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Rapid City Council directs city staff to seek settlement with adult store owner

A lawsuit filed by an adult store owner against the city could soon end in a settlement after the Rapid City Council directed staff to resolve the case at their meeting Monday night.

In October 2017, David Eliason, owner of Dick and Jane’s Naughty Spot adult store in Sturgis, filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the city claiming that his constitutional rights to free speech, free expression and due process were violated when the council denied him a conditional use permit to open a store at 1141 Deadwood Ave., Suite 7.

The denial came just weeks after the permit was approved by the Planning Commission, a decision that was then appealed to the council by the owners of neighboring Karate for Kids Academy.

Bachelorette items, lingerie, post-mastectomy items, shoes, lotions, oils, lubricants, adult-themed novelties, sex aids, and DVDs and magazines with sexual themes are among the products sold at the store.

The owners and customers of Karate for Kids attended a September 2017 council meeting to argue the operation was an educational facility. A city ordinance prevents sexually-oriented businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of educational facilities. Karate for Kids was located at 1161 Deadwood Ave. but has since relocated to 5595 Mount Rushmore Road.

Eliason is seeking to recover attorney fees, as well as financial losses he incurred due to the delay in opening Dick and Jane’s Super Spot at the Deadwood Avenue location. A January 2018 federal court ruling by Judge Jeffrey Viken overturned the council’s decision, allowing Eliason to open the store. Eliason also is seeking compensation for emotional distress that he says caused a heart attack.

“We’re just looking forward to working with the city to bring this case to resolution,” Eliason said Tuesday, adding that he’d like to see it resolved “as quickly as possible.”

The city declined to comment on the potential settlement agreement but did confirm that seeking a resolution to the lawsuit was the direction provided by the council at the Jan. 7 meeting.

“The council provided input and direction to staff on actions to pursue in an effort to resolve this case during executive session,” read a statement from city attorney Joel Landeen.

The city has spent $53,820 on the lawsuit. If the cost reaches $75,000, the city’s insurance carrier would cover the rest, including any money tied to the settlement, city spokesman Darrell Shoemaker said Wednesday.

Eliason had to engage in a similar legal fight in 2013 to open the Sturgis store.

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Clearing the way at Meadowbrook
City replacing hazardous trees at Meadowbrook, Executive golf courses

Some of the 18 holes at Meadowbrook Golf Course may be just a bit easier to play this spring. 

Rapid City and golf course workers have removed about 40 dead, dying and hazardous elm, cottonwood, pine and other trees in the past few weeks as part of the golf course's 10-year master plan, Doug Lowe of the Parks and Recreation department said Wednesday. The plan also calls for replanting trees in late spring or early fall. 

City officials also plan to remove some trees from the Executive Golf Course later this year. 

"The biggest thing is safety for the citizens," said Lowe, adding that some of the trees are rotting from the inside and could "fall over any time."

Lowe said cities typically inspect and manage dangerous trees, and Rapid City is especially prepared to do this since it has a city arborist in addition to four or five other staffers who are certified as arborists. 

The cost to replant the trees will be covered by a $10,000 grant from the Gwendolyn L. Stearns Foundation, Lowe said. 

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Duhamel Broadcasting sale 'bittersweet' after 75-year history in the Black Hills

After a 75-year family legacy of broadcasting in the Black Hills, Bill Duhamel called the sale of his company and five radio stations to a Yankton company "bittersweet." 

"Basically, I was getting tired, and I was getting too old," the 80-year-old said of the decision to sell Duhamel Broadcasting. The move comes five years after the company sold its KOTA TV station. 

"We set the standard" and kick-started the careers of people who went on to create or work at other radio and TV stations in western Dakota," Duhamel said. "A lot of people trained here," including Tom Brokaw, the former longtime anchor of the NBC Nightly News who interned at KOTA TV when he was a student at the University of South Dakota. 

On Jan. 1, Riverfront Broadcasting acquired Duhamel Broadcasting's five radio stations: its flagship KOTA station in Rapid City, KQRQ and KZLK in Rapid City, KDDX in Spearfish and KZZI in Belle Fourche, Duhamel said. He expects the $3.6 million sale, which must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission, to close in May. 

Duhamel said five or six national corporations were interested, but he preferred to sell to a family-owned company. 

"The price is going to be about the same. So, if I had a choice, (I'd rather choose) somebody with ties in South Dakota," he said. "When broadcasting started, it was basically families. That's the way the industry started. The television families, there's just a handful left ... radio, there might be a few more."

He said just two of his five children live in the Rapid City area and none were interested in taking over the family business. 

Duhamel said he'll continue to own the KOTA building on St. Joseph Street in downtown Rapid City. Riverfront Broadcasting, he said, has pledged to rehire all current staff except the manager, who has already been replaced. He doesn't expect many changes in programming either, but he said Riverfront is considering replacing the Sean Hannity Show with a local program. 

The Duhamel family has been involved in South Dakota business since 1857, when Bill's great-grandfather traveled from Quebec as a teenager to work as a fur trader. The family later became involved in cattle, banking, retail and eventually broadcasting when Helen Duhamel, Bill's mother, became a stockholder in the KOBH radio station — later renamed KOTA. 

Helen later bought and saved the station from bankruptcy in 1953 and changed the company's name from Black Hills Broadcasting to Duhamel Broadcasting. 

Duhamel said his mother was inspired to create the KOTA TV station after attending an otherwise all-male business meeting in 1954. The men said they were forming a group to prevent TV from coming to Rapid City. 

"And my mother looked around the room and said, 'if a group this distinguished is against television in Rapid City, it must be a damned good idea. I'm going to file for it' and walked out and left the meeting,'" Duhamel said. 

A year later, she created KOTA TV, the second TV station in South Dakota. 

He recalled attending a CBS affiliate event in New York City in the late 1950s with his mother, who he called a"pioneer" for being an early, woman leader in broadcasting. 

During a closed business meeting his mother attended, Duhamel said the host clarified that the meeting was only for managers, not their spouses.

"He assumed my mother was a spouse, a wife," Duhamel said. "And finally Bill Paley, who founded CBS, he leaned over the guy and says, 'she belongs here, now shut up.'"

"She was the only woman in the group back in the '50s," he said.

Duhamel said his mother was discouraged from joining the National Association of Broadcasters in the early 1960s, but became the first woman president of the South Dakota Broadcasters Association and possibly the first woman leader of any state broadcasting organization around the same time.

As for his future, Duhamel said, he'll continue to manage his real estate company and is eventually looking forward to retirement. He says he'd like to spend his time swimming and working out in the water, and reading novels. 

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Chief justice seeks new mental health court in Sioux Falls

PIERRE | The South Dakota Supreme Court's chief justice urged officials in a legislative address Wednesday to seriously consider creating a mental health court in the Sioux Falls region.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson said in his State of the Judiciary message that the need for such a court is "great" in Minnehaha County. He said that from February through June 2018, 13.5 percent of prisoners screened at Minnehaha County jail intake had a mental illness.

"We all agree that people who commit crimes need to be held accountable," Gilbertson said. "On the other hand, we also know that jail is not always the best place for many people with serious mental illness."

Gilbertson said a mental health court in Rapid City met a goal to become fully operational by Jan. 1. The program is led by a specially trained judge and includes a team of mental health personnel to provide treatment plans and services, he said.

If a person with mental illness can be put into a mental health court where they are monitored and get back on their medication, then they can become productive citizens again, Gilbertson said after the speech.

"It's a little soon to declare victory, but we're very optimistic it's going to work," said Gilbertson, adding that he would work toward getting the new Sioux Falls-area mental health court funded.

He used the message, the 17th he's delivered, to praise the state's drug and alcohol courts as a "vibrant force to save people from the curse of drug and alcohol addiction."

Gilbertson also said he's supporting the addition of a judge in the 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Lincoln and Minnehaha counties, because the court system is feeling the stress of drug prosecutions.

He noted major changes in state government, including the state's new governor — Republican Kristi Noem — and constitutional officers.

But Gilbertson didn't address a proposal from new Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg to end the state's presumptive probation policy for some lower-level felonies. The push comes after South Dakota in 2013 passed a Republican-led justice system overhaul, which Gilbertson supported, to tackle prison overcrowding, cut costs and expand drug addiction treatment options.

Gilbertson said after the speech that he doesn't plan to weigh in on the measure.

"I have to be a little careful that way because if we get an appeal to the Supreme Court I don't want to be reading my own words, you know, as part of the record holding forth on whether the bill was a good bill or a bad bill," he said.

Ravnsborg's push comes after he successfully campaigned on ending presumptive probation to win his first term as the state's chief lawyer and law enforcement officer. Ravnsborg said there must be deterrence.

"You don't always have to use the stick, as I keep saying, but you got to have the threat that you might use the stick," Ravnsborg said.