Editor's Notebook

Join our Editor-at-large and founder, Bernie Hunhoff, as he offers stories, quips & travel tips gathered as he roams South Dakota. Other magazine staffers may contribute here or there as well. Enjoy the South Dakota miscellanea.

Flood News

July 7, 2011


We're not enjoying the flood all that much in Yankton County, but it has made reading the morning newspaper more interesting than ever.

The Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan is one of only two daily newspapers that still have local ownership, and it's probably no coincidence that it's also one of the best little dailies in the West. The staff and readers are going to celebrate the paper's 150th anniversary later this summer (good Lord willing and the Missouri don't rise any more). Never in my memory has our local newspaper done a better job of guiding the community through a difficult period.

Yankton and other South Dakota communities are not strangers to disasters. We have had our share of fires, floods, tornadoes, blizzards and other such mayhem. But seldom does a disaster linger for weeks, as this flood does. For those most affected, it is a slow-motion disaster. Though the water is broiling through the dams and speeding down the river channel, time is nearly at a standstill for home owners and farmers who wait and wait to see how it will all end.

Through it all, the writers and editors of our paper have kept southeast South Dakota in the know. They've dispelled rumors (no, the Corps of Engineers has not inserted dynamite in the cracks in the dam ... and no, there are no cracks in the dam). They've put out the word for volunteers, and taught us the language of a flood. Everybody now understands that a CFS is a cubic foot per second of water, about the same volume of a basketball. They've photographed and editorialized and reported on long, boring meetings and issued alerts .... and it doesn't stop.

In today's edition, editor/photographer Kelly Hertz shows a picture of two lads using a park bench as a fishing dock at Lake Yankton. Of course, park benches are normally ashore. Priceless photography.

Also today, the paper reports that the Corps will divert surplus water through four regulating tunnels at Fort Randall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. so the spillway (40 acres of concrete) can undergo a routine inspection. It is just the second time in history that such a high volume of water will be released through the tunnels. 

The paper also notes that a man fell into the James River while fishing. He became stuck in the mud. A deputy fished him out.

And in the classifieds, Bob Monfore notes that he lost his boat dock by Choteau Creek near Avon,. It's a heavy bridge plank deck on two pontoons. Call 286-3644 if you see it floating by your farm.

The lake temperature today, according to the paper, is 70 degrees. Lake elevation is 1206.16 feet. Tailwater elevation is 1171.81. Oh, and the CFS is still at 160,000.

 If you must endure a summer-long flood, it's nice to have a local newspaper as a guide.


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Music to My Ears

June 23, 2011


Does anyone else think this is lovely? It's the sound of chorus frogs and other wildlife at the EcoSun Prairie Farmnear Colman. The farm was established in 2007 with the "purpose of demonstrating how to make a sustained and earned living from restored grassland and grass products while protecting and enhancing the natural environment."

At the center of their efforts is restoring tall grass prairie and wetland grasses. By the sound of this video, some small creatures are happy with their efforts. 

Join a public tour of EcoSun Prairie Farms on July 15. Visit this page for more information.


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Hit the Road!

June 21, 2011


The July/August issue arrived yesterday. If you subscribe, you should be getting your copy soon. Inside you'll find a 20-page guide featuring one special thing to see in each of our 66 counties. I like to think of them as 66 road trip ideas. Pick up a copy to see what we landmark we chose from your county!

Other features in the magazine include: 

When the Highway Came to Elk Point ... How Eisenhower's interstate program changed South Dakota. 

Like it or Not: A Zucchini Cook-off ... Six ways to rid yourself of our most prolific vegetable. 

Sent to Moon, South Dakota ... Leave your lunar gear at home but take a map. By Paul Higbee

Family 'Artnership in Sioux Falls ... Mary Groth and Liz Bashore Heeren's collaborations bear fruit. 

A Night on the Town in Rapid City ... Art Alley adds spunk to 'Summer Nights.' Photography by Jeremiah M. Murphy. 

Call our office at 1(800) 456-5117 if you'd like to order a copy. 


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The First Song to the Flood of 2011

June 16, 2011


Fill Your Hearts with Love & Your Shovels With Dirt

South Dakotans in the way of the river have been too busy sandbagging, moving furniture and — in a few cases — blaming the Corps of Engineers to find time to reflect. But not everyone.

Kris Kitko, a talented folk singer in North Dakota, has written a hauntingly beautiful song about the ravages of the Missouri in her state. Both the video and the lyrics reflect just as well on South Dakota — except that the prisoners in North Dakota who volunteered their assistance are in stripes rather than orange.

Well-known Pierre artist Jim Pollock is keeping a journal of his community's trials and tribulations. Surely his sketchbook is in a back pocket.

Dave Tunge, South Dakota's best aerial photographer, has been flying his Piper Cub up and down the river valley, shooting images from 1,000 feet.

Fires come and go in hours. Tornadoes in mere minutes. This particular flood will batter us for weeks, and eventually many more artists and songwriters and photographers will find the time and inspiration to try to explain what is happening to the river people.


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We're Back!

June 9, 2011


Heidi Marsh, our marketing director, is pioneering our online efforts.

Hopefully you've missed South Dakota Magazine's online presence. Well, here we are with a new look and some new content. We've had many meetings and work sessions, trying to plan for the best possible site for our readers. We have a vision for this to be a site that celebrates life in South Dakota.

Please visit us often for stories — some written just for the Web, and others revised from past issues of the magazine. We'll also provide an up-to-date calendar of events, colorful photo galleries, recipes and food stories. Several columnists will bring new perspective to the site, and we're making other plans as well. We'd like this to be an everyday extension of our magazine, which we print six times a year. We have a lot to share in between issues!

Our marketing director, Heidi Marsh, is pioneering our online efforts. She ushered us into the online world when she joined our staff by getting us on facebook and twitter and sending out e-newsletters. Now she is becoming a web expert by learning the ins and outs of web design and function. Here's a little interesting trivia on Heidi — she is 26 years old, the exact same age as South Dakota Magazine. She was even born in the same month our first issue appeared on newsstands.

What you see here is just the beginning. Tell us what you think of this new look, and what you'd like to see more of (or less).

In other magazine news, we're sending our July/August issue of the paper magazine to the printer today. It will be on newsstands by July 1.  Our magazine staff will be celebrating after work this Friday on the dock at Yankton's historic Ice House. Stop by and break a beer bottle with us. It's an Ice House tradition.


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Greetings From Our New Intern

May 20, 2011


Not many can claim to have lived in the same house their entire life … but I am only two decades old. Just because I was born and raised in Yankton, South Dakota doesn’t mean I haven’t seen plenty of our wonderful state. Whether posing for a picture on the tail of the gigantic Apatosaurus at Dinosaur Park, pheasant hunting the corn rows of Brown County or enjoying the sunset from ATV trails along the bluffs of the Missouri River, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for this state each day - just as our readers have for the past 26 years. Since working my way through the ranks of the Yankton School District, I’ve transitioned to college life at Dakota State University in Madison where I will enter my third year of the Digital Arts and Design program this fall. I am interning at South Dakota Magazine this summer as a part of my education

Best Place to Eat in Madison?

Unlike the typical answer for many college students, I’d say that the Country Café is my favorite place to dine. It’s a quaint little place located downtown, crowded with locals. The home-cooked meals are a delicious break from cafeteria food.

What is your favorite South Dakota travel destination?

By far the Black Hills tops my list as all-time favorite travel destination. My family has driven west at least once every year since before I was born. That is definitely a tradition I plan to carry on.

What's the best part about coming home to Yankton for the summer?

Besides being most excited to return to Yankton for my internship at South Dakota Magazine, I will enjoy visiting all of the friends and family I didn’t see much the past school year while I was away. Plus it’s always nice to spend an afternoon at the lake!

Best memory of growing up in South Dakota?

Holidays in our family are like no other days of the year. I will never forget the countless years we all squashed around a massive communal table at Thanksgiving or when one of my uncles would dress up as Santa and distribute gifts at Christmas (Sorry guys, but I figured it was you). These truly were and are the best events of the year.

Have you learned anything new about South Dakota since becoming our intern?

I had no idea Prairie Village in Madison still had an operational carousel. That will definitely be something I’ll check out when I’m back in Madison.                                       


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Could You Refuse The Burros?

May 18, 2011


Thousands of vacationing families have encountered the friendly pack of burros that lives along the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. It's become tradition to stop and feed them a treat, but while preparing our May/June 2011 issue's "Oughta Do" list for kids, we discovered the burros were never meant to be there and visitors really shouldn't feed them.

Of course we should have known not to give them food. There are signs posted throughout the park discouraging feeding any wildlife. Like most motorists, we assumed that meant the buffalo, bighorn sheep, and the other more dangerous creatures. But certainly not the affable burros.

However, when we called the park seeking more information, a ranger told us the burros are just as wild as any other animal that roams the Black Hills National Forest. She further reported that burros are not native to the Hills. Workers brought them to help haul materials while building roads and bridges, and to carry visitors up Harney Peak. When construction work was finished, the men turned the burros loose.

Nowadays, when you drive the Wildlife Loop, the fearless burros walk right up to your car. They'll even stick their heads in the window if they smell something good. And that could be anything. A burro once snatched a cough drop from a driver's hand.

Park rangers don't recommend visitors feed them, but they know it happens. And it probably always will. Very few people can say no to the world's cutest beggars.


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A Waterfall in Union County?

May 4, 2011


Does East Union Creek in southeast South Dakota have a scenic little waterfall? I searched for awhile yesterday evening but to no avail.

The search began when I was in Elk Point earlier in the day, working on an article there. An old-timer told me about some historic spots in Union County, and he said one of the prettiest places was a waterfall on the creek which is in the northern part of Union County somewhere northwest of a Union Creek Lutheran Church — which I did happen to find. But I figure the waterfall — if there is one — is further north than I was.

My source seems like too nice a fellow to have sent me on a wild goose chase. And all his other tips were right where he said they were — old churches, stagecoach stops, historic cemeteries, backroads to the Missouri River, and so on.

Union County is a beautiful place to travel in springtime. The rolling hills near Union County State Park and the Big Sioux River are little-known treasures to most South Dakotans. But whether there's a waterfall or not remains to be seen.


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