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Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Remembering a fallen Hotshot
Published: Thursday, August 27th, 2015

A former Tatanka Hotshot, Richard Wheeler, died in a wildfire somewhere out West. Few people will remember the name of the fire or the circumstances, but we need to remember the man. He was the kind of guy who wanted to do things his way but when the crew lined out and took off, he was right there, and the crew came first.

He called himself The Wildland Warrior and had his own logo on his tools and gear. The crew called him Wheels, mostly, or Wheeler if it was serious. He wore the Tatanka Hotshot brand for six seasons, a buffalo on a red hard hat, people who don’t quit when things start going to hell. He liked to fish and do martial arts, and he would bring his canoe to South Dakota every year from the lake states even though he rarely used it. That canoe had more water on it from rain than it ever got in a lake here, one guy told me.



Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Trump taps into nation’s anger
Published: Thursday, August 27th, 2015

No one took him seriously when billionaire New York real estate tycoon Donald Trump entered the Republican presidential primary race earlier this year. For one thing, Trump kept everyone guessing for months if he would really toss his hat into the ring this time around. He has hinted at running for the nation's highest office before, but had never gone through with it.

Now as Trump attracts record crowds, the naysayers say he will never last through another long 14 months of rigorous campaigning. The flamboyant Trump seems to be basking in all the attention of the media and his growing band of followers. Last Friday at an outdoor football stadium in Mobile, Ala., he drew a crowd of 30,000 and was introduced to the cheering masses as the song "Sweet Home Alabama" played loudly. It kind of reminded you of the inspiring "Rocky" theme music in that movie series.



Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Nothing is changing in Cuba
Published: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Last week the flag of the United States flew over our embassy in Cuba for the first time in 54 years, as the two countries seek to "normalize" relations. This flag-raising was made possible because the Obama administration last year removed Cuba from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism.

U.S Secretary of State John Kerry made an impassioned speech for democracy in Cuba that fell on deaf ears of Cuban leaders. Cuba's prime minister pointed to on-going racial problems in the U.S., including those involving law enforcement officials, and told Kerry that Cuba had no intention of changing any of its current human rights policies. So much for that. 



Thursday, August 20th, 2015

West Dam solution seems good for all
Published: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Although it’s far from set in stone and no vote has been taken on it by the Custer City Council, the option being most thoroughly studied by the council in regards to sprucing up West Dam appears to be a solution that would give most everybody what they want. Especially when we know that West Dam will not—and cannot, for that matter—be what it once was.

Our city council is doing its due diligence when it comes to West Dam, working with an engineering firm to explore several options as to how to make the area more attractive and more like it once was. Whether or not it should be a part of a larger disaster mitigation project that deals with the entirety of French Creek through town can be argued until we are blue in the face, but what isn’t being argued is that West Dam as it sits now is an eyesore and needs to be improved. Many people stop us on the street and want to know what’s going on out there. Until now, we haven’t had many answers.



Thursday, August 13th, 2015

The sounds of the Rally are welcomed
Published: Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Just about every night — or the nights when I’m not covering a meeting or event or doing something with friends — I can most often be found at home, sitting at the dinner table and eating with my parents. As we enjoy our dinner, we go around the table and talk about our days. I know, it’s all very “Leave It To Beaver.” 

This past week, most of my daily reports have been about the Rally. This year, I have been a constant news source for parents, mainly one is now retired and has no ambition to go out in the chaos and the other took a week’s vacation to avoid the traffic. I’ve updated them on the day-to-day accidents, reports and other murmurings I’ve heard. I’ve told them about vendor row and the amount of people on the street and in businesses. I’ve told them about the heavy volume of traffic and re-enactors waving their arms off. 



Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Mills’ post put Custer in a bad light
Published: Thursday, August 13th, 2015

July 25, former Olympic champion Billy Mills, who grew up on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, posted a comment on his facebook page that drew a lot of unwanted attention to our community.

“One last comment about our trip to South Dakota: In custer, (sic) South Dakota we stopped for a restroom break. Pat and one granddaughter used a restaurant bathroom (I went in with them) I was asked to use the restroom at the gas station...One daughter and her son went into a snack shop and the manager called from the back room: “Watch them!” I remember being terrified of white people when my grandpa or dad would take me to custer (sic). Things haven’t changed much!”



Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Problem-solving queen calls it quits
Published: Thursday, August 6th, 2015

As of July 31, Bob Dorton is well on his way to getting to use his own shed and his own garage and, for that matter, may find there no longer is a need for the storage shed!

Most of Custer doesn't realize it, but for more than three decades the Dorton shed and garage have been where books, records, files and paperwork of South Dakota’s student problem-solving organizations have been securely and lovingly cared for under the direction of Bob’s wife, Cozy.

“I have been married 44 years, done Odyssey of the Mind and Destination ImagiNation for 34 years and been state affiliate director for 21 years, but now I'm retiring,” said Cozy the other day. “No wonder my husband is excited!”



Thursday, August 6th, 2015

There’s a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on!
Published: Thursday, August 6th, 2015

This past weekend, Custer was literally shaking and vibrating with the influx of thousands of motorcycles.

The 75th Sturgis Rally began to live up to its hype this past weekend when the bikes really started pouring into the Southern Black Hills Saturday and Sunday. At 7 p.m. this past Sunday, the 500 and 600 blocks of Mt. Rushmore Road were packed with motorcycles in the center and curbside parking lanes. We have never seen it that busy so early in the week and so late in the evening.



Thursday, July 30th, 2015

America: The no vacation nation
Published: Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Call me a crazy, but I doubt when anybody is lying on their death bed, they say to their family and friends gathered at their side, “Gee, I wish I had spent more time at work.”

However, a recent comment by Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was received in that way, when during a speech in which he addressed the economy he said Americans need to work longer hours. He later said that he was referring to the underemployed and part-time workers, but the damage was already done. People were quick to point out what everybody already knows—Americans are already working themselves to death.



Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Ready or not, here they come
Published: Thursday, July 30th, 2015

The long anticipated 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally officially begins next week, but you wouldn’t know it by all the two and three-wheelers already traveling in the area. It was predicted that this year’s Rally would be different from all others in that people will come earlier and stay later for the epic event, making it almost a three-week rally instead of just one week.

Expert rally watchers are predicting anywhere from 750,000 to 1.2 million visitors for the 75th annual rally. Rod Woodruff, owner of the legendary Buffalo Chip Campground east of Sturgis, says this rally will be the biggest ever, perhaps the biggest motorcycle rally anywhere. He estimates the numbers this year will be twice those of the 50th annual rally in 1990 when 400,000 bikers showed up. That would put this year’s numbers right at 800,000, which is within the predicted estimated range.



Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Teen doping is on the rise
Published: Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Many of us are new to TED Talks on the internet at www.ted.com; ideas worth spreading. A recent post includes a talk called “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.” The opposite of addiction, says Johann Hari, from meth to cell phones, is not sobriety or limiting screen time. The opposite of addiction is connectedness, being present in life, working with others and having friends. People on Facebook won’t be there when you need someone to hold your hand, mostly.



Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Published: Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

You’ve got to hand it to the Obama administration. Once they home in on a target, they never give up. The president and his minions always seem to find a way to circumvent the law, i.e., the Constitution. Case in point is the new revelation that our commander in chief is going after the guns of Social Security seniors.

A new report from the Los Angeles Times says the Obama administration wants to make sure seniors on Social Security are mentally sound before they are allowed to purchase a gun. We didn’t realize there was a big problem with mentally ill seniors purchasing firearms and going around shooting people randomly. The president is always looking out for our best interests.



Thursday, July 16th, 2015

This column is not for everyone
Published: Thursday, July 16th, 2015

There is a game played at fundraisers sometimes whereby tickets are purchased and all those who have purchased them stand up while an announcer starts reading the numbers on the winning ticket. As each number is read off, those without the number sit down until only one person is left standing.

This column is a bit like that. As I start asking questions, if your answer is not in accordance with my thoughts, then you don’t need to read any further. 

1. Are you concerned about the direction this country is headed? Are you disturbed that we seem to have lost the underpinnings of a free society? Do you feel that our rights and freedoms in this country are being eroded?



Thursday, July 16th, 2015

What the heck just happened to Confederate flag?
Published: Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Are we the only ones wondering what just happened to the Confederate flag and everything Southern? In the short span of 20-some days, the Confederate battle flag became vilified and was removed forever from in front of the South Carolina capitol building in Columbia amid a cheering crowd estimated between 8,000 to 10,000 people.

“Take it down! Take it down!” the crowd chanted as an honor guard from the South Carolina Highway Patrol approached the flagpole where the Confederate flag has flown in a place of honor for decades. The two white highway patrolmen lowered the flag and handed it to a black trooper who then handed it to a state archivist. The flag ended up being transported to the nearby Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.



Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Tail is wagging dog in the U.S.
Published: Thursday, July 9th, 2015

I don’t think we’ve ever seen a period of time in our country like we are experiencing now. Everywhere we look, vocal minorities are having their will imposed on the rest of us through judges and the courts. In the process, we are getting further away from the Christian principles that have made our country the envy of the world.

It all seemed to start with the Earl Warren Supreme Court ruling in 1963 that banned prayer and Bible reading in public schools. A parent of a child in school petitioned the courts through the ACLU to stop the school from exposing their child to prayer in school and from reading the Bible in school.



Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Divine Providence missing in today’s decision making
Published: Thursday, July 9th, 2015

We don’t pretend to be Constitutional scholars, but it’s obvious to many of us that the Supreme Court erred twice last week when it released its decisions on two key issues  before it. Both greatly impact the American people.

In the first, the Court saved The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, for the second time when it changed the wording of the law to fit its desire to preserve the flawed law. As written, Obamacare clearly states that subsidies will be granted to patients through an “exchange established by the state.”



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. 



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