he was flying with getting hit by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG). As Williams has been telling it, the helicopter he and his news crew were flying in was hit by an RPG and forced to land.



Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Newspapers, then and now
Published: Thursday, February 12th, 2015

It’s fair to say I’ve been away for a while. Things have changed in the newspaper business. 

Before moving to Custer, the last time I stepped foot in a newspaper office was 1997, and the newspaper in question was the Custer County Chief in Broken Bow, Neb. I didn’t have much to do in the actual office, but worked primarily in the printing department. 



Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Feds should keep hands off internet
Published: Thursday, February 12th, 2015

It was just a matter of time.

President Obama never seems run out of ideas on how to expand the control of the federal government. Now he is proposing to reclassify the internet by magically turning it into a public utility. Naturally, the government would have to regulate the internet then, would it not? Of course it would. Reclassifying the internet as a utility would allow the Federal Communications Commission to enforce heavy restrictions on it as a pretense for protecting “net neutrality.”



Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Weekly trivia night livens up Custer
Published: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

The way I see it, all of us have talents. And at some point in our lives, we are called on to use said talents. For some, it may be a musical inclination or even a talent for dance or even stand -up comedy (that one’s for you, Jason!). But for me, it’s trivia. 

I’m not talking about your typical, run-of-the-mill questions like “what is the most widely spoken language in the world” (Mandarin Chinese, if you want to know) or “what does a Chandler make?” (Candles, but I’m sure you already knew that.) I’m talking about the useless information that I will never need to know, but somehow have stored away in my mind. 



Thursday, February 5th, 2015

What now with no more football?
Published: Thursday, February 5th, 2015

College football finally got it right with a first-ever playoff system this year that picked a true national champion. The fourth-seeded Ohio Buckeyes rose to the occasion and went home with all the marbles in a dominant 42-20 victory over the high-flying Oregon Ducks. The Buckeyes previously routed the Wisconsin Badgers 59-0 to win the Big Ten Championship game. There was no doubt this year who the top college football team was.

Fast forward to the National Football League playoff games that saw last year’s Super Bowl champs, the Seattle Seahawks, and the New England Patriots emerge as opponents in the Super Bowl played last Sunday evening. The final game of the 2014 football season was tied 14 all at halftime and it was a toss-up as to which team would prevail at the end of the game.



Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Here we go again—Super Bowl 49
Published: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Fellow Blunt High teacher Dick Vosberg and I were somewhere west of Miller, heading home during our daily commute to summer classes at Huron College in the summer of 1966. From the radio came the news that the two pro football leagues had agreed to one NFL-AFL championship game at the end of that fall’s season.

So Green Bay of the NFL and Kansas City of the AFL played in Los Angeles.  CBS had NFL games and NBC had AFL games, so both networks carried the game. Twins’ announcer Ray Scott did the call for CBS, Curt Gowdy for NBC.  And the game was lousy.



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