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Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Much can be learned from new citizens
Published: Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Last month I had the great honor of witnessing 183 people become U.S. citizens in an annual naturalization ceremony held at Mount Rushmore. I had the even greater honor of watching my friend, Maria, finally become a citizen.

Having never been to a naturalization ceremony before, I wasn’t sure what to expect — a reading of the Pledge of Allegiance, soon-to-be citizens taking an oath, a celebration and then, I would go on my merry way, I guess. I did not, however, expect to be overcome by emotions. 



Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

God governs the affairs of men
Published: Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

In the dawning moments of our new Republic, on the morning of April 30, 1789, President George Washington swore his oath of office with his hand placed upon the Holy Bible - opened to the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy.   

With the clear understanding that God governs over the daily affairs of man and rules over the destiny of nations, Washington avowed shortly thereafter in his inaugural address, “We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained...”



Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Old school outlived its usefulness
Published: Thursday, June 25th, 2015

When I went to school at the old high school building in Onida, which now is nothing more than an unsightly pile of bricks and rubble, a kid had no choice but to go left if he were a he and go right if she were a she.  

The north entrance was for boys, mind you, and one didn’t ever dare getting caught veering to the right where the front sidewalk split into a “Y” and entering through the girls’ door, even if that were a more direct route to one’s destination.

While that rule of thumb may have been in effect for my class and the 32 OHS classes that preceded us, I suspect (and hope!) that at some point during the 14 subsequent OHS years and the 45 Sully Buttes years that followed us, that little bit of political correctness was overcome.



Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Rainbows didn’t count on Lakota camp resistance
Published: Thursday, June 25th, 2015

One thing is clear after the arrival of the Rainbow Family of Living Light’s advance contingent to the Black Hills. The hippie lifestyle group planning a massive July 1-7 gathering near here in the Black Hills National Forest did not count on the welcome mat being pulled out from under them by members of the Lakota Sioux Tribe.

The counter-culture lifestyle group has had confrontational encounters with local law enforcement and Forest Service personnel in whatever national forest they have chosen to hold their annual gathering. But they have never encountered the ire of Native Americans who claim they will be desecrating their holy lands. This had to come as a shock to them and may be the reason that some Rainbow members decided to meet elsewhere for their annual gathering this year.



Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Taking off with Rocket Baby
Published: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Fatherhood, is it everything I thought it would be?

I certainly have a lot more respect for fathers and mothers, including my own. 

Our son came into the world about six weeks early and was smaller than he should have been for being that early. So we didn’t get to bring him home right away. About four weeks later, though, we welcomed him into our home and the fun began. Our neonatologist made the comment that “Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.” Well, that is true, and neither is fatherhood for the faint of heart.



Thursday, June 18th, 2015

WOTUS regulations are an overreach
Published: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule to expand the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. At the end of May, the EPA announced its final rule.

WOTUS will be one of the most burdensome and overreaching regulations in history for South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers. Essentially, anyone who owns or makes a living from the land will be affected.

This unprecedented power grab will dramatically expand the federal government’s jurisdiction of water regulation far beyond what Congress intended when the Clean Water Act was passed. Farmers and ranchers are rightly concerned about the compliance costs this misguided rule will have on their operations.



Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Another opt out goes down in flames
Published: Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Straight out of the “so what else is new” category, the latest attempt by a West River school district to opt out of the state’s education funding formula failed last weekend in Rapid City. The Rapid City School District Board of Education initiated the opt-out with the hope of receiving additional funding from school district property owners to combat ever-growing budget shortfalls.

The opt-out failed miserably and school board members have warned that the district will now have to begin “dismantling” the school district to meet revenue shortfalls.



Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Congratulations and thank you
Published: Thursday, June 11th, 2015

We want to congratulate the winners of the June 2 municipal and school district elections in Custer and Custer County and thank former city council members and school board members for their service.

Custer mayor-elect Jared Carson is to be congratulated on his decisive win over incumbent mayor Gary Lipp who deserves thanks for his past five years of public service to Custer City – one year as a city council member and four years as mayor. He was a dedicated city official.



Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Folk music is a special genre
Published: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Writing is like folk music: You live life, you interpret what happened and you lay it out there for others to judge. It’s also true that if we want to make others shiver we have to make ourselves shiver first, in the words of singer John Craigie who sold out the Dahl again Friday night.  Craigie, from Portland and Ryan Kickland from Rapid City gave us all a lesson in the history in music and the music in history for a few hours when everyone was mesmerized by the talent that flows from knowing fingers into steel strings and high quality mics. 



Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Celebrate 70th with Playhouse
Published: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

The 70th season of the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park kicks off today with a special six-performance series of A Couple of Blaguards presented by the Playhouse Alumni Association. Nightly performances this week only will run through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Matinees Saturday and Sunday will begin at 2 p.m. The play, written by Frank and Malachy McCourt, will feature veteran actors Jeff Kinsbury and Graham Thatcher.



Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Go ahead: make someone’s day
Published: Thursday, May 28th, 2015

On my way home from work the other day, I heard a song that our late pastor used to sing, but I hadn’t heard it in years. It carries a message that I think we all need to hear from time to time:

“There have been times when giving and loving brought pain, and I promised that I’d never let it happen again. But I found out that loving is well worth the risk, and that even in losing you win.”

I don’t think there’s a person alive who hasn’t been the subject of hurtful words or actions and the easy thing for us to do is to close ourselves off so we don’t get hurt again.



Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Flag painter is a true U.S. patriot
Published: Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Scott LoBaido of Staten Island, N.Y., may not be a veteran, but he is a true American Patriot. LoBaido was featured in the May 20 issue of this newspaper as the painter doing a mural on the front of the VFW building in Custer. LoBaido is also featured in the June issue of The American Legion Magazine.

The mural on the VFW is just a part of LoBaido’s 50-state celebration of veterans and will include painting U.S. flags on the side of an American Legion or VFW post in every one of the 50 states. By doing this, the painter has two goals in mind. Number one is to honor veterans.



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.”



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