- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, June 5, 2016

We can learn a lot from a kid like Ben Veldkamp.

The second-grader from Garretson recently formed a friendship with Vietnam War veteran Rod Barr of Aberdeen.

A chance meeting while watching a football game in a Sioux Falls hotel lobby led to a handshake and Ben thanking Barr for his service. Just as the mindful Ben was taught to do at his school.

The thank-you eventually led an impressed Barr to Garretson near Sioux Falls. There, he spent a day with Veldkamp and his classmates.

Barr made a huge impression with the Garretson second-graders and vice versa. The kids wrote Barr letters of appreciation - one in song.

Barr taught the kids how to salute.

Barr gave Ben one of his Vietnam medals. However, Barr said his new friend deserves more.

“When we came home (from Vietnam), people didn’t care,” Barr said. “We are starting to get recognized a bit more, but for a second-grader to come up and say that? That’s not something that happens every day. Why it happened to me, I have no idea, but something brought us together, and I’m grateful for it.”

This past week had us all remembering those who have or are serving our country. The Barr-Veldkamp story was one of four stories the American News had about veterans during Memorial Day week.

You can never say thank you enough or share enough stories about veterans. Soldiers have put all of us on their shoulders and carried us to this great land of opportunity in which we live.

Soldiers like 92-year-old World War II veteran Arlyn “Bud” Miles of Hoven. He is one of six World War II veterans who are members of the Hoven American Legion.

That in itself is impressive when Veteran’s Administration statistics tell us there are only about 850,000 veterans remaining of the 16 million who served our nation in WWII.

Miles said he and others who survived the war were changed by the experience.

“Let me tell you, it takes a lot to pull that g - - - trigger,” Miles said. “You don’t do it casually.”

Most of us can’t imagine what it is like to be hunted or pull a trigger on a battlefield, or to have the courage to willingly walk into a situation knowing you may not make it out alive.

So when we have a chance to honor those who served, we should take it. Like last Wednesday in Aberdeen, when nine Aberdeen-area veterans were honored with medals for their service during the Korean War.

Or like the Memorial Day ceremony Monday at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

“Scattered across this cemetery and across this great country are those who laid down their own lives for another,” said ceremony speaker and U.S. Air Force veteran Todd Forkel, CEO at Avera St. Luke’s Hospital. “They willingly gave of themselves to ensure that we have the freedoms that we do today. And today, we do remember every selfless act that they gave our nation.”

Forkel said American hearts should be filled with gratitude for veterans not just one day a year, but every day.

We couldn’t agree more.

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Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, June 6, 2016

BAD: The South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment has dug the state into a deep hole - and it will likely cost at least $2 million. Despite clear concerns raised in March 2013 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the board voted to approve an oil-exploration permit requested by a new company out of Deadwood. Quartz Operations sought permission to drill a pair of 9,700-foot-deep wells through multiple aquifers near Wasta. After agreeing to post a bond of $130,000 work began on the first well. By June, however, work stopped after a bit broke and left 150 feet of pipe stuck in the ground. Now, state officials estimate it will cost around $2 million to remove the pipe and the company that received the permit is no longer associated with the project. Board members say they need more time to figure out what to do. Too bad they weren’t more careful when they approved the permit.

GOOD: The South Dakota Senior Games, which started in 1984, held its Rapid City competition over the weekend. The event has given thousands of South Dakotans 50 and older the chance to compete in events like pickleball, swimming, table tennis, golf, bowling, badminton, billiards, and track and field. Spearfish will host its games this weekend. The winners of regional events advance to the state games on Aug. 24-28 in Aberdeen with those winners advancing to the National Senior Games in June 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. The games have added a new dimension to participants’ lives, according to 59-year-old Pat Wright. “The seniors have changed my belief about aging,” she told the Journal. “They have changed my belief system about what is possible with aging if you stay fit and stay active.”

UGLY: As in past years, a number of extraordinarily negative campaign fliers are being unleashed on voters in Rapid City and the surrounding area. They are almost always the work of Political Action Committees that choose to engage in character assassination as a means to the end they desire. It is often difficult to identify those who work for these PACs or determine the true source of their funding. Although some will argue that everyone needs to understand that politics is ugly, it is a justification that is as flawed as the fliers themselves. Those who have the courage to run for a local office or the Legislature should be judged on the merits of their experience and ideas, not excoriated by groups that hatch their plans in the dark.

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The Daily Republic, Mitchell, June 7, 2016

Council spoke for majority on parking ban change

The Mitchell City Council on Monday night sent a resounding message when it denied an ordinance to ban trailers, boats and an allotment of recreational vehicles from parking on our city’s streets.

The actions of the council members proved it’s their constituents, not a personal agenda, that matter most when making important decisions.

The six members of the council who were present at Monday’s meeting made it clear that the majority of Mitchell residents are not in favor of the plan. Mayor Jerry Toomey said he “heard the different side” in which some citizens were happy he was taking the stance with the parking-ban ordinance.

No matter which side of the issue you may fall, seemingly the majority of Mitchell residents who’ve spoken up apparently think our city’s streets are just fine. That’s why we’re glad to see the ordinance fail and we hope discussion on the plan is dropped altogether.

Councilman Marty Barington on Monday said he’s heard from several of his constituents - some who support the parking ban, but most do not. So, he’s dead-set against changing the ordinance.

We haven’t heard of anyone who supports the ban, but we’re certain there are residents who aren’t happy seeing the city’s streets lined with boats, RVs and trailers.

But because there’s never going to be a reasonable compromise is why the discussion of changing the ordinance should be dropped completely. The council is against making major changes, while the mayor specifically wants significant alterations to the ordinance.

We realize there’s an issue at hand, but it doesn’t seem like some key players at the table are willing to budge on their viewpoints.

Council members on Monday night weren’t against revisiting the ordinance if the mayor’s hand-picked parking committee discusses the topic further. But we think that could be a waste of people’s time.

Toomey introduced the parking ban in late March, so Mitchell residents have had plenty of time to review it and make their voices heard.

They’ve done that, and the council has reacted.

So, rather than wasting additional efforts through parking committee discussions, only to have the council review it and deny it again doesn’t make much sense, especially if there’s no compromise.

Sure, some people in Mitchell may not like the parking laws in our city. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for most of our residents.

We commend the council for speaking for the majority and standing up for what’s right.

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