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Colonial Inn fire ruled arson; public sought for tipsThe March 3 fire on at the Colonial Inn Motel in Yankton has been ruled arson. Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives are seeking information on a person of interest. See a photo of the person here. If you have information, call the Sioux Falls office of the ATF at 605-782-8200, Yankton Police Department at 605-668-5210 or Crime Stoppers at 605-665-4440.
Yankton tech teacher moved by statewide honor
Bret Johnson's taught career and tech-ed courses at Yankton High School for a decade. In January, his peers honored him with an accolade that gave him goose bumps. Listen to this story.
Passionate bicyclists will ride from Mount Rushmore to Sioux Falls
The second annual RASDAK, or Ride Across South Dakota, is set to begin June 8. Kasey Abbott, one of the event organizers, explains what it takes to complete this journey. The key is imagining that it's several shorter rides. Listen to this story. Learn more about the event or sign up!
New clinic on track for opening this month
The third floor of the Avera Sacred Heart Pavilion will be home to a new clinic that will help a medically under-served population get care. The clinic is under the direction of allPoints Health Services. CEO Brad Bertrand says things are moving along smoothly and on schedule for a Feb. 24 opening date. Listen to this story now.
Yankton County newest part of state to have 211 Helpline service
The 211 Helpline is currently gathering information for its service, soon to be in operation in Yankton County. Listen to this story.
Officials are hoping to get the word out widely to all South Dakota veterans about a financial bonus program for which they may be eligible. Veterans of the Gulf War or the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq may be eligible, according to John Fette who oversees the program in Pierre. Fette says active-duty service men and women may also be eligible for the bonus. Veterans and their families
Almost 80 million Americans are considered pre-diabetic. But that number can go down with small steps and education. That's the message of Susan Barnes, a diabetes education specialist with Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton. Listen to Barnes' story. Learn more about Avera Sacred Heart Hospital's Dakota Diabetes Center.
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• If your service group or non-profit wants to be included in the new Yankton County 211 Helpline database, fill out this form.
• Heikes Family Farm, a Vermillion-based Community Supported Agriculture program, is now taking subscriptions for 2014.
• The Natural Resources Conservation Service has a new pollination program for farmers and landowners. Learn more about how to sign up.
• OSHA reminds workers and employers of the need for common sense and care when it comes to safety. Get information on how to report unsafe workplaces. Call the OSHA hotline at 800-321-6742.
• With its move to Memorial Park, Yankton's Rockin' Ribfest Committee seeks volunteers. Find out how you can help this big community event here.
• Midcontinent Communications is offering its new Broadband Lifeline Assistance Program to families who qualify. Call 800-888-1300 to learn more or apply for it.
• The South Dakota Kayak Challenge is returning to Yankton! Learn more on how you can take part as a racer or volunteer.
• Be Well South Dakota invites South Dakotans who want to lose weight to join its 2014 Pound Pledge. For every pound participants lose between now and April 2, the group will donate one pound of food to Feeding South Dakota. Participants are encouraged to share their weekly progress to be eligible for weekly prizes and a $200 gift card grand prize. Anyone interested in joining the 2014 Pound Pledge should sign up on Facebook or
• All South Dakota veterans: Your benefits are ready. Visit this site to learn more. Veterans in college, here's information on Veterans' Assistance programs at USD and Mount Marty College.
• Avera Sacred Heart Hospital is now part of Avera @ Home, a program that can help you or your family adjust to home health care or home hospice. Learn more about the program.
• The City of Yankton can text you snow alerts and other snow information, including street closings. Sign up for the alerts.
• The new preliminary master plan for Yankton's recreational facilities is available. Read the plan. Give
• South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard's office and several state livestock agencies have established The Rancher Relief Fund to help producers hit by October 2013 blizzard. You can help online and search for "Rancher Relief Fund." Donors also can mail checks to Rancher Relief Fund, Box 231, Rapid City, S.D. 57709.
• Traveling but concerned about road conditions? Use this link to get information or call 511 (in South Dakota.)
• Are you planning an event, conference or local sports tournament in the Yankton area? Add it to the Yankton area web calendar for 2014.
• PTSD Coach Online is a service for veterans and anyone dealing with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It's a suite of 17 tools designed to help people cope with sleep problems, trauma reminders and other issues. Access PTSD Coach Online.
• Veterans and National Guard soldiers are sought for a research project, "Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Alcohol Use." The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine is leading this project, which includes a survey about mood, alcohol use and past military experiences and takes about three hours. It is voluntary and completely confidential. Participants receive $100 compensation for the initial interview and eligible participants who take part in a second study using an MRI will receive $300. Vets and Guard soldiers who are right-handed, between the ages of 18-45 and who have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan are eligible. To enroll or learn more, call Dawne Olson at 605-677-5170 or email her. (Active-duty troops only will be compensated if taking part in the research during off-duty times.)
• Want to help others as a volunteer? This one-stop spot from United Way of Vermillion can help you find opportunities.
• True Value Company's "Painting A Brighter Future" is offering schools free paint for renovations. Nygren's True Value in Vermillion encourages all schools in their territory — which includes Vermillion and Elk Point — to apply for this program.
• Learn more about the South Dakota Workforce Initiative South Dakota Wins.
• Feeding South Dakota has recently released a study on food insecurity in South Dakota. Learn more at its website on ways to help.
• The Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library is offering a wide range of programs for toddlers through adults, and registration continues. To find out more, visit the library website for a full schedule of events.
• Mentors Needed: The Clay-Union Foundation matches youth age 5-17 years old with qualified and screened adult volunteers. There are two boys and two girls to match in Elk Point, and two girls in Vermillion. Volunteers must be 18 or older and have a car. Email John Gille at or call 605-421-5050 to become a volunteer.
• The City of Yankton and the Yankton Tobacco Education Coalition reminds all citizens that the Yankton Parks are tobacco-free.
• If you have trouble with certain Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter features, or need a quick tutorial on uploading photos, poking someone, or adding online friends, the new "Book a Librarian" program is for you! This free program allows you to schedule 15 minutes to answer any social media question. Call Tonya or Dana at the Yankton Public Library to schedule a session, 605-668-5275.
• The Yankton Boys & Girls Club is looking for community feedback about the Boys & Girls Club. Help them out with planning for the future and take a couple minutes to fill out this survey.
• The Vermillion Area Community Foundation is accepting proposals for projects to improve our community. Forms for submitting proposals by groups or organizations are available at the Chamber of Commerce office. While funds available are limited they can fully fund small one time requests or partially fund larger projects. Your annual donations to their Foundation will provide them with increasing funds each year for worthwhile projects.
• Business After Hours: Are you looking for an opportunity to showcase your business and network with your peers? Sign up to host a Business After Hours event! These events generally run from 5-7 p.m. on weeknights and the hosting business provides hours d'oeuvres and refreshments. If interested email Ann or call 605-624-5571.
• The Heartland Human Society offers affordable pets. View the available animals or stop by the shelter at 601½ Burleigh St., Yankton.
Monday, March 10The Yankton Area Diabetes Support Group, 1 p.m. at Avera Sacred Heart Campus, Pavilion, conference room 2. Erika Detweiler MSW, CSW, Licensed social worker from Avera Medical Group Behavioral Health will discuss living with a chronic disease and behavior change.
Saturday, March 15Southeast CASA's Reverse Your Luck Fundraiser, 5:30 p.m. at Minerva's Convention Center. Includes social hour, dinner, reverse raffle for $5,000 and entertainment with 176 Keys Dueling Pianos. Supports abused and neglected children in Yankton County. CASA is the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children organization. Call Sherri at 605-760-4825.
Sunday, March 16Belgian Waffle Feed, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., City Auditorium, Hartington, Neb. Benefit for Hartington Ambulance, includes all you care to eat waffles, sausage and more. Takeout available. The event costs $7 for adults, $5 for children K-6th grade.
Saturday, March 22Yankton Youth Soccer Association's referees' clinic, continues Sunday, March 23. Registration now under way for all teams. Full details online.
Thursday, March 27Soup Kitchen fundraiser for Trinity Lutheran Church, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at the church, 403 Broadway Ave., Yankton. Wide range of homemade soups and treats. All funds support the ministry of the church. Call 605-660-3391 for information.
Tuesday, April 1Boy Scout Troop 102 Spaghetti Feed, 5:30-7 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 403 Broadway Ave., Yankton. This all-you-care-to-eat event offers pasta, sauce and garlic bread, with take-out available. Cost is $5 for adults and youth, kids 5 and younger eat free.
Friday, April 4• Benefit comedy show for Yankton Homeless Shelter, family-friendly comedian Mike Bliss, 8 p.m. at Minerva's Event Center, Yankton. Tickets are $25 and available at Yankton Hy-Vee and JJ Benji's. Call 605-661-9872 for information on tickets or to support this fundraiser.
• Vermillion Area Dance Organization's "First Friday Dance" at 7:30 p.m. at VADO studios, 19A S. Plum St., Vermillion. No need for talent, just a desire to move for about 60 minutes to some easy-dancing music with like-minded members of your community. Grab the kids, the grandparents or your girlfriend or boyfriend and shake off the stress of the workweek in this free, fun socks-only happening taking place through June. Learn more online.
Saturday, April 12Keep Yankton Beautiful's Great American Cleanup event, 8 a.m., various locations. Help keep the Mother City of the Dakotas looking its finest. Volunteers and supporters sought. Save the date - learn more online.
Monday, April 21Earth (Every) Day events, various locations, Vermillion. From films to fairs to farms, a week's worth of sustainability-focused events at the University of South Dakota and around Vermillion. Full details online.
Saturday, April 26The RiverRat Marathon and Bike Ride, Yankton. Various start times, levels of involvement and volunteer opportunities. Sign up or learn more.
Friday, May 23The South Dakota Kayak Challenge, a canoe-kayak race from Yankton to Sioux City, returns to the Missouri National Recreational River. Get involved.
Sunday, June 8The second annual Ride Across South Dakota (RASDAK), a week-long, full-state bicycling event that takes pedalers from Mount Rushmore to Sioux Falls. Deadline for registration at going rate is April 15. It increases to $175 after that. Learn more or register here.
Sunday, June 21-July 8
A Scandinavia Adult Tour in 2014 will visit Bergan and Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Tallinn, Estonia, and conclude in St. Petersburg, Russia. The tour departs Sioux Falls on June 22 and returns July 8. If interested, email Lenni Billberg or call her at 605-670-2717.
Iowa Democrats seek more funding for preschool Iowa Senate Democrats want to boost state preschool spending, with a goal of making publicly-funded preschool available to all 4-year-olds whose parents want them enrolled. A bill that would provide more funding to school districts that expand or establish preschool programs for 4-year-olds was reviewed in a Senate subcommittee Thursday and has the support to move on to the Senate Education Committee for review. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the additional funding would be offered for three years, starting in the fall of 2015. He says the effort could cost as much as $15 million. While this plan has support in the Democrat-majority Senate, it is not clear if the bill could win backing from Republicans controlling the Iowa House.
Iowa lawmakers OK tougher penalties for kidnapping Lawmakers have approved a bill seeking to increase penalties for kidnapping cases involving minors after hearing from the mother of murder victim Kathlynn Shepard. A subcommittee and then the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill Thursday. In urging passage of the bill, Denise Shepard told subcommittee members the story of her daughter's killing last May. She says legislation to keep kidnapping offenders in jail longer would save children's lives. The bill would increase criminal penalties in cases involving children 16 and younger and cases in which the person convicted had previously been convicted of kidnapping. Kathlynn was 15 when she and a 12-year-old friend were kidnapped by Michael Klunder while walking home from school in Dayton. The 12-year-old escaped but authorities say Klunder killed Kathlynn and committed suicide.
Deere laying off 120 in East MolineDeere and Company says it will lay off about 120 workers at its combine plant in East Moline on March 31st. Reports say employees learned the news Thursday during a meeting at the plant. About 2,800 people work at the factory. Moline-based Deere said this week that it expects the North American farm-equipment industry to see a 5 percent to 10 percent drop in sales this year after a record-setting 2013. The company also this week reported record first record first-quarter profits. Deere said the layoffs will be based on seniority.
DCI: Agent fired at man speeding in stolen vehicle Police have arrested a man accused of stealing a vehicle from a Burlington casino and speeding toward an officer, who fired his service weapon. Authorities said 40-year-old David Cross was arrested Thursday while sleeping in a parked car. He's charged with interference with official acts, assault on a peace officer and operating a vehicle without owner's consent. The Division of Criminal Investigation's bureau at Catfish Bend Casino received a report Wednesday night of a man breaking into vehicles in the parking garage. An agent tried to stop the man, who by then had stolen a casino employee's vehicle. Instead, the suspect sped toward the agent, who got out of the way and fired three shots. The stolen vehicle struck the agent's patrol car and sped off. No one was injured.
Urbandale schools say someone posted porn on site Urbandale school officials say someone hacked the district's website and posted pornographic images. Superintendent Doug Stilwell told The Des Moines Register the photos were noticed Thursday morning and removed a short time later. Stillwell says some students saw the images, which he called unfortunate. Stillwell say he wasn't sure how many pictures were posted. He saw one, which he called "pretty awful." The website posts were tracked to an Internet protocol address based in Canada. Stillwell plans to talk with the Urbandale Police Department about what to do next. It appears someone gained access to the website by hacking a staff member's account. The hacker didn't gain access to any restricted information about students or staff.
Iowa family recreates stone statute with snow A Mason City family has attracted attention from neighbors for recreating a famed stone statute with the use of snow. Paul Hertzel and his three adult daughters recently constructed an 8-foot tall by 4-foot wide replica of a giant Easter Island head known as a moai statue. The piece is in front of the family's home. Hertzel said that it took months for the family to pack snow down in large forms of plywood. It then took less than three hours to shape it. They first created a replica of their idea on a miniature scale with bars of soap. Thousands of tourists visit Easter Island in the South Pacific each year to visit the famed stone statues.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press