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Courtesy photo

GOOD: Fall River County is on its way to becoming a pioneer of sorts in South Dakota. The county commission there recently gave what amounts to its final approval for a utility scale solar energy project for the southwest corner of the state. The project, which will be built on a 700-acre area, is being developed by 174 Power Global, a subsidiary of the Korean-based Fortune Global 500 Hanwa Group. Work on the project is expected to begin in April 2018 and be completed in September. The solar farm is expected to generate enough electricity for an estimated 45,000 homes when it is completed. Black Hills Energy will be its primary customer. One of the great benefits of solar energy is that there is no need for trucks, trains or pipelines to transport it to customers.  Fall River County and its commissioners have helped shine a light on the future.

BAD: The four members of the West Dakota Water Development District must have been singing in the rain last week after they learned their votes sank two stream gauges in their district. The U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, told a Journal reporter that the district’s decision to not allocate $14,785 for the stream gauges — something that has been done for 32 years — led to the decision. The USGS contributes $11,725 annually for the gauges, which are just above Deerfield Lake and in a tributary above Pactola Reservoir. They measure the flow from underground springs that feed the lakes and then disseminate the data via a satellite that provides information to Pennington County Emergency Management, South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Rapid City, the Rapid Valley Irrigation District and others. The vote also contradicts the district’s mission, which according to its website includes “proper water management” and “evaluation and protection of our water quality.” If you don't care about water quality, why run for a position that is charged with overseeing water quality?

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UGLY: A grim toll has been adding up on South Dakota’s roads lately. According to the Department of Public Safety, 35 people have lost their lives in traffic accidents since Sept. 1. Fifteen fatalities were reported in September, 14 in October and at least six so far in November — and the holiday driving season is just around the corner. “Too many fatalities, too many families grieving,” said Office of Highway Safety Director Lee Axdahl. Ten of the fatal crashes occurred when vehicles left the road and rolled; 16 of the victims were not wearing seat belts. Losing a loved one in a traffic accident shatters families. Even if you don't care about your own safety, think about others when you drive and focus on the road.

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