PIERRE — State government would pay the city of Wagner and Charles Mix County to take ownership and eventually maintain approximately 1.5 miles of state Highway 50. South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) officials plan to reconfigure the route, and a plan was presented Thursday to the state government's Transportation Commission. The plan would eliminate a diagonal segment of Highway 50 entering Wagner from the north and reconstruct the road to connect squarely with State Highway 46.
PIERRE — State government's Transportation Commission agreed Thursday to ask for public comments on possible closures of two bridges crossing South Dakota's interstate highways. Each carries mostly local traffic, according to Mark Leiferman. He is an official for the state Department of Transportation. The closures aren't in the surface transportation improvement plan however and therefore require public hearings, Leiferman said. Neither bridge is at an interchange. One allows vehicles on 348 Street to cross I-90 in Brule County without stopping.
PIERRE — State government's Transportation Commission awarded contracts on seven South Dakota highway projects Thursday but refused to proceed with an eighth. Commissioners rejected a structure replacement project five miles east of Wessington on a Beadle County road. State Department of Transportation recommended the rejection. The project, a box culvert, attracted one bid, which came from Highmark Inc. of Black Hawk. The company bid $806,425.50. The department engineer's estimated the work would cost $344,149.50.
The chairman said forecasts presented Wednesday to the Legislature's budget panel about state government's fiscal year that began July 1 were both bad and good. Both estimates have been revised downward, reflecting expectations of slightly lower growth in South Dakota's economy in the months ahead, Sen. Larry Tidemann said. But Tidemann, R-Brookings, said the good news was the revisions don't require adjustments from Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the Legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations.
PIERRE — South Dakota lawmakers bore down Tuesday rather than back off their inquiry into the GEAR UP program. They agreed to seek testimony from four witnesses: Melody Schopp, who is state government's education secretary; Tamara Darnall, her financial officer; Brinda Kuhn, who wrote the original grant request for GEAR UP a decade ago and later was a paid evaluator regarding the program's effectiveness; and state Rep. Kyle Schoenfish, R-Scotland, whose father heads the firm that audited Mid-Central Educational Cooperative at Platte.
PIERRE — The South Dakota High School Activities Association is moving forward with a special committee on its foundation, the new executive director said Tuesday. Dan Swartos said he would work with superintendents from several school districts. They will try to make recommendations for the foundation's future, he said. His remarks came during testimony to the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee. The association and the foundation now have separate boards, according to Swartos.
PIERRE — The head of South Dakota’s Department of Education landed a bombshell Monday. Secretary Melody Schopp said none of the money that disappeared from a schools cooperative came from the GEAR UP program. “Our programs were on a draw-down basis,” Schopp told the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee.
PIERRE — Doug Decker, the Legislature’s chief lawyer, told lawmakers Monday they might better serve South Dakota’s taxpayers by changing state laws that allowed the GEAR UP scandal to occur, rather than pursue a parallel investigation. Decker said state law provides authority for the Government Operations and Audit Committee to subpoena state government employees.
PIERRE — There was a time in South Dakota when the Legislature's committees met behind closed doors. Your presence depended upon whether the chairmen allowed you to be there. Now we operate in a different era. The committee meetings are open. Even better, they are live-streamed through the Internet. Committee chairmen greet Internet listeners. You can be anywhere with a broadband connection. Transparency now is the golden rule. Or so some of us thought.
PIERRE — State government regulators revoked the grain-buyer licenses for a Kingsbury County business Friday. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission ordered the action against H & I Grain, of Hetland. The order pulls the state licenses issued to the company for its Hetland, De Smet and Arlington locations. The commissioners directed their staff to open a docket for dispersing the $400,000 of bond proceeds to affected farmers. Estimates of losses differed widely Friday, ranging from $1.4 million to more than $6 million.