Ryan Austad said the location of the family-owned retailer's new Rapid City store is, as golfers would say, a good lie.
The newest of the Sioux Falls-based retailer's stores is planned for a spring opening near the intersection of East Anamosa and Lacrosse streets in north Rapid City.
“We’ll be a 7-iron away from Scheels and a pitching wedge from Walmart,” said Austad, a third-generation member of the company started in 1963 in Sioux Falls by his grandfather, Oscar Austad.
Austad’s has overcome the seasonal nature of golf in a northern-tier state, first with one of the first catalog-sale operations dating back to the 1960s, and now with a strong online retail presence, augmenting stores centered around eastern South Dakota.
Some, however, might be wondering why it took 56 years for Austad’s to open a location on the western end of their home state. It’s not that people haven’t asked.
“We have stores all over the Midwest, and for years and years people have said, ‘Come to Rapid. Come out to the Black Hills,'” said Austad, whose father, Dave Austad, serves as company CEO.
“We are really excited to finally get out there,” he said.
When the Rapid City Austad’s opens at 532 E. Anamosa St., it will be the company’s ninth and western-most location, joining the flagship store in Sioux Falls as the only South Dakota stores.
Austad’s also operates three Nebraska stores, two in Omaha and one in Lincoln. Its North Dakota stores are in Fargo and Grand Forks. Locations in Iowa include Cedar Rapids and Sioux City, along with a store in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Austad’s specialty is custom-fitting clubs and accessories for customers, offering a wide selection of golf gear, accessories and apparel both in-store and online as, Ryan said, the oldest family-owned golf retailer in the nation and a Golf Digest Top 100 fitter.
The new store will feature two dedicated fitting studios with state-of-the-art golf-shot monitors to measure parameters including distance, shot dispersion and launch trajectory.
“We’ll have every club under the sun that we can build for you, to your spec, for your size, swing and ability,” Austad said. “We’ll build it right there, we’ll let you hit it and the data will show the yardage gains you’re getting.”
The store will also include an indoor putting green, where customers can hone their short-game skills, and have putters custom-fitted. Some customers just like to come in and putt around over lunch hour, he said.
“We try to build these stores so it’s kind of the golfer’s dream. You can come in and try anything and have the latest technology to dial in the clubs and equipment so you can play better golf,” he said.
Renovation of the former Blockbuster Video store begins this week.
Target date for opening, weather and other foibles of construction permitting, is April 1.
A former president and publisher of the Rapid City Journal, James W. "Rusty" Swan, died last week at the age of 84.
Swan was the leader of the Rapid City Journal for more than 13 years and was associate publisher for four years. He retired in 1985.
Swan helped the Journal maintain coverage through the devastating 1972 Rapid City flood and oversaw the construction of the 36,000-square-foot Journal production facility that still sits on First and Main streets.
Don Barnett, Rapid City mayor from 1971 to 1974, said Swan and his father Joyce — also a former Journal publisher — "brought people with a wide perspective of views together."
He called Rusty Swan a "fine man in every way."
Barnett said Swan's "wisdom was a big part of the disaster recovery in the 1970s" after the flood. He often used Rusty Swan as a sounding board and called him one of his "key advisers" during his time as mayor.
Barnett said he admired Swan and the Journal editorial board because they "ignored the hot heads and bigots who were trying to destroy or seriously damage the image and reputation of Rapid City."
Barnett noted that the Swan family was "strong supporters of moderation, peace, harmony among our people."
Kristi Thielen worked as Swan's secretary when she started for the Journal in 1979. She called him an "easy-going man who wore authority modestly." They found common interests in trading books to read and discussing them.
Services for Rusty Swan will be at 11 a.m. on Feb. 15 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Burial will be at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
Sarah and Terry Reyelts didn’t intend to double their family when they went into foster care, but that’s what happened.
The Reyelts have two biological daughters, who are 19 and 14, and adopted their 15-year-old son after he came to them three years ago in what was supposed to be a three-day-long foster placement. As of next month, they’ll also have adopted the 2½-year-old girl and 1½-year-old boy they’ve fostered for nearly the children’s entire lives.
“When they license you, they recommend that you do both foster and adoption, just for this reason,” Sarah Reyelts said. “We’re 40. We didn’t plan to have babies again. When you have a baby for two years and they’re calling you Mom and Dad, there’s really no other option. And there never really was.”
Beginning with her State of the State address on Jan. 8, Gov. Kristi Noem has referenced the need for foster families. She said that on Christmas, 940 children were in foster care.
“The next generation of South Dakotans cannot thrive if they don’t have a home, which is why I’ve committed my podium and my influence this year to emphasize the situation of South Dakota kids in foster care,” Noem wrote in a statement. “Every child deserves a home.”
A statewide shortage
According to Tia Kafka, communications director for the South Dakota Department of Social Services, there are not enough foster families in the state to accommodate the number of children under DSS care. Both the number of children in care and the number of foster families needed is increasing, with many children placed into foster care due to methamphetamine or other drugs being present in their homes.
“There’s everything from home problems to abuse problems to substance problems. It could be for any one of a million different reasons,” said Terry Reyelts, a police officer who said incidents he experienced on the job were part of what led to him becoming a foster parent. “The thing is that a lot of these parents just need to get themselves right before they can handle the family dynamic again.”
The Reyeltses are not out of the ordinary in deciding to adopt children they’ve fostered. According to Kafka, of South Dakota adoptions finalized in fiscal year 2018, 56 percent were foster-parent adoptions.
South Dakota’s Department of Social Services, which becomes responsible for children taken away from abusive or neglectful homes by law enforcement or court order, requires prospective foster parents to complete a 30-hour training program called the Parent Resource for Information, Development and Education, also known as PRIDE, as well as a home study.
The Reyeltses said their experience with PRIDE training took place in a classroom setting over six weekends, during which they learned about how to recognize signs of abuse and neglect and got acquainted with the departments they’d be working with as foster parents.
“It’s more to get your mindset right as to, how are you helping the kid? Because there will be a readjustment period back into the family,” Terry Reyelts said. “How are you going to assist not only this child that’s with you, but also the family? Because there are opportunities in cases where they want the foster family to work with the parent, as well.”
In addition to completing training, according to the DSS website, foster parents are required to be at least 21 years old, to have a home free of health or structural hazards and to be screened for past criminal activity or reports of abuse or neglect.
They must also have enough income to meet their family’s needs, although DSS provides medical coverage and monthly assistance for foster children. Currently, foster parents in South Dakota are reimbursed $562.03 per month for a child 12 or younger and $674.56 per month for a child between 13 and 18, according to Kafka.
DSS also offers a Unity program, which is designed around native traditions and cultures to teach foster parents of Native American children about issues identified as important by Native American foster parents.
The Reyeltses said they’ve had good experiences with social workers and DSS, and encouraged anyone who’s at all interested in foster care to speak with someone at a local DSS office or another foster family about it.
“Even if you can’t do foster care, help with some of the extras from it,” Sarah Reyelts said. “There’s foster care, there’s the CASA program, the visitation center, the Safehouse. They all work together to try and help these kids.”