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Wanted: Democratic West River farmer for GF&P commission

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News Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
The Daily Republic
Wanted: Democratic West River farmer for GF&P commission
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE — Chairwoman Susie Knippling, of Gann Valley, participates in her last meeting today and Friday as a member of the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

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Her term expires Friday. But who will fill her seat next isn’t known.

In fact, Gov. Dennis Daugaard has two appointments to make to the commission, whose members set the regulations, policies and budgets for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department.

The seat previously held by Bill Cerny has been vacant for the past year, following his resignation after he moved from Burke to Yankton and sold out of his farm.

Governor’s spokesman Tony Venhuizen said Wednesday there will be an announcement of two appointees sometime after this week’s meeting and before the commission’s next regular meeting set for March 6-7.

The Legislature will still be in session when the appointments are made and the new commissioners will be subject to Senate confirmation, according to Venhuizen.

State law requires a specific set of balances in the make-up of the eight-member commission:

  • Not more than four of the commissioners may be members of the same political party;
  • At the time of their appointment, at least four shall be farmers actually residing on a farm, engaged in agriculture, deriving at least two-thirds of their gross annual incomes from crop or livestock production or both, and interested in wildlife conservation; and
  • At the time of their appointment three commissioners shall reside west of the Missouri River and five shall reside east of the Missouri River.

Both Cerny and Knippling met the agriculture requirements.

Efforts by governor’s staff to find a successor for Cerny — a Democratic farmer from west of the Missouri River who was willing to serve and was acceptable to the governor — reportedly have proven difficult.

State law now limits GF&P commissioners to two four-year terms. Daugaard appointed Cerny on Feb. 8, 2012, and his first term was scheduled to run until Jan. 10, 2016.

Knippling was appointed to her first term by then-Gov. Mike Rounds in 2006. He reappointed her in 2010 to a second term that runs until Friday.

Daugaard also hasn’t yet announced whether he’s reappointed John Cooper, of Pierre, to the commission. Cooper was secretary of game, fish and parks in the Janklow and Rounds administrations. After his retirement from the Rounds cabinet, Rounds appointed him to his first term on the commission in 2010. That term ends Friday.