CHEERS to news that the state is looking at what may be a record corn crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week reported that it is projecting South Dakota's corn yield to reach 648.8 million bushels. If that prediction holds up, it will be an 11 percent increase from last year's recordbreaking yield. That's outstanding news, and especially so during this difficult economic time.
CHEERS to the adventure race that is under way in western South Dakota. The sixth and longest Primal Quest race will feature co-ed teams of four, which will race through Badlands National Park, Black Hills National Forest and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. These athletes will compete for several days in South Dakota -- likely at least five, but possibly more -- and will be tracked by fans worldwide. It's just another great plug for South Dakota's tourism industry, which seems to be targeted by the national media more in recent years.
CHEERS to the Abbott House, which is putting grant money to work immediately at its Mitchell facility. In the spring, the Abbott House received a $3.5 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Already, Abbott House has hired more workers and is continuing plans for its new addition, which will give it more room and help provide improved care facilities for the girls who are staying there. A groundbreaking is planned for this fall for the addition at Abbott House, which continues to raise funds for its aggressive expansion plans.
CHEERS to the Mitchell Parks and Recreation Department, which was recognized last week for its efforts to train and employ workers age 55 and older. An organization called Experience Works gave the Parks and Recreation Department its 2009 South Dakota Business Champion Award during a Wednesday ceremony in Madison. Experience Works is a national organization that provides training, employment and community service opportunities for low-income people.
HISSES to the rising number of accidents blamed on cell-phone use in South Dakota. The number has jumped substantially in the four years the Office of Highway Safety has collected such information, from 82 in 2004 to 138 last year. Those figures are similar to national trends, too, and show that distracted driving is an increasing problem in South Dakota.
CHEERS to the Corn Palace Festival for going back to its roots and this year offering exhibitions of arts, crafts, foods, photography, education displays and agricultural produce. Last week, festival organizers put out a call for entries, which will be judged and displayed during festival week, which this year will run Aug. 26-30. What a great idea, and one that arose from pictures of past festivals, according to Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling. We hope residents of the area -- the entire area, and not just Mitchell -- partake of this new (but old) idea during this year's festival.