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Rapid City has two homicides in less than 24 hours

Rapid City police responded Wednesday to the second shooting death of a young man in less than 24 hours in the northeast part of town.

"One homicide is too many, let alone two," Don Hedrick, assistant police chief, said Wednesday at the taped-off crime scene on the 300 block of East Adams Street. "This is a tragedy for our community."

Earlier Wednesday, two 19-year-olds were arrested in connection with the death of a 17-year-old from Box Elder in Rapid City’s first homicide in 2019. The victim, Emmanuel Hinton, died after being shot around 8 p.m. Tuesday in the 700 block of Blaine Avenue, which is around seven blocks from Wednesday’s homicide, the second of the year in Rapid City.

It was around 3 p.m. Wednesday when police received a call from a home on East Adams Street. The caller said an unconscious man was in the backyard, Hedrick said. Once medics arrived, they determined the victim had died from an apparent gunshot wound to the head.

Police believe the victim, who they say is around 20 years old, lived at the house but won’t release his name until his family has been notified.

After putting crime-scene tape around the home, police officers and detectives were seen knocking on neighbors' doors to gather more information. The crime-scene tape extended into the backyard, where an ambulance sat.

Hinton died around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday at Regional Health, according to police spokesman Brendyn Medina.

Hinton was a passenger in a car that had made contact with two men in an alley when he was shot by a handgun, the press release said. The driver, who reported the shooting, took Hinton to the hospital and the suspects fled on foot.

On Wednesday afternoon, Cole Waters was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit a felony, according to the Pennington County Jail website. Andre Martinez was charged with first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Waters turned himself in Wednesday morning and Martinez was arrested at his home after a brief deployment of the Rapid City-Pennington County Special Response Team, police said.

Police will now determine who owns the handgun and an autopsy will be conducted to determine how many times Hinton was shot, Medina said.

Hedrick said there is no reason to believe at this time that the two homicides are connected.

Hundreds of volunteers needed for Kids Fair

In a little under a month, dozens of games, bouncy houses and activity booths will fill the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. But none of that will be possible without hundreds of volunteers.

Youth & Family Services is seeking 700 volunteers to help support the 24th annual Kids Fair event from March 22-24 at the civic center. The three-day event provides children with hours of fun through safe activities with proceeds going to YFS. 

Volunteers are needed in everything from face painting to line control to helping control "inflatable attractions," according to a press release from YFS. 

"Volunteers are critical to the success of Kids Fair," Darcie Decker, director of YFS' community outreach, said in the release. "We have more than 700 volunteer slots to fill during the three-day event. Volunteers help ensure the safety of children at the Kids Fair and assist by staffing attractions and other areas of the event."

Anyone 13 years and older can sign up to volunteer for four-hour shifts on Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning. 

Those interested in more information should call Darcie Deck at 342-4195 or visit the YFS website. 

Courtesy Bonnie Plants 

Belle Fourche fourth-grader Austey Stiefvater grew this 31.2 pound cabbage in her home garden last year and won a $1,000 savings bond for her education. Bonnie Plants of Alabama provides the O.S. Cross cabbage seedlings to participating third-grade classrooms across the country to promote gardening.

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GF&P commission to decide on expanding bighorn auction tag to badlands

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission will consider an administrative rule change today that would expand the hunting area for a bighorn sheep tag auctioned each year for tens of thousands of dollars. 

During the meeting in Pierre, commissioners will consider the expansion of a special auction tag to include not only the Elk Mountain unit in Custer County but also a unit near the badlands in Pennington County.  

In October 2018, Clayton Miller shot the world record ram in the Pennington County unit with a Pope and Young score of 209 1/8 inches. 

Game, Fish and Parks officials aren't shy in saying they want to capitalize on that record ram to raise funds for South Dakota habitat.

"With the excitement around the world record ram harvested last year from that unit and the potential to harvest another great ram, this is an opportunity to generate habitat funds which will benefit the entire state," Tom Kirschenmann, Wildlife Division deputy director and chief of wildlife, said in an email to some stakeholders in the hunting community.

Tony Leif, director of the Wildlife Division, echoed those sentiments in a phone interview Wednesday with the Journal.

Leif said the idea originated with Game, Fish and Parks in order to "harvest the opportunity" to raise more funds for South Dakota wildlife. Gov. Kristi Noem is in favor of the idea, according to Leif, but it did not originate with her office. 

Opponents say the change is happening too fast and without public comment. They argue that money from the tag currently earmarked exclusively for bighorn sheep would now also go toward pheasant habitat under the proposed change.

With the addition of the Badlands Unit and the possibility of shooting another record ram, the tag could be auctioned for upwards of $500,000. 

The commission will vote on the change as an administrative action, meaning it will not go through the rule promulgation process, which allows for multiple public comment periods and can take several months.

"There isn't a formal public comment period, but we are taking comments," Leif said Wednesday. He pointed to the news release and an email to bighorn sheep stakeholders in the state that the department sent Tuesday to help get the word out about the proposal.   

If the department had gone through the rule process with public comments for this change, it would extend past the auction date for this year's hunting tag. That tag is set to be sold — with or without the rule change — during the Wild Sheep Foundation Midwest Chapter banquet in Minneapolis on March 16-17. 

Currently, money from the special auction tag — which has averaged more than $80,000 since its inception in 2013 — goes to help maintain the bighorn sheep population in South Dakota. Under the rule change, those funds will still go to help bighorn sheep in South Dakota, but the remaining funds will go to Governor Noem's newly announced Second Century habitat initiative.

Leif said the department is still working with the Wild Sheep Foundation to settle on how much of that funding will be used for bighorn sheep projects should the change go through. He said that dollars set aside for sheep projects would be at least $83,000 — roughly the average auction price since the tag started. 

Second Century is largely focused on pheasant habitat and the title alludes to this past hunting season being the 100th in South Dakota. 

Ross Swedeen, a member of South Dakota Big Game Coalition from Rapid City, wants the process to slow down.

"My only concern is the lack of public opinion giving consideration," he said.

Swedeen said the public should have a full opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of the change before it happens.

Dana Rogers, a hunter from Hill City, echoed those sentiments. 

"I am in total support of the overall theme of Governor Noem's plan to fund wildlife habitat," said Rogers, noting, however, that this "smells like a money grab."

"It appears that they are taking that money that has been earmarked for bighorn sheep funds in western South Dakota and giving it to pheasant habitat in eastern South Dakota," he said. 

Rogers said he plans to be in Pierre today to discuss with the commission other recommendations to help raise this money.