GOOD: Talk about a cool event. On Saturday, the Polar Plunge raised more than $90,000 for the Special Olympics South Dakota. The money was raised by 390 “plungers” who jumped into a pool filled with water that was 40 degrees on yet another brisk April day in Rapid City. For the third consecutive year, the fundraising event was held in the parking lot at Black Hills Harley-Davidson. Saturday’s chilling fundraiser marked the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics South Dakota and the 30th anniversary of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which presented the event. According to event organizers, all the money raised Saturday stays in the area and supports the Special Olympics, which last year had around 2,100 participants. Two local groups — the Rapid City Storm and Rapid City Flame — had more than 450 athletes competing last year in local and state competitions. Those interested in donating to this worthy cause can still do so by visiting sosd.org.
BAD: The state’s Public Utilities Commission is not known for being a strong advocate for the public whose votes its members seek. Another example occurred recently with its oversight of H and I Grain in eastern South Dakota. Thanks to questionable management by its ownership, the company went out of business last year owing farmers and others at least $1,665,766 although claims totaling $4.5 million were made to the PUC. The lucky successful 40 claimants, however, won’t be getting much of their money back. The PUC only required H and I Grain to post a $400,000 bond, which means the claimants will get back 20 cents for every dollar of grain they sold to the company. PUC Chairwoman Kristie Fiegen described the situation as “extremely unfortunate,” which seems like an understatement at best. South Dakota is known as a business-friendly state, which most residents likely support. Nonetheless, if the PUC is charged with regulating an industry then it needs to give consumers' concerns the same weight as those it regulates.
UGLY: It could have been worse — a lot worse. It was around 2:30 a.m. Saturday when a semi driven by a Box Elder man and hauling 99 cows lost control near Mitchell and rolled, tossing cattle from the truck in an unimaginable scene. It turned out, however, that the threat to public safety was just beginning. After the crash, cattle started walking down the interstate. In a matter of minutes, a pickup pulling a trailer struck two cows. Then another semi hit two cows and the pickup’s trailer. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured in the collisions. The initial accident remains under investigation and charges are pending against the 27-year-old driver. Oftentimes, the interstate lulls drivers into a false sense of security. This chain-reaction crash is a stark reminder that even the best highways can become death zones, especially when so many drivers are exceeding the 80 mph speed limit on the interstate.