- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Daily Republic, Mitchell, June 22, 2016

Community support key to keeping small-town baseball teams alive, well

Baseball is king during South Dakota summers.

That’s especially the case in the state’s smallest towns, where communities gather at the ballpark to drink a beer, enjoy the warm sun and watch the game after a day’s work.

Many of the small towns in southeastern South Dakota take a great pride in baseball, whether it be youth, teener, Legion or amateur level. And, when a community takes pride in its teams, that typically equates to success.

Canova is a great example of a small community that is known so well for its rich tradition of baseball. The town has a population of about 100, but that number grows significantly when the town’s amateur baseball team hosts a game.

And, in the past two years, Canova thanked its fans for their support by upgrading and renovating the town’s ballpark. A story in our Saturday paper reported that Canova has spent about $90,000 to make its ballpark pristine by adding a grass infield, better seating, netting to the backstop and a sprinkler system to its field, among other upgrades.

The work for Canova’s new-look park was financed by donations, fundraising and other efforts. It was a community effort because so many people enjoy watching their team play each summer.

Other towns have conducted similar improvement efforts in recent years, too.

During our reporting, we found 14 towns in southeastern South Dakota have conducted a renovation project at their ballpark in the past five years, the majority of which occurred either in 2015 or this year. An estimated total of $915,000 has been spent on those projects.

That’s astounding, and it’s clearly great for the future of baseball in South Dakota.

Baseball will thrive in the areas where people put their hearts into the game, not only on the field but through fundraising for ballparks, uniforms, equipment and routine team bills. Simply put, a town’s team relies on community support, otherwise, its baseball presence eventually folds. That forces players to play elsewhere, or just quit playing altogether.

So kudos to the communities such as Canova, which care deeply about baseball.

Enjoying those warm summer evenings under the ballpark’s lights is undoubtedly enjoyable, but to keep that feeling alive comes with a price.


The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, June 18, 2016

Recycling still better, cheaper than the alternative

It’s easy to look at the coming rate increase for recycling as just yet another hit to our pocketbooks. From water rates to sales tax, it seems every service or fee is going up lately.

But even with the increase, recycling is still important for our community and should continue to be supported by the city and the public.

The impetus for the hike comes from the declining market for recycled glass. Glass is heavier, harder to clean and sell than other products. As it is, some of the glass collected in Sioux Falls is already making its way to the landfill.

Because of this, Millennium Recycling will start charging haulers $25 a ton for loads of recycling. And that cost will all but likely be passed on to the consumer. Novak Sanitary Services, for example, plans to raise rates about 95 cents per month.

Recycling is actually a wonderful example of a public-private partnership. That’s because the city of Sioux Falls requires all licensed trash haulers to recycle a certain percentage of trash. Currently that amount is 20 percent. And trash hauling is a basic municipal function, akin to having sewer or water services. You have to have it.

And while the city really wouldn’t have to require recycling, we should for a few very important reasons: it’s obviously good for the environment, it creates jobs while also being cheaper for us taxpayers and it extends the life of the landfill, which is a huge cost savings when compared with starting a new one.

At $25 per ton, recycling will still be cheaper for haulers than the $37 per-ton fee at the landfill. And that means recycling costs you less, too.


Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, June 23, 2016

ATV deaths tragic, and avoidable

The Black Hills region has seen a recent rash of deaths from crashes involving all-terrain vehicles, and there is no other way to look at the situation than as a pure tragedy.

There is no discernible pattern as to who has died, or how.

The roster of fatalities includes a 51-year-old Black Hawk man who died in February after losing control while driving on a paved road near Summerset. An 11-year-old boy from Edgemont died when the ATV he was a passenger on struck a hole and rolled in early May. An 84-year-old rancher died in mid-June when the ATV rolled on him while checking his cattle on pasture land south of Rapid City. And last week, a 27-year-old Rapid City father of one died when his ATV went off a gravel road near Nemo.

Different circumstances, different victim ages, different terrain. The one commonality? The ATV itself.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 712 people died in ATV accidents each year in the U.S. over the period of 2001-2008. One startling piece of data is that 144 of those who died each year were children under 16.

In South Dakota, according to the commission, 72 people have died in ATV wrecks from 1982 to 2011, with a disproportionate number of those fatalities coming in more recent years. Of those 72 deaths, 12 were children under 16.

A further look at the data shows why ATV accidents tend to be so severe. When it comes to accidents that did not cause death, arm and hand injuries happened most often, at 29 percent of the 100,000 recorded injuries. But head and neck injuries are close behind at 27 percent, the commission data show.

No one can argue that ATVs aren’t fun and useful, especially in a rural region like western South Dakota. And the number of deaths due to ATV accidents will never come near to the number of people who die in car or truck wrecks.

Yet it is also quite clear there is an inherent danger in driving or riding on ATVs. Like motorcycles, they simply do not have the protective cage that a typical vehicle body provides. Moreover, they are far more prone to rolling over than a car or truck.

And perhaps most importantly, the vast variety of places and ways they are driven heightens the odds that accidents will happen, and that severe injuries are likely. Frequent use by youngsters adds yet another element of danger.

We urge anyone who drives an ATV or rides on one to please be careful. Use common sense. Wear protective gear. Don’t allow children to operate them too young. And most of all, users must be constantly vigilant to not let the vehicle roll over, which is a common thread in many fatalities.

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