Joaquin Ramos not freed from prison sentence

Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Bev Pechan

For the second time in eight months, convicted killer Joaquin Ramos has appeared before the court of paroles and pardons requesting to be freed from his life sentence without parole for the murders of his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn child. And for the second time the parole board at Mike Durfee Prison in Springfield denied Ramos that chance after more than two hours of testimonies for and against his release.

Ramos was 25 when he returned home to find his girlfriend, Debbie Martines, gone and picked up a pistol to go looking for her and a neighbor during a fit of anger. Martines, in the meantime, had gone looking for Ramos, who was late coming home. Her friend was driving. Returning home simultaneously, all met in Martines’ yard and a struggle ensued as Martines tried to dissuade Ramos from attacking the other party, who was a male. During the confrontation, Ramos bean to hit Martines with his pistol and the gun discharged, killing her and their unborn child. Martines’ other three children watched as their mother crumpled to the ground in their front yard.

Ramos’ uncle, Angelo Cruz, who lives in Florida, made several calls to the Prevailer prior to last week’s hearing, saying that while he was not close to his nephew in the past, he began to have contact with him in recent years and found him to be a changed person. Cruz told the Prevailer that Ramos grew up in a household where his father abused his mother and the mother acted with complacency. Ramos, he said, had anger control issues where women were concerned and that he considered him to have become abusive as a result.

But now Cruz said he believes Ramos has truly become a changed man and is considered a model prisoner after undergoing counseling and anger management classes in prison. Reports by some prison staff confirmed that opinion,  resulting in the request for a pardon which was laid on then-Gov. Mike Rounds’ desk. Rounds was quoted as saying he basically ignored the request until shortly before leaving office, when he suggested a commutation of Ramos’ sentence allowing  him to become eligible for parole every eight months.

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Alice Smith Flower Show this weekend

By Carrie Moore

Flowers of all varities and colors will be on display this weekend at the Alice Smith Flower Show presented by the Hill City Evergreen Garden Club.

This year’s show, with the theme of “America the Beautiful,” will be Saturday, July 26, at the Boys & Girls Club of the Black Hills in Hill City. Exhibits will be taken from 8-10 a.m., with judging to begin at 10 a.m. The flower show is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All amateur gardeners and flower lovers are encouraged to enter the show and attend. Membership with the Hill City Evergreen Garden Club is not required to participate.

The Alice Smith Flower Show began in Hill City in 1979 by Alice Smith, Hill City resident who was very active in the community for countless years. Smith provided guidance and commentary over a wide range of activities.

“The Hill City Evergreen Garden Club salutes Alice’s lifelong commitment to learning and gardening by acknowledging her gift to our community and by naming our flower show in her honor,” members from the garden club said.

Smith was an avid gardener and even had a greenhouse attached to her home.

“She loved the idea of having a flower show,” said Merlene Broer, Hill City Evergreen Garden Club president. “I know for a five year period the show was not active, but once it was revived, Alice’s name was still attached to the show to (honor her).”

While Smith died a few years ago, the show still continues. On average, the flower show receives about 120 individual entries, which translates to about 70, some who bring in multiple entries.

The flower show has seven categories for entries: annuals, perennials, wildflowers, container gardens, table setting and children’s division, which is in two sections for children ages 6-8 and 9-12. The seventh category, arrangements, has seven sub-categories fitting with this year’s theme, including “Spacious Skies” (an explosion of colors from American skies), “Waves of Grain” (a combination of dried and fresh materials which may include native plants and wildflowers), “Purple Mountain Majesty” (all materials in shades of purple), “Fruited Plains” (arrangement with flowers, fruit, vegetables and/or herbs), “America, America” (combine red, white and blue flowers), “Brotherhood” (celebrating the arranger’s heritage by incorporating colors from ancestral flag) and “From Sea to Shining Sea” (a arrangement with flowers, shells, driftwood, water, fish, under sea creatures or terrariums).

One Best of Show ribbon will be awarded in the flower (annuals, perennials and wildflowers), container gardens, arrangements and table setting divisions, as well as People’s Choice ribbons.

“I’ve been in show and won ribbons and have had so much fun,” said Carol, member of the garden club since 1979. “Since I’ve been in the club, membership has grown. It’s another generation now. It’s good to see it still going with new members.”

Shafer hopes this year will see a lot of entries, despite iffy weather.

“The weather hasn’t been so great lately, so not many people have flowers,” she said. “But (the show) is always exciting.”

Also during the Alice Smith Flower Show, the garden club will collect unusable U.S. flags. The flags will be destroyed in an honoring ceremony.

For more information about the Alice Smith Flower Show, or to find out more about the guidelines and categories, contact Merlene Broer at (605) 574-4559. Brochures about the show are also available at participating Hill City merchants.

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Game warden retires

By Bev Pechan

Time flies when you’re having fun, but retirement after 32 years hasn’t slowed Blair Waite down. He is just going in another direction and incorporating some of the special interests he has had over the years into new projects.

For example, Blair and his wife, Donna, have a mutual interest in longhorn cattle and while he said having several head on their Custer property is mainly her hobby, he is also involved. As game warden, Waite said he was always conscious of ranchers’ concerns when it came to predators and tried to keep a balance. Many ranchers still come to him for advice, he said.

In 1980, Waite was president of the South Dakota Trapper’s Association and took a couple of part-time jobs with Game, Fish & Parks. One was live-trapping bobcats for study and the other was helping to introduce pine martens back into the Black Hills after their extinction in the 1920s. In 1982, Waite was back trapping and the following year he became a wildlife trapper again, primarily taking care of predator problems. “I put in a lot of travel in three counties in southwestern South Dakota – 60,000 miles a year,” he said.

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Obituaries for July 23

Thomas G. Murphy of Rapid City, S.D. died July 16, 2014. A memorial service was held Monday, July 21, at The Little White Church in Hill City. Condolences may be sent to the family at

Barbara Ann (Babcock) Kramer, died July 3, 2014. Services were held at Our Lady of the Cove Catholic Church on July 7. Memorial donations can be made to Alpha 1 Foundation at

To read the full obituary, pick up the July 23 issue of the Hill City Prevailer. To subscribe, call 605.574.2538.


Kellogg, Burleson take top awards at the logging show

Friday, July 18, 2014

TRUCK TALENT - The last event of the day at the Heart of the Hills Logging Show last Saturday involved logging trucks. Men used their trucks to stack blocks of wood, attempt to toss them into big tires and pile logs precisely. Here the men are stacking the blocks of wood, just as the rain began to fall over the logging show. To see more photos, pick up a copy of the July 16 Hill City Prevailer News. [PN Photo/CAROL WALKER]

By Carol Walker

The temperatures were perfect for the Heart of the Hills Logging Show, sponsored by the Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce (HCACC) last Saturday at Chute Rooster Amphitheater. Although there were fewer participants and spectators this year compared to last, organizers were pleased with the outcome of the show.

“All in all, I think everyone was happy with how things went. It was a good showing for our 39th year of the logging show,” said Angela Raderschadt, HCACC events coordinator and primary organizer for the event.

The 2014 committee included Raderschadt, Bob Stanfiel, Jerry Cole (chamber director), Shane Alexander, Rod Shafer and Druse Kellogg. Volunteers from all over the community helped with the effort.

Larry and Druse Kellogg were presented with a handmade wooden tree plaque honoring their work in the timber industry for 30-35 years.

Druse was a big winner in the competition events for the day as well, receiving the “Belle of the Woods” award. The “Bull of the Woods” award was presented to Jarod Burleson. In order to qualify for those awards, individuals had to participate in the following events: Stock Saw, Axe Throw, Pole Toss, Pole Falling and the Choker Race.

In the Stock Saw competition, Druse Kellogg was first in the women’s division, and for the men’s, Bruce Thacker was first, Brian Romero, second and Jeremiah Thomas, third. In the Modified Stock Saw Under 4.4ci, Larry Jones was first. In the Modified Stock saw over 5.0ci, Jones again took first, Thacker, second and Romero, third.

In the women’s Axe Throw, Ann Cornella was first and Kellogg was second. For the men, Romero was first, Jarod Burleson, second and Larry Kellogg was third.

For the women’s Choker Race, Kellogg again took first place. For the men’s competition, Burleson was first, George Clinton was second and Romero was third.

Kellogg took first in the women’s Pole Falling, while Burleson was first for the men, Romero was second and Thomas was third.

In the Pole Toss, Clinton was first, Burleson, second and Roy Hollon was third. First in the Relay event went to the team of Garrett Moss, Burleson, Clinton and Romero.

The day ended with the truck challenge with Jody Woodward taking first place, Dave VanHorn, second, and third place went to Rod Shafer.

Rain interrupted the truck challenge, but after a 15-minute shower, the men and their trucks were back on track to complete their competition.

With another successful logging show completed, the committee members are looking forward to the 40th show, which they hope will be bigger and better.

The show was also sponsored by Neiman Enterprises, Black Hills Power Equipment, the Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce, Stihl, Northwestern Peterbilt, Black Hills Power, Bargain Barn, G& H Distributing, Baker Timber Products, Butler Machinery, Hill City Mercantile, Jenner Equipment and Crooked Creek Resort.


July 4 winners named

By Nikki Ball

Oh say could you see the unfurled flags and red, white and blue gleaming in Keystone the 4th of July?
The annual July 4 Business Decorating Contest was hailed as a bigger success than last year. Many of our vacationing visitors, dressed in patriotic clothing themselves, expressed their enjoyment of our salute to America.

Sponsored by the Town of Keystone, the top three winners received cash prizes. Judging was done by Kirby Benish, Sami Murra, Bev Pechan and Robin Scott. Contrary to rumors, the judges could not be bribed with sweets or treats, though it was given a few long moments of consideration.

Top winner by a landslide was Earth Treasures — owner and decorator Karen Boland. Using American ingenuity, Karen made her own colorful and whimsical decorations. The PVC Uncle Sam gave everyone a chuckle. Second place was a tie between The Emporium and Jane's Pizza. The sparkle and color of those two places could not be missed by anyone driving by. Third place was GoldDiggers. Their window displays were an artistic delight to the sidewalk crowd.

Other favorites like the Holiday Inn Express, the Holy Terror building, Big Thunder Gold Mine, Keystone Country Store received raves also.

I encourage everyone to take a walk around town next July 4th. Did you, reader, have a favorite? Much work was done by many businesses and a hearty thanks goes out to all of you.

If you would like to be a judge next year, just let City Hall know. The more, the merrier.


Broer takes oath of office for city council

By Carol Walker

It’s that time of year again, when individuals take the oath of office for their positions with the city. Most of the individuals repeated the oath they made other years, but Roger Broer is new with the city as one of two council members from Ward 1. John Johnson returns for another term as councilman from Ward 2. Mayor Dave Gray also was sworn into office again. Outgoing councilman Steve Jarvis was presented with a plaque for his service to the city.

Johnson was voted in as president of the council and Pam Fowler as vice president. Gray again appointed City Attorney Frank Bettmann, City Engineer Doug Sperlich and City Administrator Brett McMacken. The city is in the search process for filling the city finance officer position vacated by Becky King.

Not even a hint of controversy this year as the city voted to close off Main St. to all vehicles except motorcycles during the 74th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the first full week in August. There appeared to be nothing but support for what McMacken described as hard closure to all vehicles except motorcycles between the Handbag Store on the north and at Oak St. on the south. Bright orange signs will be installed to warn motorists in cars or motor homes of the closure ahead, and sturdy barricades will be set up this year to encourage them to turn around.

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