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YEAR IN REVIEW: January: Gov. Daugaard gets ‘smart on crime’

Gov. Dennis Daugaard speaks to the Legislature in January at the Capitol in Pierre. (Daily Republic file photo)

Gov. Dennis Daugaard decided to get “smart on crime” in 2013, unveiling plans for sweeping changes to the state’s criminal justice system during his State of the State address Jan. 8 in Pierre.

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At the start of the 2013 legislative session, Daugaard urged lawmakers to approve a set of proposals that included expansion of programs to keep drug and alcohol offenders out of prison by placing them in intensive treatment programs.

Without the changes, South Dakota would have to build a new men’s prison and a new women’s prison in the next 10 years, he said. The state’s prison population had increased to more than 3,500 inmates, a 500 percent increase since 1980. Another 7,000 people were on probation and 2,400 on parole, according to statistics from the state Department of Corrections.

“This set of proposals is not about being soft on crime. This is about being smart on crime,” the Republican governor said.

The proposed changes in South Dakota’s criminal justice system were recommended by a study panel appointed by Daugaard, S.D. Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson and legislative leaders.

Legislative leaders from both parties praised Daugaard for pushing the criminal justice reform measure, including Rep. Lance Carson, Rep. Tona Rozum and Sen. Mike Vehle, all Republicans from Mitchell. The package of reforms was eventually approved.

Following is a summary of other local and area news from January editions of The Daily Republic.

Jan. 2: Davison County’s District 2 Commissioner Jerry Fischer retired after 12 years in office at age 66.

Jan. 3: Authorities said two people were hospitalized with severe but non-life-threatening injuries following an early morning brawl on New Year’s Day in Mitchell that involved at least 14 people, and led to four arrests by the end of the month.

Jan. 4: A local record of $31 million in projects received city building permits in 2012 from Mitchell’s business community, it was reported, including the remodeling of County Fair Food Store into County Fair Plaza.

Jan. 5: The Corn Palace added seven additional shows or events beyond the annual Corn Palace Festival in 2012, it was reported, bringing in a profit of $27,000.

Jan. 7: Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell, and Rep Lance Carson, R-Mitchell, discussed their pending return to Pierre and the upcoming legislative session. Hot topics included state prison reform and texting while driving.

Jan. 8: A 28-year-old woman and two children escaped without injury from a house fire at 219 E. Seventh Ave. in Mitchell.

Jan. 9: The Davison County Commission voted unanimously to appoint Chief Deputy Steve Brink as sheriff. Brink replaced outgoing sheriff David Miles, who retired Jan. 18.

Jan. 10: Mitchell’s only Italian-themed restaurant, Napoli’s, which opened at the start of 2012, closed. Management said a lack of employees was the primary reason for the closure.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors created a new 11AAA class for football, putting Mitchell into Class 11AA with nine other teams as part of a two-year experimental period.

Jan. 11: Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., held a town hall meeting in Mitchell, where he affirmed his position against drastic restrictions on guns and gun ownership.

Jan. 12: Concealed-carry gun permits issued in Davison County reached their highest-ever recorded level in 2012, with the Sheriff’s Office issuing 481 permits, up from 383 in 2011. Newly appointed Sheriff Steve Brink attributed the run-up to gun-owner anxiety over potential new restrictions on firearms nationally.

The day commemorated the 125th anniversary of the Children’s Blizzard of Jan. 12, 1888, that killed hundreds of people across the Great Plains, including a reported 178 in present-day South Dakota.

Jan. 14: Cold weather and ground conditions delayed the construction of Chamberlain’s new community center by two weeks.

Jan. 15: A $1.2 million addition to the Hanson School, the new Hanson Area Community Library, combined the school’s and city’s resources.

Maria Nightingale scored her 1,000th point in Kimball/White Lake’s 50-34 victory over Mount Vernon/Plankinton in a high school girls’ basketball game. Nightingale recorded 14 points, 10 rebounds and five steals in the win.

Jan. 16: Davison County commissioners approved $8,900 in upgrades to the jail’s camera system. The expenditure was a direct response to an attack on a corrections officer.

Jan. 17: Mitchell Aquatic Club’s Tevyn Waddell broke her own state record in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 57.78 seconds over the weekend at the Midwest All-Stars swim meet in Lawrence, Kan. The previous record for her age group, set in November, was 57.81. Waddell finished second overall in the event.

Jan. 19: Former Mitchell resident and U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Fred Ellwein prepared to command the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps for President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day.

Jan. 22: Mitchell police arrested 23-year-old Kristopher Wilson, of Lawrence, Kan., for rape of a person incapable of giving consent. Wilson, a Dakota Wesleyan University student, allegedly had sex with an adult female who was highly intoxicated and unconscious at the time.

Mitchell Technical Institute’s enrollment for the spring 2013 semester set an all-time record for the school, with 1,115, surpassing the previous record of 1,108 set in fall 2010.

Jan. 23: Laurie Cournoyer, 29, of Wagner, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of methamphetamine and one count of keeping a place for the use or sale of controlled substances. She pleaded no contest to one count of failing to report the death of a child. She and Taylor Cournoyer, 21, were both arrested after 2-year-old Rielee Lovell was found dead July 4 at the couple’s home in a Wagner tribal housing project after being in their care. The death allegedly went unreported for nearly two days.

Jan. 24: Jeremiah Hart, 23, of Huron, an inmate at the Davison County jail, was indicted on two alternate counts of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The charges stemmed from a Jan. 1 incident in which Hart allegedly attacked James Dietz, a part-time corrections officer at the jail.

Jan. 25: A 2012 Brown University study judged South Dakota one of the least diverse places in the country, and Mitchell, Watertown and Aberdeen as three of the least diverse micropolitan (an area of 10,000 to 49,000 people) areas in the United States.

Jan. 26: Mitchell’s credit rating for the $13.9 million in bonds it was recently issued was upgraded to A+ by the Standard & Poor’s rating assessment.

Jan. 28: Hundreds of people braved frigid temperatures for a chance to buy books, furniture and other items once owned by three-time presidential candidate George McGovern, formerly of Mitchell, at an estate sale in Sioux Falls.

Jan. 29: Avera Queen of Peace Hospital donated the final $300,000 needed for Dakota Wesleyan University’s $11.5 million Corrigan Health Sciences Center.

Jan. 30: State prosecutors said Maricela Diaz’s tossed-out confession should be reinstated. Diaz is accused of killing 16-year-old Jasmine Guevara, of Mitchell, in November 2009.

The Peter Norbeck House in Geddes needed a new foundation, floors, windows, walls and shingles, for which The Charles Mix County Restoration Historical Society started raising money.

Jan. 31: A Turner County jury convicted Chris Miller, a 39-year-old from Scotland, of second-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection with the 2011 death of his four-month-old son, Jacob.