Legion Lake Fire 6

The fast-moving Legion Lake Fire torched some trees but left others intact during a wind-driven run, pushed by strong winds on Dec. 12.

Journal file

GOOD: Black Hills Works has been a pillar of our community for years and they are in need of a little help. The support organization for people with disabilities, launched a $10 million fundraising campaign to expand their services. Black Hills Works already supports about 630 adults with disabilities and employs more than 500 people but they say there is still room to help more. Each year, the nonprofit faces a financial gap of $1.5 million. Amazingly, Black Hills works is already half way to their goal after announcing the "With Purpose," campaign at their November gala. Consider donating to this worthy and good cause. 

BAD: As the smoke clears we will begin to assess the damage of the Legion Lake Fire. The blaze burned nearly 85 square miles and is the third largest in recorded history for the Black Hills. Strong and unpredictable winds caused it to erupt from a relatively contained fire to one that forced evacuations all over the southern Black Hills. On top of the land burned, livestock and building were also lost for multiple ranchers in the area. Unlike the charred landscape, spring will not bring those animals or buildings back. Those ranchers will need help in the form for hay donations, labor and money to get back on their feet.

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Custer State Park is optimistic about animal loss during the fire but did say several of their park favorite begging burros did receive burns because of the fire. Veterinarians are tending to those now. Even as spring brings green grass, the memories of this massive and devastating blaze will be stick with dozen of people for years to come. 

UGLY: The Black Hills have enough to worry about without the rise of another deadly drug. Meth has wreaked havoc in the area for years, but now it appears heroin may also be becoming more prevalent Data from the Rapid City Police Department’s Evidence Section bares that out. This year, the lab has analyzed 39 specimens of heroin compared with 31 last year and 12 the year before that. In 2011, the lab only had two cause of heroin. This drug is becoming more prevalent in the Black Hills and we need to be ready. Earlier this month, Ryan Rief, 21-year-old Rapid City man, was sentenced to eight years in prison for giving heroin to a woman who overdosed on the drug and died. But, the fight against heroin will need to come on multiple fronts. Giving harsh sentences to these drug dealers, like the one to Reif, is a must but there is more to be done. We need to find help for people dealing with opioid addiction and turning heroin as a result.

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