year in review

H&I defendants sentenced, Gevo, Inc. coming


Here is a look back at some of the stories printed in the Kingsbury Journal during the second half of 2021.

July 7: In a story that will never have a happy ending, the three remaining defendants from the H & I Grain scandal pled guilty to one felony charge each in Huron last week. Jared and Tami Steffensen could face up to five years in prison, while JoAnn Steffensen faces up to two years. No sentencing date has been set for any of the defendants.

July 14: This week’s column of “Nooks and Crannies” will be DeAnn (Wolkow) Kruempel’s last, and next week, the new column “Putting on the Big Boots” will debut. Look for the same face and name, just a different title.

July 21: In old business, there had been some concern about voting precincts and compliance with the American Disability Act (ADA). A voting location must meet the ADA guidelines from parking, access into the building from the parking lot, door width and bathrooms.

Currently, the voting locations in Badger and Oldham are not in compliance. Commissioners discussed their options of closing the voting locations, moving to another location nearby or consolidating precincts.

July 28: Tuesday night was the official volunteer appreciation supper at the pageant grounds. It was held to thank all the volunteers for their hard work and dedication in making the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Society 50th Celebration an event to remember.

Aug. 4: Rita Anderson, Economic Development Director for the De Smet Development Corporation, made a presentation on “The Recreational Trail Project in Kingsbury County – Enhancing the Quality of Life on the Prairie.” This proposal was initially made at the May 5 commission meeting.

The idea came from the ISG Group and their master plan for the “Main Street Revitalization Project.” ISG Group was hired by the De Smet Development Corporation in 2019. Their Master Plan calls for a revitalization to the downtown area, wayfinding signs and improvements to parks.

Aug. 11: Kingsbury County Commissioners held a special meeting at Lake Thompson Thursday. Dale Storhaug, Doran Horsly and Tom Cummins with the Lake Thompson Lake Association took the commissioners and County Auditor Jennifer Barnard on a tour around Lake Thompson.

Statistics for Lake Thompson include its current elevation at 1,690.19 feet. Its flood stage is just 1,694 feet, and in 2019 and 2020, the flood crest reached 1,696.92 feet. The outlet happens to be the only outflow for the lake, and it was cleared of vegetation and silt to its allowable elevation of 1,687.5 feet. This task was completed by Sept. 10, 2020. The outlet is located on the southern tip of Lake Thompson between 224th Street and 225th Street.

Aug. 18: The well-attended 2021 Plein Air ‘Paint Out’ registered 59 artists, with six being online and the majority attending in person in De Smet, enjoying the weekend of painting and networking. This 13th annual Plein Air is the first year that gave artists the opportunity to participate online or in person.

Aug. 25: When it comes to a child’s safety, nothing is more important. Since school has resumed throughout Kingsbury County, we have collected some various safety tips for different back to school activities.

Stay alert and do not drive distracted. Phone calls or texts can wait. Children can dart from between cars, so full attention is necessary when driving closely to a school or bus.

Sept. 1: Gevo, Inc. held a community event Monday night in the Lake Preston High School Auditorium. The purpose of the meeting was to publicly announce its intentions of building its first Net-Zero 1 Plant just east of the city along Highway 14. The plant’s production of isooctane will utilize 30 million bushels of corn per year.

Sept. 8: Durango requested from commissioners’ approval to construct and operate a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) for up to 5,000 finisher swine. The facility will have a manure management system designed to hold 270-days’-worth of liquid waste. The proposal includes application of the manure to fields located in portions of the following sections in Kingsbury County, Sections 19 and 30-109-57 and Sections 25 and 26-109-58.

Sept. 15: On Sept. 7, Gevo Inc. announced a plan to install an alcohol-to-hydrocarbon process pilot unit at its facilities in Luverne, Minn. Once operational, the unit will produce large quantities of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), renewable premium gasoline, other renewable fuel products and marketable chemical products. Installation of the new unit in Luverne is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2022 and be ready for production in the following quarter.

Sept. 22: Was South Dakota justice served? The three remaining defendants from the H & I Grain scandal were sentenced in Beadle County Friday. Jared and his wife Tami Steffensen were sentenced to five years in prison, while JoAnn Steffensen (Jared’s mother) received a suspended sentence of 120 days in county jail. All have 30 days to appeal their sentencing.

Sept. 29: The main topic was roads, from condition to current activities and looking to the future. At the start of the meeting, the commissioners have a slot available for public comment. Brett Anderson addressed the commissioners about the road conditions around his residence, north of Lake Preston. He voiced his displeasure with the county converting the oil roads to gravel, which was done quite a few years ago.

Oct. 6: With just days to go before the budget deadline occurs, Kingsbury County Board of Commissioners approved their 2022 final budget. Commissioners also discussed medicinal cannabis dispensaries and transferred money into the highway department’s funds during their special meeting.

Oct. 13: Sorenson also asked commissioners if he could hire Civil Design Inc. out of Brookings to evaluate several structures in the townships within Kingsbury County and rate them on priority for future improvements. Commissioners gave him the approval. The cost for the study would be $58,340. Sorenson would like to have the evaluations done before snowfall.

Oct. 20: Venture out to the De Smet Cemetery, look for the tombstone of Charles Ingalls, and you will notice it is missing. No, it is not a bad Halloween prank. Time has not been kind to his tombstone. The carving is weathered and worn, making the inscription hard to read. An anonymous donor has asked the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society to restore the carvings on the marble tombstone, so that it appears close to its new condition, and visitors can read the inscriptions once more.

Oct. 27: The commissioners had originally passed an ordinance that postponed the county accepting applications for a cannabis dispensary until Oct. 28. A South Dakota lawyers’ organization is objecting to parts of the South Dakota Department of Health’s Article 44. The county amended the Oct. 28 deadline to Dec. 31, 2021.

“We’ve successfully kicked the can down the road again,” said Commissioner Kazmerzak.

Nov. 3: Consolidation. Two school districts, Oldham-Ramona and Rutland, have held three community meetings in person and online this last weekend. They are looking at the possibility of consolidating the two districts. Both districts spend an estimated $2 million in operational costs for a total of $4 million dollars a year. Consolidating the districts would reduce the combined operational costs from $4 million to $3 million a year.

Nov. 10: Successful fundraisers are hard to pull off. On Saturday night the Kingsbury County Transit reached their goal of raising between $12,000 and $14,000 with a Mystery Dinner Theater titled “Matrimony and Murder” written by Haley Salem, daughter of Event Center director Kristy Hubbard.

Nov. 17: Have you ever thought of being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)? In the next few months, three EMT classes are starting, and several ambulance services in Kingsbury County are looking for new members.

Nov. 24: An item that was tabled from the Sept. 7 meeting was again addressed. The Rural Office of Community Services (ROCS) had requested $2,000 to help with the Kingsbury Transit. Scott Fink, Transit Director with ROCS, had made the request. Money raised is usually matched by the federal government or other various agencies to cover the operational costs of the transit service.

Dec. 1: The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Society (LIWPS) ran the 50th production of the pageant this last July. Now, the pageant board, in cooperation with South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB,) will air a live radio broadcast of “Laura’s Little Christmas on the Prairie” written by Adam and Jennifer Rudebusch and historical research provided by Marian Cramer.

Dec. 8: On Nov. 30, between 3:30 and 4 a.m., a video recording shows an occupant of a white Ford Super-Duty with a flatbed attempting a break-in of the Dakotaland Federal Credit Union ATM at the De Smet Branch location. The ATM was damaged, but no persons or other property were harmed. The suspect did not gain access to the cash in the ATM.

Dec. 15: If you are a fifth grader in Kingsbury County, chances are you will spend ten weeks going through Drug Abuse Resistance Education or D.A.R.E. The program was started in 1983 and had rapidly spread across the nation by 1989. “D.A.R.E. teaches kids how to say no to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, how to recognize stress, and ways to handle and deal with the stress,” said Deputy Sheriff Michael Jenkins.

Dec. 22: Following a well-attended public meeting Sunday evening, the Lake Preston School Board voted unanimously to dissolve their football and comp cheer co-ops with Arlington and team up with Iroquois for all sports and other extra-curricular activities, except for wrestling. Lake Preston will remain part of the Kingsbury Knights, a 3-way co-op with Arlington and De Smet. Decisions regarding football co-ops must be submitted to the South Dakota High School Sports Association by their January meeting.

Dec. 29: South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper, Rylan Webster, recently graduated from the South Dakota Highway Patrol’s 65th Class. After completing the academy, he was assigned to District 2 in southeast South Dakota and headquartered in Brookings. His main responsibilities will be patrolling in the De Smet Area.


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