Daily Republic Editorial Board
It's time that South Dakota's open meeting and public record laws get with the digital age. The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted in favor of House Bill 1153, which expands the definition of teleconferences to include meetings conducted through a formal text conversation and to require the retention of certain discussions text conversations for public inspection. Basically, the bill makes it clear that if a quorum of a governmental body, such as a city council or county commission, discusses any public business via email or other electronic communication, the records shall be made
Local health care officials are quietly making Mitchell a better place to live. The work isn't flashy, and it's very behind the scenes. But it's extremely impactful. In a recent report, Avera Queen of Peace Regional President and CEO Tom Clark explained that Avera has recruited 18 physicians to Mitchell in roughly the past three years.
There was quite a stir last week during an investigation of a mysterious object attached to a city street sign. The Mitchell Police Division deemed the object suspicious and closed off a section of city blocks to create a safe haven in the area. Authorities investigated and learned it was a geocache, or a container holding a number of items as part of a global treasure hunt game.
CHEERS to the workers at CHS Farmers Alliance in Mitchell, who are rebuilding a chemical storage shed about three months after a massive fire destroyed the building. Last week, CHS General Manager Jim Morken told our newspaper the estimated losses from the fire was about $2 million.
About three months have passed since South Dakota voters decided to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour. Less than two months have gone by since the increase took effect. And already some state senators want to adjust the pay wage scale again. On Wednesday, the Senate agreed to create a new minimum wage of $7.50 for people younger than age 18.
It's fair to say our city has been progressive recently. There are a good number of building projects underway in Mitchell, ranging from a new hospital to a wellness center at Dakota Wesleyan University and some projects in the works with an indoor pool and school's fine arts center. We've heard the arguments that our city has a large number of amenities and desirable attractions for people considering moving to Mitchell. But imagine being a potential home buyer in town, looking at a house and noticing your neighbor is raising chickens in the back yard.
CHEERS to the Mitchell High School gymnastics team, which claimed its second straight Class AA state title over the weekend. And, for the second straight year, the Kernels won each of the meets they competed in. That's quite an achievement, and something to be proud of for coach Audra Rew and all of the team's gymnasts. CHEERS to the House Local Government Committee, which recently voted to table House Bill 1167, the bill that would have allowed local governments to post all of their public notices online instead of in the official newspaper. The vote was 11-2, and Reps.
A bill to expand the state's trespassing laws against outdoor enthusiasts such as hunters was shot down Wednesday. Senate Bill 129 would have revoked hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for one year for anyone convicted of illegally crossing private property to reach other land to hunt, fish or trap. As the law is now, a judge can take away the licensing privileges for one year of anyone convicted of trespassing while hunting, fishing or trapping. The new law would have included people who trespass while traveling to a destination.
Anyone looking to buy naming rights for a fine arts center? The Mitchell School District is selling just that. The cost to have your name on the building: $3 million. The planned $13.5 million fine arts center has raised plenty of discussion in the community. Obviously those parents whose children are involved with music, plays, debate and speech and other fine arts programs and the school's alumni are typically excited about the facility. Some have raised concerns about the school district spending $13.5 million of taxpayer funds on this facility without it going to a public vote.
HISSES to a lack of EMTs in South Dakota's rural communities. In 2014, 90 of the 123 ambulance services in the state met the criteria for a hardship waiver, which is an exemption that allows the service to operate with one EMT, and a driver who is certified to operate the ambulance but not perform medical care. Without a waiver, ambulance services are required to have two EMTs to operate an ambulance. We worry about what this means for small communities. If there are not enough EMTs to operate ambulances, their services will be forced to close.