Hill City Council works on comprehensive plan for town

Thursday, January 29, 2015

By Carol Walker

Encouragement was given at the Hill City Council meeting on Monday night, for community members to attend planning and zoning meetings to have input into the comprehensive plan for Hill City, which will be an ongoing project in the months to come. Brett McMacken, city administrator, said they will be talking about things such as economics, population growth, zoning, transportation, road systems, geography of where we live and much more. Meetings are held the first and third Monday of the month at city hall.
The council took a second look at an issue brought to the table at the Jan. 12 meeting, adopting a fee schedule for water and sewer rates that would cover an annual debt service payment totaling about $8,000. McMacken summarized for council members and the public the conversations he had with representatives from the State Revolving Fund (SRF) office.
“I was contacted by the state regarding the water-looping project we did that went from Bishop Mt. to Hall’s Trailer Court and then over to Hwy. 16/385. That was a good project for us, and we were able to get a loan through the State Revolving Fund. A couple hundred thousand of that debt was forgiven,” McMacken  said. “However, the SRF office informed us that we should have a fee schedule that would cover the remaining debt payment each year. They suggested $1.40 per account per month.”
McMacken went on to say that the city has kept up with the payments, but SRF wants to see a fee schedule that shows where the money is coming from. He said he is not comfortable with raising water and sewer rates again, but he would like to see the fee schedule be a part of the $1.75/1,000 gallons of usage that is currently being set aside for the water and sewer improvement fund. SRF officials and city council members agreed that would be acceptable.
It was decided that $1.50 per account for approximately 420 accounts would come out of that water and sewer improvement fund each month and it would be moved to the SRF account on a monthly basis. There would not be an increase in fees for residents, but rather an adjustment to the accounting. This would meet the state’s requirements for a fee schedule.


Todd Becker Foundation impacts local students

Keith Becker of the Todd Becker Foundation led an assembly about his brothers death and the importance of choices at the Hill City High School on Jan. 21.

By Kacie Svoboda

On Wednesday, Jan. 21, the Hill City High School (HCHS) held an assembly by the Todd Becker Foundation, which centered on the effects poor decision making and the importance of keeping a clear focus on where students’ lives were headed. High school principal Todd Satter chose to bring in the foundation because it was “highly referred by area schools as being impactful for students.”
These area schools included Hot Springs High School, which hosted the foundation in 2010, and Custer High School, which held them in 2012.
“The Todd Becker Foundation's presentation is powerful and profound,” said Custer High School Lifeways Advisor Rebecca Weathers. “Our students were impacted like no other assembly.”
Prior to bringing in the Todd Becker Foundation, HCHS has hosted a variety of assemblies over the past five years that covered a wide range of topics. The school also previously had a Lifeways counselor who set up several prevention activities.
The assembly followed the life and final decisions of Todd Becker, who was killed in a drunk-driving accident. Becker was a starter on the football team, a state finalist in the pole vault competition and had dreams of playing baseball in college. Beckers potential was cut short, along with his life, when he was killed in an alcohol-related car accident as a senior in high school, after making a series of poor choices that led him to get in the back of that car on a fateful Sunday night in 2005. Todd’s story, told by his older brother,  Keith, is one that many high school students can still relate to and learn from.
The Todd Becker foundation is a Christian organization, with the 90-minute assembly was based around the scripture Matthew 7:13, “The highway to destruction is wide and the road that leads to it is easy for the many who choose this way. But the gateway to life is small and the narrow road that leads to it is hard, but only a few ever choose this way.” The program had students visualize Todd’s choices in this way.
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Keystone Board positions open

By Kacie Svoboda

The Keystone Board was informed of another board vacancy at their meeting on Jan. 21.  
Dick Drummond resigned from his position on the board due to health reasons. This leaves two seats open for the municipal election: Drummond’s two-year seat and David Cofoid’s three-year seat. 
Jacob Rapp also submitted his resignation from the park board. Trustee A. Gideon Oakes voted nay, but Rapp’s resignation was accepted by the rest of the board members, leaving a park board position open as well. 
 The city heard bids for their new trash auger systems. Dakota Pump, Inc., could install a trash basket system at the Headwork’s Lift Station for the amount of $7,500 or an automatic bar screen was estimated at the cost of $28,000. Public works director Jerry Przybylski stated he would like to look into other options. The board has two months to get a trash system in place. 
 Trustee Kwinn Neff told the board that the Black Hills Economic Development organization was working on a 20-question survey on what businesses and citizens would like to see. The first draft should be ready by the next meeting.

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Open stage opens up opportunities

By Kacie Svoboda

Though there are several open mic nights held throughout the Black Hills, while interviewing participants to write about the Heart of the Hills Art Council’s Open Stage, it was repeatedly said that the Open Stage was a unique event. Most of those people were musicians commenting on the high quality of the musical acts that come from all areas of the Black Hills to play at the Chute Rooster. However, I found something else that made Open Stage stand apart. Open Stage is open to not only musicians, but also poets and storytellers. This willingness to accept all forms of entertainment reminded me of a similar event that was held at my college — Blindspot.
This open stage event was called Blindspot in reference to the place on the retina that has no light receptors and where images that fall on this region won’t be seen. More importantly, it was to remind the audience to be blind to the performers faults.
Performers were signed up on a first-come, first-serve basis and allowed 10 minutes to do whatever they wanted — poetry, skits, comedy, music, of course, and many combinations thereof. There were only three rules to Blindspot — no harming yourself, no harming the audience and no damaging the space — which served to rule out any death-defying stunts or pyrotechnics. But otherwise it was fair game.

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Four Ranger wrestlers earn hardware at Moorcroft tournament

Four Hill City wrestlers placed at the Moorcroft Mixer on Jan. 24.
Mitchell Peterson  placed first and Connor Braun (195 pound) placed fourth, while Kalel Worischek (120). Cody  Homan (126) placed third. Brendan LeBar and Gage Houdek did not place.
After receiving two byes, Peterson beat Rhyse Wandler of Campbell County High School in a 1-0 decision. In the championship match, Peterson beat out Tanyon Gray of Moorcroft High School in a 4-0 decision.
Worischek won right out of the gate, beating Sean Mitchell of Campbell County High School in a major decision, with a score of 16-4. He then beat Stran Holben of Spearfish in a 8-3 decision. After being pinned by Trey Fischbach of Moorcroft High School in the semifinals, Worischek came back and beat Mitchell again before winning against Spearfish’s Tashon Clark in a 14-2 major decision.
Homan started strong by beating Campbell County wrestler Nicholas Larson in a 6-5 decision, but struggled with his next matches and was pinned in the last three against Spearfish’s John Trimble, Rocky Mountain High School’s Trevan  Lytle and Chamberlain’s Tommy Redig.
The Hill City Rangers are gearing up for their next big tournaments: Red Cloud on Jan. 31 and the Hill City Classic on Saturday, Feb. 7, beginning at 9 a.m.


Wrestling senior night

The Hill City Ranger wrestling team had their parents night on Jan. 22. Pictured above are the three senior wrestler, from left, Brendan LeBar, Mitchell Peterson and Gage Houdek.
In the photo to the left, the boys (from left) Gage Houdek, Mitchell Peterson and 
Brendan LeBar are pictured with members of their families.


Hill City Slickers open Winter Music Series

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Slickers Sing  —  Local band the Hill City Slickers perform at a variety of venues around the Black Hills. Ken Anderson (left), Bruce Jordan (center) and Gary Daiss will kick of the Winter Music Series at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City on Friday, Jan. 30. [Submitted Photo]

By Kacie Svoboda

A local band, the Hill City Slickers, is scheduled to kick off the Rapid City Arts Council’s Winter Music Series at the John T. Vucurevich Event Center in the Dahl Arts Center on Friday, Jan. 30. The members of the Hill City Slickers include Bruce Jordan, who plays cello, U-bass and the teapot; Gary Daiss, who plays guitar, banjo, harmonica, saxophone and rain stick; and Ken Anderson, who plays guitar and mandolin.

Their style is a blend of tight vocal harmony and acoustic instrumentation, which contributes to their increasing popularity in the Black Hills. Their music and ability to connect and interact with their audience appeals to all age groups. This concert will mark the 20th anniversary of the Hill City Slickers, who played their 10th anniversary concert and their very first performance at the Dahl.

“We chose the Hill City Slickers because they are a fine group of musicians and this is their 20th anniversary,” said Deb Lux, development director for the Dahl. “They played their first gig here at the Dahl Arts Center in 1995 and their 10th anniversary concert was here in 2005, so it is a grand tradition and we look forward to their 30th anniversary.”

At that first concert at the Dahl, the Slickers performed with cowboy poet Donley Hewett, combining the group’s then limited repertoire of song selections with Hewett’s poetry to just squeak out the length of the performance.

“We didn’t have enough material,” said Jordon. “We had to play one song three or four times to fill the two-hour concert.”

Though their lack of material may not have been their only problem.

“We must have really been wired because every song we did was in double-time,” said Daiss.
But now the Slickers’ repertoire is vast, with enough songs to cover a five-hour concert and jokes to boot. Their material ranges from their original songs to gospel to old cowboy westerns to songs from the ’50s and ’60s.

The group’s appeal is partially attributed to their many years together.

“I think we’ve grown in terms of our harmony, our blend, our preciseness and instrumentally,” said Daiss.

The group explains that they have made it work so long due to their contrasting personalities and preferences.

“I think we all emphasize just a little different flair,” said Jordan. “And you can see that in our harmonies.”

The Slickers also credit their age to helping it all work.

“I think it’s a level of maturity,” said Daiss. “Well we’re all old farts. We didn’t start playing until we were close to 50.”

The Dahl is just one of many venues this group has appeared at throughout the Hills. The group used to perform at the Mount Rushmore Fourth of July fireworks and have played at the Mt. Rushmore KOA each summer for about 10 years. Their other gigs include bus tours, the Hart Ranch, birthday parties, family reunions, Regional Lions Club meetings, 1880 Train special events, Prairie Berry’s Fezziwig celebration and they are also scheduled to play for the 50th annual Buffalo Round up and arts festival this fall. In addition to these paying events, the group also plays for numerous fundraisers and benefits for free.  

The 2015 Winter Music Series is presented by the Rapid City Arts Council (RCAC) with support from KEVN Black Hills FOX and Rushmore Media Company. All Winter Music Series Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 for RCAC members, $15 for future members and $5 for children 12 and under. Series tickets are available for $30 for all three concerts and must be purchased prior to first performance.

For more information and tickets, visit TheDahl.org or call 394-4101 extension 200.