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After three and a half hours of deliberation Friday afternoon, a Davison County jury decided Aurora County is liable to pay damages in an earlier decision won against the county by Thompson Farms. The decision could put the county and its taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars in a controversy that is now 14 years old. A judge has already determined Thompson Farms is owed money because county zoning laws passed during the late 1990s forced the family to lose its dairy business. The determination of an amount of damages has been on hold since 2009 while the county's insure
Trial testimony in a lawsuit pitting an insurer against Aurora County centered Thursday on whether the insurer's file notes from 2001 indicated knowledge of a potentially large claim. The insurer, the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance, is suing Aurora County to avoid paying damages in a decision that Thompson Farms already has won against the county. Thompson Farms successfully claimed it was wrongfully forced out of its dairy business by the county's zoning laws.
Aurora County is in court again this week defending itself against a lawsuit by an insurer. A Davison County jury decided in August 2010 that Aurora County's liability insurance provider was not responsible to pay a family that had won a previous decision against the county. In that decision, a judge found the Thompson family had lost its farm due to a cap on the number of dairy cattle the county imposed in 1998. The judge in that earlier case ruled that the cap amounted to "inverse condemnation" -- a taking or damaging of private property without just compensation.
It took eight minutes for the Mitchell Fire Division, which is located downtown, to reach the house fire three miles away Monday morning on the north shore of Lake Mitchell. That has some people in the city talking anew about an old idea -- placing a satellite fire station in the northern part of Mitchell. "It's something that's been talked about and looked at for at least 10 years, because the population is growing to the north and northwest with residential housing," said Paul Morris, assistant fire chief.
A former Crow Creek Sioux Tribe chairman has appealed his federal criminal convictions. Duane Big Eagle, 62, was convicted Nov. 30 on two counts of conspiracy to bribe tribal officials and one count of bribery. Big Eagle took payments from a contractor hired to build on the reservation, which is headquartered in Fort Thompson. Big Eagle's attorney, Dana Hanna, of Rapid City, said during the trial in November that prosecutors did not give enough evidence to prove Big Eagle knew the payments were bribes. Big Eagle and Hanna must file a brief by Feb.
The cause of a fire that destroyed a large lake house Monday morning in Mitchell was still undetermined later Monday because the remains were too hot to sift through, said Lyndon Overweg, chief of the Mitchell Department of Public Safety. The house at 170 N. Harmon Drive, on the north side of Lake Mitchell, was engulfed in flames by the time the Mitchell Fire Division arrived on the scene at 6:30 a.m. A neighbor across the lake reported the incident at 6:20 a.m., said Paul Morris, assistant fire chief.
A large lake house in Mitchell was destroyed by fire Monday morning. The house at 170 N. Harmon Drive, on the north side of Lake Mitchell, was engulfed in flames by the time the Mitchell Fire Division arrived on the scene at 6:30 a.m. A neighbor across the lake reported the incident at 6:20 a.m., said Paul Morris, assistant fire chief. The Mitchell Police Division arrived on scene first and determined it was a structure fire, he said. Owners Dennis Brakke, Mitchell, and Rodney Brakke, of Omaha, Neb., were not at the residence at the time of the fire.
Neither local store on closing list from Sears Holdings Corp. Both the Kmart and Sears locations in Mitchell will remain open, local officials confirmed Friday. The stores' futures appeared in doubt earlier this week when Sears Holdings Corp. announced it will close 100 to 120 stores around the country. When the closure list was released later in the week, neither of the Mitchell stores was on it. "We've got a lot of exciting things coming in the future," said Bill Whiteside, store manager of the Mitchell Kmart. "We've been here since 1978, and we're not going anywhere.
While several categories of crime are on the decline in Mitchell, a few are on the rise. The South Dakota Attorney General's Office released statistics Thursday for crime in 2010. The office's new release highlighted driving under the influence arrests, which were down 11.7 percent statewide, compared to the previous year. In Mitchell, shoplifting and burglary/breaking and entering rose from 2009. According to the National Incident-Based Reporting System data, the Mitchell Police Division dealt with 107 shoplifting reports, compared to 93 in 2009.
Public notice is result of lessons learned from Schein killing in July By ANNA JAUHOLA The Daily Republic Following lessons learned from a July killing allegedly carried out by a freed convict, state officials warned the public Wednesday of a convicted rapist's upcoming release. State Corrections Secretary Dennis Kaemingk, of Mitchell, told The Daily Republic on Wednesday that the Department of Corrections reviewed news-release policies after James McVay was released in July. McVay is charged with killing 75-yearold Maybelle Schein shortly after his release from prison.