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Commissioners ignore two recommendations

I am appalled at the recent decision by county commissioners to rezone the property on Silver Mountain Road near Boulder Hill.

The really confusing and disappointing part of their decision is that neither the county planning and zoning department nor highway department was supportive of the rezoning. In spite of recommendations against it, the board of commissioners voted 4-1 to permit the rezoning. 

I question whether or not the board had the necessary information to make an informed decision.

Since the purpose for the rezoning is to allow for the establishment of a helicopter business to give rides to and from Mount Rushmore, are they educated about the local, state and federal laws regarding helipads?

Do they really know what environmental assessments are required or what noise levels are permitted within a mile of private homes?

The purpose of zoning regulations, as I understand them, is to afford landowners a means of protecting property values as well as protecting against nuisance types of uses.

As a landowner in the area, neither I nor many of my neighbors felt the commissioners listened to us or our concerns.

WANDA VAN DE HEY

Rockerville

Grant recipients thankful for donations

Prairie Hills Transit would like to recognize the Spearfish Community Foundation for the generous grants given to 13 local non-profit agencies March 18.

As one of the grant recipients, we received money for electronic equipment for our Community Room — a 700-square-foot meeting room that will be available for public use in our new regional transit facility.

With the help of the grant, we plan to include equipment that will allow meetings and training sessions to incorporate technology such as voice and video conferencing for more interactive presentations.

The room is designed to be used as a classroom/boardroom, but social functions are welcome as well in the space that will include a small kitchenette.

An additional benefit will be lower meeting costs when unnecessary travel is eliminated for those who attend via computer or telephone technology.

Cost will be kept low for the benefit of the community, and specific options will be available for various types of groups (nonprofit, government agencies or for-profit businesses).

As we seek additional grant awards from other benefactors, we look forward to increased collaboration within the community and meeting needs that extend beyond transportation.

BARB CLINE

Executive Director

Prairie Hills Transit

Spearfish

Mountain lions also prey on young animals

A recent item in Two Cents stated that they were glad hunters  were responsible for  the decline in deer and elk numbers in the Black Hills and not the mountain lions.

It claimed mountain lions only take down the sick and  the old.

In an article last fall, Game Fish & Parks estimated that there was over 200 mountain lions in the Black Hills.

Of those, 70 were breading age females. Mountain lions almost always have two cubs, sometimes three. Seventy times two equals 140.

Let’s use a conservative number and say the population increased this year by 100. Mountain lions have no natural predator in the Black Hills except for man.

During this year’s hunting season, 47 were killed. In past year’s between six and 10 are killed by the GF&P  because they have killed pets or livestock or have come into the city limits. That totals about 55 killed.

I don’t see how that is controlling the population. The  elk and bighorn sheep are not reproducing at normal rates the past few years, and GF&P are conducting a study to find out why.

Do you know what is easier for a mountain lion to kill than the sick and old? It is the newborn and  young.

SCOTT STONE

Rapid City

GOP candidates needs these qualifications

The search for a 2012 Republican presidential nominee has begun. An effective candidate must have certain attributes. Among those are no knowledge of geography, science, history or contents of the U.S. Constitution and a contempt for intelligence and education.

He or she must criticize Obama for anything he does, question his birthright and claim he’s a Muslim. The chosen one will reject facts in favor of mythology and prejudice in all situations.

The candidate will be able to dodge questions, offer no viable alternatives, blame Democrats for all problems, serve corporate interests at the expense of middle class, working Americans, and, of course, be a devout Christian.

Where to find such a person?  The GOP abounds with them.  Take your pick.

TERRY PAINTER

Rapid City

Spearfish library soon to offer electronic books

The March 31 Journal article,  “Libraries will offer books for download,”  told how the Spearfish library is one of a number of libraries in our state that will soon offer “a chance to download audio and electronic books onto their home computers.”

Spearfish is a great place to live and our public library is one of our major community assets. The book downloading program is just the latest example of how our library offers special programs for all age groups, new technologies, an  ever-growing book collection and good and friendly service.

With baseball starting, I’m looking forward to being at the monthly book club discussion of Doris Goodwin’s memoir of growing-up as a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, “Wait Till Next Year.”

The Spearfish library has a fun baseball book Ruddell collection.  As a BHSU history 2010 grad, I suggest “The 1919 World Series” by William A. Cook. One can read it both for fun and as a good historiography source book.

Visit your Spearfish public library. It’s our tax dollars working hard to entertain and to educate all of us.

DAVID NICKEL

Spearfish

Online Journal a pleasure to read

I want the Journal to know how much I enjoy reading its paper online. I grew up in Rapid City and the Journal is a way to keep in touch with the news back home. I have had my letters published many times and have always thought the Journal staff did a great job.

Amanda Friar recently wrote about a tattoo shop in Deadwood.  I must correct her about who was in Deadwood tattooing long before Mr. Collins. Paul Greenwood had a tattoo shop — “Okie Paul’s Nose Piercing and Tattoo Emporium” — at 616 Main St. in Deadwood from the late seventies to the earlier eighties.

This fact is known to me

because I had a tattoo done by Okie Paul. After being bombarded with tall tales about high-sea adventures, midnight shootouts, and wild biker gangs, I came away with not only a very sore arm, but was also in awe of this man. Paul was later kicked out of the building, then moved his shop to Rapid City. The last I heard about Okie Paul was that he died saving children from a burning orphanage, dropping the last one safely from a window just before he perished.

GARY M. LUNSFORD

Ashford, Ala.

Dispatchers are unsung public safety heroes

I would like to take a moment to pay my respects to the unsung heroes of public safety in South Dakota. I’m talking about public-safety dispatchers, the men and women who form the communications hub for emergency and disaster response in our state.

While most citizens notice it when dedicated firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMTs respond to disaster and emergency situations, fewer people are aware of the equally vital work of the public safety telecommunicators in those situations.

This dedicated, skilled group of men and women has the responsibility of quickly and flawlessly connecting urgent communications that can mean the difference between life and death in many situations. They work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year to help ensure your safety.

April 10 through April 16 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. It’s a week to honor those who work those holidays, weekends and nights to help keep you and our first responders safe.  It’s a perfect time to show your appreciation for the work they do.

Give your dispatchers a pat on the back this week.  They’re working hard to help keep you safe, and your gratitude is well deserved.

Sgt. RYAN MECHALEY

Manager

State Radio Communications

Pierre

Forest staff commended for work battling beetles

The “Save Our Black Hills” Coalition commends the work of Black Hills Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien and his staff in their recent efforts to aggressively address the pine beetle epidemic in the Black Hills National Forest.

Coalition members understand the overwhelming challenge this forest health issue represents to all assigned agencies, and encourages all parties to come together in a spirit of co-creative cooperation, collaboration and long-term commitment in their desire to reduce the current beetle epidemic to an endemic status. The future health and sustainability of our forest rests not in the hands of one group, but with the wisdom and commitment of us all. 

DARCIE HENEGAR

Co-founder

Save Our Black Hills Coalition

Newcastle, Wyo.

Downtown crime unit should walk the beat

As a resident who frequents downtown a lot, I am wondering why the Rapid City Police Department’s new Downtown Crime Prevention Unit does not employ the use of foot patrols or what is called “walking the beat?”

Last night I heard a member of that patrol unit say on KOTA that they use proactive measures as a deterrent concerning crime prevention in downtown.

How can you be proactive from a police cruiser? How can you deter crime from the barrier of a windshield? Foot patrols in and around our downtown would be far more effective in real community policing.

With “walking the beat,” an officer gets to know who is living and working in a certain neighborhood and it fosters a real sense of trust.

People want to feel safe in our downtown from what I have heard. If we want to get our downtown revived and open for business, this will need to be a vital part of our downtown plan.

 

MIKE MURRAY

Rapid City

Rasmussen right: Septic ordinance is flawed

Kudos to Randall Rasmussen for his March 28 column, “Nothing to fear but fear itself.”

After pointing out the paranoia resulting from the unfortunate happenings in Japan, he asks us to: “Think of all the other environmental scares out there.”

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He says about the recently enacted Pennington County septic ordinance: “... there is no evidence that septic systems were harming anyone or even polluting waterways.” Exactly our point.

Those of us opposed to another government intrusion into our private lives and upon our private property asked of the government: What is your evidence? We are still waiting for an answer.

We certainly agree with Rasmussen’s conclusion: “Don’t be surprised if after increased regulation of septic systems, there is no improvement in waterways near Rapid City.”

Ten million gallons of raw sewage are spilled directly into the Big Sioux River by Sioux Falls and nobody seems to get very excited, while Pennington County’s new unlawful inspection program finds one, yes one, individual septic system seeping and the end of the world must be near.

GLORINE HUNT

Rapid City

Kooiker committed, fair and focused

Now is the time for voters of Rapid City to elect the right candidate for mayor. These are difficult financial times. We need a mayor who will best serve us. We can’t change the past but we are on the right course to move the city forward.

Sam Kooiker is the only forward looking candidate. He’ll go far beneath the surface of all issues confronting the city to ensure that all facts will be considered. He’ll ensure that all future actions the city takes will be the right course to make Rapid City a prosperous place.

Kooiker has always taken the high road and focused only on the issues and solutions. One glaring issue Kooiker brought to the public’s attention was the mayor’s salary after Hanks assumed his new office. At the stroke of a pen, Hanks, in his 2008 budget, gave himself a $3,000 pay raise from $94,000 to $97,000. However, everyone conveniently forgot the flyers that Hanks distributed in 2007 which accused Jim Shaw of raising his mayoral salary from $62,000 to $92,000.

Kooiker has a strong record of commitment, fairness and sound judgment. He’s capable of serving our community by putting our town and its residents first.

MARSHALL W.  CURTIS

Rapid City

Hadcock helped with business red tape

I met Deb Hadcock when she came to my rescue while I was trying to open my tattoo shop on Eighth Street in the historic district. The city’s requirements to me seemed unattainable. Hadcock helped me to understand and basically walked me through the red tape that can be so confusing to a new business owner. Her help was instrumental in my being able to open my own business and comply with the laws.

Recently there was a complaint about my sign and I was able to show the permit that Deb helped me obtain. Without her help, I would not be in business.

I  hope for the sake of Rapid City that she again graces the city council for our ward.

MIKEY SELBACH

Rapid City

Tenacious reporter will be missed

The Rapid City Journal lost a great news reporter when Kayla Gahagan decided to stay home with her little son, Eli. Kayla has covered education for quite some time. She’s done an excellent job reporting locally and regionally.

Kayla’s ability to get the facts and report them accurately kept everyone informed about our schools. She was tenacious and worked hard to be the first to report — sometimes even before the board took action. A job well done, Kayla. You will be missed.

WES STORM

Rapid City

Business signs differ from billboards

The April 2 Forum  piece by Brendan Casey about billboards noted “the Scenic Rapid City group dislikes signage of any type.” Perhaps he misunderstood, for this certainly isn’t true.

Business signs are very important to businesses and a large number of businesses here have very attractive signs which aren’t offensive or a blight to our city. These businesses are to be complimented  for improving the appearance of our community.

Main Street and Kansas City Street downtown are attractive examples of what can be accomplished with signs. Studies have repeatedly shown that scenic areas and beautiful communities are the places where people most want to live, work and visit.

Scenic America is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the scenic character of America’s communities. Hundreds of communities have banned billboards completely, as have Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska and Maine. These states have prospered in business and tourism, and attribute that partly to  billboard bans.

The people who signed petitions to put this issue on the ballot like business signs. We appreciate signs that improve the looks of this city, which we call home.

NORMA F. THOMSEN

Rapid City

Kooiker makes council more responsive

I highly recommend Rapid City residents evaluate Sam Kooiker as our next mayor. My performance review reads as follows:

Excellently performs council member responsibilities protecting interests of the citizens first and foremost. Result: Stopped sewer plant sale/leaseback and  automatic property tax increases.

Pursues questionable practices  to resolution, regardless of attempts to intimidate him. Result: Investigation into alleged landfill graft and corruption netted indictments. Trials start soon.

Exceeds residents’ expectations. Answers their questions when possible or seeks right person to answer them, and does so regardless of the resident’s ward.  Result: A more citizen responsive and friendly city council.

Applies masters degree in public administration as a highly skilled manager and leader who consistently seeks to preserve residents’ safety and security. Result: Ensured fire and police had voice in city council.

Possesses strength of character and integrity. Result: Demonstrated trustworthiness and moral values city residents need in elected officials.

Most notable characteristic: Conscientious determination with a servant’s heart. I highly recommend his election to serve as Rapid City mayor.

DANIEL GAMMETER

Rapid City

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