Motorhead Traveler shows off local attractions

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Canadian Cowboy — As part of the Hill City episode on the Motorhead Traveler show, Canadian host Kevin Cullen left the motors behind to try out horseback riding at the High Country Guest Ranch. This show will air April 17 on MAVTV. [Photo courtesy of Motorhead Traveler] 

By Kacie Svoboda

After 91 episodes as a travel journalist and host of the television show Motorhead Traveler, Kevin Cullen believes it’s his mission to discover the hidden gems of the world for his viewers.

“My job is to find the places in America where you might not have thought of first, but you should have — once you see what they have to offer,” said Cullen.

And after the filming of two episodes in the Black Hills, Cullen is certain that is exactly what he did.
Cullen was drawn to the Black Hills because of the popularity of Mount Rushmore National Memorial and his desire to include it in an episode.

“I just thought it would be cool to do a motorcycle ride up to Mt. Rushmore,” he said.

The show’s visit to the Black Hills was divided into a Hill City episode and a Rapid City episode. In the Hill City episode, Cullen visited Mt. Rushmore and rode horses and ATVs at High Country Guest Ranch. He also visited Black Hills Bronze where he crafted a custom bronze and silver necklace and visited Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. in Custer where he sampled the Hot Granny burger.

The Rapid City visit included trying elk tenderloin at Enigma Restaurant, sculpting a Buffalo head at Eckman Fine Art — as well as a Buffalo Jeep Safari Tour in Custer State Park and a stop at Crazy Horse Memorial on Native American Day.

The premise of the Motorhead Traveler show is to explore the best of motorsports through the lens of the local cultures, histories and attractions throughout the world. And in terms of motor sports, Cullen knew he wanted to include ATVing in Hill City because of the over 3,000 miles of ATV roads and trails in the surrounding area.

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Two run for Ward 1 council seat

By Carol Walker

It’s official. The petitions are in and there’s going to be an election in June for a seat on the city council. Although Pam Fowler is running unopposed in Ward 2, two people will be vying for a seat on the council in Ward 1. Current councilman Jason Gillaspie has turned in a petition, as has Tana Nichols, and they will face off in the June 2 election. Nichols, owner of the Mangy Moose, has previously served on the city council.

Brett McMacken, city administrator, said the Hill City Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) is beginning to look at the Hill City Comprehensive Plan, required by law. Last week they heard a presentation from a representative from the Council of Local Governments, which offers a service to write the plan for cities in South Dakota. Some believe this might be beneficial for Hill City.

“The P&Z has a lengthy agenda for each meeting and there is not much time to do “bigger picture” things like the comprehensive plan. It would cost about $20,000,” said McMacken.

According to McMacken, the plan would cover such things as mapping, zoning issues of growth and land use and commercial and industrial development, transportation and utilities, community facilities, housing, environmental impact and geology and natural hazards. Once a framework is in place for the comprehensive plan, public meetings will be held to get feedback on the plan. Anyone with input in the areas listed may direct comments to McMacken at city hall.

“A plan isn’t worth a dang if we don’t use it. If we’re going to spend the money, we need to make it a goal to use it,” said Mayor Dave Gray.

The council discussed at length an issue that has been on the agenda periodically for many years since city hall, the chamber of commerce and the public library moved out from the Main Street location that currently houses the Mangy Moose. Prior to the move, restrooms were available for general use in that public building. Since that time, the only public restrooms downtown have been in the small building in the alley east of Main Street.

Local merchants have complained to the council that the building is often locked, doors do not open properly, sinks are in bad shape and it is generally an unappealing building for use by visitors to Hill City. Many business owners downtown allow guests to use their restroom facilities rather than send them to the concrete building in the alley. Jim Peterson, owner of Integrity Realty, has allowed tourists to use the bathrooms in his building.

“As a tourist town, we fall flat on our face when it comes to bathrooms. In the past, we have been told to direct people to the restroom at the public library,” said Peterson.

Peterson suggested the city attach a restroom sign onto the library sign that would communicate to the public that restrooms are available. Cindy Girard, city librarian, does not believe it would be a wise decision for the city to advertise the single bathroom that is meant for library patron use. She was not able to find one library within the state that has installed a public restroom sign.

“The logistics, the safety of it is a big concern. It is more than just a sign; it is an operational issue,” said Girard.

Gillaspie agreed that it would not be a good decision. McMacken said the Hill City Library board of trustees ultimately has oversight on the restroom issue and the signage decision rests with it. The library board will take up the issue at a future meeting.

Although the money is not currently available to construct new bathrooms, which some believe would cost $50,000 to $70,000, a decision was made by the council after the tourist season last year to give a facelift to the restroom facility in the alley. McMacken said he has directed public works (P&Z) director Dennis Schrier to make it a priority to follow through with the “refreshening” of the bathrooms, with a goal of completing the work by Memorial Day.

P&Z previously recommended approval and the council likewise gave the green light to Vic Alexander for consolidation of three lots on Main Street. Alexander plans to construct an enclosed deck connecting the Twisted Pine Winery/Dakota’s Best building with the small building next to it that formerly housed the Handbag Store.

Russ Johnson asked the council to table his request for a package liquor license for a piece of property at 137 Walnut Ave. because P&Z did not recommend approval of a drive-through liquor store at that location.
However, Johnson did request approval for a zoning change request from residential to commercial, which would enable him to look at other commercial options for a source of income from that property.
Councilman John Johnson said he was “not crazy about” changing the zoning designation for the property when it is currently between two residential lots.

“I think it is inevitable that the lot will eventually be commercial, but I don’t think it is the right time to change it. It is premature,” said councilman Roger Broer.

Johnson was encouraged to come back to the council once he has a definite plan for the property.

Likewise, more details were asked of Derek and Linette Alexander who requested a permanent easement on city property east of Hill City. At the last council meeting in March, the couple asked to temporarily place a log deck on the same piece of property in order to haul out logs from their land that is adjacent to it. Because the ground is too soft, they have abandoned that plan for now. The permanent easement they requested on Monday night would allow them to create a safe approach, with curb and gutter, in and out of their land.

“About 7 feet of it is on South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) land and about 33 feet belong to the city. It is a safety factor going into Bighorn Meadow. We would pay for the curb and gutter and the asphalt and it would look nice. This would be for a commercial venture and it would bring tax dollars into the city…. Rich Zacher (DOT official)  is totally for it. If there gets to be enough traffic there, DOT would consider putting in another lane,” said Derek.

Bob Stanfiel, chamber president, expressed his desire to have the city approve this easement. Since the Alexanders want their children to be able to develop a business here and stay in the community, this is exactly what Hill City should encourage, he said.

“It’s hard to draft an easement when it is somewhat nebulous. I work on the details if there is a problem 10 years down the road. If you can come up with a diagram of what you want to do that is more specific, then we could take a look at it,” said Frank Bettmann, city attorney.

The Alexanders agreed to draw up a detailed plan showing exactly what they want to do and then bring it to McMacken, Bettmann and then the city council.

In other business, the city held its first reading of an ordinance amendment that would allow for Memorial Day and Sunday liquor sales. The state now allows cities to decide whether or not liquor can be sold on those days, but city ordinances had not been amended to reflect that change. In addition, the city approved the consolidation of three lots on Mary Beth Court.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 27, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.


Several apply for chamber position

By Kacie Svoboda

At the Keystone Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, April 1, at 7 p.m., the Keystone Chamber of Commerce president and representative at the meeting, Ben Brink, gave a brief report that the chamber has started the search for a new executive director and has approximately 15-20 applicants. The chamber was planning to meet with its human resources person on Thursday, April 2, regarding the applications. According to Brink, the Keystone Visitor Center will open on May 1.

A Rally planning meeting to discuss ideas for parking, events, etc., was tentatively scheduled for April 21 at 7 p.m. at the Keystone Community Center.

The next mayor’s meeting is scheduled for May 28 at Mount Rushmore. Trustee Kwinn Neff asked Brink if the city could give the attending mayors goodie bags. The last mayor’s meeting was held in Edgemont and included a PowerTech presentation on uranium.

Neff requested to add board and chamber meeting dates to the signboard by the state parking lot along with community events. Neff suggested that local youth Casey McNulty could add the dates to the signboard. Cofoid suggested public works make any changes to the signboard.

This article available only in the print version of the Hill City Prevailer News. To subscribe, call 604-574-2538.


The funny side of news

By Kacie Svoboda

On Sunday, Hilary Clinton announced her candidacy for President of the United States. The night prior to this official announcement, “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) did a parody of that announcement with Kate McKinnon portraying a caricature of Clinton’s no-nonsense and extremely confident demeanor. This skit reinforces the idea that comedy has begun to fill the position of a news organization. It provides easy to grasp information about world events in an engaging and memorable way.

This growing trend has not only drawn my attention but also the attention of more traditional news outlets. According to a CBSNews story, a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll released earlier this year found that 21 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds cited “The Daily Show” and “SNL” as places where they regularly learned presidential campaign news.

This doesn’t surprise me as “SNL” has gotten so good at satirizing news events that in this case it pre-parodied one.

“The Daily Show with John Stewart” is another comedy show that focuses heavily on politics and world events and has averaged around two million viewers each night. According to the Hollywood Reporter, another news satire show “Last Week Tonight” averaged 4.1 million weekly viewers of its first season “across the TV airings, DVR, on-demand and HBO Go.” Most of these viewers are within the 18-49 demographic with “The Daily Show” watched by 74 percent of that age group.
Some people may be concerned that “SNL” is how young people are being made aware of important issues, like the presidential candidates. But at least, this introduces them to the matters of today and many use these satirical news bytes as a springboard for further research to educate themselves on key issues.

But I think the function of these comedic news sources goes even further and performs a watchdog role, monitoring and focusing the public eye on the foibles of politicians, the government, celebrities, trends and even national news organizations — like CBS and Fox News.

For example, in the Clinton “SNL” segment, the parody pointed out that Clinton isn’t very relatable, which in turn will probably cause her to follow some of the guidelines covered in the segment, like trying to be more approachable and softening her features when she gives a speech.

Not only is this probable, but after the satirical sketch portrayed Clinton using social media to make her announcement, Clinton did exactly that and released a video announcement onto YouTube. So whether young people watch comedy news shows for entertainment or information, politicians have to be aware of how they will be portrayed on them and react accordingly.

Although this movement may be disturbing to hard news junkies, they should find solace in the fact that comedy formatting attracts a viewership of individuals who may not otherwise be aware of or invested in these news events.


Seventy years of Easter at Rushmore

Thursday, April 9, 2015

RESURRECTION SONGS — Heidi Long-Lind of Hill City turned to the crowd at Mt. Rushmore on Easter Sunday to ask the hundreds of people gathered there to sing some of the traditional resurrection songs of the season. [PN Photo/CAROL WALKER]

By Carol Walker

Every year since 1945, people have gathered at Mount Rushmore early on Easter morning to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, the most important holiday of Christianity, and it was no different this year on the 70th anniversary of the event.

The service was hosted by the congregations of the Hills Parish: Keystone Congregational United Church of Christ and the Hermosa United Church of Christ. They were joined by representation from the Little White Church of Hill City.

The weather on Sunday morning was cool, but not frigid as it has been on some years. However, the visitors to the mountain came prepared with blankets and warm coats and staff members from Xanterra, concessionaire for Mount Rushmore, were present to offer hot chocolate and coffee to those who came early and needed a little boost of warmth.

Neal Svenson set the tone for the service with the prelude — a guitar instrumental, “In Christ Alone,” followed by traditional resurrection hymns, bringing together hundreds of voices in songs of the season. Pastor Ron Walker of the Little White Church of Hill City offered prayer and read scripture, followed by Pastor John DeGroff from the host church in Keystone, who shared a message about the power of the resurrection.

As in the past, the Sunrise Choir, comprised of a collection of local folks of all ages from area churches, sang several songs under the direction of Heidi Long-Lind and they led the congregational singing. Each vocalist attended practice sessions held a couple weeks prior to the event to rehearse the songs they would sing on Easter morning.

A new addition this year included some of the younger folks from the area as a bell choir, performing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Color-coded bells were enthusiastically rung by the young people as they watched for their color to appear on cards held by director Joy McCluure Mueller.

Karen Kruse and Lois Halley were the accompanists for the special Easter service. Loren Lintz and Ryan Mitchell were sound engineers for the event. An offering was taken with 100 percent of the proceeds to be donated to both local and global needs.

Following prayer and a benediction offered by the Rev. Dr. Diane Janssen Hemmen of the Hermosa host church, the crowd was asked to stand and listen to one stanza of “God Bless America” performed by the bell choir and then join in singing the patriotic song in the patriotic setting.


New April event

By Kacie Svoboda

A new Hill City event is poised to usher in spring. On Saturday, April 11, Hill City merchants will hold the April Flowers Bring Friends and Flowers event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We really want something every month to bring people in to see our cool little town,” explained Shari Greseth of Things That Rock.

The event’s name is based on the well-known rhyme and will center around a four-question scavenger hunt where participants will visit involved Hill City businesses to find flowers containing the answers. Entry forms may be picked up at Things That Rock and should be filled out with the answers and dropped off at Art Forms by 4 p.m. A drawing for over $500 in prizes donated by the participating businesses will be held at the Old World Plaza at 5 p.m.

It’s designed to be like the spring time Girlfriend’s Weekend,” Greseth explained.

The merchants are hoping for around 200 people and are still finalizing their store specials and events. Some participating businesses are the Jon Crane Gallery, Everything Prehistoric, Heart of the Hills Antiques and of course, Things That Rock and ArtForms. Most of the open Hill City businesses will be joining the fun.

For more information, visit Hill City April Showers Bring Friends and Flowers Facebook page.


Keystone votes on MMR lease

By Kacie Svoboda

The citizens of Keystone will vote on the Mineral Mountain Resources, Ltd. (MMR) lease agreement with the city on Thursday, April 14.

MMR decided to defer its pursuit to enter into a lease agreement in early March due to the “current downturn in commodity prices and its negative impact on the minerals industry,” according to an official press release submitted by project manager and geologist Kevin Leonard. However, the Keystone Town Board followed South Dakota codified law 9-20-11 by honoring the referendum and continuing the public vote in order to set a precedent for Keystone leasing city property to MMR in the future.

This has led to a confusing decision for the town’s citizens. Part of the misperception stems from the description on the ballot, which still includes terms from the MMR lease the company decided not to pursue at this time. This makes it appear that the town is still voting on the terms of that specific agreement, when in fact the town is voting on a guide on whether the town of Keystone can lease city land to MMR at all.

Originally, MMR came to Keystone because of the history of the Homestake Mine and its 125-year run and due to the finding of gold within cores drilled by Energy Fuels Inc. in the ’90s. According to Leonard, MMR is still in the process of re-drilling and double-checking Energy Fuels’ findings and has so far had matching results with its core samples.

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