- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Daily Republic, Mitchell, April 19, 2016

There’s an article written by Senior Fisheries Biologist Jake Davis in the most recent South Dakota Game Fish & Parks Conservation Digest magazine that explains the risks of anglers taking fish management into their own hands.

“What do you do if the species of fish you want does not exist in your favorite fishery?” the article reads. “Just add it? Seems like a simple solution; however, that simple solution can have serious consequences for both the fishery and its users.”

The article points to specific instances in which anglers have introduced certain species of fish to lakes in South Dakota, such as Lake Thompson near De Smet, 81 ponds, where white bass populations have started growing.

Rightfully so, it is illegal in South Dakota to release fish or fish eggs into public waters, unless the fish was caught from that body of water. Anyone caught breaking this law has a required court appearance, and can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor - which is punishable upon conviction of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $500.

Illegal fish stocking may seem like a harmless offense, but it’s not. And that’s why those penalties are too light.

We haven’t heard of anyone breaking this law, but we’re asking conservationists and anglers to keep an eye out for possible offenders. Those illegal actions can wreak havoc on the ecosystems of waters.

Consider this: Prior to Lake Thompson having white bass, the walleye population in the lake had good food sources. Now, the walleye - which is the more sought-after game fish - has to compete with a growing population of white bass in the fishery.

Aside from that, when GF&P; biologists survey our state’s lakes each year and determine some have less-than-desired amounts of specific species in them, they stock those lakes with a goal in mind to raise the population of that fish.

These officials know better than we do, and we need to trust biologists’ research, planning and their knowledge of fish species.

Other people taking stocking into their own hands is actually counterproductive to the lake and costly to GF&P.;

As Davis puts it, “unauthorized introductions have led to a decrease in the quality of the overall fishery” … “if you feel a fish species should be present, visit with your area fisheries staff and do not take matters into your own hands.”


Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, April 16, 2016

Let’s put aside for a moment the debate over whether every child should go to preschool.

The question we struggle with in the Sioux Falls area is how to pay for it.

Which brings the conversation very quickly to one of access between the haves and have-nots.

As is so often the case when it comes to education in South Dakota, we start with the reality that the state does not fund preschool the way our neighbors do. The Sioux Falls School District, however, works under a different set of expectations. Thousands of people move here every year, bringing with them the idea that maybe preschool will be part of the menu of education services.

So the demand for preschool is increasing, at least in Sioux Falls.

The city’s largest school district will double the number of slots available under the Learning Adventures program next year. But the program is not publicly funded, so parents pay $125 every two weeks. It’s a pretty good deal as far as these things go and the money only covers the district’s operational costs.

The federal government also pays for preschool for about 400 low-income kids through Head Start, but that only covers part of the demand. There’s more than 200 on a waiting list and who knows how many eligible families who just haven’t signed up.

Then there’s private schools and non-profit efforts to get more kids into programs.

The result is, through this admirable communal effort, hundreds of students each year set off on the path to educational development.

But what of those who do not? This sort of ad hoc funding of early education is by definition filled with gaps.

It’s not clear that every child should go to preschool. There are individual situations where a child is better served not entering the world of institutional education until a later age. There are still families with a parent or parents who can provide that development in the home setting, even beyond preschool.

But there are many more for whom focused instruction will increase their chances of success in later life. A University of Minnesota analysis of long-term research on childhood development found that public investment in education for 3 and 4 year-olds provides an economic return of 18 percent. The economic benefits come through higher literacy, better job prospects and lower crime, according to Art Rolnick, the co-director of the university’s Human Capital Research Collaborative. He was formerly the senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

In Sioux Falls, it’s time for a broader effort.

It’s unlikely that any help will come from state government. It may be necessary for the Sioux Falls District, or a coalition of metro districts, to ask taxpayers to opt out of state property tax caps to fund such as effort.

Maybe it’s as simple as better coordination and registration to make sure the resources are extended to more families.

The demand for preschool is only going to grow.

It’s important that our city meet that demand.


Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, April 20, 2016

Nine bucks and 12 cents an hour.

That’s how much pay is needed for a single person in our part of the state to cover the most basic of life’s expenses, according to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Housing. Food. Transportation. Health care. A few other things.

No trips to the Twist Cone, weekends in Sioux Falls, dinners at The Flame or any other luxuries.

Oh, and no emergencies.

No unexpected expenses, no transmission going out on the car, no ambulance ride to the hospital, no out-of-state travels to a wedding or funeral.

No credit card debt. No student loans.

So $9.12 an hour covers the barest of bones. So long as none of them break.

Thankfully, almost all jobs in the Aberdeen area pay more than that. Just getting by without the ability to save for a new car, emergencies or retirement is not only hurtful to individuals, but the community on the whole. When local residents can afford anything from a night on the town to a house, we all benefit via increased tax collections, which are used for improvements.

Using the MIT living wage numbers, $4,872 is set aside annually for housing. That’s $406 a month. It could be tough to find a place to rent in Aberdeen for that much. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the fair market rent standards for Brown County this year are $406 for an efficiency and $504 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Those totals are probably lower in Warner and Groton, but there are fewer options in those communities. And, if somebody lives in Groton and works in Aberdeen, transportation costs rise.

If things are tough for a single person making $9.12 an hour, they get harder still when children are involved.

MIT’s living wage for a single person with one child is $19.40 an hour. For two adults when one is working and they have one child, it’s $18.61.

If the “living wage” seems low, the poverty rates are mind-boggling - $5 an hour for a single person, $7 an hour for and adult with one child, $9 for two adults and one child with one of the adults working.

This is not a call for a higher minimum wage. That state rate just went up and is at $8.55 per hour. And, of course, there are government programs to help low-income residents. But the numbers are still telling; a reflection of how little extra some of our friends and neighbors across the region have.

Those of us who have enough for extras, for luxuries, for a savings account, need to keep in mind how fortunate we are.

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