Sunshine, service makes for a smooth rodeo

Thursday, August 14, 2014

AMERICAN HERO – Garet Alickson all dressed up in red, white and blue, looked like a real American hero as he steered his horse toward the barrels at the Tucker Day Rodeo last Sunday. He was one of the independent riders, but Jerry Smedshammer, owner of Suncatcher Riding Academy, gave him a sendoff. [PN Photo/CAROL WALKER]


By Carol Walker

After five years under their belt, organizers for the Tucker Day Rodeo agree that they have established a system that seems to make things run pretty smoothly. Volunteers serving in the arena and food tent, the silent auction booth and many other booths on a sunny August afternoon all helped to make a great day for rodeo participants, their families  and other spectators.

“Everything went very well on Sunday,” said LeeAnn Jensen, who, along with her husband Rich, initiated the event five years ago.  “The rodeo participants had a great experience and Hill City was so generous in helping to make this possible again. The auction items were fabulous this year,” she went on to say.

Jensen said there were 32 participants in the rodeo, down from previous years. The effects of Storm Atlas from last fall stretched all the way to the Tucker Rodeo. Suncatcher Riding Academy, the place where many of the rodeo horses come from, was impacted, losing some of their horses in the storm. Because of that, they could not service as many riders.

Jerry and Linda Smedshammer, owners of Suncatcher Academy, have partnered with the Jensens since the beginning to offer this rodeo as an opportunity for special needs individuals to ride before an audience.  Jim and Jody Olson, neighbors of the Smedshammers, have been impressed with the commitment of the owners and many volunteers at the academy as they work with individuals who may not otherwise have this opportunity with horses.

“The Smedshammers are very dedicated to this. They definitely believe this is a calling for them. They work very hard. I don’t think they sleep very much,” said Jody.

Between the volunteers associated with Suncatchers and the Hill City volunteers, there were probably about 50 people helping in and around the arena, according to Dan Gylten, arena organizer. Individuals helped in the set up and supported the riders as they moved through the events. Brent Morris and the Western Acoustics offered up a steady stream of country western tunes during the rodeo and rodeo clown Duane Reichert kept the crowd laughing with his jokes, antics and a performance with his buddy, Pony Baroni.

Many volunteers helped out at the food tent, organized by Moni Matush and Bob Stanfiel of the Alpine Inn. Jensen said about 600 people were fed free of charge. Booths that offered Strider bike rides, gold panning, balloon animals, petting bunnies and kittens and face jewels saw about 80 to 100 people taking part in the various activities.

Last year, heavy rain came abruptly at end of the rodeo, scattering everyone to any little bit of cover, but this year the sun shone brightly throughout the day, making for a picture perfect rodeo for everyone involved.

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Rural Keystone man dies in freak accident


By Bev Pechan

It was something the neighbors never expected to see or hear on the evening of August 10 around 10 p.m. A woman living near Watson Park in old Keystone said she heard what she thought was the sound of a dumpster lid slamming and thought nothing of it until she began to hear and see multiple emergency vehicles arriving at the scene. The woman, who did not wish to be identified, visited with family members of the victim, Kenneth Dahn, on Sunday, showing them photos she had taken, pointing out various locations at the site. As she talked, several children were combing Battle Creek and its banks, looking for personal items that were in the cab of Dahn’s 2006 Chevrolet Silverado pickup. Frequently, they headed up the bank to share what they had found in and along the creek.

According to Capt. Kevin Karley of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, Dahn, 61, of rural Keystone  was heading east on Highway 40 on wet pavement. At the curve between the Watson Park entrance and the Econolodge, Dahn’s pickup drove up on the concrete bridge rail, straddled the bridge rail and flipped over the side, landing upside down in Battle Creek. There were no skid marks and Karley said that speed was not believed to be a factor.

Available only in the print version of the Hill City Prevailer News. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.

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Hill City prepares for winter


By Carol Walker

Though we have become accustomed to a mix of sunshine and summer rains, on Monday night the city council gave approval for the purchase of an item that should make life easier for city maintenance workers in a few months when rain makes way for snow and ice. Dennis Schrier, public works director, came before the council to request about $7,000 to buy a 30x31 ft. shop salt sand canopy building.

This was not in the budget, but he said he would be willing to swap the purchase of a snow plow that is in the budget and replace it with the building. The city still has an older plow that can be used for the coming winter. By having his maintenance guys pour the concrete footings and walls for the building, Schrier said the city is able to save several thousand dollars on the project. The canopy would be set up over that.

“We can put about eight to 10 truckloads of salt sand under the canopy in late September. It should be able to hold that much,” said Schrier.

Available only in the print version of the Hill City Prevailer News. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.

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School board member resigns


By Carol Walker

With regrets expressed by other Hill City School Board members on Monday night, the board accepted the resignation of Cydnee Gruszynski. Gruszynski and her family moved to Anchorage, Alaska, at the beginning of the summer and plan to stay there until at least the end of the 2014-2015 school year, which is the reason for her resignation. Through the summer months she has been able to participate in the meetings via telephone. She will continue in that capacity until a replacement board member is in place.  The school board also authorized Superintendent Mike Hanson to advertise the open board member position with applications due to Owen Wiederhold, board president, by Aug. 28.

The board heard a presentation by Pete Rausch, project coordinator for the Spring Creek Watershed Project 319, on the possibility of storm water runoff mitigation for the school, using a matching grant.  The school has battled runoff from all the buildings at the school which cause wet and muddy conditions in mild weather and icy conditions in the winter months.

The Spring Creek project area encompasses 92,840 acres along the Spring Creek drainage with Hill City smack dab in the middle of that area. Rausch said the water quality concerns stem from fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria, temperature, sediment and nutrients as well as livestock, wildlife, pets, septic systems and recreation. Goals for the project include reducing livestock impact on streams, reducing or eliminating failing septic systems, restoring and enhancing stream/riparian areas and reducing and treating storm water runoff. The last item comes into play for the school district.

Available only in the print version of the Hill City Prevailer News. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.


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Obituaries for Aug. 13


Kenneth Dahn, 61, of Keystone, died Sunday, Aug. 11, 2014, at Rapid City Regional Hospital from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Services were held Aug. 13 at Osheim-Schmidt Funeral Home.


Joe McCarty, El Paso, Texas, died Aug. 8, 2014, at Rapid City Regional Hospital Hospice of the Hills. Memorial services are Friday, Aug. 15, at 11 a.m. at Canyon Lake United Methodist Church in Rapid City. Inurnment will be at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, S.D.

To read the full obituary, pick up the Aug. 13 issue of the Hill City Prevailer. To subscribe, call 605.574.2538.

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They're here!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


NO CARS - The big, new signs in Hill City this year are an attempt to inform cars that Main Street is open only to motorcycles for the week of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Each year a few cars and recreational vehicles have to figure out a way out if they miss earlier signs and get onto Main Street. [PN Photo/CAROL WALKER]

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Tucker Day Rodeo promises fun for all


By Bev Pechan

This year marks the sixth year of the Tucker Day Rodeo – the cowboy-fashioned event held exclusively for special needs children on Sunday, Aug. 10 at Double Diamond Ranch near Three Forks. Tucker Blain, star of the day and namesake of the rodeo will arrive again from his home in Hermosa by special helicopter piloted by Mike Jacob of Black Hills Aerial Adventures.

Organizers Rich and LeeAnn Jensen first saw Tucker, who has Down Syndrome, compete in an earlier event with his black-and-white pinto pony and were awed by his grit, determination and outgoing personality. After kicking a few ideas around, the Jensens thought there might be other special needs youngsters who would also enjoy riding horses and competing in games and fun activities, so they contacted Suncatcher Riding Academy in Custer about pairing up with their therapy horses and matching them to their events.

The success and popularity of Tucker Day has been building ever since.  It is a nonprofit entity and all events are free with the public invited to participate in the daylong activities or bring lawn chairs and just watch the fun. A silent auction will take place featuring items donated by local businesses. Money received from the auction goes back into the rodeo fund to help keep the event free for everyone who attends. Brent Morris and the Western Acoustics will keep toes tapping with their cowboy brand of music throughout the rodeo.

Available only in the print version of the Hill City Prevailer News. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.

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