South Dakota News

Hundreds of mourners say goodbye to fallen SD firefighter
BRANDON, S.D. (AP) — Hundreds of mourners turned out to honor a South Dakota firefighter killed in the line of duty. A funeral for Steven Ackerman was held Sunday in Brandon. Ackerman died April 12 while fighting a house fire that also killed homeowner David Smith. Ackerman was a 14-year volunteer with nearby Valley Springs Fire and Rescue. The Argus Leader reports a bagpipe band made up of firefighters from across South Dakota ushered Ackerman's casket to the front of the gym at Brandon Valley High School. The Rev. Norm Bouwens told mourners to hold Ackerman up "as an example of how we should live our lives, with valor ... and love." Childhood friend Mike Harstad of Valley Springs says Ackerman saw himself as a regular person just doing his community a service.

Government officials in Sioux Falls want new building
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Government officials in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County say they need more office space to provide basic public services to a growing metropolitan area and want a new building. The Argus Leader reports that city council members and county commissioners are planning to build a new government building in central Sioux Falls. The facility could house city and county departments. Sioux Falls Finance Director Tracy Turbak says up to 4,000 residents move to the city every year and the growth isn't going to slow down. Turbak adds the demand for public services increases along with the population growth. The city wouldn't have to buy land for the new building because it owns the parking lot adjacent to the proposed location. The new building's cost and size isn't known yet.

Church catering to Hispanic population opens in Madison
MADISON, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota man has started a church catering to Madison's growing Hispanic population. The Madison Daily Leader reports that Francisco Vargas has started the church Cristo Viene. Vargas has experience as a pastor and has been doing radio ministry for 13 years. The new church is currently hosting its services at Madison's First Baptist Church. Vargas says the Baptist church welcomed Cristo Viene "with open arms." Services in Spanish are held twice a week and Vargas says they are open to anyone. Vargas adds that Cristo Viene is "here to stay" although it could take up to four years to fully establish a church.

SD National Guard holding food drive across the state
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Volunteer members of the South Dakota National Guard are holding a food drive across the state. The volunteers will be accepting non-perishable food donations from the public through June 8 at any Army National Guard armory in the state and at the Air National Guard base in Sioux Falls. The food drive will benefit needy individuals who in live in the communities where the Guard members serve. There are drop off locations in more than 20 cities including Aberdeen, Belle Fourche, Mitchell, Pierre and Spearfish.

South Dakota couple finds success in leather goods
NEWELL, S.D. (AP) — A western South Dakota man who got his start as a master of leather crafts selling chaps behind the chutes at rodeos now sells hundreds of pairs around the world. Jack Gully and his wife, Kelly, have owned and operated K Bar J Leather Co. in Newell for more than a decade. The shop employs about 10 workers, most of whom work on chaps, while some of the others etch designs into leather with lasers. The Tri-State Neighbor reports Jack and Kelly Gully each have their own specialty. He focuses on gun holsters and knife cases, while she makes purses and bags. Jack Gully estimates he's sold 70,000 chaps and shipped some of them internationally, including to Europe and Australia. Newell is about 25 miles east of Belle Fourche.

Training course for mountain bikers to open in Brookings
BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — A track designed to help riders develop mountain biking skills is opening this summer at the Dakota Nature Park in Brookings. The new course, known as a pump park or pump track, will have separate areas for rookie, novice and expert riders who want to test or improve biking skills without pedaling. Riders use their bodies and gravity to move their bikes through the track. Pete Colson is director of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. He says the pump park was part of the original master plan for the Dakota Nature Park. The Brookings Register reports the track's cost of $20,000 will be paid through a $10,000 grant as well as contingency funds. Recreation Superintendent Chase Ellis says he hopes the track will be ready by June 1.

SD shop crafts stagecoach to be used at safari park in Japan
LETCHER, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota shop has built a scaled-down stagecoach that will soon be used by children visiting a safari park in Japan. Craftsmen at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop in Letcher spent about a year building the stagecoach for the Fuji Safari Park. Shop owner Doug Hansen tells The Daily Republic that the park has an Old West-themed area where children will ride the stagecoach, which four miniature ponies will pull around. The stagecoach is currently on a 30-day journey in ship until it reaches Japan. The stagecoach was primarily used to haul mail around the vast West. Some also hauled passengers. Hansen's company has been building vehicles of the American West for over 35 years. Hansen says the company ships about half a dozen vehicles overseas every year.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press