- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

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]


Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan, Yankton, May 5, 2015

The importance of boat safety

One of the recurring themes that students encounter during Yankton’s annual Missouri River Water Festival is the message of safety when out on the water. That means operating watercraft carefully and wearing life jackets in case the unthinkable happens.

It’s all important stuff, to be sure.

Unfortunately, too many of us tend to take the important stuff for granted and ignore the lessons we otherwise recognize as quite prudent.

But real-life application does pay off.

This was demonstrated Sunday when two people - Dulce Vite and Daniel Deanda of South Sioux City, Nebraska - on a Jet Ski went missing on Lewis and Clark Lake. Their watercraft quit working out in the middle of the lake, and they began floundering in water that was in the low 50s; that’s not a bad air temperature, but it’s a chilling water temperature which, when enveloping a 98.6-degree body, can be dangerous if you’re exposed to it for too long.

Four hours was almost too long for this couple, and they began struggling with symptoms of hypothermia, not to mention extreme exhaustion caused in part by a shift in the wind, which wound up blowing hard from the north and stirring up choppy white-cap conditions.

However, speaking to the Press & Dakotan from Avera Sacred Heart Hospital the next day, they said they were thankful they were wearing life jackets, which helped keep them afloat as they battled fatigue. One of them had even lost consciousness, but stayed afloat because of the jacket.

“Good thing we were wearing our life jackets,” Deanda said. “Otherwise it would’ve been bad.”

This is an important example of the need to take precautions, such as wearing a life jacket our having access to a flotation device, while out on the water.

One of the points driven home at last week’s water festival is that no one who goes out on the water plans on drowning, which is why you should always be ready in case the unplanned and the unthinkable happen.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drowning is the third-leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is one of the top causes of accidental death for children under 5, even eclipsing traffic accidents in recent years.

It can also be a particular threat in this region, a landlocked place where we flock to precious local waterways such as Lewis and Clark Lake for recreation. It’s too easy to forget the importance of safety.

The unfortunate truth is that Sunday’s incident probably won’t serve as a vivid reminder because it had a happy ending. It seems that the tragedies make the lessons last a little longer. But we should embrace the good outcome from Sunday in mind. Precaution helped carry the day and, perhaps, saved two lives. And if the lesson is heeded, perhaps more lives than that.


Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, May 3, 2015

SD should take water rights seriously

Thanks to neighbors of the super-secret compound near Pringle, state officials are preparing to do what should have been done in the first place - holding a public hearing on a request for a significant expansion of water rights.

If it weren’t for the efforts of those private citizens and National Park and Forest Service officials, the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would have had its request to triple water rights from 94 to 300 gallons per minute granted after essentially an administrative review by analysts at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Fortunately, state law requires that water permit applications be filed as legal notices in local newspapers, which in this case were the Custer County Chronicle and Rapid City Journal.

So why was it so easy for them to get state approval to draw so much more water from the Madison Aquifer? The answer can be found in state law.

In reviewing the request, DENR considers:

“If there is reasonable probability that there is unappropriated water available for the applicant’s proposed use; that the proposed diversion can be developed without unlawful impairment of existing rights; that the proposed use is a beneficial use and in the public interest.”

In this case, the department felt that the compound satisfied the criteria, which is mind-boggling for those familiar with the group and its connection to Warren Jeffs, their religious leader who now serves a life sentence in a Texas prison for aggravated sexual assault of young girls amid allegations he took child brides.

So how could this project be deemed to be in the public interest?

The members of the group, who live on a 140-acre compound in remote Custer County, are not even seen by their neighbors much less contributing to the public good. The compound is essentially a fortress that has a guard tower. No visitors are allowed and its neighbors live in a state of perpetual concern.

In fact, the group’s leader, Seth Jeffs, will not even disclose the compound’s population - estimated to be between 75 and 300 people - nor specifically outline why the additional water is needed except to say they want it for gardening, landscaping and to fill a 250,000-gallon above-ground storage tank.

But even Jeffs has seen the error of his ways since neighbors registered their concerns with the state and reduced the request to 200 gallons of water per minute while acknowledging that the initial request of 300 gallons was made “to be safe.”

Opponents are also concerned the increased water usage will affect neighboring properties, including Wind Cave National Park.

Water is a resource that never should be taken for granted. In California, for example, state officials are now scrambling to avert a water crisis that has developed over four years of drought. Our dry spring in South Dakota has ranchers and farmers casting hopeful glances to the sky.

The state of South Dakota needs to raise the bar before it grants more precious water rights to any entity, and they can start when it conducts the public hearing on the compound’s request.


Watertown Public Opinion, Watertown, May 5, 2015

History making event draws ever closer

This is a history making week for our community. On Friday, Watertown will welcome President Barack Obama to the community as the scheduled commencement speaker for the 2015 graduating class at Lake Area Technical Institute.

This is the first time in history a sitting United States president has visited our community and it could quite well be the last. Let’s face it, there are a lot of places that hope to secure a presidential visit some day and wanting one is a far cry from getting one.

You can pick any number of reasons why the president may have chosen to come here. One is we asked him to. On April 1 the Public Opinion ran an editorial inviting the president to visit our community. The reason is that later that week the president was scheduled to speak at an Air Force base in Utah, which would make that state the 49th one the president had visited while in office. South Dakota was last on the list and we figured there was probably a pretty good chance he’d want to visit all 50 states before he left office so we invited him to come to Watertown when he decided it was time to visit our state.

To be honest, we don’t know if the president or anyone in the White House saw that editorial or even if it was a factor in his decision to come here. He could have based his decision on LATI’s impressive performance during the last three Aspen competitions which resulted in the school being named among the top two-year colleges in the country with an outstanding graduation and placement rate to boot.

Or he could have picked Watertown because it wasn’t a typical destination when visiting South Dakota and he wanted to experience something along the less traveled path. Or it could have been, well, you can go on and on but at this point the reason doesn’t matter. He’s coming and it will be a history making day for the community, LATI and the 2015 graduates and their families.

Not surprisingly a lot of preparation and planning has gone into making this visit as memorable as possible. Watertown has been getting spruced up ever since the presidential announcement was made and we suspect that will continue up until the final hours.

The Secret Service has been here making arrangements, checking out places where the president will be and making sure everything is in place to make sure his visit goes off without a hitch.

One thing that we’ve been impressed with is that the overwhelming reaction to the president’s visit has been positive. South Dakota is a Republican state and solidly voted for the Republican candidate in the last presidential election. A lot of people here don’t agree with the president’s policies and think he’s made a lot of mistakes along the way.

But that’s just politics and this visit has nothing to do with that. This is a visit to recognize the accomplishments of LATI and its graduates, the community which has been supportive of the school and its students since the beginning and people who know the value of working together for the greater good.

That’s why even some of the most hard core conservative Republicans are looking forward to this history making visit. They may not care for the man in the White House or his policies but they still respect the office and the person holding it. That’s the way politics should be conducted and is in South Dakota.

We think most people will agree that regardless of their political feelings or leanings that a visit by a sitting U.S. president, regardless of that person’s politics, is a huge event for a community our size. We’ll bet there were more than a few White House staffers scrambling to look up where Watertown, South Dakota, was when the president made his decision to visit here. Come Friday, hopefully he’ll see what a remarkable community it is and so are the people who help make it that way.

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