Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

December 30, 2019 GMT

Aberdeen American News, Dec. 29

Hopes, dreams for the coming year

Here are some of our hopes and dreams for the new year:

— Our farming and ranching friends get a big break with better conditions and prices. Also, we hope for a better year ahead for those businesses who serve the agriculture community.

— A safe 2020 and beyond for those people who protect us and help us in our times of trouble.

— The flooding in the Upper Midwest subsides. The list of South Dakota communities flooded with water problems in 2019 was long.


— Our state lawmakers find a way to get our teachers a raise.

— The many people who suffered tragedies in 2019 find strength and healing.

— After being canceled by a freak snow storm, likely for the first time in history, that the 2020 Northern State University Gypsy Day homecoming parade will be one of the best in history.

— Aberdeen continues to successfully host high school state tournaments in 2020 and beyond.

— Vaping becomes an uncool fad that fades quickly.

— Aberdeen and our neighboring communities find ways to strengthen their economic positions.

— Those with addiction, as well as their families, find help and comfort.

— We experience a remaining winter light on snow and modest cold.

— Northern State and Presentation College find ways to increase their enrollments and ways to remain vital and attractive.

— The Aberdeen Wings defend their North American Hockey League crown.

— Aberdeen’s new $300 million AGP Soybean plant continues to sprout new opportunities.

— The 2020 Brown County Fair gets a break from the weather and has one of its best years ever.

— Continued recovery for Britton-Hecla football player Trevor Zuehlke.


— There are no fatal vehicle accidents or plane crashes to report on, as we in South Dakota certainly seemed to have more than our share this past year.

— 2020 is known as the year when our state and nation made significant progress on solving some of the major, decades-long issues our Native American friends and neighbors suffer from on reservations.

— The best for the Malchows, a multi-generational Aberdeen business family who witnessed a devastating Main Street fire burn down their operation in 2019.

— Volunteerism goes up and crime goes down. And no more broken window sprees.

— Aberdeen Mayor Travis Schuanaman continues to find his stride in his second year of leadership.

— We find ways to praise our snow removal personnel rather than to criticize them.

— Kindness and serving others go viral worldwide.

— All sides of our nation’s political landscape recapture some respect for each other.

— Mosquitoes and their viruses stay away this spring, summer and fall.

— We continue to find opportunities for young workers to help convince them to stay in our region.

— The many area businesses that need workers find good people to fill their openings.

— The South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired finds someone as kind, caring and qualified as Marje Kaiser when she retires in 2020 as the superintendent of the school in Aberdeen.

— Aberdeen continues to be and gets better at being welcoming community to all.


Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Dec. 26

The end of 2019: The things I’ve seen

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.” — Roy Batty, a replicant (artificial human) in the 1982 movie “Blade Runner,” which took place in the bleak dystopian future of 2019.

Actually, those words (which were spoken by actor Rutger Hauer, who passed away this year) paraphrase something I said on the afternoon of March 13, in the midst of a massive storm that dropped nearly 3 inches of rain on frozen ground that might as well have been asphalt and concrete. I’d just returned to the office after shooting flood photos, pulled one of them up on a computer, then showed it to a coworker. I prefaced it by saying it was something I had never seen before: It was Yankton’s Eighth and Broadway intersection underwater as Marne Creek surged out of its banks, and an abandoned car was floundering in this flash sea. (It was the same photo we used atop Thursday’s year-end review.) It was an incredible sight.

At the end of each year, the things I’ve seen always stand out more in retrospect. The images reflect the experiences I personally encountered while working as a reporter, a photographer and, really, an observer of life here.

In 2019, I saw things that I wouldn’t have believed when the year started.

In fact, I’m still seeing them now. This week, I gazed out across the James River frozen literally bank-full in northern Yankton County. It looked like you could go from the normally elevated bank and walk across the river — which is now a field of choppy, jutting ice — to the other, elevated side without being aware of where you were at all.

That was just the most recent of so many images that stick in my mind now.

After the bomb cyclone in March, I saw huge slabs of ice lying in fields out in the county. They had been washed out of frozen stock dams. Some of these slabs were at least a foot thick.

I saw floodwater in places I had never seen it before, and at heights that were record setting.

I saw Auld-Brokaw Trail looking like it had been targeted by a blitzkrieg.

I saw corn that actually WASN’T knee-high by the Fourth of July.

I also saw too many fields where there were no crops at all, which compelled me to better understand the term “prevent planting.”

I saw that South Dakotans were all on meth and we were advertising it.

I saw a lot of familiar things, too. For instance, there were discharges at Gavins Point Dam creating a roaring, churning torrent through the spillway gates — but this time, for more than eight months. And I think I saw more “road closed” signs than I’ve ever seen before. (In fact, some counties actually ran out of such signs.)

Not everything could technically be considered a “new” sight. For instance, the photos I saw from Niobrara after the bomb cyclone looked a lot like ancient images in our archives of 19th century ice jams on the Missouri River, with massive chunks of ice crushing anything in its path.

I also saw some things this year that were genuinely good.

I saw the Mount Marty College campus — and, really, the school itself — transform in ways I have never seen, expected or even hoped. (This also produced one of the more awkward moments of the year: I came into the office one night after being away and sports editor James D. Cimburek told me MMC was adding football. I looked at the calendar, which said April 1, and naturally replied, “Yeah, right …”)

I saw work begin on Yankton’s aquatics center, which, deep down, I never really thought would happen.

I saw work on Yankton’s water plant finally near its end.

I saw local soldiers come home from service abroad — not a rare vision anymore, unfortunately, but always a welcome one.

I saw incredible acts of kindness in the face of disaster, as well as in the course of everyday life. But, based on what I’ve always seen here, that didn’t surprise me at all.

Alas, I saw a lot of people arguing politics with such fervent conviction that it seemed like two completely different realities were fighting ferociously for the same prime real estate in the American mind set.

With that, I’m not sure what I see when I look toward 2020, other than it will be an angry time and uncertain time on many fronts.

Looking back allows you to also look ahead with the hope that things will be better next year than they were this year. In that respect, the bar for 2020 seems quite low, but it could be formidable all the same.

The 1975 song “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake (at least I got to drop in one prog rock reference before this year was out) includes the line, “I wish you a brave New Year.” That sentiment surely speaks to this moment. We’ve seen a lot, after all, and there’s a lot in store in the months to come.

Be brave, and let’s see what happens … ___