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WESSINGTON SPRINGS -- The superintendent of the Wessington Springs School District has been placed on administrative leave following two drunken driving arrests in less than a year's time. The Wessington Springs Board of Education issued a statement regarding Lance Witte after an executive session at its Monday meeting. "On behalf of the Wessington Springs Board of Education, we would like to make the following statement. Mr.
CORSICA -- A local family made a difficult decision recently to auction more than 250 antique cars, trucks and tractors their father collected over several decades. Rolland VanderPol's five children have not inherited his passion for the vehicles, which have been neglected since Rolland entered a nursing home 3½ years ago, said Bob VanderPol. "He lived and breathed old cars and tractors," Bob said of his father, who is 93. "That was his thing." For years after his "retirement," Rolland tinkered with and restored old vehicles, Bob said.
PLANKINTON -- An increase of 30 students took the Plankinton School District by pleasant surprise this summer and resulted in the school board having to push back the start of the school year. The district ended its 2010-11 academic year with 220 students, and the school board figured its 2011-12 budget based on an increase of 10 students. Superintendent Jim Jones said the possibility of an even bigger increase came to light in mid-July.
DIMOCK -- As residents of 80 towns in South Dakota grapple with the idea that their post offices may close, some townspeople are working to keep their post office open. The people of the Dimock and Olivet areas have circulated nonbinding petitions in support of keeping the post offices open. More than 140 people signed the petition for Dimock, population 151, and about 50 have signed for Olivet, population 14. The U.S. Postal Service announced at the end of July it will study whether to close 80 post offices throughout the state.
WESSINGTON SPRINGS -- A recent break given to Superintendent Lance Witte could be revoked after he received a driving under the influence charge Friday. Jerauld County State's Attorney Casey Bridgman said he's waiting for information from Hanson County before he makes his decision on the matter. Witte was arrested for DUI in Hanson County near Alexandria. Only three days earlier, he pleaded guilty to driving with a revoked license in connection with a previous DUI conviction.
ALEXANDRIA -- After Christmas vacation, prekindergarten through second-grade students will find themselves in new classrooms at Hanson Public School. Puetz Corp. is currently overseeing the construction of a seven-room elementary wing to provide room for the increasing number of students. "We split pre-K, kindergarten, first and second grades into two sections each last year," said Superintendent Jim Bridge. This year, the prekindergarten class has 36 children, while kindergarten, first and second each have 28.
WESSINGTON SPRINGS -- School board members in Wessington Springs are avoiding public comment on Superintendent Lance Witte, who was recently arrested on his second drunken driving charge in less than a year. The board has been advised by its attorney, Rodney Freeman, of Huron, to avoid speaking about the subject until the entire school board meets. The next scheduled meeting is Monday evening at the Wessington Springs Elementary School. "It's not a scheduled item," Tate Von Eye, board president, said of Witte's employment status.
The South Dakota Legislature has spent 85 years recording its legislators' voting records. A freshman representative is now working to make sure the public has better online access to every vote cast. Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, became concerned with voting records after a smokeout vote was not published on the status page for House Bill 1198, which pertained to businesses employing illegal immigrants. A smokeout is designed to advance a failed or stalled bill out of the committees and onto the full Senate or House floor.
The Davison County Commission approved Tuesday a supplemental budget item for the highway department. Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg said $149,000 in State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds will go into his budget to allow the purchase of 30,000 tons of gravel needed for work on roads. "It's a one-year deal," he added. The commission also approved a low quote for 3,000 gallons of gasoline at $3.12 a gallon from Stern Oil Co. However, that approval puts the highway department out of money for fuel, Weinberg said.
GREGORY -- The organizers of an annual film and book festival in Gregory are hoping to spread the event's appeal beyond scholars. The festival, which begins Wednesday and continues through Saturday, is dedicated to the memory of Oscar Micheaux, an African-American who homesteaded in Gregory County. Micheaux was the first African-American to write a best-selling novel. He was also the first to write, direct and produce a feature-length film, "The Homesteader," which was based on his book of the same title. It debuted in 1918 and was based on his experiences in Gregory County.