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Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

December 1, 2017

American News, Aberdeen, Nov. 28

Northern changes create opportunities for entire Aberdeen community

Sometimes, a single spark can start the biggest fire.

For the past few years, Northern State University has been sending up flares. A new addition to the Barnett Center here, a new greenhouse there, and a new resident hall here.

Then talk of more new dorms, more changes and then a $25 million regional science center brightened a horizon that looked as if it couldn’t get more beautiful. That campus-changing center is scheduled to greet Northern students in fall 2019.

Now, Northern seems ready to ignite — again — in the best way possible. And not only will a state university campus shine for decades to come, with it comes an opportunity for our community to play off of Northern’s successes.

This explosion of good news from Northern recently continued in the form a $5 million commitment by the health care provider Sanford to fund scholarships and endowments. Details on that news are still being sorted out.

That was a great day for Northern. And our hometown university seems to be on a hot streak of having a lot of them this fall.

Like on Nov. 18 when Northern and the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired kicked off a $45 million capital campaign. Exciting news to be sure, especially considering that Northern also announced that $25 million has already pledged.

Thank you to those who have donated. And for those who still want to, contributions can be made at educational-impact.com. You can track the campaign’s progress there as well.

The money will be used for:

— $6.3 million: A new soccer field and football practice field on the swath of land behind Jerde Hall. The facility will include a pavilion featuring restrooms, locker rooms and bleachers. This is needed because the regional science center will be built on the current football practice field along South State Street.

— $13.7 million: A new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It will be built where Jerde Hall dormitory currently stands. Jerde will be razed after two under-construction residence halls are finished.

One exciting thing about the new school will be that it will have two stories with an elevator and stairs. Currently, students at the school for the blind have to go off campus to practice those skills.

Sometimes those of us who have been given so much take what seem like the simplest tasks for granted.

— $25 million: The new school for the blind would open up a 10-acre parcel south of Northern’s campus for a sports complex featuring a football stadium and softball field, the price of which has not been announced. But the remaining funds the school is raising total about $25 million.

We like that all these projects are under one campaign. It prevents fundraisers from going back again and again to the same people.

One price tag, right up front.

Plus, the fact that more than half of the needed funds have already been pledged also raises confidence that the goal will be reached in a reasonable timeline.

Once the campaign is complete, Northern will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade, according to university officials.

By 2022, the university will have the look of a new campus.

The iron has never been so hot. The time for the rest of this community to strike is now. Aberdeen needs to be having discussions on the effects of Northern’s changes — and the other changes like the new soybean plant.

Community-changing stuff is happening right before our eyes.

We need to make sure we are ready for these changes and plan how we can leverage them to the fullest extent.

This feels like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. We need to act accordingly.

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Madison Daily Leader, Madison, Nov. 29

Large animal farms can be managed well

Large-scale animal farms are under attack from a variety of angles, including animal rights activists, environmentalists, neighboring towns and recreation areas.

Many of these battles take place at county commission meetings, although we expect more of them to take place in the state Legislature.

On each side are strong-willed opponents, and it seems most battles end up with distinct winners and losers.

But we think there are opportunities for both supporters and opponents to feel as though they are making progress. Those opportunities lie in new management methods and new technologies. If farmers and ranchers adopt some or all of the newest methods and technologies, we believe opponents will be more willing to accept large-scale operations.

We aren’t experts in how to run a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), but there are experts available, including university faculty, agriculture trade groups, environmental specialists and vendors of new products.

We’ve read about newly developed bio filters (like large flake wood chips) which remove both particulates and odor from the air. There are new manure management systems which prevent bacteria getting in to waterways. Highly specialized filters clean water used in some animal operations.

Adding shelter belts on all sides of a CAFO, with particular trees that are best in our climate, contribute to dust and odor removal, plus give an aesthetically pleasing look to operations.

Reducing unnecessary antibiotics (which is increasingly demanded by both consumers and food processors) is a must. Operators can set up transportation in ways that don’t tear up county or state roads.

There are many more methods and technologies available for operators willing to discover them. Taking advantage of improved methods and tools can turn CAFO battles into manageable relationships.

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The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Dec. 1

Definite need for more conservation officers

As November wraps up and many hunting seasons slowly come to an end, it’s important for us to remember a sometimes thankless job that’s so important to our state.

Conservation officers, aka game wardens, with the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department have been working hard for the past few months doing their best to ensure outdoor enthusiasts are staying within the confines of laws to protect our natural resources.

But does our state have enough conservation officers? We think there’s a definite need for more.

A lot of game is open for hunting in South Dakota right now. Deer, pheasants and waterfowl are available hunting opportunities, while fishing from boats is a luxury as today hits December.

And right there, speckled throughout the state, are GF&P conservation officers to keep our outdoor heritage strong for the coming decades.

The goal for all conservation officers is for complete compliance — for everyone to abide by laws, which are set to hold game populations at suitable levels.

But not everyone follows the laws. And, perhaps because now’s hunting season, we’ve noticed more people are violating laws.

This month, GF&P has asked for the public’s help in a couple cases in Lyman County in which someone shot pheasants and Canada geese, did not harvest the meat and dumped the carcasses to be wasted. Another case from West River showed a large mule deer that was poached and left unharvested.

On the same note, a recent GF&P law enforcement report showed there was a 17 percent increase in violations in 2016 compared to the previous year. Those violations included everything from trespass, over the limit, drug violations and more.

The state has about 80 certified conservation officers to cover about 77,000 square miles. On average, that’s more than 900 that each conservation officer is responsible for.

These men and women work extremely hard. They’re on duty during nights and weekends and, in our experiences, they’re very professional. In addition, they also assist traditional law enforcement agencies as conservation officers are trained law enforcement.

As more people attempt to break state game laws and as all crime rises in South Dakota, state officials need to seriously think about boosting the number of conservation officers here. South Dakota residents and a large majority of the state’s tourists love the outdoor opportunities we have.

To keep those traditions strong, GF&P’s law enforcement agency could use a boost.

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