Work On Sturgis Bypass Road Underway

For years the owner of the fabled Buffalo Chip Campground east of Sturgis and others in that area have wanted a bypass to Interstate 90, allowing travelers to skip the trip through town.

But with work moving fast on the 5.6-mile project to connect Interstate 90 at Exit 37 with Highway 34 near the Buffalo Chip, Woodruff expresses an excitement that isn’t shared by all.

“The difference it’s going to make is it’s going to open up traffic to the east side of Sturgis,” he said. “All the businesses that are east of Sturgis, the ranchers who are around here and the people from Newell will have a direct route to Exit 37.”

Woodruff sees the bypass, about 2.5 miles of which is new road being carved out of the hilly terrain, as a smooth ride into the future. But others see it as a road to conflict.

Sturgis City manager Daniel Ainslie says businesses in town worry about lost traffic. And county taxpayers wonder how the county can pay up to $1.6 million to build the road and then cover ongoing maintenance when existing county roads are in need.

“You know, there’s a lot of concern about construction of the road and how safe it’s going to be, and also the county’s ability to maintain it,” Ainslie said.

The gravel and terrain will limit speeds on the bypass, which will also limit general traffic.

“But that being said, any traffic is an item that a lot of businesses have issue with,” Ainslie said.

Standing on a ridge midway through the construction zone, Woodruff pointed out a new and striking view of Bear Butte off  to the north. He expects the ridge to become a point of awe and photography for travelers.

And the good news goes much deeper than picturesque landscape images to Woodruff.

Business development and tax revenues will increase with better access to the eastern side of Sturgis, benefiting economics in the area overall, he said. And traffic flow during the tourism season – particularly during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in early August – will benefit from another route from the Interstate to Highway 34 heading east out of town and Highway 79 going north past Bear Butte to Newell and beyond, Woodruff said.

“The ranchers and folks when the interstate went through, they first petitioned for this way back then,” he said. “They’ve been frustrated for years. Some of the ranchers are absolutely elated.”

The new access route will help Woodruff’s already successful campground and Sturgis Motorcycle rally party venue, and others nearby. But he says it will also offer another access option to the Fort Meade VA health Center, an essential medical provider in an area along Highway 34 where traffic can be clogged for hours during the rally.

“The road is a big step toward making Fort Meade more convenient and serving those veterans,” he said.

Ainslie hopes for the best from the new road, but he’s among those with serious concerns. Opponents had sought a vote on the project, efforts that were denied by the Meade County Commission and a local judge.

Voters did reject a more ambitious bypass plan early last year that would have cost more, involved a paved road instead of gravel and required tax-increment financing. Woodruff maintains that the vote was on the TIF plan, not on the idea of a bypass. Ainslie says many opponents believe voters thought the election was a vote on the TIP and a sort of referendum on the idea of a bypass.

The new road is schedule for completion this summer. With good weather, Woodruff predicts it will be done sooner.

LGBT Advocates Celebrate Veto, Prepare for More Challenges

Transgender rights advocates are not taking a break, despite a major win for them on Tuesday.

Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed HB 1008.  The bathroom bill caught the attention of the Center for Equality in Sioux Falls.

Following Tuesday’s veto, Thomas Christiansen and Ashley Joubert-Gaddis say Wednesday was a good day.

“We are thankful he met with us to hear transgender stories, and I do think that played a role in that decision,” Christiansen, Center for Equality president, said.

The bill’s sponsor has said he will not fight Daugaard’s decision, but told the New York Times he needs time to think about whether he would introduce a version of his bill again next year.

Christiansen and Joubert-Gaddis, the Center’s Director of Operations, are also watching House Bill 1112.  The bill aims to strip the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s policy on transgender students. Right now, students in activities can participate on teams according to the gender they identify with.  With all this in mind, they both know there will always be challenges to face.

“Instead of being reactive, we need to continue to be supportive of the transgender community.  On-going – Whether or not there’s bills in the legislature that are targeting them,” Christiansen said.

Christiansen says the bathroom bill helped put the spotlight on the transgender community, but says there are many other issues in the state these men and women face that also need more awareness.

“And make sure they’re getting equal access to health care, to job opportunities as anyone else,” Christiansen said.

“We are one human race, and it doesn’t matter if you are LGBTQ+ straight; anything.  We are the human race,” Joubert-Gaddis said.

Joubert-Gaddis says they are ready for a bathroom bill part two, if a lawmaker introduces similar legislation next year.

“I would like to think legislators in Pierre next year don’t want to deal with the fight again, because when or if this does come up, it’s just; we’re just going to fight it all that much harder,” Joubert-Gaddis said.

As a result of the extra attention on these issues, Center for Equality membership is up.  There is also increased interest in a transgender support group called The T. Joubert-Gaddis says to continue to provide all of these resources, the Center relies heavily on donations. You can learn more about the Center for Equality at its website.

Wednesday may feel like a victory for LGBT advocates, but they hope all of the support and momentum does not disappear in the days to come.

“People need to make their voices heard, especially younger people.  They need to get out and be part of the political process and I think this demonstrated that,” Christiansen said.

The Killer You’ve Never Heard About

There are more than one million cases a year in this country and it’s one of the leading causes of death in hospitals, yet you may never have heard of it.

Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening response to an infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

But would your doctor know if you had it?

The symptoms of fever, fast heart rate, trouble breathing and confusion can often be mistaken for something else.

Sepsis is one of the top ten patient safety issues for 2016.

258,000 Americans die of Sepsis every year.

It can happen from a viral infection, like the flu, or a bacterial infection from a wound.

The key with Sepsis is every second counts.  For every hour that goes by that a patient who has Sepsis isn’t diagnosed, the chance of death goes up by eight percent.

An eight or nine hour difference in being treated can mean the difference between life and death.

Patient advocacy groups are pushing for more awareness and education on Sepsis.

It’s been called a dirty little secret that hospitals don’t want you to know about.  But in the last year, Rapid City Regional and the entire Regional Health system have been shining a light on a problem that all health care providers face: Sepsis.  A video with Regional medical staff promoted a system-wide conference on the killer.

“It can be the result of any kind of infection, even a virus infection, which you think of as being relatively harmless.  Any type of infection can cause this,” Dr. David Klocke, Regional Health Chief Medical Officer, said.

The entire medical staff has had training to spot the signs and symptoms before it’s too late.

“We know that at least 100 people are leaving the hospital, cured of Sepsis, compared to before we put these pathways in place,” Klocke said.

Regional Health has begun screening every patient that comes into the emergency room for Sepsis. And patients admitted to the hospital are now screened twice a day.

“A lot of that is just screening of your vital signs and things like that. And if you meet certain criteria, you get a particular blood test and the doctor notified to start on Sepsis protocol,” Jory Denman, RN, Rapid City Regional Hospital Sepsis Coordinator, said.

This includes IV fluids and antibiotics.  Now, rather than it being the last thing medical staff think about, it’s on the forefront at this facility.

“So that way it’s so engrained in our nurses right now, they do it without even realizing they’re doing it. It’s just a part of their assessment,” Denman said.

Regional Health says it has saved one percent more lives of patients with Sepsis since implementing these changes.  That’s 11 lives in the last year.

A physician at Mayo Clinic also took their practices back to share with his health system.

And Regional is now launching a public Sepsis awareness campaign because many Sepsis cases begin at home and by the time a patient in taken to the hospital, they can be in septic shock.

We checked with Sioux Falls health systems and Avera says it has started to assess for Sepsis on admission and is taking other steps to catch it early.  Sanford Health also started an initiative to assess and treat Sepsis.

Norma Reiners was an active, independent 85-year-old.  She went into the hospital with a broken ankle and ended up dying of Sepsis.

Her daughter, Brenda Ludens, actually works in the health care profession and has made it her mission to educate others about Sepsis so they don’t lose a loved one to it.

“Her death could have been prevented and we feel we were robbed of 10 years of her life,” Ludens said.

Whether you get an infection or you’re helping a loved one who ends up in the hospital, Wednesday night’s Eye on KELOLAND is one you can’t afford to miss because catching Sepsis early is the difference between life and death.

Senator Rounds Article Creates Buzz In Washington

Were U.S. Senator Mike Rounds’ comments taken out of context?

Tuesday night, KELOLAND News reported what Senator Rounds had to say about Donald Trump’s answer to a question from a reporter in Washington DC, who asked what he thought of Donald Trump’s support he’s getting from David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Rounds’ answer to that question is causing a lot of controversy in Washington.

Todd Zwillich is a Washington Correspondent for “The Takeaway” for Public Radio International. He, along with a couple of other reporters, was interviewing Senator Mike Rounds about Donald Trump and what his role in the race could mean for Senators who are running for re-election.

But when the question was asked about Trump’s support from David Duke, Rounds’ response created quite a buzz in Washington.

“I think it did raise some eyebrows among a lot of people,” Zwillich said.

Zwillich was one of the reporters grilling Senator Mike Rounds on Donald Trump.

He aired part of Rounds’ interview on Public Radio International.

“We should be very clear Senator Rounds said that he doesn’t think that any Senator, including himself, Republican or Democrat, anyone who is serious about being in public life has any confluences of opinions with KKK at all,” Zwillich said.

Zwillich says an article in the Huffington Post is what everyone is reacting to, where Rounds said even if Trump didn’t disavow the support of David Duke, it was probably a mistake on his part.

“But then he did go on to say that even if he did, he would still be better than a Democrat in the White House and I think that’s when it got a lot of people’s attention,” Zwillich said.

Zwillich says a lot of Republican Senators, who are running for re-election, are trying to distance themselves from Trump; and if you read the entire article, it’s not quite so outlandish. But Rounds said just enough to spark controversy.

“It is pretty remarkable for a U.S. Senator I think to say he doesn’t think Donald Trump is a white supremacist or likes the KKK, but if he did he would be better than a democrat, that’s pretty remarkable,” Zwillich said.

If you’d like to read the entire article in the Huffington Post, click here.

Downtown Events Getting A New Look

Downtown events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Parade of Lights are becoming more popular in Sioux Falls. While it’s a fun time for many, it’s causing some traffic issues. The City is looking to change that.

When St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, the parade brings a crowd to downtown Sioux Falls. It’s one of the many events in the heart of the city with a big audience.

“Downtown, depending on the event of course can be anywhere from 10 to possibly as much as 40,000 plus people,” Lieutenant Jeff Garden said.

Officials with the Police Department say the crowds are causing complaints from drivers and downtown residents. There are about 2,300 people who live downtown, another 16,000 people work downtown. To keep traffic flowing, there will be some changes.

East 14th Street, which gets blocked off during the Parade of Lights in November, will no longer be closed for parade staging. 14th Street will remain open during future events. The time it takes to watch a downtown event could also change.

“If there are any parades, we’re going to try and limit those parades to approximately hour, hour and a half so that the crowd can get in, gather, watch the parades and get out safely as well,” Garden said.

Officials expect to see more events coming to downtown in the future.

“As the number of businesses, residents and visitor foot traffic continue to increase, we will remain in close communications with our stakeholders, community partners, and city departments to create effective and efficient ways to anticipate the new growth,” Brienne Maner said.

Trying to keep up with the popularity of downtown.

Downtown will hold 15 events that will require some streets to close this year.

Will Trump Divide GOP?

Donald Trump says he can bring more voters into the Republican tent. But others think a Trump ticket will be toxic in the fall. Despite Donald Trump’s strong showing in the Super Tuesday primary results, some longtime political observers in South Dakota aren’t ready to call the billionaire front-runner the inevitable Republican nominee just yet.

The longtime former chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party calls Trump a “bully.” Joel Rosenthal says it’s still too early in the campaign to assume that Trump will win the nomination, even though Trump has built up a comfortable lead in delegates over Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Rubio says Trump will divide the party. But Rosenthal says the country was divided politically long before Trump entered the race.

Joel Rosenthal says Donald Trump is tapping into voters’ outrage against Washington politicians.

“People are very mad and I think that’s driving part of this,” Rosenthal said.

But the former head of the South Dakota Republican Party says Trump’s brashness and bluster could haunt him if he’s the party’s nominee.

“You know, I’m going to build a wall and I’m going to make them pay for it,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal says a Trump backlash could cost Republicans in Congress and in statehouses across the country.

“It might be difficult for us to hold onto the elected positions that we have both in the U.S. Senate and in the U.S. House, governorships where Republicans hold the majority, the legislative, where they hold the majority,” Rosenthal said.

Former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler blames both Republicans and Democrats for the politics of division. Pressler left the Republican Party to launch an unsuccessful independent bid for Senate in 2014. He says the presidential candidates are more concerned about media exposure than paying serious attention to the issues.

“This should not be a cable TV ratings campaign on either side and both sides are equally guilty of it,” Pressler said.

Pressler stands by his decision to leave the Republican Party, but he says he’s paid a political price for severing his ties with the GOP.

“It’s a dilemma to me because if you’re not in a party, then you can’t influence the nominating process,” Pressler said.

Pressler says younger South Dakotans need to become more involved in the political process to ensure candidates take notice of the issues important to them.

Rosenthal thinks South Dakota will likely remain in the Republican column even with Trump heading the ticket. He says a wild card would be a third-party candidate who could split the Republican vote.

Air Force To Conduct Large Force Exercise In Complex

Ellsworth Air Force Base will conduct a large force exercise later this month in the Powder River Training Complex.

The March 30-31 exercise with be the second large-scale exercise since the complex’s borders were expanded.

The Air Force limits large-scale training to 10 days a year, with each exercise lasting no more than three days.

Throughout the two-day exercise, people living under Powder River One, Two, Three and Four and Gaps A, B and C can expect to see multiple types of aircraft using the areas at the same time.

Civilian pilots are told to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notices to Airmen and review flight plans to avoid areas and altitudes where military aircraft will fly.

Storm Center Update Wednesday PM: March 2

Light snow has made its way into eastern KELOLAND this afternoon. And it will last into tonight but very little, if any, accumulation is expected. The heaviest snowfall is expected in the northeast and that is likely to be less than one inch, just flurries everywhere else. The light rain we saw in the west will transition to snow as temperatures cool below freezing. Overnight lows will dip into the 20s.

Thursday will have mostly cloudy to cloudy skies across the area. Afternoon temperatures will be similar to today, 30s in the east, near 40 in central South Dakota, and mid-50s will be found in west KELOLAND.

Friday afternoon will have another chance for precipitation but with the much warmer weather moving into the Midwest, only light rain is expected. And this warmer weather will start Friday and last well into the weekend. Highs on Friday will range from the middle to upper 40s in central and east KELOLAND and the west will climb to the upper 50s to near 60 degrees.

The weekend is looking wonderful. Skies over the Midwest will be mostly sunny to sunny with very warm temperatures. Saturday’s highs will reach the upper 40s in the east, mid to upper 50s in central KELOLAND, and the west will climb into the middle 60s. Sunday will be even warmer with highs reaching the upper 50s to upper 60s across the region.

The warmer weather will stick around next week with a chance for thunderstorms Monday evening. Stay tuned to the KELOLAND Storm Center as we bring you the latest throughout this week and the weekend.

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief – March 2

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are wavering between small gains and losses in afternoon trading on Wall Street. Energy companies are rising as investors gain confidence that oil prices won’t get any worse. Agribusiness giant Monsanto is leading a decline in materials stocks.

NEW YORK (AP) – Sports Authority is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The retailer says it plans to close or sell about 140 stores and two distribution centers. The Englewood, Colorado, company has 463 stores. Sports Authority stores will remain open and run on normal schedules during the Chapter 11 process. The company’s website will continue to function as well.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Prescription drug distributor McKesson Corp. is buying Canadian pharmacy operator Rexall Health from Katz Group for $2.2 billion. San Francisco-based McKesson will acquire about 470 of Rexall’s retail pharmacies. The deal is expected to close late this year.

DALLAS (AP) – Gasoline prices have started their annual spring climb, but they’re expected to stay below the level of recent years. Auto club AAA says the national average price for a gallon of regular has risen for eight straight days for the first time since last May. Today’s average of about $1.79 is 54 cents cheaper than a year ago. The U.S. Energy Department predicts the national average for a gallon of regular will peak at $2.08, while Tom Kloza, an energy analyst with the Oil Price Information Service, says the peak will be between $2.10 and $2.50 a gallon.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon is looking for a few good computer hackers. Screened high-tech specialists will be brought in to try to breach the Defense Department’s public Internet pages in a pilot program aimed at finding and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The program called “Hack the Pentagon” will begin next month. Department officials will first have to work through a number of legal issues involving the authorization of individuals to breach active websites.