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A truck travels through treacherous conditions in April on Interstate 90 in the Mitchell area. (Daily Republic file photo)

YEAR IN REVIEW: April: Spring storm slams area with snow, ice

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YEAR IN REVIEW: April: Spring storm slams area with snow, ice
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

A spring storm that blanketed much of the region in nearly a foot of snow and ice in mid-April left thousands without power for days, shut down schools and businesses, and made travel all but impossible.

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The storm’s first wave swept through Mitchell and the surrounding area late April 9 and early April 10, bringing with it more than 7 inches of snow and 20 to 30 mph winds, with occasional 40 mph gusts. Mitchell received less than a quarter-inch of ice, but heavier ice hit areas farther east, toppling trees and power lines.

More snow fell on the region the night of April 10, with 8 to 10 inches of snow piling up in the Mitchell area from the three-day storm, according to the National Weather Service.

Vast portions of Interstate 90 between Sioux Falls and Rapid City were closed at various times during the storm.

At least 90,000 Xcel Energy customers experienced power outages from the three-day storm, including 1,075 customers in Alexandria, Bridgewater, Emery and Fulton. At least 250 electrical poles in the region were knocked down by the storm.

Shortly after 5 a.m. April 11, a fire destroyed a home in Alexandria. Firefighters struggled to reach the burning home in the wintry conditions on the town’s third day without power. Thomas Boggs, the home’s only occupant at the time, escaped without injury.

Power was restored in Alexandria, Emery and Bridgewater later on April 11.

Following are summaries of other local and area news from April editions of The Daily Republic.

April 4: A Mitchell woman, Shannon Foster, was accused of embezzling more than $3,000 while employed as a bookkeeper at the city-owned James Valley Community Center, sometimes called the “senior center.” Foster later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to two days in jail and ordered to pay restitution to the city.

April 6: State biologists reported that an estimated 1.4 million pheasants were bagged by hunters in South Dakota in 2012, fewer than the 1.56 million taken in 2011 and the 1.8 million taken in 2010. Officials blamed the hot, dry weather that plagued much of the state the previous summer.

April 13: Kent Davidson, 37, had two five-year prison terms for forgery and second-degree escape reimposed by the three members of the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles for walking away from a transitional facility in October in Rapid City while out of prison on parole. Davidson is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing a 26-year-old Mitchell woman, Crystal Schulz. Davidson allegedly committed the crime after he absconded from his parole.

April 15: Gary Munsen, who spent 39 years at the helm of the Mitchell Kernels boys’ basketball team, was inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. In his entire coaching career, which spanned 47 years, Munsen won a combined 896 boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball games and 12 state titles.

April 16: The Mitchell City Council voted 4-3 in favor of a ban on texting while driving within the city limits. Mitchell was the sixth city in South Dakota to enact such a ban, joining Sioux Falls, Brookings, Watertown, Vermillion and Huron. In July, Aberdeen became the seventh city in the state to enact a ban.

April 16: Tom Young, who took over as the coach of the Mitchell Kernels boys’ basketball team for longtime coach Gary Munsen, resigned. Young cited health reasons and time constraints as the reasons for his resignation, after a 5-17 season in which the Kernels boys’ program missed the state tournament for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

April 18: The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe applied for permission from the U.S. Department of the Interior to use 12 acres of a 91-acre parcel of land on the western edge of Oacoma for gaming purposes. The tribe has owned the land, located about 10 miles south of the Lower Brule Reservation border, since 1990. The first phase of the project, which would include the construction of a casino, is estimated to cost $34 million. A potential second phase could include a hotel and waterpark.

April 18: A Scotland, S.D., man, 39-year-old Chris Miller, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his 4-month-old son, appealed his conviction to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Miller was found guilty in January by a Turner County jury of second-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection with his infant son’s death. At his sentencing in February, Miller still claimed he was innocent.

April 19: Dakota Wesleyan University named Amy Novak, a Mitchell native, as its new and first female president. Novak succeeded Robert Duffett, who accepted the president’s position at Eastern University in Pennsylvania and left DWU at the end of the school year.

April 25: Sonya Fossum, a teacher at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, and Lisa Neugebauer, a teacher at Second Chance High, tied for the Mitchell School District’s Teacher of the Year award.

April 30: Erik Skoglund was hired as the coach of the Mitchell Kernels boys’ basketball team. Skoglund was the head coach of the Spearfish boys’ basketball team for the five years prior, and also has head coaching experience at McCook Central High School in Salem. He also has experience as an assistant coach at both the high school and college levels.

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