• Local News

    1. Congress Attempting To Get Traction Aside Presidential Distractions

      Members of Congress are attempting to get moving on a wide range of issues, but are having a tough time getting traction in the face of the controversy surrounding President Trump after the firing of FBI Director James Comey. South Dakota Senator John Thune says the President is leading through distraction now.

      Thune says there are a number of issues that need attention now.

      Thune says he doesn’t think the President obstructed justice by firing Comey.

      Thune spoke to students at Yankton High School on Friday.

       


    2. Man Charged With DUI After Striking Watertown Home With Car

      Watertown Police Reported an accident Sunday at about 2:45 a.m. after a car left the road and struck a home in Southwest Watertown.  When officers arrived on scene at the home in the 2400 block area of 16th Ave. Southwest they located a 1995 Oldsmobile Regency up against the home.  A short time later the driver of the vehicle was located and identified as 22 year old Hunter Weber.  The resident and the vehicle sustained significant damage.  There were no injuries.  Damage estimates are 8,000 for the vehicle and 10,000 dollars to the resident.  Weber was arrested for driving while intoxicated second offense, hit and run and property damage.  The Watertown Police Department was assisted by Watertown Fire Rescue.


    3. Codington County Jail Tours To Be Given To Public

      Codington County Sheriff Brad Howells is reminding the public that on May 20th from 8-10am and May 21st from 6-8 pm the Sheriff’s Office will be providing the opportunity for the public to get a guided tour of the Detention Center. Security will be paramount.  Those interested should arrive at the Sheriff’s Office entrance on the West side of the Detention Center between 8-10am on Saturday May 20th and 6-8pm on May 21st.  There you will be briefed about the expectations of the experience and will have to pass through a security screen.  Participants will not be allowed to bring in cell phones, cameras, purses, weapons or medications of any kind.   We look forward to seeing you there says Sheriff Howell


    4. Skimmer Devices Found On Watertown ATM Machines Arrest Made

       

      *****UPDATE*****

      The 3 business locations where the ATMs were compromised have invoked their Marcy’s Law rights and their names and locations are not being released by the Watertown Police Department. The WPD recommends that if you used a drive up ATM in Watertown, SD between the hours of 5 AM and 6 PM on Saturday May 13, 2017 we encourage you to monitor your accounts for unusual activity and to contact your financial institution to see if your account (s) may have been compromised.

      Saturday at approximately 2:45 PM in Watertown a citizen contacted the police department reporting suspicious behavior at one of the local financial institutions.

      Officers made contact with Gabriel Miclescu outside of the unnamed business. Through investigation it was determined that credit card skimming devices were placed on the ATM machine outside of the business. Officers proceeded to check all the financial institutions in town and located 3 devices total.

      Gabriel is a citizen of Romania and was taken into custody and transferred to the Codington County Detention Center where he was held on a $15,000 cash only bond. Contact was made with the Immigration and Custom Enforcement Agency and it was discovered Gabriel is currently out on bond for an immigration violation.  Unlawful uses of a computer system is a class 6 felony punishable by up to 2 years in the state penitentiary or a fine of four thousand dollars, or both.


    5. Government Accountability Task Force one of the study committees of the South Dakota Legislature this summer

      A Government Accountability Task Force will be one of the study committees of the South Dakota Legislature this summer. One of the members appointed is Representative Mike Stevens of Yankton.

      Stevens says they worked through some of the issues during this year’s legislative session.

      Stevens says there is public pressure to make some changes.

      The Executive Board of the Legislature will meet Monday in Pierre to lay out the leadership and schedule of the task force.

       


    6. Small Turnout For Public Meeting

      Watertown, SD – There was a small turnout for a public meeting last night at Lake Area Technical Institute where county and other officials explained the upcoming bond election for a new Codington County Justice Facility.  Among the presenters was Bruce Schartzman who has been working as the architect for the new jail facility.  He explained how the new jail would roll out.

      Codington County Justice Advisory Committee Chair and Codington County Commissioner Lee Gabel says what’s different about this bond election from the 2014 one is the amount of money requested.  In 2014 the projected costs were 35 million dollars.  Today that amount has dropped to 18 million 875 thousand dollars.  He says the cost savings would be achieved by repurposing the current jail into administrative and other offices for the court house and dedicating the court house space to other court facility needs.

      Schartzman says the committee has worked hard to come up with an affordable and workable solutions to the county’s justice facility needs.

      Jail consultant Allen Brinkman says the biggest thing the state of South Dakota is experiencing right now is a higher jail census in the range of 10 to 15 percent.  Secondly he says that nationally we’re seeing more and more drugs.

      June 20th Codington County voters will decide whether a bond issue should be approved to fund the construction of a 120 room jail and remodeling of the courts.

       

       


    7. Mayoral Candidate Sarah Caron Calls For Independent Investigation Into Mayor Steve Thorson’s Use Of A City Police Car

      Sarah Caron, who announced her candidacy for mayor in March, is calling for an independent investigation regarding what she says is Mayor Steve Thorson’s unauthorized use of a Dodge Charger police car after the issue was disclosed at the City Council meeting on May 1, 2017.

      Caron stated: “The investigation must be done independently, by an unbiased third party.” Caron said the public has the right to have these questions answered.

      In her  Thursday press release Caron says:

      • There is no city policy authorizing the mayor to have a police car. Who authorized it?
      • How long has Thorson been driving an unauthorized police car? How many cars were involved?
      • Was the Police Department short a vehicle needed to protect the city and its citizens?
      •  Who signed off on the expenses for Thorson’s unauthorized use? Which department’s budget paid for the gas, oil, tires and other operating expenses?
      •  Is an unauthorized vehicle insured?
      • If the mayor can demand a police car for his own use, can other city officials do the same?
      • Was private use of the police car included in Thorson’s compensation?  If not, has Thorson reimbursed the city?
      • Is this unauthorized use of a police car related to the gag order on staff communications with the media that Thorson issued in September, 2016 and later rescinded after media exposure resulted in a public outcry?

      She says the public has a right to these answers before the June 20 election.  She will face Thorson and Mike Davis in the upcoming June 20th joint city-school elections.

      Mayor Steve Thorson responded to Caron’s remarks this morning on KXLG.

      Mayoral Candidate Mike Davis doesn’t see this as a big issue and that we might be looking for a boogeyman.

       

       

       

       


    8. Public Meeting Tonight 6:45 PM At LATI To Give Public Opportunity To Learn More About Jail Bond Election

      Watertown, SD – Another in a series of public meetings will be held this evening at Lake Area Technical Institute to explain the upcoming bond election for a new Codington County Justice Facility. June 20th Codington County voters will decide whether a bond issue should be approved to fund the construction of a 125 room jail and remodeling of the courts.  Tonight’s meeting, which is sponsored by the Codington County Justice Advisory Committee, begins at 6:45 and the public is invited to attend.  Lee Gabel chairs the committee.

      Gabel talked about the impact to taxpayers.

      He said the new jail and court upgrades became necessary after both became too small for the number of inmates and number of court cases. Gabel says both are dangerously outdated for security needs and that state law requires Codington County to fix the problems.  The number of court cases has risen from 40 cases when the courthouse opened in 1929 to between 2,500 and 3,000 cases annually today.  The space constraints have made it difficult to safely separate the sides involved in court proceedings, which in turn makes it harder to protect the judicial process.


    9. South Dakota Health Official Urges State Residents To Make Sure Their Measles Immunizations Are Up To Date

      As a Minnesota measles outbreak nears 50 cases, a South Dakota health official urges state residents to make sure their immunizations are up to date…

      Dr. Lon Kightlinger says children should receive the measles vaccination twice: the first dose at 12 months and the second between four and six years old. He says those who have received two doses of measles vaccine or were born before 1957 are considered immune to the disease.

      South Dakota reported its last measles cases in late 2014 when an outbreak centered in Mitchell sickened 10 state residents and four out-of-state residents. Prior to that outbreak, it had been 17 years since South Dakota reported a measles case.

      Kightlinger says symptoms include a fever, cough, runny nose and pinkeye followed by rash three to five days later. If you have these symptoms contact your family doctor immediately.


    10. Legislatures Interim Committee On Non-Meandered Waters Concludes Two Days Of Meetings

      The legislative interim committee on Non Meandered Lakes concluded two days of meetings in Aberdeen Wednesday.  The committee has been tasked with trying to find a solution that works for both landowners and sportsmen to reopen public access areas on non-meandered bodies of water in Northern South Dakota. Among those speaking in favor or opening the ramps was David Grinzer of Aberdeen who said these lakes are vital to keeping visitors and tourism dollars flowing into the state. He said that farming is the number one economic driver in the state but that it’s followed by visitor spending.

      Grismer says access to the water matters and that it’s important it’s taken seriously.

      But Jerry Mork from Day County says property rights issues are also important. He says it’s what the constitution is all about.

      Mike Held with the South Dakota Farm Bureau cautioned legislators not to return to Senate Bill 169 that was nearly passed but tabled by the 2014 legislature.

      He also laid out a series of 4 suggestions from his group.

      His fourth suggestion was giving the Game Fish and Parks the authority to negotiate deals with landowners for access on an individual lake basis. He says landowners have many different interests with some motivated by payments and others not. Lloyd Hodgin, who is a proponent for reopening the access areas,  said he happened to be at Bitter Lake Tuesday afternoon when the legislators toured the area lakes.  What he saw disturbed him.

      He stated that the South Dakota Supreme Court screwed up and got it wrong with their most recent ruling.

      He said there are policies applied to all waters, not just meandered.    Hodgin says the legislature has applied policy to all waters in the state for many years.  That statement was challenged by committee member Senator Jason Frerichs.

      Governor Daugaard said he would be reluctant to call a special session until and unless a workable solutions can be reached and one that could be accepted by the legislature.


    11. Minnesota Measles Outbreak Continues, Keep Immunizations Current Say South Dakota Health Officials

      PIERRE, S.D. – As a Minnesota measles outbreak nears 50 cases, a South Dakota health official urges state residents to make sure their immunizations are up to date. 

      South Dakota reported its last measles cases in late 2014 when an outbreak centered in Mitchell sickened 10 state residents and four out-of-state residents. Prior to that outbreak, it had been 17 years since South Dakota reported a measles case. 

      “The good news is that South Dakota’s overall immunization coverage rate for measles vaccination is high, which is why we were able to contain the 2014 outbreak with so few cases,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “Unfortunately, there are some pockets where rates are not as high as they should be and that opens the door for measles to spread.” 

      He encouraged health care providers and parents to check their children’s immunization records to make sure they have the recommended two doses of MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine – the first dose at 12 months and the second between ages 4 and 6. Kightlinger also asked health providers to be alert for measles in anyone presenting with fever, cough, runny nose and pinkeye followed by rash three to five days later. 

      According to the latest National Immunization Survey, 94.1 percent of South Dakota’s 19-35 month olds have had one dose of MMR and 90.4 percent of teens 13-17 years have had two doses. The department’s recent kindergarten survey shows 97.1 percent of kindergarten students in the state have had the recommended two doses of MMR vaccine. Three percent of the schools in the survey had 50 percent or fewer of their kindergarten students vaccinated with two doses of MMR. 

      Those who have received two doses of measles vaccine or were born before 1957 are considered immune to the disease.” 

      Learn more about measles under the disease tab at http://doh.sd.gov.


    12. Governor Dennis Daugaard Is Still Expressing Concerns About The State’s Shrinking Revenues

      Governor Dennis Daugaard is still expressing concerns about the state’s shrinking revenues following months of sales tax collections that have fallen short of projections.  With less than two months left in the fiscal year ending June 30th  the state is currently 13 million dollars off the mark, although it’s expected to improve some.

       Daugaard says those sales tax dollars comprise 70 percent of all state revenue collected.

       

      On average, in the last 5 years, the state has experienced up to 13 million dollars in expense savings that reflects spending that comes in at lower than appropriated levels.

      He couldn’t comment on the number of dollars that Amazon is remitting to the state, but said it’s not as great as some might think.  He said the state is prohibited from releasing the exact dollar amount that Amazon submits to the state because it’s private tax information, but added the state collects about 9 percent of its tax revenues from the internet.  Of that amount, Amazon represents just 2 percent of those online dollars.

       


    13. Safety First For National Bike To School Day

      ST. PAUL, Minn. – Today is National Bike to School Day, and before millions of kids across the country rush out the door, safety advocates are reminding parents to make sure their children are wearing a helmet.

      Preventable injury is the number one killer of children, said Dr. Marcee White, medical adviser for Safe Kids Worldwide, adding that many are hurt on bicycles, skateboards and scooters. Her group surveyed parents about why kids aren’t wearing helmets, which can protect against serious head injuries and concussions.

      “Forty-seven percent of parents think that the area where they are biking or scootering or skateboarding or skating is safe,” she said, “or they view their child as experienced and don’t think helmets are necessary.”

      As for the kids, they said they don’t wear helmets because their friends don’t, or that the helmet doesn’t fit correctly.

      Nationwide, White said, 50 children are rushed to the emergency room every hour because of preventable injury. Head injuries can be very serious and sometimes fatal, she said, but kids also can end up with broken bones and nasty cuts and bruises as well, so she encouraged parents to not only make youngsters wear a helmet, but to learn the rules of the road.

      “They’re going down a hill, they don’t know how fast they’re going,” she said. “They’re not realizing that a car is in the way or something is in the way and turn very quickly and, before you know it, no matter how experienced they are, they’re falling and hitting the pavement.”

      Between 2005 and 2015, White said, the number of emergency-room visits for bike- and skateboard-related injuries declined, but kids who were rushed to the hospital because of an accident on a scooter increased by about 40 percent. She said it’s disturbing that, of all these wheeled activities, parents are least likely to make children wear a helmet while scootering.


    14. Legislative Interim Committee On Public Access To Non-Meandered Lakes Issue Back Before Legislators In Aberdeen

      The second in a series of meetings to find a solution to the public access issue on non-meandered lakes in South Dakota is underway in Aberdeen this week.  Among the presenters today was Shawn Lyons with the South Dakota Retailers Association who says retailers dependent on the fishing sports just can’t afford another nail in the coffin with more restrictions on the outdoors.

      Other’s testifying today included Jay Pereboom  with Pereboom’s Café and Motel Webster. He says his revenues have dropped dramatically with the ramp closures.

       Karen Johnson and her husband Paul operate the Lynn Lake Lodge in Northern South Dakota and echoed Pereboom’s concerns.  The Johnson’s former dairy farm was dislodged by the flooding more than 20 years ago. 

      John Knadle is a representative for the Coteau Area for the Conservation Districts and a Day and Marshall County landowner who says his land is more than 50 percent flooded and that he’s only received one tax abatement check in 25 years.  He says it’s time for landowners to be compensated.  Speaking from his office this morning Governor Dennis Daugaard told KXLG news that a good starting point might be Senate Bill 169 that was tabled in 2014.

      Legislators took a bus tour of the non-meandered lakes Tuesday afternoon where public access has been closed.  The meeting concludes Wednesday.

       


    15. Watertown Preliminary School District Budget Pegged At 86 Million For 2017-18 School Year

      The Watertown School District’s preliminary budget was released to the board last night. Finance Officer Rick Hohn says the 2017-18 budget is estimated at 86 million 800 thousand dollars which is about half a percent decrease.  There will also be a nearly 145,000 dollar decrease in the General Fund budget, which also is about a half a percent.

      Hohn says the capital outlay budget will also reflect a slight decrease of about 39,000 dollars.

      And although significant, the special education fund will also be smaller this year says Hohn.

      And as far as the bottom line for Codington County Taxpayers who are paying property taxes to the Watertown School District?

      More budget hearings will be held before the final document is submitted to the board for final approval.


    16. Record Numbers Graduating At Lake Area Technical Institute Friday

      This is graduation week at Lake Area Technical Institute and President Mike Cartney says this year’s speaker is the commissioner for the Governor’s Office Of Economic Development Scott Stern. This year the school will be handing out diplomas to 834 graduates, which is a record for LATI.

       He broke out the numbers.

       In addition to working Cartney says the students also completed 80,000 hours of community service this year.

       


    17. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras Arrested On Child Pornography Charges

      SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Authorities say that former Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras has been arrested on child pornography charges.

      According to the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Sideras has been arrested on 10 counts of possession of child pornography.

      Posession of child pornography is a Class 4 felony and is punishable up to 10 years in the penitentiary and a $20,000 fine for each count.

      Sideras has turned himself in at the Minnehaha County Jail and posted bond. Bond was set at $10,000 cash or surety. An initital court appearance by Sideras will be scheduled in the near future.

      The charges are the result of last week’s search of the Sideras home in Sioux Falls. 

      Court documents indicate that computers, smart phones, CD’s, and other digital-related material were taken pursuant to the search warrant.

      Sideras was retiring after 34 years service with the city to take a job with the South Dakota Healthcare Coalition, but when the May 2 search became public, the city immediately terminated him. He had been scheduled to leave the end of June.

      Mayor Mike Huether released a statement, saying, in part, “that this is terribly unfortunate but Sioux Falls Fire Rescue has been top notch in saving lives and protecting property and we won’t skip a beat executing it now.

       


    18. Non –Meandered Waters Interim Study Committee Meeting In Aberdeen This Week

      The Regulation of Non –Meandered Waters Interim Study Committee will be gathering for their second in a series of meetings at Northern State University in Aberdeen this week.  The interim committee was formed after a South Dakota Supreme Court ruling said the legislature has to make a final determination if recreation is considered a beneficial use of the water in non-meandered lakes. The decision forced the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department to remove the docks and close the boat ramps at numerous lakes across northern South Dakota until the legislature acts.  Among the interim committee members is Representative Hugh Bartels of Watertown who says this week’s two-day meeting will be dedicated to public comment. Some of his takeaway from the first meeting was the big variance in real estate tax taxes that different counties collect from affected landowners.

       Bartels says it’s a very complicated issue and that the legislature has tried four times in the past to find a workable agreement between landowners and sportsmen.

       He says calling a special session will be highly dependent on whether a workable concept can be found that’s agreeable to the committee. Bartels says it’s a controversial topic with numerous side bar issues that makes it very difficult to resolve.

      The Tuesday and Wednesday meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Johnson Fine Arts Center beginning 9 a.m.  As part of the meeting the legislative group will be taking a tour of the meandered and non-meandered lakes.

       


    19. El Nino Returning?

      It looks like El Nino will be making another appearance in the Pacific Ocean, the question is when? Dennis Todey, head of the Midwest Climate Hub in Ames Iowa says it looks

       Todey says it would be a rare repeat of the ocean warming event

       Todey says if El Nino comes back, as expected, it would have an impact on next winters weather.

      El Nino warms the waters of the Pacific Ocean, and can often cause weather extremes in North America, including the Northern Plains.

       


    20. Congress Managed To Pass Another Short-Term Budget Agreement Last Week

      Congress managed to pass another short-term budget agreement last week. The one point one trillion dollars spending measure will keep the federal government open until the end of September. South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds has been critical of the stop gap process. He says they have to make changes to get control of spending.

      Rounds says there are some major differences in opinion in how to manage the budget.

      Rounds says he is among a number of Senators elected in 2014 that want to make major changes in the process.

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      Rounds says they should hold discussions on Medicare and Social Security before both programs hit a crisis


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