It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

FINISHING TOUCHES — Mary Beth Johnson completes her tree she calls "Pine Cones and Burlap," one of several she created for the Trees and Trains display tset up for the holiday season in the South Dakota State Railroad Museum in Hill City. This is the best year yet for this event, with 31 trees decorated by businesses and individuals. [PN Photo/CAROL WALKER]

By Carol Walker

Celebrating an old time Christmas evokes thoughts of hot cider and cookies, shiny red apples, trains around the tree, sparkling lights and, of course, Santa Claus. That is just what people will find in Hill City this Friday evening, Nov. 27, when the Hill City Area Chamber of Commerce and merchants host an Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration the day after Thanksgiving.

At 5 p.m. there will be a Dickens Celebration on the porch and the sidewalk at the Alpine Inn with members of Xi Alpha Chi sorority handing out free cookies and hot cider to all who come to town. As usual, chestnuts will be roasted on a fire ready for sampling by the crowd. In addition, the Gifts of the Heart Christmas Tree will be set up in the Alpine Inn, decorated with tags that represent children of all ages in the area. People may stop in and pick out a tag and purchase a gift to place under the tree that will go to a local child.

By 5:30 p.m. everyone with an entry in the parade will line up at the parking lot just south of the high school, with the parade of lights beginning there at 6 p.m., traveling down Main Street and circling back south to the 1880 Train and South Dakota State Railroad Museum parking lot.

Santa, who usually rides in the parade, will take a seat in the parking lot and will be available to talk with and hand out apples to children and the young at heart. In the spirit of Christmas, along the parade route, the Hill City Fire Department and Auxiliary and Ambulance Service members will collect canned goods and money to replenish the Community Food Bank.

The train museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, with free admission offered to all after the parade that evening.

For the sixth year in a row, the train museum will host Trees and Trains, a festive display of trees decorated with a variety of themes. This is a record year with 31 different trees, 14 or them created by Hill City businesses, the rest by individuals, the most the museum has ever displayed during the holidays.

This event began six years ago when the building was completed, but it was empty. Rick Mills, curator for the museum, said they wanted to bring together two things that traditionally speak of Christmas: trees and model trains. That year they had model trains running on the museum floor  and Mills said it has just grown from that.

“This year Operation Life Saver is coming from Sioux Falls and theirs will be the last tree set up for Trees and Trains. It is a nationwide non-profit that promotes safety around railroads and this is its first outreach, as far as I know, to western South Dakota,” said Mills.

Mary Beth Johnson has been working for several weeks decorating the building and setting up Christmas trees. She said her husband, Charley Johnson, installed floodlights that shine on the trains in the building so that when only those lights and Christmas lights are turned on, the room looks stunning. One of the trees, decorated by Artforms, has many items for children and after the season is done, those things will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of the Black Hills. Johnson encourages people to come in and see the trees and trains after the parade, when admission is free.

On Friday, Hill City merchants are going all out to welcome residents and visitors into their shops. Many of the businesses will offer treats and hot drinks throughout the day on Friday and Chute Rooster will give out free cookies and hot chocolate to enjoy with Santa after the parade.

See this week’s Western Trader for businesses that are participating in Old Tyme Christmas.
Nov. 28 is Shop Small Saturday, when businesses will offer more discounts and more treats, encouraging people to find special gifts for friends and relatives, right in downtown Hill City.

“I am so happy, pleased and excited by the level of participation by the merchants, chamber members, community members and the service organizations in Hill City for Olde Tyme Christmas. I hope we continue in the same spirit on Saturday and throughout the holiday season and into the new year,” said Janet Wetovick, interim chamber director.


Ferebee fights septic ordinance

By Kacie Svoboda

Pennington County commissioner George Ferebee of rural Hill City has long been an opponent of the county zoning ordinances for septic systems. In fact, according to the Rapid City Journal, in 2010 Ferebee listed those ordinances as being the reason he chose to enter politics. This opposition came to a head last week when Ferebee was accused of violating the zoning ordinance that requires all septic systems in the county to be inspected, pumped and permitted.

Brittany Molitor, the water protection coordinator for the Pennington County Planning Department, had sent Ferebee three notices during the last year to inform him of the law requiring the septic permit. The final notice was sent by certified mail and went unclaimed by Ferebee. The affidavit, which was filed by the state’s attorney’s office on Oct. 8, stated, “George Ferebee has not had his on-site waste water treatment system pumped or inspected and has not obtained a permit for his system and thus his property is in violation of this ordinance.”

Ferebee does not agree with the state’s attorney office ruling. He said he has a permit signed by the county from 29 years ago when he put in his septic system and said its continued use is included in this permit.

Ferebee was summoned for a Pennington County Court appearance on Monday, Nov. 16, to face the charges. However, he saw the hearing as an opportunity to address his disapproval of the ordinance.

“Finally, we have a chance to get a court determination on whether the ordinance is constitutional or not,” Ferebee said. “After they passed the thing in 2010, we tried to get the state’s attorney to get with the county about it, but he refused.”

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Keystone works on water issues

By Bev Pechan

Water in Keystone remains in the forefront of continuing ways to improve its quality and the safety of its residents.

At the Nov. 4 Keystone Town Board meeting, Mark Mayor and Linda Harris ,representing the South Dakota Dept. of Natural Resources (DENR), were present to present ongoing discussion on addressing the town’s problems. Mayor reminded the board that it was in July when he pressed for chlorinating the public water system and since then, other water system tests had failed to be contaminant-free.
Mayor strongly suggested the city install a chlorination program “to stop the violations and protect the public health.”

Sixteen residents turned out for the meeting, wanting to learn more about their options. In July, a longtime senior resident with ongoing health conditions died shortly after questioning the water quality in her area; however, no positive connections were made at that time.

Harris also attended Keystone’s Oct. 23 meeting and conducted a level 2 assessment on the city’s water. The report is available at city hall. Public works director Jerry Przybylski has presented several methods to try to return the system to normal, including shocking and the purchase of sewer bugs in the amount of $760.

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It's getting close to Thanksgiving

By Bev Pechan

This is the time of year I normally look forward to. I love the sights and smells of September and the change of color as leaves take on their riot of color in October and November. It is especially bright here in Minnesota, with so many maples, oaks and sumac. There are places in the neighborhood where, with a proper permit, people may still burn their raked leaves. Remember that aroma? Sometimes you can go back.

This year, I have noted that some businesses promoting Christmas well before Halloween have publicly declared that they will allow their employees to say “Merry Christmas” this year. But also this year, the traditional Black Friday — the start of the official holiday shopping frenzy the day after Thanksgiving — will begin the week before, or at the very latest, at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to allow shoppers maximum access to their ATM machines.

What is special or sacred anymore about Christmas?  Beats me. Nativity scenes for the most part (if not already publicly banned so they don't offend someone) have been replaced with lawn inflatables. Still, survey after survey reports that Americans are more unsatisfied with their lives than ever before, with suicide, violent crime and drug incidents climbing up the charts. There is something wrong with wanting too much.

Please, let this year be a time for all for reflecting and perhaps using a new term — “appreciation for what we do have.” Happy Thanksgiving.


Wendy J. Edmonds-White

Wendy J. Edmonds-White was born April 12, 1962, in Redfield, S.D., to Robert and Jacie White of Doland, S.D. She graduated from Doland High School in 1980 and attended Lake Area Technical Institute.

On Dec. 21, 1981, she married the love of her life, Charlie Edmonds of Henry, S.D. They were married for 32 years. Together they raised three daughters who were the light of her life in Watertown, S.D. In 2004, the Edmonds relocated to Keystone, S.D., where they became active members of the community.

Wendy worked for many years as office manager and billing specialist in various medical offices. Her attention to detail carried over from her professional life into her home. She loved cooking and entertaining for friends and family. Her smile, personality and laughter would light up any room. Her life was centered on her family, especially her four grandchildren. Nothing brought more joy to Wendy than to have the entire family gathered at the table. Wendy will be remembered as a dedicated mother, a loving wife and a warm-hearted grandmother.

Wendy, 53, of Hill City, passed away in her sleep on Nov. 17, 2015.

Wendy is survived by her husband, Charlie Edmonds; three daughters, Chantel Edmonds, Kendra (Shane) Alexander and Kori McVey; four grandchildren, Korbin, Brody, Turner and Ainsley; mother, Jacie White of Madison, S.D.; siblings Rex White of Brookings, S.D., Rollie (Linda) White of Aberdeen, S.D., Scott (Sheila) White of Madison, Monte (Diana) White of Aberdeen, Tom White of Volga, S.D., and Dr. Jay (Shannon) White of Rapid City, S.D.; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, Robert White.

Wendy’s life will be honored at United Church of Christ in Keystone on Saturday, Nov. 28, at 1 p.m. A gathering will be held in church following her memorial. No burial will follow. She will be honored with memories from friends and family, so attendees should bring any that they hold close to their hearts.

Family and friends may sign Wendy’s online guest book at


Gratefulness expressed at veteran’s program

Thursday, November 19, 2015

VETERAN VALOR — At the Veterans Day program last Wednesday, for the first time, four individuals nominated by friends or family members, were presented with Valor Appreciation Quilts made by the Heart of the Hills Quilters group. From left are Colonel Tim Moran, speaker for the program, Sharon Schrier standing in for her husband Howard Schrier who was presented with a quilt, but had to leave for a call with the fire department, Vicki Prautzsch, Jay Hendrickson and Fay Marsh. [PN Photo/CAROL WALKER]

By Carol Walker

It was near the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year that Hill City School students and staff as well as community members filed into Gin’s Court to honor all veterans and current service men and women. The high school band under the direction of Amy Woodward set the patriotic tone as they began the program by playing the Star Spangled Banner and later the March of the Armed Forces, which gave recognition to each branch of the military.

Col, Tim Moran of the South Dakota National Guard addressed the crowd, saying thousands of men and women are currently serving in the military, displaying both a warrior spirit and a heart of compassion in 120 nations throughout the world. Three alumni from Hill City, Tyler Triplett, Michael Bistodeau and Shane McDonald are stationed with the 155th Engineering Co. in Afghanistan.

“These men and women believe that people in all nations have a right to live free from tyranny … 425,000 service men and women have been killed in the last century and each of those represents a family,” said Moran.

He encouraged those in the audience to thank a veteran today and in the upcoming year and let them know they are appreciated. “We owe them our freedom. We owe them our gratitude,” he said.

Appreciation and remembrance came from many avenues last Wednesday. Skylar Ross and Taylor Vaughn lit the remembrance candle and read the POW/MIA poem, and cards made by elementary students were presented to each of the veterans in attendance. For the first time, patriotic quilts were presented to four veterans nominated by friends and family members.

“It is with great pride that I announce the recipients of this year’s Valor Appreciation Quilts. These quilts were made and donated by the Heart of the Hills quilters from Hill City,” said Lori Comer, one of the quilters.

Vicki Prautzsch, who served in the United States Air Force from 1996-2000, stationed in Texas, Mississippi, Rapid City and Japan, was nominated by her mother, Connie Prautzsch.

Howard Schrier, who retired from the South Dakota National Guard in 2008 after 26 years of service to the country, was nominated by his friend and fellow firefighter, Craig Comer. He received numerous medals during his years of service.

Fay Marsh served in World War II and in the Korean War and was nominated by his niece Sue Jarvis. Jarvis said he was very proud of his country and of his service to the country.

Jay Hendrickson was drafted in 1942 and later became an officer stationed in Georgia, followed by Hawaii. He joined the National Guard and was called up during the Korean War. Jan Humphrey nominated him.

Another way appreciation was shown to veterans last week was through an announcement made regarding the Buddy Basket program that has been a part of the platform for Miss South Dakota Lexy Schenk. Susan Roth is heading up the local effort and is hoping for donations from people in Hill City to put together baskets for veterans in need or those who are just getting back from deployment. Household items such as toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies can be dropped off at the high school office or individuals may call Roth at the high school at 574-3000 or e-mail her at to make other arrangements. Roth said they would like to have donations in by Dec. 19.

Molly Anderson and Samantha Woodward closed the program, again thanking the veterans.


Wheel tax rolls to January vote

By Kacie Svoboda

After several months of discussion between the Pennington County commissioners, the fate of the much-disputed wheel tax will be left to the voters of Pennington County to decide.

On Oct. 6, the commissioners adopted the wheel tax in a four to one vote, with District 1 commissioner George Ferebee against. Following this decision, opponents of the tax, led by Tonchi Weaver, started a petition drive to bring it to a public vote.

On Nov. 13, Weaver submitted 4,584? signatures to county auditor Julie Pearson. Though this was the last day to present the petitions, the number of signatures well exceeded the 3,221 required to force a referendum vote, based on 22? percent of Pennington County voters who registered in the last general election. The vote will be held Jan. 5 and will cost an estimated $62,000.

Available only in the print edition of the Hill City Prevailer News. To subscribe, call (605) 574-2538.