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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.



Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Debating the merit of ‘American Sniper’
Published: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Every few years, a movie is released that rises to a level of national discussion. Typically, the movie does so because of its message—or perceived message—and because it is political in some way. Since its release a couple of weeks ago, “American Sniper” has been that movie.

The rhetoric started when Michael Moore said he thought snipers were “cowards” who basically shot people in the back. Seth Rogen added fuel to the fire when he likened the movie to a propaganda piece the Nazis used in the movie “Inglorious Basterds.” Reaction was swift, as military members and military defenders swooped in, questioning the patriotism of Moore (which happens all the time) and Rogen (who is actually Canadian but has dual-citizenship) and decrying snipers as heroes who defend our freedom. It was also suggested Moore and Rogen pick up a weapon and serve in the military if they have all the answers. Which side is right? I guess it depends on whether you watch Fox News or MSNBC.



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.



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