- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 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]

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The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Sept. 1, 2015

Better bird numbers beneficial for everyone

It’s a great time to be a bird hunter in South Dakota.



Last week, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department issued its annual report on the pheasant count. And, there was good news.

The statewide pheasant count was up 42 percent from last year. It’s the second consecutive year the count has increased after the significant decrease of 2013, which set pheasant hunters into panic mode when there was a 64 percent drop from 2012.

Two years of increasing pheasant numbers in South Dakota have eased worries, and as one GF&P; official told us, it’s “getting back to where hunting is good again.”

This year, the preseason pheasant-per-mile index of 3.8 is similar to 2011, which gives hope for a positive harvest. In 2011, the preseason pheasant-per-mile index was 3.55, and there were an estimated 1.55 million pheasants harvested.

While pheasant hunting is king in our state, other huntable birds in South Dakota are plentiful, too.

The sixth year of a special August Management Take for Canada geese just wrapped up, which allows a liberal daily bag limit of 15. The September early-goose season opened Tuesday, as did Mourning Dove season.

Duck season opens for a large portion of the state on Sept. 26, and GF&P; officials say eastern South Dakota had good production this year.

Aside from the liberal bag limits and long season for waterfowl hunters, this is the second of a three-year experiment on a bonus blue-winged teal harvest. The opportunity allows waterfowl hunters to take two additional blue-winged teal for the first 16 days of the season because of high populations across the continent.

This is great news to outdoor enthusiasts who love hunting, simply because there will be more harvest opportunities. This year will be a wonderful time to introduce a child to hunting, and shooting a flying target is no simple task. It takes practice and skill.

But better bird numbers are beneficial to businesses, hotels and gas stations.

It also means more licenses will likely be sold, and that equates to more funds to statewide GF&P; programs. A certain percentage of every license goes toward conservation projects, which is what we need to keep wildlife populations thriving.

So enjoy the hunting seasons, which have kicked off or are right around the corner.

While harvesting a bird - whether it be a pheasant, goose, duck or other species - is enjoyable for hunters, it’s beneficial for a much broader base.

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Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan, Yankton, Aug. 31, 2015

Katrina’s lessons and unknowns

The 10 years since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and onto America’s list of all-time disasters have flown by, it seems. A lot has changed since then, and some things haven’t.

Katrina taught us lessons about flood management and disaster preparation that are unforgettable, or at least they should be.

But the whole situation itself stands as a monumental reminder that one can never truly be prepared for the unexpected.

When Katrina slammed into the southern Gulf Coast in the last days of August 2005, it crushed New Orleans and pummeled much of the coastland in that vicinity. All told, more than 1,800 people died from the storm, and New Orleans is still in the stages of a fitful recovery.

But as bad as the Category 5 hurricane was, the nightmare we now think of as Katrina wasn’t strictly a natural disaster. The storm exposed terrible flaws not only in the infrastructure of the city’s flood control system but also in federal abilities to respond to such epic disaster.

As the Slate news website reported this past weekend, much of the calamity wrought by Katrina was due to the inadequate flood protection system overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There were more than 50 breaches in the various levees meant to protect the low-lying city, and massive storm surge through canals caused a lot of inundation. Many of the pump stations flooded, and those that did work had no place to which to pump the storm water.

Making this matter even more tragic is that it wasn’t a surprise. In 2004, an exercise called “Hurricane Pam” tested the city in a hypothetical Category 3 storm, and the results showed the levees being overtopped by high waters, although it did not show the levee breaches. Nevertheless, the test did show glaring problems in protecting this very vulnerable city, which sits in a geographical bowl, from rising waters. The warning signs were there.

The response of federal officials to the storm has become the stuff of unfortunate legend, and deservedly so.

Documents and communications from that time period show a federal government unprepared to respond to a storm of this magnitude, and a Federal Emergency Management Agency director, Michael Brown, who was slow to react to desperate cries for help from his own people in the New Orleans area.

According to the Slate research, emails suggest Brown was more concerned with how he looked in television interviews and in projecting the message that everything was under control, even when it clearly wasn’t. Despite the now-infamous endorsement from President George W. Bush that “Brownie” was doing “a heck of a job,” the FEMA director was forced to resign less than three weeks after Katrina struck.

While a better response couldn’t have addressed the issues with the levees or nullified that monstrous magnitude of the storm, for instance, it could have gotten food and other supplies to storm victims far sooner and perhaps saved some lives.

Have we learned from this?

Last week in New Orleans, President Barack Obama declared that federal officials are in much better position now to act quickly in such situations, thanks in part to the lessons harvested from Katrina.

But what else is a president going to say? It was really a limited statement because no one can really tell what these storms will do when they strike. And in an age in which climate change is creating stronger storms and more unpredictable meteorological activity, no one can pledge that things will go differently next time without acknowledging that we don’t know what “the next time” will be.

Katrina exposed a lot of flaws in the process. Changes have been made, we’ve been told. But there’s an old adage that says countries usually prepare to fight the last war, not the next one. In this case, we may be prepared for a replay of Katrina, but what about something else? Something worse? That’s the question that will always be on the table when these matters arise.

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Watertown Public Opinion, Watertown, Aug. 31, 2015

SDHSAA problem didn’t have to happen

We’ve been more critical than positive when it comes to discussing the S.D. High School Activities Association board’s sometimes head-scratching decisions. But, much to our surprise, we found ourselves actually agreeing with them last week.

It seems that expenses ran more than 30 percent over budget for the four state basketball and wrestling tournaments held in Sioux Falls and Rapid City this year. Think about it - 30 percent. How is that even possible? It’s not like it’s the first time the SDHSAA has ever held a state tournament or used Sioux Falls or Rapid City as a host site for the first time. Both cities are annual stops on the tournament circuit and have been for years. So, what’s the deal?”

That’s what directors for the South Dakota High School Activities Association want to know and they’ve directed the staff to get better control over the contracts for the 2016 events. Executive director Wayne Carney and assistant executive director John Krogstrand told the board Wednesday they are trying.

Trying? Really? Clearly the costs associated with such events should be known well in advance and so should attendance estimates based on past tournaments held in those communities. That’s sentiment shared by several directors who said they didn’t understand why the costs for the 2015 events weren’t better known in advance. Then throw in the fact that no other state athletic events during the 2014-2015 school year ran more than 10 percent over budget and most came in under budget. So what’s up with the events held in Sioux Falls and Rapid City? Board chairman Jason Uttermark of Aberdeen Central said he could see the difficulty of predicting revenues from year to year. “But expenses should be relatively obvious up front - and we’re missing it by a bunch,” Uttermark said.

We agree and want to know why, especially since the SDHSAA has for the past few years been hell-bent to get every state tournament regardless of sport - except football which is locked into Vermillion because of the dome at USD - permanently moved to the state’s two largest cities. What sense does that make if you keep going over budget?

The numbers for this past year are jaw dropping. For the Class A boys basketball tournament at the Rapid City civic center, the combined cost for rent, facilities fee and custodial service was $41,021.86, when $15,000 was budgeted. For the Class AA boys basketball tournament in Sioux Falls at the Sanford Premier Center, the total cost for rent, facilities fee and custodial service was $70,215.09, when $40,000 was budgeted. The Class B wrestling tournament in Rapid City ran $11,438.89 over budget, with rent, facilities fee, custodial service, set-up and 5 percent gross costing $22,629.56 and ticket handling $5,007.97. The Class A wrestling tournament in Sioux Falls went $16,465.94 over budget, with rent, facilities fee, custodial service and set-up costing $31,143.66 and ticket handling costing $12,585.52.

The 2016 boys basketball tournaments will be Class AA in Sioux Falls and Class A in Rapid City. Class B will again be in Aberdeen. Both 2016 wrestling tournaments will be in Rapid City. Does this mean that the Sioux Falls and Rapid City sites will be over budget again? Oh, and using the new Premier Center in Sioux Falls as an excuse doesn’t wash because the SDHSAA knew the costs going in. And even if that was an acceptable excuse, how do you explain Rapid City going over budget when the same facilities have been used for several years?

Here’s a thought. Why not hold tournaments on a rotating basis among cities such as Watertown, Mitchell, Huron, Aberdeen and others? Why not go back to that? It worked for years when fans traveled to different cities to experience something other than the same two cities every tournament. That worked just fine for years and if you remember the old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The SDHSAA now has a problem to fix that should have been avoided. It wasn’t broke and if the SDHSAA keeps going over budget it just might be.

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