Counties face budget shortfalls
To the Editor:
County governments across South Dakota and the nation face budget shortfalls as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. So far, Congress has not provided permanent funding solutions for the Payments In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) programs.
Last year, 42 South Dakota counties received PILT funds with Pennington County receiving nearly $1.9 million. These funds are used to make up for property tax that would be collected if those forest lands were privately owned. Additionally, SRS assists national forest counties for benefits lost due to reduced federal timber harvests. In 2019, 20 South Dakota counties shared in about $1.3 million of funding with Pennington County receiving about $197,000.
Those dollars are used for roads and bridges.
Congress has legislation ready to ensure these programs are permanently funded: The Permanently Authorizing PILT Act, and the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act, which creates a permanent endowment fund to secure SRS payments.
I urge Congress to include these bills in the next stimulus package so our rural public lands counties can continue to meet our governing missions.
Gary Drewes, Commissioner,
Pennington County, South Dakota
Board Member, SD Association of County Commissioners
To the editor,
Hooray, President Donald Trump is maybe gonna quit wasting his time with these daily briefings (his words). I for one am sick and tired of his useless ramblings every night at the prime time hour. If anyone behind the scenes could reason with him and be a filter for his dangerous assertions we might actually find some assurance in his words. I understand that the Presidency should (I repeat should) demand a certain reverence from the general population, but so many lies and arrogant disregard for the intelligence of everyday Americans have left him barren in his ability to comfort the public or relieve the anxiety of Wall Street. Just being a "reality T.V. star" obviously does not make one in touch with reality it'self.
Although his efforts failed to stem the depression, Herbert Hoover was better equipped to handle the problems of his day than Donald Trump is today. In trying times, trust is key to underwriting relief. Maybe, just as in the cases of Roosevelt and Obama this country can fix its problems with the election of a competent believable leader.
Dave Freytag, Rapid City
Questions for the mayor
To the editor,
I have some questions for Mayor Allender.
Mayor, I want to know why you feel it’s necessary to open restaurants to the public but aren’t considering opening up parks and other city recreational facilities? Restaurants are not essential businesses. Quite frankly, restaurants and bars are a luxury that we get to have and use when we don’t want to cook our own food.
If it’s safe, why are we not seeing City Hall opening or other government operations such as the courthouse opening up to the public? And if you do open up restaurants and bars can we expect to see you and every other city council member voting yes to be in these restaurants and bars and using these services?
I understand we rely on tourism so badly, but why do we want to be encouraging people to travel here from more populated and higher infected areas?
Kelsey Dowdy, Rapid City
The ballot box is a cure
To the editor,
A global pandemic is a painful reminder of the need for stable, sane, and responsible leadership at the highest level. Unfortunately, America is sadly lacking at this critical moment.
South Korea and Taiwan have come together to combat the coronavirus, and have lower fatalities as a result. After wasting weeks of denying that it was a problem, the Trump administration has failed to distribute life-saving protective equipment. Our leader threatens to withdraw financial support for the WHO when he should be working closely with other nations. The virus knows no boundaries.
Trump asserts absolute power like a third world despot. He is a pathological liar whose misstatements are constantly documented. He has frayed our relationships with long-time allies like Canada and France. Whistleblowers and inspectors have been removed from their posts and a Navy captain who fought for the lives of his sailors was removed.
Two nightmares can’t end soon enough: COVID-19 and the Trump presidency. The cure for the second one is the ballot box.
Jay Davis, Rapid City
Do you not get it?
To the editor,
Governor Noem you do not get it yet. Trump does not know what he is doing. He praised hydroxychloroqine as a cure all for Covid 19, so you went ahead and spent valuable time and money to get 1.2 million doses, when in fact you should have been getting 1.2 million test kits for Covid 19.
Now Trump is telling the world that injecting Lysol and drinking bleach will cure it. Are you now going to buy a million gallons of both and start recommending that for Covid 19 patients and the general public drink this stuff.
Trump got this bleach idea from some fly by night church in Florida that sells bleach as a cure all for everything, they are now under investigation for their illegal actions.
You gave no orders to a meat packing plant during this pandemic to protect people because you don't want to tell any business what to do, even when it will cost lives. Please do something right from here on out, stop listening to Trump, and listen to people who actually know what they are talking about.
Brent Cox, Sturgis
To the editor,
A recent federal court injunction bars water crossings by TC Energy, the Canadian company planning to build the KXL pipeline. Previously, in a late March press conference, Gov. Noem assured us that TC Energy would not build in the state during the COVID-19 outbreak, so the danger from imported work crews entering South Dakota during the pandemic seemed to be averted. However, sizable “pre-construction” work crews are indeed here, and active on the project. The distinction between “pre-construction” and “construction” means nothing when it comes to the possibility of virus dissemination in parts of our state where health care facilities are relatively sparse and easily overloaded. By working in groups, these crews pose a danger to themselves and to the local folks they deal with.
When other non-essential workers are being encouraged or ordered to stay home throughout the nation, it is hard to see justification for this exception. This is one of those instances where public health is surely more important than the profits of a foreign corporation.
Don Kelley, M.D., Deadwood, SD
Practice gun safety
To the editor,
Recent articles in the paper reported seven instances of gun theft from apparently unlocked vehicles. This suggests that some gun owners do not sufficiently appreciate the responsibilities of gun ownership. There are reports too, of a spike in firearm purchases, as people live with COVID19 restrictions. With all this in mind, it seems important to remind everyone, and particularly first-time gun buyers, about securing guns by storing them locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition.
Children and teens are now at home with time on their hands. The majority of children in gun-owning households report knowing where the guns are stored. It is the job of adults to make certain that children do not have unsupervised access to guns kept in the home. This is the only way to prevent unintentional gun injury and death by children. It is also imperative that the role of guns in suicide be recognized and that gun owners take steps to ensure that despondent teens and others, never have access to this lethal means for self-harm. Parents must ask about the presence of unsecured guns in homes of family and friends. Instructing children to never touch guns is a precaution; it is not a guarantee.
Karen Pettigrew, Rapid City