- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Editors: Please note that The Associated Press welcomes editorial contributions from members for the weekly Editorial Roundup. Three editorials are selected every week. Contributions can be made by email at [email protected]

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Capital Journal, Pierre, Oct. 9, 2014

On Essential Air Service: Let’s really hold it to what’s essential

Alaskans point out that if you were to split Alaska in half and make it into two new states, Texas would no longer be the second-largest state in the nation.

Alaska covers a sprawling area of 663,268 square miles, crisscrossed by relatively few roads - no wonder the federal government spends $14.7 million to subsidize air travel in that area where just getting to some destinations can be difficult. That’s federal spending we can agree with, and it’s the reason the federal government probably needs a program such as Essential Air Service.

But it’s harder to understand why that same federal program spends even more - $17.5 million - to subsidize air travel in the more compact and densely populated state of Michigan. And what about densely populated Pennsylvania? Does the Essential Air Service program really have to subsidize air travel in Pennsylvania to the tune of $12.3 million - almost as much as it spends in Alaska?

The issue also touches close to home. As our special report on our front page and in our Dakota Life section today makes clear, air carriers providing service to points in South Dakota also receive $6.4 million to serve those locations. And Pierre, which had subsidized air service once, may soon have it again.

Here is where South Dakotans must be honest with themselves. Why would Congress make the taxpayers subsidize flights in and out of, say, Watertown? From Watertown it’s a straight shot down I-29, 102 miles, 90 minutes, to the airport at the north end of Sioux Falls.

Or what about Huron - should the American taxpayer really be helping foot the bill for air travel in and out of Huron, one hour and 54 minutes from the airport in Sioux Falls?

Or Aberdeen, two hours and 59 minutes from the Sioux Falls airport?

And then we come to Pierre.

As one of the sources in our story today asks, Why is it worth taking money out of the taxpayers’ pocket so that Pierre can have subsidized air service?

Fortunately there are some good answers to that question. It’s the state capital. People from other states and federal agencies and private companies need to visit Pierre on official business, just as our state officials need to visit other states and Washington, D.C., on official business. That’s probably part of the reason we have a brand new airport terminal.

On top of that, we have the longest commute of any of these cities to catch a flight from our state’s main airport. It’s a drive of three hours and eight minutes to get from Pierre to Sioux Falls (though it’s worth noting that it’s a shorter commute, a drive of two hours and 42 minutes, to get to the airport in Rapid City).

Are those compelling arguments to subsidize a carrier to serve Pierre under the Essential Air Service program? Without a doubt they are. We think this is exactly the situation for which the Essential Air Service program was created, and that Mayor Laurie Gill is right to pursue a subsidy with the federal Department of Transportation.

But let us also recognize that we cannot and should not subsidize air travel in all of these cities in other states or even here in South Dakota - that’s a recipe for out-of-control federal spending. On Essential Air Service, let’s demand that our lawmakers really and truly limit it to what’s essential.

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Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, Oct. 11, 2014

Printing notices not sexy, still important

October is full of important events.

Some of them you can’t miss - everything turns pink to bring attention to the disease that will affect 1 in 8 women for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Others you might realize only when you need it - such as helping neighbors rake their leaves this year for Make a Difference Day.

And one makes South Dakota unique in the nation - celebrating Native American Day instead of Columbus Day.

Just keeping the special days in October straight is a challenge - particularly when you throw in your own personal calendar of doctor appointments, soccer games and work lunches.

Thankfully, October also is Public Notices Month here in South Dakota - which highlights how every municipality, county and school district in the state must publish records of their meetings, requests for bids, ordinances, etc. in an official newspaper. In a state that largely limits access to public information, the publishing of public notices via a third party are one of the few open government pillars we can count on.

And while lesser known, this is just one way to hold government bodies accountable to the citizenry and to provide transparency to their processes. Public notices are not sexy. They’re not entertaining. And, quite frankly, they’re often boring.

So maybe you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the public notices. But because of them, and the requirement to post notices, the next time you want to address your city council, understand what your school board is doing or contact a county board, you’ll know what was discussed. You’ll have a level playing field because of third-party publishing that ensures protection from any vested interest.

This is a strong tool in holding government accountable to the citizenry, and it provides transparency to their processes. In years past, some have suggested public notices could be published and maintained on government websites. And while Argus Leader Media has been an aggressive advocate of moving to, and producing content in, the digital world, the printed newspaper still is the right and most effective space for public notices.

And with your own personal stack of notices and paperwork and reminders to pick up milk at the grocery store, aren’t you glad someone else is helping keep your government accountable?

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Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Oct. 16, 2014

Billy Mills a true hero to all

A true hero lives among us in western South Dakota, and his name is Billy Mills.

It’s been almost exactly 50 years since Mills, an Oglala Lakota, crafted one of the biggest upsets, and one of the best back stories, of any Olympic games when he charged past the favorites in the final lap to take the gold medal in the 10,000 meter race at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

That accomplishment alone - to win Olympic gold after growing up poor and parent-less for much of his youth on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation - might have been the pinnacle of many of our lives.

But what Mills has done since then elevates him to true hero status.

Mills has led an exemplary life, and done great things with an immeasurable of grace and dignity to help others.

Last week, Mills, 76, went before a large group of mostly Native American youths and told them that truly, anything is possible in life for those who work hard, live right and never forget to dream. But he also shared how his father taught him early in life that spirituality, bravery, fortitude and generosity are character traits that will ultimately lead to personal harmony and satisfaction, as well as making the entire world a better place for all.

Since that speech, we have learned that Mills, through his foundation, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, will provide 50 grants of $10,000 each over the next few years to youth who develop ideas to improve their communities.

It’s just one more way Mills continues to display leadership, foresight, and a sense of commitment to making Native communities, and the world, a better place.

We should all take pride that Mills is part of our wider community. He is a shining example, one that is all too rare, of one individual who not only won a great race, but who has done much to improve the human race.


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