American Family Insurance
A POSITIVE THOUGHT FOR THESE TIMES
“It would be nice if our national leaders would lead us in healing the divisions in our nation at this time, but if they won’t, we can do it ourselves.”
— The Rev. Dr. Jane Florence, Senior Pastor
Saint Paul United Methodist Church, Lincoln, Neb.
Mayor of Pierre: Pierre mayor Steve Harding will be re-elected without opposition after all. Caleb Gilkerson had filed petitions of candidacy, which first were rejected by city finance officer Twila Hight last week because of an incorrect date on the petitions. Gilkerson filed new petitions ahead of the deadline, but Hight questioned his listed “home address” of 511 W. Dakota Ave. where his business is located. After legal advice and an hour of discussion Tuesday night, the city commission voted unanimously that 511 W. Dakota Ave. is not zoned as residential and thus can’t be considered as a legal home residence. That eliminates Gilkerson as a mayoral candidate, and thus Pierre will not have a mayoral election on June 2 when the state primary, school board elections and city and county elections will be held. (News courtesy of Dakota Radio Group’s “My Daily News.”)
U.S. Senate: Incumbent senator Mike Rounds will now be re-elected without opposition in November unless an independent candidate materializes this summer.
President: Donald Trump of course is the only Republican candidate who has filed. Democrats who vote in the June 2 primary will choose between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
State Senate, District 24: Mary Duvall, who can’t run for the House again due to term limits, will be elected to the Senate without opposition since no Democratic candidate materialized.
State House of Representatives, District 24: The most interesting local race in the June 2 primary will be for two Republican nominations for the November ballot. The two top vote-getters from among Bob Lowery, current senator Jeff Monroe, Mike Weisgram, Noel Chicoine and Will Mortenson will advance to the general election against Democratic candidate Amanda Bachman. Two of the three will be elected there.
Hughes County Commission: With Roger Inman and Norm Weaver not seeking re-election, there are two seats on the commission up for grabs. Two of three Republican candidates—Randy Brown, Tom Rounds and Troy Bowers—will advance to November to vie for the two seats with Democratic candidate Vicki Wilkey.
The following are all elected without opposition unless independent candidates materialize this summer:
— Stanley County Commission, Area 2: Michael Kenzy (R).
— Stanley County Commission, Area 4: Sonny Harrowa (R).
— Sully County Commission, Area 2: Caleb Shepherd (R).
— Sully County Commission, Area 4: Jerry Richards (R).
— Sully County Treasurer: Helen Jane Paxton (R).
— Stanley County Treasurer: Peggy Lou Dougherty (D).
— Hughes County State’s Attorney: Roxanne Hammond (R).
— Stanley County State’s Attorney: Tom P. Maher (R).
— Sully County State’s Attorney: Emily Sovell (R).
— Hughes County Sheriff: Darin Johnson (R).
— Stanley County Coroner: Gary Grittner (R).
— Sully County Coroner: Jane Pitlick (R).
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS UPDATE
Basketball: The SDHSAA Board of Control took no action toward canceling the state basketball tournaments once and for all. Instead they held out hope that the tournaments might still be played, even as late as mid-June.
High school baseball: The state association has put the season on hold, waiting to see what the SDHSAA does with its sports. This would have been the weekend the Pierre team opened its season, which contained a ton of home doubleheaders. The association has said the state tournament will remain on Memorial Day weekend and not go beyond, so the fate of the entire high school season is in jeopardy if schools remain closed in May.
THOUGHT FOR THESE TIMES
The truth matters.
Please let us find a way to combine all of these together when we chart a path forward.”
— Dan Rather
10 days: Easter (April 12).
15 days: Absentee voting for primary election begins (April 17).
46 days: Voter registration deadline for primary election (May 18).
79 days: Primary election/Pierre city-school elections (June 2).
95 days: Oahe Days (June 18-20).
95 days: Riggs High All-’70s reunion/Classes of 1970-79 (June 18-20).
97 days: Riggs High Class of 2000 20-year reunion (June 20).
103 days: Blunt all-school reunion (June 26-28).
MORE CORONAVIRUS HUMOR
As we wrote last week, there is nothing remotely funny about the coronavirus pandemic, but it has created a good deal of levity on Facebook recently when we need a chuckle or two. Here are some of the choice selections from the past week, and I promise this is the last week we will do this:
- When swimsuit season hits, I just want y’all to remember the gyms were closed during Reese’s peanut-butter eggs season.
- Self-Distancing Day 11: My kids are co-workers (kids) are exceptionally unruly today. Office supplies (toys) were thrown. A fight ensued over their favorite stapler (tablet). The new gal in the office randomly burst into tears. Turns out she was just hungry and was sent to lunch early. Management is not happy. HR has been notified.
- Best line heard from a realtor: “Can you see yourself being quarantined in this house?”
- If things get really bad and you have to resort to cannibalism, remember vegans first. They’re the closest thing to grass-fed.
- Wondering how many students are missing their old teacher because their new one is mean.
- Toilet paper will not get you into heaven, folks. That’s not what it means when you sing “When the roll is called up yonder.”
- Homeschooling is going well. Two students suspended for fighting, and one teacher fired for drinking on the job.
- Isolation silver lining: For the first time in a long time our taxes are done early.
- You thought dogs were hard to train. Look at all the humans that can’t even sit and stay.
- I just read from a friend that the governor is giving everyone a Ford truck to ensure you can’t go anywhere.
- Does remote learning mean that principals will now walk into teachers’ homes unannounced?
- I really want to go back to work. I miss people, even the crabby ones.
- Homeschooling Day 5: They all graduated.
- The number of bad coronavirus jokes is starting to reach worrisome numbers. Some scientists claim it might become a pundemic.
- I’m having a quarantine party this weekend. None of you are invited.
- CDC: “Stay six feet apart from each other.”
Minnesota Scandinavians: “That seems a little close.”
- Kinda starting to understand why pets try to run out of the house when the front door opens.
- Day 7 at home, and the dog is looking at me like “See? This is why I chew the furniture.”
- I hate that shortness of breath is a coronavirus symptom. Every time I get to the top of the stairs, I think I’ve got it. Then I remember I’m just fat.
- Being quarantined with a talkative child is like having an insane parrot super-glued to your shoulder.
- Ran out of toilet paper and now using lettuce leaves. Today was just the tip of the iceberg. Tomorrow romaines to be seen.
- Bass players will be posted on street corners playing solos to prevent crowds from assembling.
- I need to practice social distancing from my refrigerator.
- Self-quarantine Day 6: Now I’m laughing at my own jokes.
- This is the Lentiest Lent I ever Lented.
- This quarantine has me realizing why my dog gets so excited about something moving outside, going for walks or car rides. I think I just barked at a squirrel.
- Sitting on the couch and my husband sweetly whispered, “The best part of all this is that I get to spend more time with you.” As I looked over at him lovingly, I realized he was talking to the dog, not me.
- I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to Puerto Backyarda. I’m getting tired of Los Livingroom.
- Punctuation and capitalization matter. For example, “I’m giving up drinking for a month” and “I’m giving up. Drinking for a month.”
- Day 9 of homeschooling and my child just said, “I hope I don’t have the same teacher next year.”
- Fiat Chryster just cured the coronavirus. They just assigned a part number to it, and now nobody can get it.
- I was so bored last night I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to somebody. He asked me what I was wearing.
- Prophecy class canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.
- If you see me talking to myself this week, mind your business. I’m having a parent-teacher conference.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. Of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did this ourselves.'”
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
In the absence of real-live baseball due to the coronavirus pandemic nationwide, there still is baseball to watch. All 12 postseason wins by the world champion Washington Nationals last fall are being shown right now at www.facebook.com/Nationals. Here is the remaining schedule:
Wild-card game vs. Milwaukee—Thursday, April 2, 11 a.m. CDT.
NLDS vs. Los Angeles, Game 2—Saturday, April 4, 6 p.m.
NLDS vs. Los Angeles, Game 4—Sunday, April 5, 6 p.m.
NLDS vs. Los Angeles, Game 5—Monday, April 6, 4:30 p.m.
NLCS vs. St. Louis, Game 1—Tuesday, April 7, 5 p.m.
NLCS vs. St. Louis, Game 2—Wednesday, April 8, 5 p.m.
NLCS vs. St. Louis, Game 3—Thursday, April 9, 5 p.m.
NLCS vs. St. Louis, Game 4—Friday, April 10, 5 p.m.
World Series vs. Houston, Game 1—Saturday, April 11, 6 p.m.
World Series vs. Houston, Game 2—Sunday, April 12, 5 p.m.
World Series vs. Houston, Game 6—Monday, April 13, 5 p.m.
World Series vs. Houston, Game 7—Tuesday, April 14, 5 p.m.
Pierre Trappers: Latest players to sign up for the Trappers’ season include Noah Parsons, junior pitcher from Cal State-Bakersfield and Taft, Calif.; Drew Talberg, freshman pitcher from Northern State University and Milaca, Minn., and Hayden Robbins, freshman pitcher from Trevecca Nazarene University and Mount Juliet, Tenn.
ZESTO SHERBET SCHEDULE
Friday-Sunday: strawberry cheesecake.
WORDS OF WISDOM
“Feeling some anxiety right now is a sign that your emotions are working just as they should.”
— Dr. Lisa Damour
Thursday, April 2:
Aaron Rumpca, Dalila Deal, Aria Bollinger, Dustin James, Olivia Deffenbaugh, Greta Deffenbaugh, Stephanie Wells, Brandon Kucker, Laurie Kelley, Krista (Schmidt) Sarvis, Sandra Peterson, Mary Hiller, Susanne Harmon, Reece Mohlman, Emerson Mohlman, Joyce Koistinen, Sasha (Kean) Bishop, Joni Lingle.
Friday, April 3:
Whitney (Palmer) Flottmeyer, Erin Maher, Ava Williams, Tom P. Maher, Charlotte Gustafson, Scott Decker, Jesse Scharnweber, Lori (Stulken) Blom, Frank Pautz, Roseanna Ogan, Bryan Palmer, David Jensen, Charles Edelen, Seth Parsons, Dawn (Garrett) Kaiser.
Saturday, April 4:
Thad Bauer, Blaine Harrowa, Tyler Mattheis, Noah Wulf, Marinda Archer, Avery Williams, Blaine Nicholas, Sandra O’Day, Hattie Stofferahn, Madyson Mitchell,
— 6th anniversary, Eric/Missie Schmidt.
Sunday, April 5:
Mikaela Hoy, April Chicoine, Troy Docken, Chase Cooper, Angie (Huxford) Pfleger, Landon Badger, Jo Mikkelsen, Jon Herman, Ian Rounds, Levi Hanson, Ken Stofferahn.
— 45th anniversary, Doug/Pam Peterson.
— 45th anniversary, Frank/Kathy (Hoover) Pautz.
Monday, April 6:
Lacy Nielsen, Laura Mehlhaff, Ashley (Pries) Brewer, Heather (Nystrom) Klinger.
Tuesday, April 7:
Eric Unkenholz, Brian Hosman, Brian Mills, Crystal (Boehmer) Lindekugel, BryAnn (Becker) Knecht, Vivian Asmussen, Anthony Johnson, Adam Chick, Jayden Madden, Sandee Smith Judith Smith.
— 36th anniversary, Kevin/JoAnne Hipple.
— 41st anniversary, Bob/Kris Schneider.
Wednesday, April 8:
Greg Axtman, Ruth Kilber, Lexi Anderson, Eric Bresee, Katie Larson, Wilson Jordre, Linsey (Peterson) Robbins.
— 3rd anniversary, Josh/Aimee Parsons.
Thursday, April 9:
Kai Segrud, Matt Brakke, Kellie (Sutton) Yackley, Rob Nill, Kellie Weinheimer, Aaron Comer, Spencer Eich, Arthur Olson, Wesley Joy.
— Anniversary, Shaun/Sara (Sperry) Thomas.
COLLEGE SPORTS ROUNDUP
South Dakota basketball: Coyote senior Ciara Duffy of Rapid City, daughter of Fort Pierre native Dan Duffy, was named National Mid-Major Player of the Year. Coincidentally the award is named for Becky Hammon, whose hometown is also Rapid City.
THOUGHT FOR THESE TIMES
From Terry Woster’s column in The Mitchell Daily Republic: “With the coronavirus, healthcare workers and first responders are doing much of the sacrificing. The rest of us are being asked to sit on our couches and read or watch movies. People I trust a great deal tell me it’s important.”
PARKER’S PERSONAL NOTES
- This month South Dakota Public Broadcasting is re-airing some of the great high school basketball games it has televised. Show time is 2 p.m. CDT Sundays on SDPB2. This Sunday it will be the 2011 “B” girls championship game between Summit and Newell that went into double overtime. On April 12 will be the 2009 “B” boys title game between Sully Buttes and White River. The April 19 telecast will feature the five-overtime game in the consolation semifinals in 2014 at the “B” between Langford and White River.
- Some of the brightest country music stars will unite for “ACM Presents Our Country” and perform from their homes on CBS-TV at 7 p.m. CDT this Sunday, April 5. Among the performers will be Tim McGraw, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Brandi Carlile, Kane Brown and John Legend, Old Dominion, Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Kelsea Ballerini, Shania Twain, Thomas Rhett, Luke Combs and Carrie Underwood. Not a bad roster of singers there!
- On Easter Sunday next week NBC-TV will repeat the Emmy Award-winning production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which was televised live in April a year ago. Among the stars in the show are John Legend as Jesus Christ, Sara Bareilles, Alice Cooper and Norm Lewis.
- With all the other sports suspended or canceled these days, we at least have football to which we can look forward at the end of the coronavirus tunnel. Or will we? College football analyst Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN said this week, “I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall and if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens.”
- Speaking of college football, since we have nothing else to watch in the way of sports, one of the greatest college games of all time, the 2006 Rose Bowl between Texas and USC, will be shown on ESPN tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. CDT. This is the Vince Young game. Spoiler alert: Longhorn fans haven’t had anything to cheer about since, so this was their moment.
NEWS OF PEOPLE AND EVENTS
David Hazeltine passed away in his sleep March 22 at Monument Health Custer Hospital at the age of 86. Services will be announced at a later date. A native of Custer, he served in the U.S. Army and graduated from Northern State College where he met the former Joyce Simpson. They were married in 1956 and lived in Aberdeen and Eureka before returning to Custer where Dave taught, coached and served as assistant principal at the high school. The family moved in 1967 to Pierre where Dave worked for state government, owned a small business and worked as a carpenter and land easement agent. Joyce spent many years as South Dakota’s secretary of state. The Hazeltines eventually retired to a home outside Custer. Dave served for seven years on the Custer County Commission. He is survived by his son, Derek Hazeltine; his daughter, Tara Heggen and her husband Gordon; six grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; his brother, John Hazeltine, and other relatives. Among those who preceded him in death were his wife, his parents, three brothers and a sister, and his son, Kirk Hazeltine.
Curtis Egan has begun a new job in Sioux Falls as a business development representative with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Blood donors are desperately needed by United Blood Services as the crush of coronavirus patients increases. Resurrection Lutheran Church in Pierre will be the site of a blood drive on Monday and Tuesday, April 6-7. To schedule a donor appointment, go to bit.ly/VitalantDAK.
After being hospitalized in Rapid City and Custer for almost two months with a bout of pancreatitis, former Pierre teacher/coach John Hoover is recuperating comfortably at home on the edge of the golf course at Custer.
Whitney (Stoeser) Schnabel was one of the Sturgis Elementary teachers handing out custom-made teaching/learning packets to their students and parents outdoors this week. There were no hugs, no touching, just waves and smiles and accurate tosses of the packets from six feet away.
Trevor Christenson, 11-year-old son of Blunt native Jason Christenson and his wife Manda of Basehor, Kan., attracted a good deal of media attention in their area, including a feature on KMBC-TV in Kansas City, when he jumped on a pogo stick for 2 hours, 15 minutes, hopping 12,000 times to set a Guinness world record for that activity. Jason’s parents, Larry and Dolly Christenson of Blunt, bought the pogo stick originally for Trevor’s older sister, Raina, when she was 8. The device was passed down to Trevor when he became old enough to use it.
Pat Schlagel, 72, died unexpectedly at her home in Aberdeen March 23. Private services were held March 29 at Furness Funeral Home in Clark. A native of Ipswich, Pat met her husband, Gene Schlagel, while they were students at Northern State College. They were married in 1968. They lived from 1970 to 1977 in Onida where Gene taught and coached basketball at Sully Buttes High School. Pat worked at Missouri Slope feedlot and the Voorhees law firm. They moved to Aberdeen in 1977 and raised their family there. She is survived by her husband, Gene Schlagel; their children, Kari Fuhrman, Nikki Wright, Dustin Schlagel and Lindsey Wade; nine grandchildren; one great-grandchild; her mother, Wilma Williams, and eight siblings.
Responding to our request for news from Update readers, former Pierre resident Juanita McKeever said she, too, has been “hunkered down” at home in Anoka, Minn. Her grandson, Sean Knoblauch, is home from Loyola University in Chicago for the remainder of the school year following a soccer trip to Peru in early February. Juanita said she is thankful they made a safe return shortly before the college shut down due to the pandemic scare. As for another grandson, Patrick, in Las Vegas, Juanita said he won’t be having his high school graduation. “So many heroes among us,” she concluded. “Prayers for all.”
Prominent community and professional theater performer Barry LeBeau was found deceased in his apartment on March 24 at the age of 49. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date this fall. Barry was part of community theater in Sioux Falls and Pierre from 1978 on and a professional actor from 1980 on. His voice was part of documentaries and television commercials, and he was narrator/announcer for the South Dakota Symphony’s Lakota Music Project. He worked as a tribal relations consultant and an Indian affairs and arts lobbyist. Barry was a member and past president of the Black Hills Film Festival and a member of the Black Hills Playhouse Alumni Association board of directors. Friends can send messages to the LeBeau family at 1702 Abbey Road #219, Pierre SD 57501.
Mary Gales Askren, former reporter at the Capital Journal who now works for the Madison Daily Leader, continues to undergo chemotherapy treatments in Sioux Falls. She is able to work from home right now.
Sylvia (Bergeson) Ballew died at the age of 94 on March 23. Services were held March 27 at Feigum Funeral Home. She grew up in the Hayes area and graduated from Pierre High School in 1944 and from St. John’s School of Nursing in 1947. She married Carl Ballew in 1949. She is survived by two sons, Roger Ballew and his wife Pat of Pierre and Mark Ballew and his wife Diane of Sioux Falls; a daughter, Laura Lock and her husband Tom of Minot, N.D.; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Larissa FastHorse described one day in the life of the coronavirus situation with her parents, Ed and Rhoda Baer, in the Santa Monica, Calif., area. “Just did safe-distancing grocery deliveries for friends and family that can’t get out for various reasons. It was like a progressive party across the city. Everyone is so happy to see live people and talk. Best day of this week!”
Caleb Currier, graduate student at the University of Tennessee, said he had a professor who, at the end of a class on Zoom, shed some tears. “I look at all your faces, and I miss you. I am truly blessed to have students like you,” the professor told them.
Faye Steece died March 24 at Good Samaritan Center in Sioux Falls at the age of 100. Mass of Christian Burial will be announced at a later date. She is survived by a brother, a sister, five children, including former Pierre residents Rick Steece and his wife Pam, now of Nashville, Tenn.; 16 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.
Kelsey Collier-Wise, who spent part of her childhood in Pierre and who now is a city council member in Vermillion, bemoaned on Facebook this week that she has had to become her town’s “Community Scold.” Despite the dire warnings for people to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, she said neighbors had a house party—adults, not kids or college students—the other night and that many others there have not been taking the disease seriously. Kelsey is executive director of Vermillion’s United Way.
Pierre native Brady Smith (’97) begins terminal leave from the U.S. Army in May after 23 years of service. Brady says the term “terminal leave” refers to the vacation days one uses at the end of his term until the official day he is out of the Army. He and his family plan to drive out of Alaska (if the borders are open) in late June and relocate to the Denver area where both of Brady’s brothers liver. “I need to secure a job and get a home,” Brady said this week.
Cameron Howard will begin work April 15 as the new manager at Pierre Regional Airport, replacing Mike Isaacs. Howard most recently has been administration manager at the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport in Kentucky. (News courtesy of Dakota Radio Group’s “My Daily News.”)
Irene (Aldinger) Eisenbeisz passed away at home March 21. A public celebration of her life will be held at a later date. She grew up in Isabel and married LeeRoy Eisenbeisz in 1952. They lived on the family farm, then in Fargo while LeeRoy attended barber school, then in Pierre. After her children were grown, she worked in accounting for Tyler’s Dairy, Terrace Park Dairy and the Department of Transportation. She retired in 1992 after 25 years with state government. She is survived by four daughters, Linda Ott and her husband Lari, Sharon Anderson and her husband Andy, Mary Lou Dunwoody and her husband Dick, and Connie Nold and her husband Lionel; six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, seven great-great-grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren.
Rob Kittay on Tuesday marked 40 years of work with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Pierre Players has delayed the dates of its spring show, “Native Gardens.” The definite performance dates will be announced later. The community theater group has also canceled “Man of La Mancha” for this summer and hopes to perform that musical at a later date.
A State Senate race of interest to Pierre people in District 14 in Sioux Falls will pit two former Pierre residents against each other in the June 2 Republican primary. The candidates are Larry Zikmund and David Zellmer.
Sully Buttes senior Nick Wittler revealed this week he will attend Dakota Wesleyan University to play men’s basketball beginning this fall.
Barbara (Zebroski) Rilling, 81, Onida, passed away March 29 after a battle with cancer. Friends and relatives can join her immediate family for a live streaming celebration of life at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Zoom ID #398231653 or at www.feigumfh.com. Barb grew up on the Hillside Ranch in western Sully County. She graduated from Onida High School in 1957 and married Maynard Rilling in October 1958. They raised their eight children in Onida. Barb was bookkeeper for their Rilling’s grocery store for 23 years. She was an AAU coach for 10 years and a substitute shop teacher at the school. She worked for the Sully County Soil Conservation Service as a tree planter for 14 years, and she cared for Holy Rosary Cemetery in Agar for 25 years. She served on the Onida City Council from 1996 to 2016 and was its president from 2006 to 2015. Barb is survived by her children, Julie Stephens and her husband Craig, Craig Rilling and his wife Patty, Dennis Rilling and his wife Connie, Rod Rilling and his wife Tracy, Brenda Asmussen and her husband Ted, Susie Rilling, and Brad Rilling and his wife Monica; 21 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren; a sister, Mary Rawstern, and a brother, Bob Zebroski. Barb came from the large family of the late John and Florence Zebroski, and she was also preceded in death by six brothers, Ray, Jim, Dick, Phil, John and Jerry Zebroski, and a grandson, Brandon.
As of April 1, the Boyd Consemius Agency relocated with the Brittney (Lamb) Schiefelbein Agency at 340 S. Pierre St. as the local American Family Insurance agents. According to a newspaper ad, Boyd and Linda from his agency are joining with Brittney and her team in their downtown office.
WORDS OF WISDOM
“We might be stuck in places we’d rather not be, facing dangers we’d rather not face, but it’s usually at these times that humans get some of their best ideas.”
— Dr. Joel Johnson, Augustana University professor
DAY BY DAY
TUESDAY, MARCH 24
Two weeks ago today seems like a year ago. On that Tuesday afternoon, March 10, we watched with glee as the USD women knocked off SDSU in the Summit League tournament championship game. Then in the evening “A” and “AA” boys teams around the state won their way to their state tournaments with SoDak 16 wins. There was so much to anticipate in the way of basketball—the NCAA selection shows, six high school state tournaments. With the President saying the U.S. would be down to zero virus cases soon, the very next night I came out of church choir practice, flipped on the car radio and learned that the NBA had just suspended the rest of its season. That was the first domino to fall, at least in the sports world. By the time another 24 hours passed, all major sports had suspended their seasons, the NCAA tournaments had been canceled, and we learned schools would be closed the following week. It all came so suddenly, and now we know so much more.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25
Way back in the early years of Sully Buttes High School from the fall of 1970 and into the middle of the decade, my journalism classes had one constant assignment—write something every day. Anything! Remember that in those days students wrote with pencils or pens on paper in longhand. No keyboards in class, no computers, no laptops, no internet. They wrote assignments on paper and handed them in. That seems so Middle Ages, doesn’t it? Besides their coursework and assigned stories for the school paper, The Watchdog, each journalism student was instructed to write something for each day of the week Friday through Thursday and then hand it in on Friday. It could be a comment on the weather, something he or she did or thought about or witnessed, a bit of news from school or the family, anything at all. Then for the following week’s school paper, I read all the writing that had been collected and selected one segment for each day of the week in the following Watchdog’s “Day by Day” column and published them anonymously. It turned out to be something like a typical student’s summary of that week at school. So that’s what this is. I will write something each day. While my week isn’t very exciting or dramatic most of the time, especially right now when I don’t leave the neighborhood, it is something for you to read because many of you are staying home with plenty of time to do just that.
THURSDAY, MARCH 26
This would have been Opening Day for major league baseball if the coronavirus outbreak hadn’t suspended (or perhaps even canceled) the first day of the season. But it was an enjoyable day of baseball nevertheless. Fox Sports North showed all of the 2019 Twins opener when Jose Berrios struck out 10 and the Twins beat Cleveland. Then over on Fox Sports 1, they showed the Cubs’ 2016 Game 7 World Series win at Cleveland for three hours, then Arizona’s Game 7 World Series win over the Yanks in 2001. A Twins win, a Cubs win and a Yankees loss—not a bad baseball day. I just hope we have some baseball this year. The young man who sells me my Post 22 season ticket each year has already called to see if I want to renew. I think I will wait a bit to see what materializes before forking over my money.
FRIDAY, MARCH 27
I’ve seen it being done around the country, but this morning it was our turn. The teachers from Rapid Valley Elementary, each in her own car and some with dogs hanging out the rear windows, paraded by with horns honking. It was almost emotional as they waved to the kids and vice versa. Our first week of in-home schooling here is almost over. I can help with Parker’s writing assignments, of course, and spelling as well. As for math, I let his mother take charge.
SATURDAY, MARCH 28
Last evening’s television viewing here was highlighted by the special meeting of the Rapid City Common Council as the five-day waiting period for enactment of the emergency ordinance came to an end and the council gathered to vote. First came the public comment period, and that was enough to make a person scream at his laptop, especially after the city finance officer had to read dozens of e-mails that had been sent to her. That alone took well over an hour. The two predictable no votes came from the usual members of the council, but the ordinance passed, and finally the restaurants, bars and other non-essential businesses will have to close or at least remain open only for carry-out and drive-through customers. Obviously it would take a whack on the head with a baseball bat for some people to take this crisis seriously, and I’m not sure that would get their attention. One suggestion contributed to the council: Let God handle it. Another: Let the mayor lose his salary, too, if I have to close my business. I’m not sure how that would help the situation! The grocery market out here in the valley issued a new message to its customers today: Don’t come to the store en masse. I have seen van-loads of people arrive there, and the whole pack enter the store. The market has to tell people to keep a six-foot distance. They have to tell them not to stop to visit in the aisles. My daughter-in-law is part of a Friday night group that this week got together only via Zoom (whatever that is!). The doctor husband of one of her friends is “terrified” at what is to come here. He said the hospital can handle 300 beds, but he expects we’ll need 600. Some company here in town is manufacturing beds and turning out a couple dozen new ones each day, so there is one positive thought. Meanwhile, it’s time for my second walk of the day. Then back to the TV shows I’ve recorded over the past week!
SUNDAY, MARCH 29
The dogs were up by 6 a.m. today since it is very light outside at that hour now. So I did my duty, letting them out into the backyard, then feeding them in the garage because they know that, once they’re outside for the first time, it’s breakfast time. I decided to just stay up to watch my favorite TV show, “Sunday Morning,” from 7 to 8:30. It was a beautiful morning, somewhat warm with Saturday’s wind diminished to just a slight breeze, so I went walking. Now I have Walking Route #6 in my repertoire, this one over to Reservoir Road and all the way down to the fire station at Highway 44 and back. I was back in plenty of time to watch church online, a practice to which I will never become accustomed, no matter how long this isolation lasts. It is great to hear a pipe organ cranked up to a loud volume, even though there are probably no more than four or five people in the building there.
MONDAY, MARCH 30
A 70-degree day makes it easy for one to get outside, even if one must steer clear of those passing by on the sidewalks. After the yard on the north side of our house, away from sunshine most all of every day, was covered with snow for months, the grass was a mess, so I took a rake and tugged and pulled at the grass for awhile this afternoon. Hopefully the snow coming with the expected winter weather later this week will in another week or so result in green grass arising from the ground.
TUESDAY, MARCH 31
Despite pleas from the mayors of our major cities, who have been the real heroes in this state during the burgeoning coronavirus crisis, the maddening South Dakota Legislature did little to help the situation when they met for their final day yesterday and last night. They defeated a bill which would have allowed county commissions to declare health emergencies in their counties, something the governor continues to say she isn’t allowed to do either. In some of our more heavily-populated counties, large numbers of people live in urban-like conditions but just outside city limits, so they aren’t covered by city-mandated restrictions. The Legislature’s inaction leaves the heavy lifting up to the mayors and many people left on their own. Fortunately in our city Steve Allender has been doing what strong leaders do along with the majority of the Common Council, and in Sioux Falls Paul TenHaken has been doing the same. Yet come November the majority of the do-nothing politicians, who don’t want to offend anyone who otherwise would vote for them, will be re-elected because that’s what South Dakota does. But hey! There’s good news. The gun shops are open, and maybe only a couple hundred South Dakotans will die of the virus. Let’s party!
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1
Now even the President himself says we’re in for a horrific two weeks. Whatever happened to that Easter deadline? I don’t believe a word he says anyway, so hopefully he is as wrong this time as he usually is. If Dr. Fauci or Dr. Adams or Governor Cuomo of New York or Governor Newsom of California says something, I will pay attention. Otherwise, there isn’t one state or national politician I trust. If they would just let the medical and health professionals do the talking and get out of their way, we might just survive this. Something like 45 states have now issued statewide stay-at-home shelter-in-place orders. Care to guess which one will be the 50th to do so? We already know, don’t we.
A PARTING THOUGHT
As an 81-year-old, there is no guarantee I am going to be well from week to week. Hopefully my almost-total confinement in the basement with the dogs—or in the backyard with the dogs—will keep me well. Keeping the Update going is just about the only thing I have to do. Send me your news at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be smart and stay well.