- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Oct. 19, 2016

Stay safe in the fields

Not even a full week of pheasant season has passed, and we’ve already heard reports of three hunting-related accidents in South Dakota.

We’re sure there’s been more, and there’s probably been countless close calls. These three, all included someone getting hit with BBs, were just those law enforcement reported.

And in South Dakota, it’s no surprise the vast majority of hunting-related incidents occur while pheasant hunting.

Sadly, it’s an annual occurrence. Last year, there were more than 150,000 resident and nonresident pheasant hunters in South Dakota. It’s really a miracle that more injuries don’t happen more often.

Still, we hope people venturing out in the fields remember safety and we hope they preach it to all who attend the hunt.

We hope people who hunt in groups aren’t too embarrassed to encourage people to use eye protection, wear plenty of orange and remind everyone to keep their gun pointed in a safe direction.

Each of those habits are regulars for safe hunters. But then, we also hear about those run-and-gun hunters who give many outdoor enthusiasts a bad name.

According to South Dakota’s Game, Fish & Parks Department’s 2014 law enforcement report, 32 people were cited for wrongfully hunting small game in the right of way, aka road ditch, 22 were cited for shooting from a vehicle, 21 cited for hunting within 660 feet of a dwelling or livestock and 10 for a gun protruding from a vehicle, but did not shoot.

We presume most of these tickets were issued in relation to pheasant hunting, and it’s frustrating that some people decide this is the way they choose to chase wild game.

Not everyone should be labeled this way. Many do it right.

Clearly, there’s a right and a wrong way to go hunting, and everyone needs to remember that no bird or animal is worth a potential injury to someone else.

Stay safe, hunters.


Capital Journal, Pierre, Oct. 21, 2016

Both sides in rec center debate need to be more vocal

There is one local question on the ballot in Pierre this year. Just one.

Our local legislators are all running unopposed. The 10 other questions on our ballots this year deal with state laws or the state constitution. We wrote about those last week.

This week it’s the proposed rec center we’re writing about. Readers may remember this issue from last spring when three public meetings were held in an attempt by city leaders to educate the public on what they were planning to do.

The basics are, Pierre hasn’t replaced the city auditorium that was closed several years ago and demolished two years ago. Last year, Glennis and Mark Zarecky donated about 16 acres of land on the northeast edge of town near the intersection of Garfield Avenue and U.S. Highway 14 to the city for the purpose of building a new rec/events center.

City leaders came up with a plan to build a 57,000 square foot facility at a cost of roughly $14.5 million. They estimated what the ongoing costs of the facility would be too. It runs to about $1.5 million per year for the first 20 years. Roughly $1.1 million of that total would be debt service. An estimated $450,000 subsidy from the city would be earmarked for operating costs each year.

Opponents of the plan say the City of Pierre already is in too much debt and can’t afford to pay $14.5 million for the new center. Another argument opponents make is that the facility isn’t needed in the first place.

The last public meeting on this issue was held back in April. It would behoove everyone in the city who plans to vote Nov. 8 to read up on what you’ll be voting on.

This isn’t an easy decision. On the one hand, there’s the potential for economic growth through added tourism dollars. Any improvements to our quality of life could attract more people to Pierre, which anyone who’s tried to hire someone in this town can tell you, is something we sorely need.

On the other hand, can we as a city actually afford to finance a $14.5 million facility then pay up to $450,000 per year in operating costs? What happens if there’s another flood or some other natural disaster?

It’s up to each of us to decide if the rewards outweigh the risks. Both sides of this issue need to get more vocal. This community needs a vigorous debate for the next few weeks, so we can make the best decision possible.


Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Oct. 20, 2016

Regents should reject student fee hikes

Even though South Dakota has had the second largest total increase for undergraduate resident tuition and fees - at 63.9 percent - in the region over the past 10 years, four of our six universities want to raise fees again.

South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, Black Hills State University and Northern State University want the Board of Regents to approve hikes that will add hundreds of dollars to the cost of earning a four-year degree.

What is more disturbing is the schools say the fees are needed to pay for building projects and other amenities that one can easily argue have little to do with curriculum or creating career opportunities for students who in many cases are borrowing money for college in the first place.

USD wants to raise its general activity fee by $9.30 a credit hour, which brings the total to $55.63 per credit hour. If approved, it means a full-time student taking 15 credits per semester pays an additional $279 a year in fees, which adds up to $1,116 over four years.

The purpose of the proposed fee hike makes it even more difficult to stomach. The university in Vermillion wants to use 82 percent of the new revenue for athletics, leaving 18 percent for student programming, whatever that means. It makes one wonder about the priorities of a school that is willing to ask students to go further in debt in order to bolster sports programs.

SDSU wants to add $3.80 to its $43.87 per credit activity fee to pay for a multi-cultural center, meeting space and more room at its student union. In order to help the school pay for space that won’t be used for classes, full-time students in Brookings would pay an additional $119.10 per year and $476.40 over four years.

BHSU wants to add $4 this year and $4 next year to its activity fee, which is now $39.80 per credit hour. Of that total, $6 per credit hour would be used for a wellness center at the Young Center on the Spearfish campus. The $8 increase will add $240 per year in fees and $960 over four years for full-time students.

NSU in Aberdeen wants to increase its fees, now at $36.10, by $6 per credit hour and use the money for athletics, services and student programming. This adds $180 a year and $720 over four years in fees for a full-time student.

These requests are coming at a time when university enrollment is flat across the state and more students are embracing distance learning. The increase in fees will likely do little to reverse that trend as our universities already charge more than those in North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Nebraska with tuition and fees ranging from $7,887 to $8,457 a year at the schools seeking the increases. Only universities in Minnesota and Iowa charge more in the region for a college education.

These requests represent the ongoing trend in this state of funding capital projects and now athletics on the backs of students who are already accumulating record amounts of student loan debt. To ask them to fund buildings they may never use or athletic programs that benefit a relative few is akin to taxation without representation.

At what point will our students go elsewhere to pursue a college education or give up altogether on obtaining a college degree?

If wellness and multi-cultural centers and sports are considered important or essential to a university’s future, the schools need to ask the Legislature for the money, convince alumni to donate or tighten their belts and find the money from within their already considerable budgets.

The Regents should do what is best for students and reject the fee hikes.

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