WAGNER -- Sen. Tim Johnson isn't done working. Johnson, D-S.D., toured Wagner on Thursday afternoon, making three stops and taking part in two roundtable discussions, asking pointed and probing questions during both. The three-term, 66-year-old senator, who announced last week he will not seek a fourth term in 2014, also found time for some political work.
Don't confuse Jon Vermeulen with Ed Norton. Both work in sewers, but unlike the fictional Norton, who was played by actor Art Carney on the TV's "The Honeymooners," Vermeulen knows his job is no joke. He's the city of Mitchell's wastewater superintendent and pretreatment coordinator. "Keeping the environment healthy and keeping the water clean" is the most important part of his job. Vermeulen, 38, started with the city as a part-time employee when he was 19.
Equipment wears out. It's as simple as that. Public Works Director Tim McGannon said that's why the city will have to replace a sewage lift station on Norway Avenue this summer. After nearly four decades in service, it has to be taken out of commission and replaced with a new station. It's a major project that will cost $800,000 and cause some inconveniences to people near the work area. A lift station is a pumping system for sewage. It is placed at a low point, where gravity cannot propel the waste and water to the next point of flow.
Brendan Johnson isn't running for anything. Today, anyway. Not the Senate. Or the House. Or governor, attorney general or anything else. Not yet. After talking with him recently, I am clear on that. He remains consistent that as South Dakota's U.S. attorney, he enjoys his work, and is not ready to make an announcement that he is entering the political field his father, Sen. Tim Johnson, is leaving. Will he jump into a race in 2014? Maybe, maybe not. A Draft Brendan committee has been formed, and he is aware of that. Will he run for an office someday, if not next year, another time?
Walt Bones is headed back to his family farming operation in rural Parker, and a familiar face and name in South Dakota Republican Party politics will replace him at the helm of the state Agriculture Department. Lucas Lentsch will be the new head of the Ag Department, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced Tuesday morning. Bones has held the post since January 2011. "I have thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to serve an industry that has been so good to our family," Bones told The Daily Republic. "Walt decided to step aside," said Tony Venhuizen. Daugaard's director of policy and communications.
Dirt is flying as a Pierre-based company prepares ground in southwest Mitchell for a sales and rental equipment store at 120 S. Ohlman St., and it's just one of multiple changes sweeping through the local business community. Jesse Garrett, of Pierre, was smoothing the ground Tuesday afternoon in a vacant lot south of the Mitchell Ramada.
A petition to place a $2 nightly fee on Mitchell hotel and motel rooms is slated to come before the Mitchell City Council tonight. The petition calls for creating a business improvement district (BID) that would tax hotels and motels is the final piece in the financial puzzle for the planned second ice rink at the Mitchell Activities Center. City officials, and the general manager of two Mitchell hotels, said last week they are close to finalizing the BID. A BID is a self-taxation arrangement in which businesses agree to pay a fee, with the money going toward a specific project.
A proposed texting and driving ban that a majority of the Mitchell City Council says they support will be under discussion tonight. The council will hold the first reading of Ordinance 2433, which would prohibit texting with an electronic wireless communication device while driving. Mayor Ken Tracy first introduced the idea at a Traffic Commission meeting in September, but then withdrew the proposal after a spirited council decision. The city decided to wait to see if the Legislature and Gov.
Seven U.S. senators in the past two weeks have announced their support of gay marriage. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., won't be next. "My position's been consistent over time," he said. "I'm a believer in traditional marriage." The Supreme Court is weighing the issue now, as it reviews the federal Defense of Marriage Act, as well as a California ban on gay marriage.
Better background checks could prevent guns from ending up in the hands of mentally troubled people, John Thune said Thursday. "I think there are some things that can be done to improve the background system," the Republican U.S. senator said during a meeting with The Daily Republic's editorial board. He noted that in recent polls, there is 90 percent support for increased standards on background checks.