Daily Republic Editorial Board
Has South Dakota fixed its high prison population problem, or just kicked the can down the road? Recently, Gov. Dennis Daugaard touted the successes of the state's 2013 Public Safety Improvement Act, which focuses on rehabilitating nonviolent offenders by keeping them in the community rather than sending them to an overcrowded prison.
The Platte community has dealt with enough hardship and controversy in the past 17 months, which is why we urge a local school board member to step down. Brian Biehl was a South Dakota Highway patrolman for 15 years who admitted to taking about $70,000 in money that he confiscated between May 2012 and Oct. 2016. Biehl turned himself in to authorities and said he intended on paying the funds back. Up until Monday, Biehl was also the president of the Platte-Geddes School Board. During a special meeting, Biehl stepped down as president of the board but remained on as a member.
Given the circumstances, the accomplishments of the Mitchell High School gymnastics team are nothing short of amazing. In the past five years, coach Audra Rew has led her squads to five top-three finishes at the Class AA state meet. The Kernels were champions three straight years from 2014 to 2016. And, over the weekend, Mitchell capped another stellar season with a state runner-up finish. And that's just the team honors. Each season, Mitchell also had multiple gymnasts place highly during the individual portion of state. In fact, too many to try and sort out.
HISSES to the situation the city of Mitchell suffered last week. When the City Council and the mayor agree our city received a "black eye" following a regular council meeting in which business owners and elected officials are publicly fighting, we need to take a look at ourselves and ask what we're trying to accomplish. There's probably some credence to what all parties said last week — both local business owner Tim Jones and Mayor Jerry Toomey. And perhaps there's more to the story than both sides are revealing.
Three strong verbs were stamped on the front page of Wednesday's edition of The Daily Republic. "Awesome," "amazing" and "awe-inspiring." Those were just some of the descriptions by local residents given to Mitchell School District's new performing arts center, which held its soft opening Tuesday night during the annual Palace City Jazz Festival. We couldn't agree more. It's hard to immediately grasp the fact that this facility is right here in Mitchell, and we're sure the roughly 500 people who attended Tuesday night's event feel the same.
The city of Mitchell became an embarrassment overnight to potentially save $30,000. During Monday night's regularly scheduled City Council meeting, Mayor Jerry Toomey publicly battled with local business Jones Supply and some members of the council for his decision to bid out janitorial and cleaning supplies.
South Dakota must invest in its pheasants. The state needs to be on the leading edge of studies committed to learning more about the non-native upland game bird, particularly due to pheasant hunting's impact as a driving force of our state's economy. If that means spending hours, days, weeks and years to uncover new information, we say it's worth it. If that means spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, we say go for it.
CHEERS to the several area high school student-athletes who will continue their football careers this fall. On National Signing Day last Wednesday, Dakota Wesleyan University inked 34 players, including 21 South Dakotans and six Mitchell Kernels who are fresh off a Class 11AA state title victory. DWU also brought in seven more Mitchell-area players, ranging from McCook Central/Montrose to Colome. And other area athletes, including three players from the Class 11B powerhouse Winner Warriors, also signed on to continue their football careers while advancing their education.
If there's a street in Mitchell that needs some work, it's Sanborn Boulevard. After recent street projects on Spruce Street and Fifth Avenue — with construction on Burr Street right around the corner — we're pleased to hear Sanborn is next on the list, even if it comes with a $9 million price tag as advertised. The project was discussed at Monday's Mitchell City Council work session, and is expected to kick off in 2018. And a reconstruction of Sanborn couldn't come sooner.
Now's the time to speak up about Mitchell's recycling services. On Friday, Mayor Jerry Toomey enacted a veto on the City Council's decision to go with Dependable Recycling for Mitchell's recycling services. Toomey cited dozens of concerned residents contacting him via phone and email with their displeasure of Dependable before and after the council voted 6-1 on Jan. 17 to renew the company's annual bid for the work.