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Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Time to find your inner loser
Published: Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

If you have a few pounds you want to lose the Custer County Chronicle, along with local merchants, will again provide the incentive to do so, as the annual “Biggest Loser” contest is set to kick off this Friday with the initial weigh in. If you’ve ever considered joining the contest, or have some weight you want to lose, what better time to do it than right now?

As always, the contest will be a six-month competition. The contestant who loses the biggest percentage of body weight during the six months will be declared the winner. Each month, we will print how the contestants are faring and give the percentage of body weight they lost for the month. We never list a person’s weight or how many pounds they lost throughout the competition, although we do tell how many total pounds the winner lost at the end of the competition, with their permission.



Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

College football playoff delivered
Published: Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

If you have read any of my columns over the years, you know how much I hated the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the now-defunct system of selecting (not earning) the national champion at the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I) level. I hated it from its inception, and it frequently gave us matchups I couldn’t understand and rewarded teams that didn’t deserve such a reward. I, like many others, pounded my fists on the desk demanding a playoff. 

This year, we got that playoff, and man was it fun.



Thursday, January 15th, 2015

It’s Bark Beetle Blues time
Published: Thursday, January 15th, 2015

This Saturday afternoon and evening we will have a lesson in slash burning that will be worth seeing for its own sake. Successfully burning slash piles takes more than grim resolve and accelerant. It takes a lot of thought, from the time of year—winter with two inches of snow on the ground—to how the piles are stacked and prepared, where they are placed and what the impacts will be of lighting piles on fire.

In fact it would be a great public service if the National Weather Service in Rapid City would issue a slash burning advisory on days when we have more than two inches of snow on the ground in the Black Hills, especially if inversions are expected.



Thursday, January 15th, 2015

City planning in disarray again
Published: Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Just over two months into his job as the City of Custer’s planning administrator, the city’s latest hire for the position, Erik Karlson, resigned, leaving the city without a planning administrator—again. Karlson was the second planning administrator the city has had since former planning administrator (at the time the position was called community development director) Rex Harris was fired April 17 of last year. Between Harris and Karlson former public works employee Mike Packer was hired for the position on an interim basis, but he too promptly resigned after accepting the position. The city has went months in between the three without a planning administrator while a search was done for replacements.

So, it’s fair to ask. Why the turnstile?



Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Make new goals for a new year
Published: Thursday, January 8th, 2015

If you’re anything like me, the last couple days of the year are spent scrambling to think of something to accomplish for the next year. Call it a resolution, if you will. However this year, I’m going to call it something else: a goal.

Ever since I can remember, I have made resolutions for each New Year. 

When I was 7, I wanted to play with my Barbies every day. It would have worked, too, if that pesky school day didn’t get in my way. When I was 10, I remember telling my parents I wanted to try a new food. However, when my dad suggested liver and onions, I quickly dropped that one. 



Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Talley deserves to be top citizen
Published: Thursday, January 8th, 2015

When we discussed who in Custer County would be our 2015 Citizen of the Year, we didn’t have to look far. Women Escaping a Violent Environment (W.E.A.V.E.) director Donna Talley has been helping to provide a safe place for abused women (some men) and children in Custer County long before it seemed to be the right thing to do.

For 24 years as director, Donna has been looking out for the welfare of domestically abused women and children in Custer and Fall River counties. She is the driving force behind the W.E.A.V.E. shelter in Custer. Through her dogged grant-writing efforts, the organization was able to obtain a shelter in 1998 consisting of an office and five apartments.



Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

‘A Christmas Story’ becomes our own
Published: Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Though we didn't watch it constantly, the television set in the living room where I spent Christmas Day was tuned to cable channel TBS where the 1980s movie, “A Christmas Story,” was running every two hours, all day long, as it has for years.

I have seen the movie many times over the years but seldom paid strict attention to it. That all changed this year because “A Christmas Story”—the stage version rather than the movie—has now become a storied part of our family history and a memory that we will share as long as any of us alive now are still around.



Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

It was farewell to Mrs. Z in ‘14
Published: Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

When we look back on the year 2014 in Custer County, it isn’t difficult to pick out the number one story for the past year. The death of Crazy Horse matriarch Ruth Ziolkowski May 21 topped all news in the county. Ruth, or Mrs. Z as she was affectionately called, died in hospice at Rapid City after recently being diagnosed with cancer.

For more than six decades, Ruth was the public relations face of Crazy Horse Memorial and the driving force behind everything that happened on the mountain. While Korczak worked at the massive carving project, Ruth managed the visitors’ center complex and helped grow the attraction to what it is today.



Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Christmas shouldn’t be about gifts
Published: Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

When it comes to Christmas, I’m a bit of a Scrooge.

These days, a holiday that I once thoroughly enjoyed has become something of a bother. I don’t like the time of year Christmas falls (winter) and I especially don’t like the commercialization and huge financial drain Christmas is for adults. A person nearly has to take out a loan just to buy presents for everybody on their list. I thought about picking a fight with everybody in my family and not talking to them over the holidays, and then call them around Jan. 10 and beg forgiveness, so I could eschew gift-giving. I decided against going that route.



Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

A Christmas frame of mind
Published: Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

In the Christmas movie classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” Kris Kringle wisely says, “Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it is a frame of mind...” The Christmas season is truly a frame of mind; it’s a time of memories, tradition and generosity shared with family and friends. From picking out the Christmas tree to baking for the neighbors, nearly every family has its own customs and traditions to help them get in the spirit around the holidays.



Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Getting ready to burn the beetle
Published: Thursday, December 18th, 2014

On a not-so-cold winter evening last week we gathered to begin building the Bark Beetle Blues – Burning Beetle. Karl Svensson, the star of the magnificent riffs of the blue wood blues, led us with his master shipbuilding skills in creating a monocoque design that worked so well last year. In the old days of airplane design they built patterns out of plywood for the interior fuselage and then wrapped the framework with fabric or fiberglass or aluminum. It’s the same way with our beetle.  The beautifully flexible wood strips cut with a band saw from blue wood 2x4s are stacked neatly on the floor of the fire hall in Custer, waiting for Karl and the gang to put it all together.



Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Daugaard: It’s a wonderful life
Published: Thursday, December 18th, 2014

It’s a busy week in South Dakota. There are Christmas gatherings to attend, cards to be sent and presents yet to be purchased. In schedules more hectic than usual, many of us will make time to honor our own Christmas traditions – from decorating the Christmas tree, to watching a particular Christmas movie, to singing carols or baking treats. In many families, one tradition is watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is the story of George Bailey, who repeatedly chooses to sacrifice his own dreams so that he can help others. When his father dies, George surrenders his plans to travel the world, instead taking his late father’s job at a small bank. The town scrooge, Mr. Potter, wants to shut down the bank and ultimately frames George for funds lost by George’s inept Uncle Billy.



Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Racial unrest is most disturbing
Published: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

This is supposed to be a holiday time of cheer and goodwill toward all men and all we see around the country and world is chaos. There was recent rioting and ongoing demonstrations in the country stemming from two grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two black men.

It dismays most of us to see people of color resorting to burning and looting over the perceived injustice they see in these two unrelated cases centering around white police officers involved in the deaths of two black males. What message are they trying to send and what does this unlawful behavior accomplish?



Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Leaks: Controversial, fun, shocking
Published: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

I’m always looking for ways to make our publicatons better. When I have extra time (which doesn’t happen very often), I get on the internet and check out whatever strikes me that needs attention at the moment. 
It recently occurred to me that our headlines could be better, so I checked out a few resources on the internet that promise better headline writing. 
One of those offered to generate a title for your story if you enter a  key word into its search engine. For some reason, I entered “leak.” I think we had a story that week that the city had determined where some leaks were that were sucking the water out of the pipes.
The choices you get for the headlines are: controversial, fun or shocking. I tried all of them. 
Controversial came first. Here are the suggested headlines:
• 8 reasons leaks will change the way you think about everything
• Leaks die every minute you don’t read this article
• 10 ways marketers are making you addicted to leaks
• 8 deadly uses for leaks
• The 7 worst things you could do to your leaks
• Why leaks suck (Now this could have worked for the city water lines story)
• 8 things the media hasn’t told you about leaks (Since we are the media, probably not a good idea)
• 7 things Lady Gaga has in common with leaks
• 20 reasons to stay away from leaks

I’m always looking for ways to make our publicatons better. When I have extra time (which doesn’t happen very often), I get on the internet and check out whatever strikes me that needs attention at the moment. 

It recently occurred to me that our headlines could be better, so I checked out a few resources on the internet that promise better headline writing. 

One of those offered to generate a title for your story if you enter a  key word into its search engine. For some reason, I entered “leak.” I think we had a story that week that the city had determined where some leaks were that were sucking the water out of the pipes.

The choices you get for the headlines are: controversial, fun or shocking. I tried all of them. 



Thursday, December 4th, 2014

We couldn’t have done it without you
Published: Thursday, December 4th, 2014

This month marks a milestone of sorts for us as it was 15 years ago, Dec. 28, 1999, that Norma and I bought the Custer County Chronicle and Hill City Prevailer News, officially known as Southern Hills Publishing, Inc. It seems like just yesterday that we pulled into town on Dec. 10 with a U-Haul trailer full of very basic essentials behind our Suburban which was also loaded to the gills. Another half year here and we will have equaled the longest time we have spent in any community, tying the time we spent living in Hot Springs. This means that we have now spent over 30 years living in these great Black Hills we call home.



Thursday, December 4th, 2014

125 years of Christmas in South Dakota
Published: Thursday, December 4th, 2014

As we head into the Christmas season on this quasquicentennial year, I have to wonder what the first South Dakotans were doing exactly 125 years ago.

We know life on the prairie could be rough during those early years, especially for families who had just arrived in South Dakota from the East or from abroad. I’m sure that first Christmas was probably a let-down for some of the newcomers who were struggling to make a living and provide for their families.



Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Thanksgiving: a time to remember
Published: Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

William Bradford was a fully committed member of the Separatists, sharing the radical idea of separating from the official Church of England — a dangerous decision, for Separatist leaders were hunted and imprisoned.

This meant that the Separatists who formed a congregation in the small town of Scrooby, not far distant from the Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood lore, were gathering together in violation of the law. 



Shop Small on November 29
Published: Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Small Business Saturday came about on Nov. 27, 2010, when the day was conceived and promoted by American Express using a nationwide radio and television advertising campaign. (If the company had used print advertising, it probably would have caught on better). The company also utilized social media and public relations campaigns.

The idea is to urge holiday shoppers to spend money in their local small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Large retail stores traditionally advertise all kinds of “door busters” on Black Friday. This year, many of those same stores will be open Thanksgiving Day, which kind of takes the fun out of hunting for early bargains on Friday. It also tends to ruin a great traditional American holiday.



Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Elections have consequences
Published: Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Barack Obama couldn’t have said it any better after the 2008 presidential election results were in. A Jan. 23, 2009, gathering of top congressional leaders from both parties was held for a discussion over the shape and size of the newly-elected president’s economic stimulus plan. The purpose of the meeting was to promote bipartisanship.

When Obama was questioned over the contents and size of the stimulus package, he replied, “I won,” according to those who were in attendance at the meeting. Those two words probably were the best indication of how this new president was going to work with Republicans and unite the country, as his campaign rhetoric stated.



Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Time to dig out the holiday movies
Published: Thursday, November 20th, 2014

When I was in college, my best friend and I started a tradition that we still practice today, even though there are 212 miles between us: Christmas movies. 

Once the first flakes of snow fell from the sky and hit the sidewalks of Brookings, we were digging out our favorite Christmas movies. It didn’t even matter if the snow stuck or not. We saw the white stuff and that was good enough for us.

Our tradition would have stayed intact this year if it weren’t for me. But I blame that on the mid-September snowstorm we received. 



Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Sometimes I just don’t get it
Published: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Perhaps it’s old age that causes me to overheat at some of the dumb things humans do these days—those things that are stupid, different, weird, illegal and all. They say it takes all kinds to make a country or state or town. Isn’t that the truth! Yet we have to share this place with all of those crazy people.

In short, I just don’t get it.



Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Veterans Day: Why only a day?
Published: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Perhaps I’m burned out after all the robo calls and the campaign commercials or the whirlwind of the approaching Black Friday, but I can’t help but wonder why we designate only one day to honor our veterans. One day?

On Nov. 11 many of us will gather to honor and thank those men and women who have safeguarded our nation, both in peace and in war. It is our time to renew our commitment to those who have borne the battle; those who wrote a blank check made payable to: “the United States of America” for an amount of “up to and including their life.”



Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Political races are getting a bit ridiculous
Published: Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Count us among those Americans who are heaving a sigh of relief now that the 2014 general election is behind us. The commercials were getting a bit tiring and there appeared to be no end to the colorful, slick campaign pieces in the mail. It seems every year the ads for candidates get more negative and more ridiculous. We saw it right here in South Dakota with the race for the vacated U.S. Senate seat of Democrat Tim Johnson.



Thursday, November 6th, 2014

A trip down political memory lane
Published: Thursday, November 6th, 2014

By the time you read this Wednesday, Thursday, or whenever you get the paper, the most recent general election will be over and we will know who the governor of our state is, who our county commissioners are, who our senator is and whether or not we can gear up for some craps in Deadwood next year.

Voting is something I take seriously, and spend a long time thinking about before I go to the polls. Sometimes I immediately know how I’m going to vote on an issue or candidates, and others I struggle a long time with. During the last presidential election, I struggled mightily with who to vote for—Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. They both possessed qualities I admired and I found myself wishing I could somehow merge them into one candidate I could call Baritt Romama. I’m convinced Baritt would have made a great president.



Thursday, October 30th, 2014

What’s the matter with the PBR?
Published: Thursday, October 30th, 2014

You can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. As anyone who writes opinion editorials can tell you, or anyone who writes anything at all, some days critics bestir themselves and let writers know what they think, sometimes with an invitation to return to that special hell where writers come from, post haste. 

I don’t take critics lightly.  I believe it is the responsibility of writers of opinion columns to arouse curiosity, to accept the mess that comes with writing too little about too much, and then to reflect on what happened and what needs to happen as a result. It’s how we all learn.



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