The Select-A-Gift trees and are up and filled with tags at participating Custer Churches, Banks, Credit Unions and Business’s!


   It is the Holiday season and a time for giving joyfully from our hearts. Community members are encouraged to take a gift tag from one of these trees and buy a gift for the person on the tag.

Select-a-gift is an integral part of the annual Custer Ministerial Alliance’s  Christmas Community Project. This program ensures that families in need are able to experience the joy of giving and receiving gifts. Gifts are gathered during November and December for all age groups: children, teenagers, and moms, dads and senior citizens of Custer County.

On Select-A- Gift day families are able to pick one gift for each family member. The children as a family pick one present for mom and one for dad and the parents pick one present for each child. These gifts are then wrapped and tagged for opening on Christmas Day.

While everyone loves to buy gifts for children, we encourage folks to pick the “Mom” and “Dad” tags.  We have a big need for these adult gifts and it is so heartwarming to see the smiles on the children’s faces when they learn they get to choose a gift for Mom and Dad!

Please find your tag/s at on the trees at Custer Lutheran Fellowship, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Custer Community Church, First Baptist Church, Crossroads Church, Grace Family Church, First Interstate Bank, Highmark Federal Credit Union, Dacotah Bank, Shopko, Family Dollar Store, True Value Hardware, and Custer Middle/High School Library.

Gift suggestions are now printed on the back of the tag.  Gifts are to be returned (unwrapped) to the church or to the business where you selected the gift tag by Tuesday December 12.  At this time the gifts will be collected for distribution on Saturday, December 16.

Cash donations or checks to be made out to Custer Ministerial Alliance are also accepted and help fill in where gifts are needed.  Trees that have cash donation envelopes are at First Interstate Bank, Shopko and Highmark Federal Credit Union.  Or call Juli Ames-Curtis at the number below.

Due to the generosity of this community, 93 area families experienced a happier Christmas in 2016. If you have questions or wish to help with this part of the project such as setting up or wrapping gifts call, please call Juli Ames-Curtis (673-2967 or 970-391-9921) Select-A-Gift chairwoman.

If you are a Custer County resident or know of someone or a family who could use some help this Christmas, please call Donna at Custer Lutheran Fellowship 673-4691 and to find out if you qualify for this program.

Winter Storm Warning Late Monday Evening and Tuesday

January 23, 2017 – 11:32am MT

Areas Affected:

Bennett; Custer Co Plains; Fall River; Haakon; Hermosa Foot Hills; Jackson; Mellette; Oglala Lakota; Pennington Co Plains; Rapid City; Southern Black Hills; Southern Foot Hills; Southern Meade Co Plains; Sturgis, Piedmont Foot Hills; Todd; Tripp

Burn the Negatives; Make Room for the Positives


Burn the Negatives; Make Room for the Positives. Photo: Herb Ryan:

By Peg Ryan
Mile High Pilates and Yoga
January 22, 2017

CUSTER, SD – Winter can feel overwhelming at times.  For example, weather can interfere with the best laid plans.  Maybe you made a New Year’s resolution to walk more.  You start off really well and suddenly the temperatures dive, the sidewalks shine with ice and the trails in the woods are clogged with snow. Even winter sports enthusiasts can be disappointed when there is just enough snow and ice to be a hazard, but not enough to support the fun stuff.  If you decide to go elsewhere to ski or swim, you can find yourself stymied by airline delays or cancellations. Then there is the busyness that comes in January after the long stretch of holiday breaks that characterize November and December.  So much to catch up on – so little time!  Despite solstice the days are still short.  Time seems compressed and suddenly everyone seems to want a piece of yours.  There just never seems to be enough to go around.

Combine all this with Seasonal Affected Disorder and (dare I say it . . .) post-election anxiety and we have the ingredients for a deep dive into depression.  Take heart, though.  Just when you think hope is pointless and the light at the end of the tunnel appears dim or even non-existent, along comes the Burning Beetle Blues Festival in Custer SD.  What a great example of turning negatives into positives.

For the past couple of decades, the forests in western states from Canada to the southwest U.S. have been ravaged by an onslaught of voracious bark beetles.  The plague has had an enormous impact on the Black Hills in general, and Custer in particular.  About 5 years ago, some Custer residents decided to turn the hand-wringing and lamentation into action.  Thus began the Bark Beetle Blues festival.  The first year of the event saw residents drowning their sorrows in music and art.  Sculptures and picture frames were created with the “blue wood” of the dead trees remaining after the beetles had their fill.  The talented musicians of the Black Hills wrote songs and performed them for a delighted audience.  School children danced and sang.  The festival became a much needed and appreciated antidote for cabin fever in the middle of January when most South Dakotans are house-bound and already longing for Spring.  The following year launched what has become a tradition of burning a huge effigy of a beetle.  Since then the festival has grown to include a variety show and fireworks display. Last year a crew from National Geographic turned up to film the event.  (Unfortunately, I could not find an on-line link to the article, but you can probably find a paper copy in a local library.)   Some years have featured bitter cold January weather, but that has not stopped a huge crowd from turning out for these events.

Witnessing this year’s event made me think of the ritual of the fire puja.  Fire is one of the five basic elements including earth, water, air and ether (empty space) that provide the energies of our known universe.  Using the ritual of fire helps us to let go of things that are no longer useful to make room for new ideas and intentions.  Of course we always want to honor the power of fire and treat it appropriately, but with safety taken into consideration, we can all create our own fire ritual.  If you’re feeling stuck, it can be very satisfying to think about the obstacles in your path, write them on paper and cast them in the fire.  Taking some time to recognize the factors in your way can be the first step to finding ways around them.

Many of us can find examples in our own lives where unexpected positives have emerged from even the most dire or sorrowful situations. This is certainly true for me.  Many of the plans I made in my life have not panned out, but other things have happened that I never could have imagined.  This has become a good reminder when I become disappointed over something not going my way.  And – yes – I need to remind myself.  It is a daily practice to remember to take each day as it comes and accept things as they are, proceeding from there instead of wishing things were different and letting negativity cloud my day.

In recent weeks I’ve seen friends of mine turn their fear into activism.  They have been joined by others who share their concerns.  Perhaps they’ve been surprised to learn that so many others felt the same way they did.  It is a confidence-builder to find out you’re not alone.  Taking that first dangerous step into the unknown can feel so solitary and isolating.  But once that leap is made, the results can be surprising.  In the fire ritual, mourning can be a necessary process leading up to the decision to let go.  But at some point it is necessary to let the mourning pass and rejoin the world.  It’s not always easy and it can be a rocky process, but all it really takes is putting one foot in front of the other and being open to the opportunities around you.  That, too, is an opportunity for practice.

So, to borrow from Shakespeare, if now is the winter of your discontent, try moving out of your own way.  Throw those obstacles into the fire and take a chance on something new.  Renew your resolve to do whatever you decided to accomplish in 2017.  And remember – if your New Year’s resolutions are already getting lost in the undertow or if weather has gotten in the way of your movement plans, there is no better time than now to find a new activity.  An exercise class is a great way to start.  Movement will lift your mood and boost your energy.  Also just like my activist friends, you may be surprised to find friendly like-minded souls who will happily help you along on your journey without judgment of any kind.  We are all looking forward to having you to join us.  Our welcome mat is always out!

The Multitudes Gather To Oppose Bismark Lake And Spearfish Canyon Land Swap – An Opinion

January 6, 2017
By Herb Ryan

A group of concerned citizens who described themselves as: Lynn Kolund, retired forest service district ranger, Jim Allen, backcountry horseman, Alice Allen, South Dakota taxpayer, Rick Hudson, interested hunter, Steve Pischke, concerned local citizen and David Miller, local historian presented a program consisting of a 20 minute slide show with comments, followed by a brief question and answer session on the wrongs of the Bismark Lake and Spearfish Canyon Land Swap at the Pine Room in the Custer County Annex building in Custer, SD, Thursday evening January 5, 2017

The details and effort made on the presentation was commendable, Jim and Alice Allen and the others are private citizens, who apparently were fed up with the way government bureaucracy, specifically the Governor’s Office was once again using its authority and media muscle to force yet another “Grand Scheme” on the backs of taxpayers.

People started drifting in around 6:00 pm and by 6:30 there was an overflow crowd. Speaking with Alice Allen earlier in the evening, she mentioned, this was the first time she had ever organized anything like this, ” I really didn’t know if anyone would show up” she said. And I agreed, there were two high school basketball games at the Armory, and the 2nd Annual Custer School District Hall of Fame Ceremony. Plus, the meeting was advertised with no mention of food or drinks, and finally, the weather was somewhat chilly.

The night was a prime example of a group of people, determined to find a solution that represented the will of the people, not the will of the government. At the end of the presentation Alice Allen asked, “would it be appropriate to call for show of hands from people who oppose this land swap” The answer, every hand in the room shooting into the air. When asked for a show of hands from those who approved of the swap, maybe one hand went up, maybe.

I thank the group for being proactive and not sitting around a coffee table complaining about everything, and doing nothing about it.


A capacity crowd attended the Bismark Lake and Proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park Meeting at the Pine Room in the Custer County Annex building in Custer, Thursday evening January 5, 2017. Photo: Herb Ryan/ Custer Free Press.


By Mary Boots

CUSTER, SD – Tonight,  January 5, 2017 at 6:30 pm in the Pine Room at The Custer County Annex there there will be an information meeting about the Governor Daugaard’s plan to exchange  federal lands and state lands for the purpose of creating a new state park.  the meeting is sponsored by concerned citizens.  The idea is to make a state park in Spearfish Canyon and also to change Bismark Lake area to Custer State Park.  Please come to the meeting to learn about this proposal and how it will affect us, the public. Whether you agree with this plan or not, it is important to get the facts about what this may mean for future access to these areas.
The US House of Representatives this week passed House Resolution 5 that contained a section (q)  which states that any conveyance of Federal land to a State shall not be considered as providing new budget authority, decreasing revenues, increasing mandatory spending, or increasing outlays……which makes it budget neutral to do an exchange no matter what land is being considered.
Below is the article from the Custer Free Press published October 14, 2016

Governor Dennis Daugaard announced in January of 2016 a plan to provide for the establishment of a new State Park in Spearfish Canyon.  Governor Daugaard recognized the area’s significance to South Dakota’s heritage and saw the need and opportunity for future generations to have a memorable and quality experience in this part of the state.  Therefore, his plan called for the transfer of 1,468 acres of Black Hills National Forest through a land trade.  This proposed 1,600-acre state park would include property in the Little Spearfish Canyon area; the areas of the Savoy Fishing Pond, Spearfish Falls, Roughlock Falls, and up Little Spearfish Canyon to the Little Spearfish Trailhead.

A master planning effort has been initiated that will take a more in-depth look at the Governor’s proposal by providing opportunity for public comment and participation in this effort. Through this master planning process, the state will assess the operational impacts and needs of the proposed state park as the Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) continues to provide recreational services and facilities through efficient management, user fees, and partnerships. The partnership and collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service is also a priority in this effort.

The master plan will address the state’s desire to provide effective and responsive management of the area, preservation needs, and recreational opportunities such as additional hiking trails and camping.  Utilities and infrastructure such as improving the road to Roughlock Falls will be analyzed. Natural resource management, scenic, historical and cultural preservation will also be considered.

On  Thursday morning October 13, 2016 a group of state officials and media outlet representatives met at Bismark Lake/Bob Marshall campground in Custer State Park for the start of a four and one half hour information tour, that ended at the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park. The areas included in The proposed 1,600-acre state park includes property in the Little Spearfish Canyon area. It would include the Savoy fishing pond, Spearfish Falls, Roughlock Falls and up Little Spearfish Canyon to the Little Spearfish trailhead. It does not include the bulk of Spearfish Canyon which includes the property north of Savoy to Spearfish.

Gov. Daugaard addressed the Bismark Lake/Camp Bob Marshall  524 acre plus the adjacent 42 acre lagoon area land swap. “The only access to this federal property is gained on highway 16A in Custer State Park. The facilities are inadequate at the site so, campers and visitors are using the facilities at Stockade Lake North Campground causing hardships for everyone. The plan is to add bathrooms, showers and sinks at Camp Bob Marshall and Bismark lake improving visitor satisfaction. The 42 acre plot will allow GFP to address the wastewater issue”.

Matt Snyder, Black Hills Regional Supervisor SDGFP commented on the exciting developments in the Spearfish Canyon State Park planning process but also cautioned ” There are rumors flying around that once everything is approved Custer State Park will demolish Camp Bob Marshall and construct another game lodge or maybe even turn Bismark Lake into another Legion Lake with a restaurant, not true. Camp Bob Marshall is primarily a youth camp that has historic civilian conservation corps buildings and we will do everything to maintain their integrity. Bismark Lake would see improvements in the vault toilets”.

The land swap trade to US Forest Service (USFS) includes 640 acres in the Ft Pierre National Grasslands ( Sec 16 T107N R78W). 34 acres in the Black Hills National Forest, 640 acres in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands (Sec 16 Too5N R02E) and another 640 acres in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands (Section 16 T004S R12E).

What is the footprint of the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park?

This proposed 1,600-acre state park includes property in the Little Spearfish Canyon area. It would include the Savoy fishing pond, Spearfish Falls, Roughlock Falls and up Little Spearfish Canyon to the Little Spearfish trailhead. It does not include the bulk of Spearfish Canyon which includes the property north of Savoy to Spearfish. It will include much of the “rim to rim” of Little Spearfish Canyon.

How do South Dakota citizens benefit from a state park in Little Spearfish Canyon?

Visitation continues to increase in Little Spearfish Canyon. Visitors are seeking more than a scenic drive – they want to get out of their cars and have a meaningful experience. This plan will create a new state park that has more recreational opportunities and better facilities.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has a proven track record of managing natural resources to both preserve their integrity while providing maximum access for those who wish to experience these treasures. With the state acquisition of Roughlock Falls in 2006 and Spearfish Falls in 2016, GFP was able to make immediate improvements to solidify uninterrupted access to these sites while reversing environmental degradation.

With the new Spearfish Canyon State Park, we can build upon those successes and preserve them as part of our heritage, and also be responsible stewards to allow for public enjoyment.

Is the State is going to charge to drive down U.S. Highway 14A in Spearfish Canyon?

No, there will not be a fee to drive down U.S. Highway 14A in Spearfish Canyon. In 1989, the drive along U.S. Highway 14A was designated as a scenic byway by the U.S. Forest Service and a state scenic byway by the State of South Dakota.

What is the process for State Park designation?

Once the land trade is finalized, a bill will be brought before the South Dakota State Legislature to create and designate the area as a state park.

What is the master planning process and what will it achieve? The master planning process will:

  • Provide the public and area stakeholders an opportunity to comment on concepts and make recommendations to assist in establishing a plan.
  • Establish a clear vision for Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake, based on a detailed inventory of the areas and consideration of existing and potential opportunities. The final master plan will provide guidance on natural resource management, cultural and historical resource protection, scenic preservation, interpretation and appropriate development standards.
  • Explore all funding opportunities that can be generated through services inside and outside the park areas, and provide options for short- and long-term operations of the areas according to the goals identified in the master plan.Provide an outline and schedule for all required state and federal actions. The plan will consider all administrative, legislative, and fiscal requirements to achieve the identified recommendations and provide the state with strategies and action items to secure all permissions and authority necessary for the implementation of the plan.

When will the master planning process begin?

The master planning process is in its early stages and will likely continue into summer 2017. A consultant has been selected and scheduling for the public input process is underway. The public input sessions will begin in mid-October 2016. The process is beginning now so that GFP can be ready to move forward with effectively managing the Little Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake areas once the land trade is complete.

Is the State of South Dakota going to develop Bismarck Lake?

No, the state is not going to develop Bismarck Lake. GFP may seek to improve the campground by adding a modern comfort station (flush toilets, sinks, and showers).

What is the state going to do with Camp Bob Marshall on Bismarck Lake?

The state wants to keep it the same as it is today. Visitors appreciate the rustic beauty of Camp Bob Marshall and many groups that use the camp appreciate it for what it currently offers – in its current form. GFP does plan to fix the sewer lagoon, a necessary upgrade to protect and improve the environment and provide for human safety.

Would visitors pay to access an area that is already free to the public?

If so, how much? Bismarck Lake visitors currently pay an access fee. Guests staying at Bismarck Lake pay $26 dollars per night for a non-electric campsite without a comfort station (flush toilets, sinks and showers). Similar sites at Custer State Park are $19 per night. Day users at Bismarck Lake pay a daily fee of $4 or an annual fee of $20. The South Dakota State Park annual pass ($30) is good across the state, at all state parks and recreation areas.

In Little Spearfish Canyon visitors pay a $12 per night camping fee; it’s likely that GFP would charge a similar rate. Any other potential fees would be considered as part of the master 3 planning process. As with all state park fees, this public process would require the approval of the citizens on the state Game, Fish, and Parks Commission.

Would the proposed land exchange circumvent the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA)?

No. NEPA applies to the proposed land exchange.

Do Native American tribes have an opportunity to comment on the proposed land exchange?

Yes, through the master planning process there will be various meetings, a venue for written comments, and public input sessions. Additionally, tribal members will have an opportunity to participate in the NEPA process.

Did the state consult the Forest Service on the proposed land exchange?

Yes, over the last eleven months the State of South Dakota has had numerous conversations with U.S. Forest Service officials about the proposed Little Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake land exchange.

Those discussions started on November 1, 2015, when South Dakota GFP Parks Director Doug Hofer spent several hours explaining and discussing the proposed exchange with then-Black Hills National Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien. A few months later, GFP Secretary Kelly Hepler and Director Hofer also presented the plan in another meeting to Supervisor Bobzien and USFS National Grasslands Supervisor Kevin Atchley. This past March, Secretary Hepler discussed the land exchange with U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and followed up with a letter. There are other examples of the state reaching out to the Forest Service for comment. Throughout the meetings, USFS staff have repeatedly said that it is Forest Service policy to withhold comment on legislation until it is officially introduced.

A detailed timeline can be found at this web link:

Since the Forest Service has a land-transfer process, why is legislation needed?

There are many different ways that a land transfer can take place. The Forest Service’s preferred approach can take 10 years or more. It is highly bureaucratic and slow. The legislative land trade process is timely, results driven, and engages the public. It is not uncommon for the federal government to approve land transfers in this way.

How will the lands the state is proposing to trade benefit the federal government?

Large contiguous tracts of land are more valuable because they are more efficient to manage. The proposed trade will create larger contiguous tracts of land for the Forest Service and the State of South Dakota. The three state School and Public Land (SPL) parcels and the GFP-owned Spearfish Canyon parcel are completely or nearly surrounded by USFS National Grasslands. This land exchange will create more efficient land management for the federal government.

Shouldn’t the land exchanged between the Forest Service and the State be of equal value?

Yes, the land must be of equal value and the bill requires the parcels to be appraised at their agricultural value. The legislation limits the land acquired by the state to be “managed by the state for public recreation uses and the conservation of natural resources” in perpetuity. That limitation of land use ensures that the new state land will be protected and open to the public, but it also substantially lowers the value of that land. When the land exchange is completed the state will never be able to develop the proposed Spearfish Canyon State Park and Bismarck Lake parcels into commercial developments, such as shopping centers or vacation homes. The state wants to preserve and protect these properties.

“Agricultural value” makes sense for these appraisals, because it is the best representation of how this land will be used. It does not make sense to consider the “highest and best use” value, which would include use of the land for commercial development, when this type of development is prohibited by the legislation.

Would the School and Public Lands lose money with this land exchange?

No, the Office of School and Public Lands (SPL) will benefit from the exchange, leading to additional funding for K-12 education. The lease rate of all three parcels totals $5,676.80 per year. According to SDSU Extension’s “South Dakota Agricultural Land Market Trends” annual report, at average rangeland value the parcels should be worth approximately $2 million total. To initiate the purchase, GFP will purchase the land at the appraised value from SPL, after which it will be traded to the Forest Service. SPL will deposit the $2 million in the land sale proceeds into the SPL K-12 School Trust Fund. A conservative estimate for an annual return on those funds would be $60,000 a year – ten times the current lease rate.

Public Invited to The 2nd Annual Custer School District Hall of Fame Ceremony

Custer, SD  – The public is invited to the 2nd Annual Custer School District Hall of Fame Ceremony, Thursday, Jan. 5th at the Custer Armory at 527 Montgomery Street in Custer.

The ceremony will take place following the Custer High School Girls basketball game which starts at 5:45pm . The ceremony will be followed by the Custer High School Boys basketball team at 7:00pm.

Inductees include the following:

Dorothea Edgington


Douglas Herrmann


Julie (McFarland) Pfiefer


William “Bill” Tretheway


Bill Young





All Custer and Custer County Democrats are Invited to a 2017 Planning Session



CUSTER, SD – Next Tuesday, January 3, the Custer County Democrats will be hold their first meeting of 2017 at the VFW in Custer at 7:00 PM. Plan on coming before the meeting to enjoy Mexican food in the VFW basement from Maria’s Mexican Food.
This is an important meeting as we want to make plans for this year and next.  We need your input and your help to carry out the plans we hope to achieve. Come and be a part of our positive movement to keep democracy alive and well in Custer County!

Mary Boots
Chairman, CCD

Custer County Democrats of South Dakota

Mission:  “Our mission is to build and promote a democratic community in Custer County South Dakota that is peaceful, sustainable, and just.”

Core Values:  “Honesty in statements and publications about all political parties and their beliefs; equality in regard to human rights and the development of policies which affect all citizens; a positive attitude in all political activities; consistency and continuity of purpose in all party activities; clearly demonstrated cooperation within the political arena; and compassion for citizens in need.”


January 3, 2017

7:00 PM  VFW Custer, SD

Meeting of Custer County Democratic Party


  • Approval of agenda m/              2nd/
  • Minutes of last meeting October 2016   (corrections/additions  m    2nd)  or approved as read/filed
  • Appoint a person to take minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report —-Ina
    • Bills to submit?
    • Donation to VFW for meeting place
    • Pass the hat at every meeting and coffee to increase coffers
  • Vice Chair Report –Hank Whitney has stepped up to fill this position until elections this spring
  • Chair Report –Mary –to include correspondence and items of general welfare and concern for the CCDP
  • Women’s March Washington/Denver/Rapid City  January 21, 2017
  • SDDP Listening tour in Rapid City January
  • Meeting dates for 2017 monthly or every other month?   It is the recommendation of the chair that we continue to meet monthly in order to carry out a Plan of Action.


Storm Update Sunday – December 25, 2016

National Weather Service

Safe Travel USA for current road conditions and closures.

Custer SD
43.76°N 103.6°W (Elev. 5417 ft)
6:44 am MST Dec 25, 2016
Christmas Day
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Some thunder is also possible. Areas of blowing snow after 4pm. Temperature rising to near 29 by 11am, then falling to around 14 during the remainder of the day. Wind chill values between -6 and 4. Northeast wind 6 to 11 mph becoming northwest 13 to 18 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Snow, mainly before 11pm. Areas of blowing snow. Low around 5. Wind chill values between -11 and -18. Blustery, with a northwest wind 18 to 28 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 23. Wind chill values between -9 and 1. West wind 9 to 13 mph.
Monday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 12. Wind chill values between zero and 5. West wind around 8 mph.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 34. West wind 8 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.
Tuesday Night
Mostly cloudy, with a low around 21. West wind around 14 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 31.
Wednesday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 13.
Sunny, with a high near 31.
Thursday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 16.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 38.
Friday Night
Mostly cloudy, with a low around 18.
A chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 31.

State of South Dakota Seeks Request To Repurpose STAR Academy

December 20, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. – The State of South Dakota is soliciting interest from qualified respondents for repurposing the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy which is located South of Custer. STAR Academy was closed in the spring of 2016 because of the reduction in juvenile commitments.

“The State of South Dakota is committed to ensuring that the STAR Academy property emerges as a viable business or institution that contributes to the local economy, has a positive effect on the quality of life in the area and is not a burden to the taxpayers of our state,” said Hunter Roberts, policy advisor to Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “The state is looking for proposals that creatively consider how this asset can be repurposed to meet these goals.”

The state is issuing a Request For Information (RFI) to solicit information from interested parties in repurposing the property. Submissions to the RFI will assist the state in determining the content of a Request for Proposal (RFP) this spring that will be utilized to choose the future developer and operator of the property.

The property is located in the center of the Black Hills National Forest on Highway 385. The facility is near Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Wind Cave National Monument and Jewel Cave National Monument. The Mickelson Trail is located adjacent to the property.

The campus consists of 182.16 acres divided into six parcels. The total floor space of the buildings is almost 170,000 square feet. The main structures utilized for delivering services include approximately 120,000 square feet of floor space. Buildings associated with the physical plant account for another 29,000 square feet and employee housing, which includes 11 homes, adds nearly another 20,000 square feet. Other amenities include a historic main building, a commercially well-appointed kitchen, large dining room, several large meeting areas and a commercial laundry. Ample onsite parking is available. The surrounding property has a running track, athletic field and fishing pond.