- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Daily Republic, Mitchell, July 26

Resistance to wind turbines unites southeast SD

There’s no denying it’s windy in South Dakota, but South Dakotans are denying wind turbines.

As Davison County wind farm opponents await a setback proposal from the county’s Planning Commission, Lincoln County voters last week upheld a requirement that all turbines must be placed at least a half-mile from all habitable dwellings.

Lincoln County’s vote comes one year after the Letcher Township established a one-mile setback, and 11 months after 47 people signed a statement to the S.D. Public Utilities Commission in opposition to another large wind energy project near Avon.

There’s a commonality throughout each case in southeastern South Dakota: locals don’t want wind turbines in their backyards.

Whether it’s the lights, the sounds or other perceived health effects, it’s growing clearer that South Dakotans settle into two camps when it comes to wind energy. Residents typically either have little to no opinion on wind turbines or they vehemently oppose them.

Following the Lincoln County vote, another tale in a long string of opposition to wind projects in the region, perhaps it’s time the Davison County Planning Commission return to the table with a setback proposal in mind. And maybe - due to the impassioned opposition backed by through research - that setback should be fairly large.

When the commission was considering a proposed setback of 1,000 feet in May, it decided to absorb the public’s comments to make an informed proposal at a later date. But locals have waited long enough.

As we wrote in an editorial shortly after the board’s decision to conduct more research, the board acted valiantly. But rather than forcing the Planning Commission to make a difficult recommendation to the Davison County Commission, we suggest proposing a half-mile setback and somehow put it to a public vote.

Allowing the public a say on the matter during the next major election cycle would help the county determine whether the opposition to wind energy is a case of a noisy minority or if the few represent the many. It would also take the impossible task the Planning Commission has been given to make all parties happy out of its hands and place that task into the hands of the voters.

After years of debate, Lincoln County can finally end all wind energy talk. Now, more than one year after Davison County barred a 9- to 11-turbine project from entering county limits, Davison County is still talking about wind tower setbacks.

Wouldn’t it be nice to simply let the people of Davison decide what they want and then move on? We think so, and we suspect Lincoln County residents are glad to put the vote behind them.


American News, Aberdeen, July 26

Lee family continues to help Aberdeen prosper with donation to new library

One door closed, and another opened recently in Aberdeen.

Karl O. Lee recently donated $900,000 to the Alexander Mitchell Library Foundation’s capital campaign, “Beyond Books, Providing Access for All.”

The donation essentially brought the library foundation’s successful $2.1 million capital campaign to an end.

The new K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library is expected to open in less than two months.


“This donation is the largest in the history of the Aberdeen Public Library,” foundation President Troy McQuillen said in a news release announcing the gift.

Lee, his father C. C. Lee, and his grandfather K.O. Lee have made multiple contributions within the city of Aberdeen that have resulted in the development of facilities from tennis courts and the Lee Park Golf Course to the C.C. Lee Elementary School and K.O. Lee Adult Day Health Center at Bethesda.

In other words, Aberdeen wouldn’t be Aberdeen without residents such as the Lee family. It takes vision, sweat and money by many to make a city work, move forward and prosper.

Mayor Mike Levsen said Lee’s recent contribution is a testament to the donations his family has provided through the decades to develop areas in town.

“It’s a name that’s all over town already,” Levsen said. “The Lee family has been a significant source of funds for all kinds of projects for at least three generations. The family just continues to contribute to the good of the city.”

Construction of Aberdeen’s new $8 million library started in 2016 and is scheduled for completion in the next couple of weeks. The library, scheduled to open Sept. 11, is being built with a combination of city funds and a $2.1 million commitment from the library foundation. It’s at 215 Fourth Ave. S.E.

The new facility replaces the current library at 519 S. Kline St. that’s been in use since 1963.

While opponents have criticized much about the new library - from the cost, to the location, to the amenities, to the parking, to the orientation of the windows and front doors - this editorial board has always been behind the project since it became an issue about a decade ago.

We felt a modern library was a quality-of-life issue, and as a result, a draw to potential employers and employees who are deciding whether to make this community their home. Those looking for work, education or entertainment can take advantage of library services - and do so for free.

“This is one of the proudest days of my life,” Lee said. “This is an incredibly special moment and I hope this donation will in some small way continue to make Aberdeen the kind of community we all want to live in. My fondest wish is for this facility to become a place for discovery and inspiration for generations to come.”

That is our wish as well.


The Public Opinion, Watertown, July 25

Phone scams should not happen

Earlier this month, the Watertown Police Department alerted the public to a scam involving a local person who received a phone call that they were part of a lawsuit and needed to call a certain number to “clear it up.”

The recipient’s caller ID indicated the call originated from the Watertown Police Department.

And that is frightening.

These days, the average middle school student carries around a smart phone that is more powerful and more technologically advanced than the computers that guided U.S. astronauts to the moon. We’ve all become somewhat dependent on our phones and trust them to tell us everything from the weather forecast to our checking account balances to directions to that new restaurant we’ve been wanting to try.

We’ve come to depend on our phones, and to trust them. So when our phone tells us a call is from the Watertown Police Department, we should be able to believe it.

But that’s not the case. A WPD detective was quoted in our story as saying “there is no way to stop people from spoofing our phone number.”

Really? There is no way to stop this? We find that hard to believe. If crooks can come up with a way to do it, there should be a way to stop it.

This falls under the realm of the Federal Communications Commission. According to the FCC’s website, it is charged with writing regulations “so that new technologies flourish” and with “providing leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation’s communications infrastructure.” But if criminals are allowed to hijack the system and trick people into believing they are getting a call from the Watertown Police Department, then the FCC is failing miserably at its stated purpose.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is tasked with oversight of the FCC, and that committee is chaired by our own Sen. John Thune. In our story, Thune called such scams “a vexing problem,” but added that “the FCC is starting to use its authority to crack down on people who target and scam vulnerable consumers.”

Sounds good, but if people are being scammed now, it means the FCC has already failed. The very fact that criminals have found a way to be identified as police on our caller IDs means the FCC has failed miserably at keeping consumers safe.

And it’s up to Congress to make sure the FCC has the tools and the authority to do its job. When the bad guys are better armed than the good guys, bad things are bound to happen.

Thune said he’s “been leading oversight efforts in Congress and working to advance legislation that gives enforcement officials more tools to protect consumers from being preyed upon by these bad actors.”

Perhaps these efforts should have been made and safeguards put in place before these “bad actors” began starring in such scams.

We hope the FCC and Congress’ efforts aren’t too little, too late.

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