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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

2 | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

Wednesday, December 30, 2020 | 3

On the cover Two-year-old Milly Meyerink, in the dinosaur mask, chases 4-year-old Elsie Meyerink while enjoying the sunshine in their front yard on Tuesday, April 28 in Mitchell. Celebrating her birthday, Hannah Tronvold, center, joins her friends Claire johnson, left, and Abigail Svatos, right, along with Alison Frankenstein, back left, and Riata Bultje watch the movie Grease from the back of the vehicle on Sunday night at the Starlite Drive In in Mitchell. Karson Jeno, 10, left, and Grason Nebelsick, 10, both of Mitchell, have different reactions while riding the Free Style carnival ride during the first night of the Corn Palace Festival on Wednesday in downtown Mitchell. A lightning bolt strikes just south of the ballfield as the Canova Gang at Alexandria Angels baseball game is under a rain delay on June 3. Joel Vetter, of Tripp, left, waves to his aunt Irene Tiede wishing her a ‘Happy Birthday’ as Tiede turned 100 on Thursday at Bormann Manor in Parkston. Due to COVID-19, Tiede was unable to leave the facility, so community members organized a parade driving around the facility led

by the Parkston Police Department along with the South Dakota Highway Patrol, Parkston Fire Department and numerous community members holding signs and banners in Tiede’s honor. Over 40 vehicles took part in the parade that included stopping and getting out of their vehicles to sing happy birthday to Tiede. The Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers including Ty Hoglund and Bradley Dean, at center, celebrate their 78-75 win over the Morningside College Mustangs during a game on Saturday at the Corn Palace. The Mitchell High School football team watches the fireworks display following their game against Spearfish during the Kernel Bowl on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Joe Quintal Field. The Blue Angels fly over Mount Rushmore prior to the fireworks show on Friday, July 3 in Keystone. Five-year-old Vivian Arens fist bumps dad, Noah Arens, while her brother, Whystyn, 7, pats Noah on the head before heading into school at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary School for the first day of the 2020-2021 school year on Wednesday morning. Photos by Matt Gade / Republic


2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

4 | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

January 2020

Land donation from Avera paves way for affordable housing

Matt Gade / Republic

Tom Clark, Regional President and CEO of Avera Queen of Peace, talks about the new plans for a new neighborhood development plan that will be built on nearly 22 acres of property that Avera donated on the east side of Mitchell.

By Mitchell Republic A donation of 21.7 acres of land by Avera Health was to pave the way for a joint effort between the health system and the Mitchell Area Development Corporation that would potentially see as many as 94 affordable housing homes built just to the east of the Avera Queen of Peace campus in Mitchell.

Avera Queen of Peace CEO and Regional President said “it allows us to be a good steward of the resources God has blessed us with by leveraging this land for the greater good of the community.� The market value of the land was estimated to be around $465,000. Mitchell Area Development Corporation Executive Director Mark Vaux called the

donation a “game changer.� The MADC was expected to take the lead on the project and would develop a request for proposals for developers. The target price of the proposed homes was expected to be less than $200,000, and the development is intended for people with household incomes of between $50,000 and $70,000.

OTHER TOP STORIES No 2: The city of Mitchell was awarded a $663,000 grant from the state that will help the city to fund its implementation of a new single-stream recycling program that began Jan. 6. The grant comes from the Solid Waste Management Program and is being administered by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources. No. 3: The city of Tripp’s former finance officer was sentenced to three years for embezzling over half a million dollars

between 2011 and 2018. Jennifer Friederich was expected to be eligible for parole after she has completed a quarter of her sentence, said Judge Patrick Smith. No. 4: Dylan Thompson, 27, of Mitchell, had pleaded no contest to a second-degree manslaughter charge in October for knocking Richard “Rick� Sanders to the ground multiple times on Jan. 3, 2019. Sanders, 59, died in hospice five days later in Sioux Falls. No. 5: Ashlea Pruss, 36, received a sentence

of 60 days after pleading guilty to embezzling $38,189.93 from the city and spending the money on items such as concert tickets and cigarettes. The embezzlement took place between October of 2016 and November of 2018. No. 6: People in Aurora, Davison, Hanson and Sanborn counties were soon to be able to dial 211 to get help from the Helpline Center, thanks to state and local funding and partnership between the Mitchell United Way and several other businesses

and organizations. Common reasons for calls to the Helpline Center include basic needs such as a need for shelter, housing or financial assistance paying for rent or utilities. No. 7: The Randall Water District was recognized by the South Dakota Association of Rural Water District as the Rural Water District of the Year at the organization’s annual technical conference earlier in January. Flooding in 2019 caused over $1 million in damage to the

Randall system. No. 8: After a life as a Mitchell Main Street business for over 100 years, Woelfel’s Jewelry, employee Bryan Rickel purchased the business from owner Brad Jamison to continue the tradition. The store began operation as The Diamond Store in January. No. 9: After an exceptionally wet 2019 that made planting and harvesting corn difficult, work on the Corn Palace murals were put on hold until summer. Four

unfinished murals would have to wait for spring weather to cooperate so they could be seen through to completion. No. 10: Darrin Sazue, 22, of Gregory, was sentenced to more than three years. Charges included two counts of simple assault against a law enforcement officer and one count of aggravated entry of a motor vehicle, both of which are Class 6 felonies. The sentence stemmed from an incident in Gregory in May.

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

Wednesday, December 30, 2020 | 5

February 2020

Hargreaves named Mitchell Teacher of the Year By Mitchell Republic Amanda Hargreaves, a sixth grade English and science teacher at Mitchell Middle School, was named the Teacher of the Year for the Mitchell School District at a reception. Hargreaves, her fellow teaching colleagues and classified employees with the district were honored at the ceremony. She was later named South Dakota teacher of

the year in October by the South Dakota Department of Education. Joe Childs, principal of Mitchell High School, praised Hargreaves for her ability to forge relationships with students in both her English and science classes in his introduction of the teacher of the year candidates. “She takes great pride in creating an environment where students feel

safe and valued, and where they are able to forge strong relationships with classmates,” Childs said. Hargreaves graduated from Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota prior to becoming a teacher. She also taught in Madison for a year before moving to the Mitchell School District, where she taught at Longfellow Elementary for a year. She has

been at Mitchell Middle School ever since. Hargreaves said receiving the award was a surprise knowing that there are many talented teachers in the district.“I was honestly surprised. To be honored with so many wonderful educators that we have in our district is extremely humbling,” Hargreaves said following the reception.

Matt Gade / Republic

Mitchell Middle School 6th Grade Teacher Amanda Hargreaves makes a joke with Dr. Joe Graves while giving her remarks after being named Mitchell School District’s Teacher of the Year during its annual Teacher and Classified Staff of the Year Reception in the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy commons.

OTHER TOP STORIES No. 2: Kingsburg Grain and Feed, located about six miles, northwest of Springfield, submitted documents to surrender its grain buyer and grain marketing licenses. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission found the company to be financially insolvent. No. 3: After nearly four decades of running the gunstock business he founded in 1981, Randy Boyd passed the torch to his son-in-law Rob Carstensen and longtime employee Dustin Knutson. The transfer of the business took place in January.

The business is located 10 miles west of Mitchell. No. 4: After getting feedback from neighboring landowners, the project leaders of the Mitchell Area Development Corporation’s proposed housing development presented reconfigured plans for the project. After the development was tabled by the Mitchell Planning Commission, project leaders went back to the drawing board to reconfigure some of the design plans to meet the requests of some nearby residents.

No. 5: What started off as a food delivery service in Brooking has since expanded into three other South Dakota towns, with Mitchell becoming the latest location for Zapoya Delivery, which was established in November. The business was inspired by South Dakota State University student Luke Davidson, who decided to open up shop after craving Mexican delivery but not having any options for getting the order to his house. No. 6: A project where the city of Mitchell purchased land along Firesteel Creek in

an effort to establish a wetland to help improve the quality of water in Lake Mitchell continued to make several steps forward. Changes include enrolling more land in the federal Conservation Reserve Program and reducing the amount of farming along the creek. No. 7: After more than two years of allegedly staying in government housing and nearly a year of living in the house without authorization from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fort Thompson couple Brenda and Douglas Dion is being evict-

ed and being sued by the United States government for more than $14,000 in back rent. No. 8: County and state officials encouraged residents at a meeting in Lake Andes to take advantage of a government program that offers to buy homes that were heavily damaged by the 2019 flooding that ravaged the county. No. 9: The South Dakota Supreme Court issued an opinion that upheld a man’s conviction for murdering a Dallas woman in 2017. Chance Harruff, 49, was living in

Hamill when he strangled 38-year-old Kristi Olson, and is now serving a life sentence in the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. No. 10: Trent Beyers, a student at Edmunds Central in Roscoe, beat out dozens of other competitors to take first place at the Corn Palace Regional Spelling Bee at the Corrigan Health Science Center on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University. His winning word, which is spelled correctly, was “extinguish.”

Happy New Year from all of us at

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

6 | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

March 2020

Noem requests school closures in wake of COVID-19 pandemic Matt Gade / Republic

Mitchell Senior High School parking lot sits empty as schools were closed on March 13 due to a state of emergency declared by Governor Kristi Noem due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Mitchell Republic Gov. Kristi Noem declared a state of emergency as the number of COVID-19 cases in South Dakota continued to rise, and asked all K-12 schools in the state to close their doors for a week in an effort

to mitigate the spread of the deadly respiratory disease, which first appeared in the United States earlier in the year. Noem would later extend her request to closing schools for the remainder of the school year, which would

effectively move all students to a remote learning format and cancel many common school event staples for the year, such as prom, athletic events and even graduation ceremonies. Schools would not return to in-person

classes until the start of the 2020-21 school year, and even then it would be a struggle for some districts to combat the virus, with some switching back and forth between live in-person learning and virtual classes.

pandemic. The move was made to allow for greater social distancing among the council and audience members. Social distancing has been highly recommended among health care professionals as a way to help prevent the spread of the disease. No. 9: With Gov. Kristi Noem recommending schools close for the remainder of the year and move to a remote learning format, the Mitchell School District was taking steps to ensure as smooth a transition as possible to the virtual setting, with teachers fine-tuning lesson plans

and administrators making sure students had the technology necessary to facilitate classroom time from home. No. 10: Free meals were being distributed by the Mitchell School District despite the school buildings in the district including the lunchrooms - being closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the request of Gov. Kristi Noem to close the schools for the remainder of the school year. Meals were available for pickup at several locations on and off campus.

OTHER TOP STORIES No. 2: The Dakota Wesleyan Tigers men’s basketball team came up just short of a Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament title when it fell to Concordia University in the finals of the tournament by a score of 68-66 at the Corn Palace. No. 3: New testing uncovered another 11 cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to a total of 101 cases. None of the 11 new cases of the disease had required hospitalization at this point. The newly-discovered cases showed the disease moving by community spread in 13 of the

state’s 66 counties. No. 4: County courthouses throughout the region were taking various steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19, with some closing their doors to the public completely and encouraging the public conduct business by phone or email. Others strictly limited the number of patrons that could be inside conducting business, with social distancing measures and sanitization stations set up for public use. No. 5: A Corsica man in a multi-million dollar foreclosure case faces 32 charges in fed-

eral court. Robert Blom, 58, was indicted March 3 on 17 counts of money laundering, nine counts of wire fraud and six counts of mail fraud, allegedly causing losses estimated at around $20 million. The charges stem from allegations that he defrauded investors in his custom cattle feeding business. No. 6: A Mount Vernon woman was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in federal prison for embezzling nearly half-a-million dollars from a long-term healthcare facility in Mitchell. Nancy Tingle, 54, former business manager

at what is now Firesteel Healthcare Center, pleaded guilty to health care fraud in December, was ordered to pay 462,811.55 in restitution. No. 7: South Dakota confirmed its first death from COVID-19 as the 10th case of the disease appeared among the population. The deceased individual was a man in his 60s from Pennington County, though he had not been to his home county in some time and died in Davison County. No. 8: The Mitchell City Council began holding its regular meetings at the Corn Palace due to the ongoing COVID-19

May 2021 be full of success and good deals.

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

Wednesday, December 30, 2020 | 7

April 2020

Mitchell Mayor puts an end to city shutdown By Mitchell Republic After some local businesses endured a near month-long shutdown in April, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson put an end to it all on April 28 with his executive order to lift the COVID19 restrictions. The city shutdown was implemented by the Mitchell City Council in late March, which mandated specific businesses either close their doors or turn to alter-

native methods of doing business in order to remain open. Since the start of the pandemic, the shutdown was the most restrictive safety measure that the city has experienced. Among the businesses that were affected by the shutdown were bars, restaurants and recreation centers. Everson’s executive order that lifted the shutdown came after Gov. Kristi Noem announced the state’s

“Back to Normal Plan.” “Based on what we heard from the governor this afternoon, I am rescinding my emergency order, and businesses in the city will be able to open immediately,” Everson said. “The governor rescinded everything in our ordinance.” Council member Dan Sabers supported the mayor’s decision to lift the ordinance, highlighting that many

businesses were voluntarily practicing precautionary measures. Sabers said some businesses went as far as voluntarily keeping their doors closed, pointing to it as one of many examples as to why he trusts businesses to make wise choices. While the shutdown lasted 25 days, several local businesses have still been struggling to recover from it.

Matt Gade / Republic

Shown here is the electronic sign in front of Perkins Restaurant and Bakery in Mitchell following Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson’s decision to lift the city shutdown that closed diners, bars and gyms.

OTHER TOP STORIES No 2: John Tyler, a Mitchell High School graduate, was named the principal of the Mitchell Middle School on April 13. The longtime teacher and coach at the Wagner Community School was a 1992 graduate of Mitchell High School. No. 3: The Corn Palace became a more practice friendly facility on April 24 after the installation of two additional practice hoops that were approved in the fall by the Mitchell City Council at a cost of nearly $73,000. The project was over the

$60,000 budget, but donations helped cover the difference. The arena now has four basketball standards, all of which are lowered from the arena’s ceiling. No. 4: Northridge Baptist Church in Mitchell got creative to help the community battle through COVID-19 with a caravan prayer. The local church would meet once a week and form a line of cars to pray over the community. No. 5: In early April, it was announced that the 72nd Tabor Czech Days was

cancelled due to COVID-19. However, the board made a decision to go ahead and host the 2021 Czech Days, which is still slated to be held June 17, 18 and 19 of 2021, according to the Tabor Area Chamber of Commerce. No. 6: Twin City Fan in Mitchell shuffled its priorities in early April during the thick of the pandemic, as the manufacturer built equipment that went to help COVID-19-ridden New York hospitals. The equipment was installed at Stony Brook

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University in Stony Brook, New York, as part of a makeshift medical facility that was being fashioned out of a basketball arena by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. No. 7: A Wessington Springs rancher witnessed one of his cows giving birth to a two-headed calf on April 4. The calf had two heads and two completely separate spinal columns that were joined at the pelvis, attached to which was a single tail. A two-headed calf is considered to

be a rarity. No. 8: The South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association announced its plans to play baseball throughout the summer season. After making it through the season with a few less teams, Mitchell once again hosted the South Dakota Amateur Baseball tournament at Cadwell Park, making it one of few sporting events to not be cancelled due to COVID-19. No. 9: Local charities stepped up their efforts to help the community battle the pan-

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demic. Mitchell’s Salvation Army fired into action in early April, bringing relief to community members with a helpline, while Mitchell United Way established a COVID-19 relief fund. No. 10: The Mitchell Board of Education approved hosting a virtual graduation ceremony for Mitchell High School’s class of 2020. The virtual ceremony was the first of its kind, making it a historic decision.

We hope 2021 treats you as well as you’ve treated us this past year. Thanks for your kind and loyal patronage. Please accept our sincere best wishes for a happy and successful year ahead!

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

8 | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

May 2020

Healthcare workers receive special tribute from the sky

Photo courtesy of SD Air National Guard

An F-16 fighter jet that’s part of the South Dakota Air National Guard readies for take off from the Sioux Falls base to flyover Mitchell.

By Mitchell Republic Local health care workers received a special tribute in the sky on May 14, as F-16 fighter jets flew over Mitchell to show their support for frontline workers battling the pandemic. Mitchell was one of nine eastern South Dakota cities that the South Dakota Air National Guard flew their F-16 fighter jets over on May 14 to recognize the brave efforts

of the health care workers amid the pandemic. The jets were a part of the 114th Fighter Wing, a unit of the South Dakota Air National Guard, stationed out of Sioux Falls. “This Armed Forces Day, we would like to salute our fellow Americans working hard to keep South Dakotans safe,” said Col. Mark Morrell, 114th Fighter Wing commander prior to the flyover. “They

have demonstrated true commitment and selfless service, and this is our way of saying thank you.” It’s only fitting the pilots flew the F-16s over Avera Queen of Peace hospital, the local health care facility that has treated hundreds of COVID-19 infected patients since the virus first spread into Davison County in early March, making it one of the first counties in the

state to see a positive case of the virus. The first fatality caused by the virus also occurred at Avera Queen of Peace hospital, after a Pennington County man in his 60s was admitted to the hospital in early March and died March 9. “We hope everyone can share in this moment of gratitude, and remember that we are all in this together,” Col. Morrell said.

destroyed the local church and a number of other buildings, community leaders came together on May 10 to ring the bell outside the brand new church. No. 8: Mitchell’s biggest tourist attraction reopened on May 5, following a one month shutdown due to the pandemic. While the Corn Palace reopened in early May, a new list of safety measures were in place to safely open again. No. 9: Three area wetland projects in the James River valley, including the Firesteel

wetland dam led by the city of Mitchell, received federal grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The city’s wetland project along Firesteel Creek received a total of $1 million. No. 10: The Mitchell City Council was presented with a design of a future Lake Mitchell marina project that has been gaining ground since. The marina was part of a lake study led by North Dakota State University graduate students.

OTHER TOP STORIES No. 2: While it was uncertain of whether Mitchell Post 18 was going to have a baseball season this past summer, South Dakota’s American Legion baseball officials announced its plans in May to sanction its own season. The decision allowed the Mitchell Post 18 baseball team to play their season out in the midst of the pandemic. The baseball squad managed to play 47 games, ending the season with a 24-23 record. No. 3: Parker Fenner, a 3-year-old Mount Ver-

non boy who was battling cancer, had his wish granted by Make-A-Wish on May 29. Fenner’s wish of having a big playground set in his backyard came true in front of his friends and family. No. 4: The South Dakota youth pheasant hunting season nearly doubled in length this year, thanks to the advocacy efforts of Savanah Hendricks, an eighth-grader from Vivian. The youth hunter submitted a petition to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission, seeking to

extend the pheasant hunting season. It modified the current season dates from five consecutive days beginning on the first Saturday of October to nine consecutive days beginning 21 days prior to the third Saturday of October. The 2020 youth pheasant season began Sept. 26 and ended Oct. 4 No. 5: Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mitchell High School’s class of 2020 took part in a virtual graduation ceremony. The virtual graduation ceremony was the first in

school history. No. 6: Multiple Mitchell venues — including Joe Quintal Field, Cadwell Sports Complex, the Corn Palace and Dakota Wesleyan University — banded together on May 3 to light up their buildings for Let it Shine South Dakota in a show of solidarity for the impact that the pandemic had caused on sports, healthcare workers and local businesses. No. 7: Five years after the small town of Delmont was ravaged by a tornado, which

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

Wednesday, December 30, 2020 | 9

June 2020

Spring storm packs punch By Mitchell Republic A damaging storm pummeled south-central South Dakota overnight from June 9 to the early morning hours of June 10. The storm dumped several inches of rain in Aurora County and western Davison County. Rural towns of Stickney and Mount Vernon were hit the hardest. Officials noted structural damage to buildings, trees and powerlines, while several grain bins were destroyed. Weather

officials said the damage was a result of straight line winds and not due to a tornado. A local farmer reported winds of 94 mph, according to his weather station. “We have a few houses that had trees go through the entire roof,” Mount Vernon Mayor Weston Frank said the morning after the storm. “I have seen strong winds in Mount Vernon over the years, but that was the strongest I’ve ever experienced. I knew it was going to be really bad.”

Matt Gade / Republic

Connor Powell, left, and Rylee Deinert, both with the city of Mount Vernon, fill about 20 sandbags to take over to the post office to help prevent flooding during the storms.

OTHER TOP STORIES

No. 2: The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department discontinued its long-running pheasant preseason count, reported on June 6. The GF&P Commission decided to do away with the roadside brood count. No. 3: A 21-year-old Mitchell woman was arrested for first-degree manslaughter for the death of a 5-year-old boy. Julia

Lee Carter admitted on June 25 to police that she kicked the boy in the stomach five times and stomped on his abdomen. No. 4: Several regional high schools such as Burke and Sanborn Central held later-than-usual graduation ceremonies. The annual celebrations were altered

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to practice safe social distancing and cleanliness. No. 5: Mitchell Technical Institute’s longest-tenured former president, Chris Paustian, died, the newspaper reported on June 8. No. 6: Mitchell’s annual Heart and Sole Cancer walk had a different feel in 2020 due

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to the coronavirus pandemic. The event was held as a parade on Main Street. No. 7: Mitchell native Mike Miller announced he was leaving his position as an assistant college basketball coach from Memphis. No. 8: It was announced that the annual farm show in Mitchell, Dakotafest, would

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home safety. No. 10: Two people were arrested in Sioux Falls following violence and vandalism linked to peaceful protesting demanding justice for the death of George Floyd. A peace walk was held in Mitchell on June 3 as local pastors united for a demonstration.

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be canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The event was scheduled to be in its 25th year. No. 9: Mark Burket, CEO of Platte Health Center Avera, was chosen out of a field of 800 applicants to be one of 25 representatives on a federal commission to make recommendations for COVID-19 nursing

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

10 | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

July 2020

President Trump enjoys fireworks in SD

Matt Gade / Republic

President Trump pumps his fist to cheers during the Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on Friday, July 3 in Keystone.

By Mitchell Republic President Donald Trump and Mount Rushmore put South Dakota in the spotlight. A crowd of 7,500 gathered at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 3 for a nationally televised rally and fireworks display in honor of Independence Day. The crowd featured few masks and Gov. Kristi

Noem announced ahead of time the event would not involve social distancing. The rally came at a time when the United States was seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, as Trump and Noem drew heaps of criticism and praise from both sides of the political aisle. A week later, South Dakota health officials had

yet to report a significant uptick in cases due to the event. Hours before the rally, American Indians protesting the Trump administration’s visit to the Black Hills clashed with the South Dakota National Guard. Pepper spray and riot gear were used as at least 15 people were arrested for blocking Highway 16A.

No. 8: Like many summer festivals around South Dakota, the Turner County Fair was canceled due to COVID-19. The fair had been held in Parker for 140 years, but health officials felt thousands of visitors would have made it difficult to avoid gathering in large groups. No. 9: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses in small towns in South Dakota managed to stay afloat. A priority on local shopping allowed Stickney to see a 13.3% increase in sales tax in the first

six months of 2020. In Mitchell, sales tax revenue reached $5.72 million in the first six months of the year, compared to $5.8 million in 2019. No. 10: Dakota Wesleyan University began building the new home for the business program. A year removed from the groundbreaking ceremony for the building, contractors began constructing the new two-story facility. Total cost is estimated at $6.7 million and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2021.

OTHER TOP STORIES No. 2: The Mitchell Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the implementation of a mask mandate on district property due to COVID-19. Roughly 20 Mitchell-area physicians signed a letter to the board encouraging the school to mandate masks. No. 3: Fishing and boating provided relief for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, as South Dakotans and out-of-staters flocked to enjoy the water without restrictions. By July 8, the Lake Mitchell Campground surpassed its total revenue

sales for 2019. No. 4: The South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors unanimously approved the return of high school sports in the fall. Summer activities took place in a limited capacity. Few mandatory guidelines were offered, with the SDHSAA deferring policies for COVID19 mitigation to individual schools. No. 5: Glen Still resigned as the chief of Mitchell’s Public Safety Department less than two years after taking the position.

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Still arrived in Mitchell with 33 years of experience at the Fremont Police Department in Nebraska. The reason for his resignation was not released at the time, but Still died in hospice care in December. No. 6: Despite COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the typical vibrant summer events centered around the Corn Palace, Mitchell was able to complete renovations to the Corn Palace Plaza. A shade structure and a new state-of-the art stage were among the new features in a project that cost

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$521,464. The usual array of Corn Palace Festival concerts were canceled, but the stage played host to a few in August. No. 7: Prior to the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall, American Indians took the brunt of the virus’ impact during the summer. By July, 81 of the 99 COVID-19 cases in Charles Mix County belonged to American Indians and the Yankton Sioux Tribe responded by providing food, entertainment and lodging at Fort Randall Casino to those afflicted.

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

Wednesday, December 30, 2020 | 11

August 2020

Summer stalwart events roll on amid pandemic By Mitchell Republic In 2020, August was the month when events across the state went forward despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In Mitchell, the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament unfolded from Aug. 5-16 at Cadwell Park mostly as usual, with increased signage reminding people to social distance in the stands. Later in the month, a

diminished Corn Palace Festival took place from Aug. 26-30, with city revenues from the event down by about 50%. The venue made a major change by moving its concerts outdoors for the first time, building a large-scale stage in a nearby parking lot. Of course, no event was bigger than the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held over 10 days in early August.

After consternation from local residents about whether to have the event, hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts went forward with trips to the Black Hills. Nationally, the event drew ire as a possible-superspreader of the virus, something that was difficult to calculate. One national study attributed more than 200,000 nation-

Matt Gade / Republic

The American flag is presented on the pitching mound as the teams from Groton and Madison line up along their respective baselines prior to the opening game of the state amateur baseball tournament on Aug. 5 at Cadwell Park. wide cases to rallygoers contracting the virus and spreading it back home. Officially, the number of attributable cases related to Sturgis was about 400, but with

the understanding that the actual count was much higher. High school sports also got underway in August in the state, putting South Dakota in the minority of

states holding athletic events. Throughout the fall, teams experienced shutting down games and practices due to the virus but each season was completed on time.

have continued to change the business. South Dakota had 257 licensed locations in the state as of August, a 50% fall compared to 1960. No. 9: Meeting the needs of the pandemic, the Farmers to Family food box program served Mitchell multiple times over the summer, including on Aug. 12,

when U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson volunteered locally. No. 10: A pair of Armour natives, Chris Urquieta and Randy Wiese, returned to the community to start a microbrewery as the Armour Brewing Company opened its doors on Main Street.

OTHER TOP STORIES No. 2: One Mitchell event didn’t take place, as Dakotafest was canceled for the first time in the event’s 25-year history due to the threat of COVID-19. No. 3: Alexandria Angels emerge with another Class B state baseball championship, their fifth championship since 2013 with an 11-3 victory over Canova.

No. 4: The community of Burke marked the one-year anniversary of a damaging tornado with rebuilding, including getting the town’s Civic Center up and running. No. 5: According to an analysis, nearly 500 businesses in Mitchell received a total of $15 million from the U.S. Small Business

Administration in Paycheck Protection Program loans, estimated to support 1,726 jobs. No. 6: The top leaders of the Mitchell Area Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce — Mark Vaux and Sonya Moller — were asked to resign Aug. 25 by the joint executive board that over-

sees them. No. 7: The city of Mitchell announces it is in the design phase of developing a jetty at Lake Mitchell for individuals to rent as a dock area. It’s being developed on the west side of the lake. No. 8: Closures of small-town grain elevators in South Dakota over the last half-century

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

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September 2020

Ravnsborg investigated for fatal pedestrian crash near Highmore By Mitchell Republic South Dakota was rocked with the news that Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was involved in a fatal crash where he hit and killed a man on the side of the road on Sept. 12. Joseph Boever, 55, of Highmore, was killed in the crash. Ravnsborg’s involvement was announced in a press conference from Gov. Kristi Noem on Sept. 13, and Ravnsborg issued a statement shortly after Noem’s announcement,

stating he was “shocked and filled with sorrow” following the crash and was fully cooperating with the investigation. Ravnsborg issued a statement shortly after Noem’s announcement, stating he was “shocked and filled with sorrow” following the crash and was fully cooperating with the investigation. He also offered his “deepest sympathy and condolences to the family.” The next day, Ravnsborg released a lengthy personal statement say-

ing he thought he hit a deer in the late-night crash and looked for the body of what he hit but couldn’t find it. He said he returned the next morning and discovered the body of Boever. Ravnsborg said he had not been drinking and called the Hyde County Sheriff about the crash. The sheriff allowed Ravnsborg to use his vehicle to drive back to Pierre and then returned to the scene the next day. Boever had been involved in a sin-

gle-vehicle crash with his truck earlier in the day and members of his family believed he might have been returning to his truck at the time of the crash. Ravnsborg was returning home from Redfield the night of the collision after attending the Spink County Lincoln Day Dinner. Investigators announced in November that Ravnsborg was distracted when he entered the shoulder of the road and struck Boever but

haven’t said how he was distracted. He was traveling at 65 mph at the time of the crash. As of Dec. 21, no decision has been made regarding potential charges regarding Ravnsborg. The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is involved with the investigation and a group of prosecutors from Beadle, Minnehaha and Pennington counties are making recommendations on potential charges to the Hyde County State’s Attorney’s Office.

South Dakota Department of Public Safety

A photo of Jason Ravnsborg’s damaged vehicle on Sept. 13 after it struck and killed a man walking on the north shoulder of U.S. Highway 14 just west of Highmore.

OTHER TOP STORIES No. 2: The White House COVID-19 task force was critical of South Dakota’s response to the pandemic, calling it “deeply concerning” and deeming the state to be a “red zone” as of Sept. 10 due to high per capita case counts. No. 3: The South Dakota State Fair in Huron took place but with attendance cratered by 47% over five days and with most of

the major grandstand acts canceling due to the pandemic. No. 4: While it was the maximum amount for an OSHA serious violation, Smithfield’s $13,494 government fine related to 1,294 COVID-19 cases and four deaths at the Sioux Falls pork plant drew ire from workers’ rights groups, saying it was far too small of a penalty.

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No. 5: Wagner’s Wayne Scherr fulfilled a lifelong dream in bringing a horse to run in the Kentucky Derby. Necker Island finished ninth in the race held Sept. 5 in Louisville, Ky. No. 6: After postponing its traditional May graduation, Dakota Wesleyan University held a commencement ceremony on Sept. 27 in conjunction with Blue and

White Days. About 100 of the 230 graduating students were in attendance. No. 7: Gov. Kristi Noem proposed merging the state’s Departments of Agriculture and Environment and Natural Resources, which has generated support from some farm groups but pushback from environmental groups, noting that word won’t be in the future department name,

if approved. No. 8: Mitchell is getting a standalone Starbucks after the city’s Planning Commission approved building plans on Sept. 28. The store will be located at 1321 S. Burr St., replacing a longtime car sales lot. No. 9: Mitchell marked the one-year anniversary of the flooding from Sept. 10-12,

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2019. Klock Werks, for example, which had waist-high water in its sales building, was having a record year in 2020. No. 10: McCook Central/Montrose running back Jacobi Krouse set an 11-man high school football rushing record with 421 rushing yards on 43 carries and six touchdowns in a Sept. 11 win over Mount Vernon/Plankinton.

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

Wednesday, December 30, 2020 | 13

October 2020

Man’s defiance over school masks becomes a flash point By Mitchell Republic Mitchell became a flash point for mandating masks in school during the fall, after one opponent to the measure was removed from a Mitchell Board of Education meeting by law enforcement. Reed Bender, 39, faces one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer. He called the moment a case of government overreach and telling people what to do … and how to enforce just dumb laws.” Bender was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 9 due to his actions from a Sept. 14 board meeting.

Bender was at the meeting and declined to wear a mask despite a school policy that requires masks on school property because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Superintendent Joe Graves had warned Bender that he would be removed from the meeting if he didn’t comply with the requirement. Later in the night, Bender told the two Mitchell Police Division officers who were there that they would “have to drag me out” and at one point an officer pulled out his Taser but did not use it on Bender. The moment quickly went viral online. On Oct. 29, when

Bender had turned himself into authorities, he told the newspaper he didn’t go to the meeting intending to make a scene or a statement. “I felt like Graves was trying to make a statement to me, which was shut up and put your mask on,” he said. “I just decided to say no and stand up for whatever it is that I’m standing up for, which is way more than masks. It’s our personal freedoms, our God-given freedoms.” Bender is scheduled to have his initial appearance in court in early January 2021.

Matt Gade / Republic

Mitchell resident Reed Bender, right, walks out of the Davison County Public Safety Center alongside his attorney R. Shawn Tornow after turning himself in for an indictment of obstruction of police on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, in Mitchell.

OTHER TOP STORIES

No. 2: Former South Dakota legislator and Mitchell community champion Lance Carson died Oct. 14 from COVID-19. He was 74. No. 3: Mitchell first proposes a mask mandate for city facilities during its Oct. 19 meeting. The City Council didn’t take any

action, but it set the table for the city’s eventual community-wide mask rules in November. No. 4: With COVID-19 cases climbing, South Dakota medical organizations created #MaskUpSoDak campaign to encourage the public to wear masks to combat

Happy New Year Let’s say Good Bye to 2020! &

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the virus. No. 5: Powered by four singles titles and two doubles championships, Mitchell girls tennis wins its second straight state championship in Class A on Oct. 6. No. 6: In the snow, the Kimball/White Lake girls won the Class B state cross country

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No. 8: The South Dakota Legislature held a special session on Oct. 5 to try to decide how to spend nearly $600 million in COVID-19 relief funds. No. 9: With the funds in line to make construction happen, Mitchell’s skate park expansion was set to open in mid-2021.

Happy Happy New New Year! Year! Many thanks to our customers and friends this holiday season.

No. 10: The committee that puts on the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo has sued the owners of the rodeo grounds it uses every year, alleging that the grounds owners have damaged its property. The lawsuit could jeopardize the site of the 2021 rodeo in Mitchell, set to be its 50th annual event.

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team title, while Burke eighth-grader Hallie Person won the individual title. No. 7: Mitchell Middle School teacher Amanda Hargreaves was named the state’s Teacher of the Year for 2021 on Oct. 8. She teaches sixth-grade English and science.

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

14 | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

November 2020

Mask mandate hits Mitchell By Mitchell Republic As COVID-19 cases and deaths began to skyrocket in Davison County, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson signed an executive order for a citywide mask mandate on Nov. 17. During the previous night’s city council meeting, a mask

Matt Gade / Republic

A discarded mask lays on the stage at the Mitchell City Council meeting at the Corn Palace.

mandate in city-owned facilities was on the table, but council member Susan Tjarks pushed for masks to be required in all indoor facilities in Mitchell and councilmembers approved the first reading, paving the way for Everson’s executive order.

On Nov. 23, the city council officially voted to adopt the ordinance by a narrow 5-3 vote. At the time of the mask mandate’s implementation, Davison County had 858 active COVID-19 cases, its highest total to date during the pandemic. Seven hundred of those cases had occurred since

Nov. 1 and there were 22 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. The mandate had strong advocates and opponents and the debate was featured in a feature article in The Washington Post.

the fifth state championship since 2009 for the Warriors. No. 8: Platte-Geddes captured its first state football championship since becoming a consolidated school in 2007. The Black Panthers did not have any winning seasons prior to marching toward an unbeaten campaign, knocking off Hamlin in the Class 9B championship game No. 9: Davison County Commissioner Kim Weitala was given a $500 and a suspended driver’s license for one year after being

convicted of her second DUI. Weitala, 58, was arrested on Aug. 27 after reports that she may have struck other vehicles near Sixth Avenue and Main Street in Mitchell and left the scene. Weitala’s preliminary breath test for alcohol was .208. No. 10: Canistota/Freeman won its third consecutive Class 9A state championship with a 12-0 win over Warner. Tyce Ortman ran for 253 yards and two touchdowns for the Pride, who also knocked off unbeaten Howard in the semifinals.

OTHER TOP STORIES No. 2: South Dakota becomes one of the most COVID-19-afflicted states in the country, consistently ranking among the worst in cases and deaths per capita in the world throughout November. The state totaled 509 deaths, 1,781 hospitalizations and 33,140 new cases in a month, overwhelming hospitals and health care workers. No. 3: Mitchell resident and long-time South Dakota sports official Buck Timmins dies of COVID-19 on Nov. 16. Timmins officiated high school and collegiate events, earn-

to pass laws regarding hemp. Gov. Kristi Noem is backing an effort to challenge the amendment in court. No. 5: Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft resigns days after sending a controversial email to health system employees on Nov. 18. Krabbenhoft told nearly 48,000 Sanford employees that wearing a face mask after he contracted COVID-19 would be a “symbolic gesture” and he considered himself immune from the virus. No. 6: South Dakota voter turnout reached

ing a variety of awards, including South Dakota High School Coaches Association official of the year, the NFOA Football Active Officials Award for South Dakota and the NFOA Section 5 Distinguished Active Official Award. No. 4: South Dakota voters choose to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana on Nov. 3. State constitutional amendment “A” passed with 53% of the votes. The amendment legalizes, regulates and taxes marijuana and requires the state

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73.88% during the 2020 elections. A total of 427,513 ballots were cast, including more than 215,000 absentee ballots. Donald Trump secured 62% of the state’s votes for president, while eventual winner Joe Biden had 36%. No. 7: Winner defeats Bridgewater-Emery/ Ethan for the Class 11B state championship a year after being bested by the Seahawks in the state title game. Riley Orel knocked away a last-second pass at the goal line to secure an 18-14 win. It was

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With the count down to the New Year, I count friends and clients like you among the blessings I appreciate most. Thank You to all of my clients this year and throughout the years and best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for all!

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2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

Wednesday, December 30, 2020 | 15

December 2020 Avera announces COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Mitchell, region By Mitchell Republic Nine months after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Avera Health announced the COVID-19 vaccine would begin to be distributed in Davison County. The Pfizer vaccine received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration in December and was first delivered to front-line health

No. 2: COVID-19 cases begin to drop in Davison County one month after Mitchell’s citywide mask mandate went into effect. Ten days after the mandate, the number of cases dropped by nearly 200 and casecounts dropped by more than 600 by Dec. 15. From Nov. 2 to Dec. 15, Division County experienced 41 deaths in 43 days due to COVID-19. No. 3: A loophole in vehicle registration has led 19 vehicles in the Mexican vacation destination of Cabo San Lucas to sport South Dakota Licenses, originating from

care workers in Sioux Falls on Dec. 14. Three days later, it was announced 800 doses of the Moderna vaccine were authorized to be delivered to Mitchell. Per Avera’s vaccine rollout Phase 1A playbook, the vaccine was first administered to front-line employees in COVID units, along with nursing home residents and workers, along with resi-

dents in other long-term care facilities. Phase 1B includes hospital workers not directly in COVID care units, emergency responders and other hospital employees. Vaccine availability for the next group, which includes people over the age of 65, those with chronic issues or immunocompromised, has not been determined.

Avera Health photo

Dr. Anthony Hericks, a pulmonologist and director of Critical Care at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls receives a COVID-19 vaccination on Dec. 14, among the first front-line workers in the state to be inoculated.

OTHER TOP STORIES Clay County. South Dakota does not require a VIN check upon registration or vehicle emissions test, allowing cars to never actually be in the state. No. 4: As South Dakota became one of the most deadly areas in the world due to COVID-19 during November and December, nursing homes and long-term care facilities were the most heavily afflicted. Nearly half of the state’s death total came from long-term care residents, leaving Jerauld and Gregory counties with some of the highest death rates

in the nation. No. 5: Dakota Wesleyan University basketball coaching legend Gordie Fosness died at the age of 85 on Dec. 15. Fosness was a standout player for the Tigers and was drafted by the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers in 1957. He returned to coach DWU for 22 years, winning 351 games and 10 conference titles. No. 6: Mitchell businessman Jeff Logan sold two downtown properties in December, one on the corner of East Second Avenue and the other on Main Street.

The building on East Second Avenue was originally Branson Bank built by Logan’s grandfather and was named to USA Today’s list of “must-see” buildings in South Dakota. No. 7: Chamberlain resident Jerry Kistler has been the mastermind of the city’s extravagant Christmas decorations for nearly two decades. The 77-year-old has crafted a variety of large decorations in the city, including an angel that features 6,500 lights. No. 8: One day after all of the annual Hoop

City Classic games were moved to Mitchell, the event was canceled entirely due to COVID-19 concerns. The 11th edition of the Hoop City Classic was initially slated to be played in Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Yankton over three days and featured the return of Mike Miller as coach of Houston (Tenn.). No. 9: Mitchell City Council member Susan Tjarks came under fire after being shown in a Facebook video from Mitchell Main Street and Beyond without a mask. Tjarks was one of the main advocates for the

city’s mask mandate and was seen without a mask nearly two weeks after it was approved. No. 10: Mitchell resident Ayla Barna was pled guilty to felony child abuse and was sentenced to eight years in prison due to a house fire that caused the death of her 6-year-old daughter. At the time of the April 23 fire, Barna had left her three children home alone when the fire broke out. The other two children survived.


2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

16 | Wednesday, December 30, 2020

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Year In Review 2020  

The Mitchell Republic's compilation of the biggest and top news stories of each month for 2020 #YearInReview #TopNewsStories #MitchellSD #Hi...

Year In Review 2020  

The Mitchell Republic's compilation of the biggest and top news stories of each month for 2020 #YearInReview #TopNewsStories #MitchellSD #Hi...