New SDDOT Tow Plows To Service Yankton – Rapid City – Hot Springs Roadways


SDDOT lead highway maintenance worker Tom Nowell from Rapid City maintenance unit 452 stands in front of the tow-plow he will be operating on the Interstate and highways around Rapid City. Photo: SDDOT

November 6, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Transportation has expanded its snowplow fleet by adding three new tow-plows for the 2017-2018 winter season.

The new plows will be used to clear roadways in Yankton, Rapid City and Hot Springs. The first tow plow was deployed last year in Sioux Falls with great success, according to SDDOT Secretary Darin Bergquist.

A tow-plow is pulled by a snowplow truck and, along with the front plow on the truck, can clear widths up to 25 feet by allowing the operator to remove snow from one lane and the shoulder in one pass.

“The tow plow has been proven to save wear and tear on equipment, and save on fuel and labor costs. It also allows crews to get the roadway cleared more quickly and efficiently,” Bergquist said.

When the driver deploys the bi-directional tow plow, the wheels turn as much as 30 degrees in either direction, which causes the tow-plow to steer to the right or left of the truck. The tow plow works similarly to a wing plow but with a much greater reach to clear more surface area.

The department’s tow plows will have different set-ups for material that can be used to more effectively treat road surfaces. The two different set-ups the SDDOT will be using can apply a direct liquid spray or a pre-wetting salt application.

To see the tow-plow in action and get more information from an interview with the Sioux Falls tow-plow driver, visit the SDDOT YouTube channel

For complete road construction information, visit or dial 511.


Zonta of the Southern Black Hills Seeks Worthy Causes

August 2 2017
Custer, SD – Zonta of the Southern Black Hills is asking to hear from local community organizations in need of funds.
Every year, Zonta of the Southern Black Hills donates to a number of local organizations, all benefiting women in the community, with proceeds from the chapter’s monthly planner and Custer business telephone directory. In the past, organizations such as Women Escaping A Violent Environment, the Storehouse, Mammo or Bust, the Custer Library and Girls In Science have all received a donation from the Zonta chapter. Over $60,000 has been given away in Zonta’s 22 year history to organizations and groups benefiting women in the community.
Organizations, groups and people who wish to receive a grant should submit a short request detailing the organization and its projects, as well as the amount of funds needed to fulfill the project(s) and how the organization/project benefits women in the Custer and Southern Black Hills community.
All submissions must benefit women, which coincides with Zonta’s mission to empower and help women. All organizations in the Southern Black Hills are eligible to apply, including those serving Custer, Hermosa, Hill City, Keystone, Hot Springs and Edgemont.
Requests may be emailed to southernblackhillszonta@ or mailed to P.O. Box 28 Custer, S.D., 57730. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Sept. 15. Members of Zonta of the Southern Black Hills’ service dollar committee will look over the submissions and alert the organization of their selection, with funds to be given away at the end of October.
For questions or for more information, email southernblackhillszonta@

Mammoth Site 5th Annual Eddie Clay Legacy Casino Night


5th Annual Eddie Clay Legacy Casino Night

            The Mammoth Site® of Hot Springs, SD Inc. will be having a casino night fundraiser on April 28, 2017 from 7:00 pm until 10:30 pm.  The casino will be built inside The Mammoth Site’s Exhibit hall.  Food will be provided by Woolly’s, and the ticket price of $75.00 each or $125.00 per couple may be tax-deductible.

                        Each ticket includes $75,000 in Mammoth Bucks to be played with in our 10 fun and very loose tables.  Games of chance include, Black Jack, Texas Hold’em, Roulette, Craps, 3-Card Poker, Let-It-Ride Poker, Bingo and a Wheel of Fortune.

As an added bonus if you are a member of The Mammoth Site or become one; you will receive an additional $25,000 in Mammoth Bucks!  Last year over $12,000.00 in prizes were given out.

This is a great way to spend a Friday night with friends, so make plans on coming to The Mammoth Site on April 28th.  Come help The Mammoth Site raise funds for the Eddie Clay Legacy.

            You may purchase tickets online at, from The Mammoth Site or by calling 605-745-6017.

            “In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, religion, sex, familial status, sexual orientation, and reprisal.” (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs).

The Mammoth Site Annual Meeting




The Mammoth Site Annual Meeting

The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, SD Inc. Annual Meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 23, 2017 at The Mammoth Site located at 1800 US 18 Bypass, Hot Springs, Fall River County, South Dakota for the purpose of:

  1. Electing such board members whose terms may expire and to fill vacancies on the board;


Three year terms expiring in 2019:

Jim Egerton, Heidi McBride, Rich Gross, Bob Hardy, and Patrick Azinger.

Whereas, there were no additional nominating petitions filed by December 15th, the above named nominees will be elected at the annual meeting.

  1. To transact such business as may properly be brought before the meeting;


                                    By:  ANNA MERRILL


            Heavy Hors d’oeuvres will be served starting at 6:30 p.m. with the Annual Meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m. A special presentation by Jeff Martin “Shrinking Bison: Digging between Rocks and Hard Places for Answers” following the meeting. Those attending can park in the regular parking lot, or staff parking lot off Detroit Avenue.

There will be a $5.00 fee charged for non-members or you may purchase a membership at the door. Please RSVP by January 19, 2017. For more information please contact Bethany Cook at or at 605-745-6017.

“In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, religion, sex, familial status, sexual orientation, and reprisal.” (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs).

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald Holds Town Hall Meeting on Possible VA Hospital Closure

By Herb Ryan
December 1, 2016

Fulfilling a promise to tour the Hot Springs VA Facility, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald toured Battle Mountain Wednesday, November 30, 2016 along with the VA’s Black Hills Health Care System team, along with members of Save the VA committee, the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans members. Following the tour McDonald shared lunch with American Legion and Disabled American Veterans.

A town hall meeting at the Mueller Center following the lunch gave veterans and citizens an opportunity to make a final statement before a decision is made on closure on the facility.

In a meeting with the press following the town hall Secretary McDonald said, ” I want to emphasize no decision has been made at this point, it’s my decision to make and I did not come here with a prejudice towards a decision” . On a possible date for a decision on the fate of the Hot Springs VA, McDonald continued, “Most of the data is in, I did get new data today and that will be taken into account. Again there is no specific timeline. My intention is to not shirk my responsibility, but to make a decision once all the data is in and has been reviewed”. When asked again for a possible point in time for a decision, McDonald said, ” I will make a final decision before January 20, 2017″.



A citizen comments on the possible closure of the Hot Springs VA at a town hall meeting at the Mueller Center in Hot Springs, SD Wednesday, November 30, 2016. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald answers media questions following a town hall meeting concerning the possible closure of the Hot Springs VA at the Mueller Center  Hot Springs, SD Wednesday, November 30, 2016. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

Moon Walk Features Cascade Springs Area

RAPID CITY, SD The Black Hills National Forest will hold a Moon Walk south of Hot Springs on Saturday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m.  This 1.5 mile round trip hike will examine the unique hydrology, rare plants, and incredible history of the town of Cascade.  This hike will take place on the Black Hills National Forest and adjacent Nature Conservancy’s Whitney Preserve as well as a small portion of private land not ordinarily open to the public.

The hike will start at Cascade Springs, located at the J.H. Keith Cascade Springs Picnic Area. The 67 degree water found at the spring provides some of the clearest most pristine water in South Dakota and supports a unique warm riverine ecosystem that includes four rare plant species found nowhere else in the Black Hills or the surrounding Great Plains. The Nature Conservancy staff will explain the unique habitat and natural features of the landscape and why conservation is so critical for this landscape. Visit for more information about The Nature Conservancy and its mission.

Local historian and botanist Cindy Reed will also co-lead the hike and will guide participants to spot landscape features and archeological signs of the town of Cascade while sharing stories of its history.

In the late 1800s, the warm waters of Cascade Springs were believed to be medicinal and drew residents and businesses that built up the town of Cascade. At its height, the town included a bank, dance hall, bath house, health resort, grocery store and more. When railroads discontinued stopping in Cascade, the town was dismantled and abandoned. Now, over 100 years later, much of the historic town site has been re-purposed as a nature trail owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy as a part of the Whitney Preserve.

Prepare to walk on uneven terrain.  Attendees should bring flashlights, water, and bug repellant and dress for evening temperatures. Long pants and sturdy footwear (hiking boots or athletic shoes) are recommended for your comfort and safety.

To reach the Moon Walk from Hot Springs, SD turn south on Highway 71 and travel 6 miles to J.H. Keith Cascade Springs Picnic Area. The picnic ground will be on your right.  Please allow yourself an hour and a half drive-time from Rapid City. Signs will be placed at major intersections.

Ten Area Students Receive Build Dakota Scholarships

Build Dakota Scholarship Recipients Announced

for 2016-17 School Year

PIERRE, S.D. – The Build Dakota Scholarship Board has selected 300 students as recipients of the Build Dakota Scholarship for the 2016-17 school year.

The scholarships cover tuition and fees, books, equipment and other related program expenses for eligible programs within eight high-need industry areas at South Dakota’s four technical institutes. Recipients were selected from a total of 1,300 applications.

The Build Dakota Scholarship program was announced in late 2014. The scholarship is funded by a $25 million donation from T. Denny Sanford and $25 million in future funds committed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

Build Dakota aims to support students entering high-need workforce programs at South Dakota’s technical institutes to fill the state’s technical career fields with skilled professionals. The $50 million will provide approximately 300 full scholarships annually in each of the first five years of the scholarship program. From 2020 on, an endowment will continue to award approximately 50 scholarships per year.

In-state and out-of-state students are eligible to apply. Scholarship applicants must be accepted into their program of interest. Recipients of the scholarship must enroll full-time and complete their educational program on schedule. Scholarship recipients must commit to stay in South Dakota to work in their field of study for three years following graduation.

Applications for the 2017-18 school year open in January 2017. Find more information at

Mitchell Technical School:

Lane Robb – Custer, SD – Electrical Technician
Tristan Madsen – Hot Springs, SD – Welding and Manufacturing
Scott Lawrence – Hot Springs, SD – Telecommunications

Western Dakota Tech:

Micah Grace – Custer – Environmental Engineering Technician
Anthony Jones – Custer – Welding and Fabrication
Halee Matlock – Hill City – Medical Laboratory Technician
Jordan Rhew – Hot Springs – Medical Laboratory Technician
Mikayla Stevens – Hot Springs – Medical Laboratory Technician
Dale Ruhoff – Hot Springs – Welding and Fabrication
Cole Rothleutner – Pringle – Transportation Technology Light Duty


Juli Olson, Miss Missouri Valley Crowned Miss South Dakota Saturday Evening

Julia Olson, 23, Miss Missouri Valley from Sioux Falls is crowned Miss South Dakota by Autumn Simunek 2015 Miss South Dakota at The Muller Center in Hot Springs Saturday evening. Second runner up was Isabella Garcia, 22, Miss SDSU, Sioux Falls.

The new 2016 Miss South Dakota Julia Olson is crowned by outgoing 2015 Miss South Dakota Autumn Simunek. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


An emotional moment for Miss South Dakota 2016, Juli Olson at the Muller Center in Hot Springs Saturday evening. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


One of many volunteers that make the Miss South Dakota Pageant so successful. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


Thirty nine former Miss South Dakota beauties are recognized at the Miss South Dakota Pageant at the Muller Center in Hot Springs.Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press.


Hot Springs resident and the oil that keeps the clock ticking, listens as a proclamation by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard declaring Saturday, June 18, 2016 Ray Peterson Day. Ray has been deeply involved with the pageant for fifty years Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


Helicopter Exercise at Angostura Lake for South Dakota National Guard Black Hawk Helicopter Crews

By Herb Ryan

Hot Springs SD – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Wildland Fire Division administered the annual fire aviation certification exercise to the South Dakota National Guard Aviation Unit at Angostura Lake on Friday, May 20. 

This yearly certification is required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior. The certification allows for South Dakota National Guard Black Hawk helicopters to respond to wildland fires. 

At a flight crew meeting at the Hot Springs Airport, Ray Bubb, Division Chief/State Fire Aviation Officer – State of South Dakota Wildland Fire Division explained  the water pickup and drop locations. Two remote water drop locations designated “Alpha”  and “Zulu” both located a safe distance away from each other at the west end of Angostura were identified. The drop zones has been marked  for drop accuracy that was recorded by ground crews. Two Black Hawks were assigned to each area and through out the day sharpened their skills on different angles of attack and efficient time management on trips to the water supply.

Crews were tested on fire aviation procedures including dipping buckets attached to helicopters out of a water source safely and accuracy when dropping water on a target. Flight operations began at 9:30 a.m. and ended 3 p.m. Mountain Time. 

Wildland Fire Crews from North Dakota were on hand to  observe the exercise as South Dakota Wildland Fire Crews managed all ground operations.

A South Dakota National Guard Black Hawk crew on the ground at the Hot Springs Airport. Four Black Hawks and crews participated in the exercise at Angostura Lake in Hot Springs. Photo: Herb Ryan/ Custer Free Press


CWO3 Scott Sauder a Black Hawk pilot, demonstrates the tight seating configuration in the cockpit. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press


A Black Hawk water drop is barely off the mark. The water drop approaches are at speed and this drop is an uphill approach. This photo does really not capture that forward motion. Photo:Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press
Tim Deml, Rockerville Volunteer Fire Department Engine Boss relays the results of a water drop to a Blackhawk crew at the west end of Angostura Lake Friday morning. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press