Local News

South Dakota woman named Miss Rodeo USA

(Dakota Radio Group News) Miss Rodeo South Dakota Jordan Tierney from Oral was crowned Miss Rodeo America 2020 yesterday (Sun.) at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.


As Miss Rodeo America, Tierney will travel to events around the country serving as an ambassador for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. During a press conference shortly after she was crowned, Tierney said she’s most looking forward to attending a Sutton Rodeo event in South Dakota.





Tierney came out of a field of 27 contestants to win the crown. She was awarded a $20,000 Educational Scholarship from the Miss Rodeo America Scholarship Foundation. The last South Dakotan to wear the crown was Mackenzie Haley in 2011.


Tierney’s father Paul is a PRCA champion in tie-down roping and was inducted into the hall of fame in 2008.


North Dakota county could become first in the nation to ban new refugees

A North Dakota county today at its commission meeting could become the first county in the United States to stop accepting new refugees.  Burleigh County is located in central North Dakota, has a population of about 100,000 people and the state capital of Bismarck serves as its county seat.  The commission was set to vote on the matter last week, but tabled the issue when over 100 people showed up in the commission chambers to protest the decision.  The ability to ban refugees is new after President Donald Trump signed an executive order into law this fall. 

Russia banned from 2020 Olympics and 2022 World Cup over doping allegations

The World anti-doping agency voted unanimously Monday to ban Russia from major international competitions, including the Olympics and World Cup, due to doping non-compliance.  The ban is set for the next four years.  The ruling came during the WADA’s annual meeting in Switzerland Monday.  Russia now has to either accept the decision or appeal the matter to the court of arbitration for sports.  If upheld Russian will not be allowed to compete in the 2020 summer games or the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

Randy Seiler named new chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party

The South Dakota Democratic party held its regularly scheduled state central committee meeting Saturday in Mitchell.  During the meeting, the party voted interim-chair Randy Seiler to the official chair position and elected Nikki Gronli as vice chair.  The party has undergone turbulence as of late with chairwoman Paula Hawks and her deputy resigning months after a short time on the job due to the parties dire financial situation.  Seiler also said plans are in place to pay off debts of about $47,000 which have accumulated over the years. 

Sturgis man sentenced to life in prison for muder

A Sturgis man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in the murder of his former girlfriend, Jessica Rehfeld.


Jonathon Klinetobe had earlier plead guilty to aiding and abetting first degree manslaughter.

After four days of testimony, a judge handed down the life sentence Thursday.


Before the sentence was handed down, Klinetobe spoke to the court, saying that he was "sorry" for the family of Jessica Rehfeld as well as to his family.


But, in his final statement, Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo said Klinetobe has not shown "one shred of remorse for the murder of Rehfeld."


In connection to the case, David Schneider pleaded guilty to first degree murder in 2017 and Richard Hirth has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.


Michael Frye and Garland Brown have pleaded guilty to being accessories to Rehfeld's murder.

Vermillion man sues retiring state senator Stace Nelson for blocking him on social medai

A South Dakota man is suing retiring state senator Stace Nelson.  According to the Associated Press Vermillion man Jeff Church alleges Nelson blocked him from commenting on the lawmaker’s Facebook page, thus denying him his right to free speech and right to petition government.  Nelson says Church’s comments amount to slander and lies.  Nelson calls the lawsuit frivolous and says he has deleted other people’s comments as well. 

Two people injured in north Aberdeen Tuesday accident

Two people were injured Tuesday afternoon after being involved in a two-vehicle accident in the north part of Aberdeen.  According to the Department of Public Safety the incident occurred around 4:39 p.m. at the intersection of 387th avenue and 24th avenue northeast.  A 70-year-old man was stopped at a stop sign when he was rear-ended by a Dodge Ram.  The driver of  the Dodge has been identified as 23-year-old Daniel Wolf of Aberdeen.  He apparently did not slow down as he approached the stop sign, charges are pending. 

Speaker Nancy Pelsoi calls for judiciary committee to write up articles of impeachment

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke at a press conference Thursday asking House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler to move forward writing up articles of impeachment.  The request come a day after testimony was given by constitutional scholars laying out where they felt the President had committed impeachable offenses.  Articles of impeachment are a set of charges drafted against a public official.  Once completed the house will vote on them and if passed, the process will move to a trial in the senate overseen by Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts. 

Mitchell man sentenced in exploitation of a minor case

A Mitchell man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for exploitation of a child.  According to a release for the US Attorney for South Dakota, 36-year-old Walter Jandreau was sentenced Monday to charges stemming from incidents in July of 2018.  Jandreau coerced a minor to take part in sexual activity with him in order to take pictures with his phone.  Jandreau produced the images and shared them via shipping, mail and using a computer.  He was also given 10 years supervised release and ordered to pay $100 to the Federal Crime Victims fund. 

South Dakota legislative research director stepping down

The director of the South Dakota Legislative Research council is stepping down.  Director Jason Hancock confirmed to the South Dakota Broadcasters Association he had submitted his letter of resignation to accept a new position in his home state of Idaho.  Hancock will move on to become the Deputy Secretary of State for the State of Idaho.  Hancock will finish the 2020 legislative session before moving on, he has been the director of the research council for five years. 

Gov. Noem orders flags at half staff in honor of late former state senator

Governor Kristi Noem has ordered flags at the South Dakota State Capitol to be flown at half-staff from 8 a.m. until sunset on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, to honor the life of Kermit Staggers, a former legislator.    


Staggers served in the South Dakota Senate from 1995 until 2002. A memorial service for Staggers was held on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at 1 p.m. at First United Methodist

Further updates coming from plane crash which killed nine near Chamberlain

(KWAT - Watertown, SD) We’re learning more details about a deadly plane crash in South Dakota last weekend that took nine lives and injured three others.


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says the pilot filed an instrument flight rules plan with the FAA and received clearance to fly direct from Chamberlain to Idaho Falls, Idaho.


The plane departed the Chamberlain Municipal Airport at 12:26 p.m. Saturday, but when the pilot did not activate the flight plan after departure, the FAA issued an alert for a missing airplane.


The NTSB says the plane crashed a mile north of the airport.


Weather conditions at the time showed there was one-half mile visibility with moderate snow and icing, overcast skies and low-level wind shear. Skies were overcast, with a ceiling of 500 feet.


NTSB investigators arrived at the crash site Monday afternoon. They’re expected to complete their work by this weekend.


The entire investigation, which will include a probable cause of the crash, could take up to two years to complete.


The victims of the crash were extended family members from Idaho who were in South Dakota for pheasant hunting.

Mitchell man sentenced on manslaughter charges

(KORN - Mitchell, SD) A 41 year old Mitchell man is going to prison for killing his wife in October of 2017. James Brinker pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in an agreement with prosecutors. Davison County Deputy States Attorney Bob O’Keefe says Brinker was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in prison with 22 years suspended and ordered to pay restitution that’s still being determined. Brinker received credit for 776 days served and was ordered to have no contact with Marie Brinker’s family upon his release from prison.


Brinker was arrested on October 17th, 2017. 


Court documents indicated Brinker wrapped his wife in a blanket, placed her on a mattress, put a sock in her mouth and tied a belt around her head to hold it in place. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxia.


Brinker is in the Davison County Jail awaiting transportation to the state prison.

Gov. Noem announces District 32 Rep replacement

Governor Kristi Noem today announced that she is appointing Helene Duhamel of Rapid City to represent District 32 in the South Dakota Senate. The vacancy was created after the resignation of Sen. Alan Solano. Duhamel will serve during the 2020 legislative session.


“The responsibility to appoint a legislator when a vacancy arises is not something I take lightly,” said Noem. “Helene is a pillar of her community and a trusted voice for Rapid City.  Helene’s experience as a journalist and more recently in the Pennington County Sheriff’s office will position her well to succeed in the State Legislature. I am confident she will serve as an effective Senator for her district.” 


Duhamel is a fifth generation South Dakotan who served as News Director and Anchor for decades at KOTA-TV in Rapid City. More recently she has taken on the role of Public Information Officer for the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.  She has also given her time and talent to other volunteer and non-profit organizations in Rapid City and the Black Hills.


Duhamel’s appointment will be effective immediately.

California Senator Kamala Harris drops out of presidential race

California Senator Kamala Harris has ended her candidacy for president of the United States in 2020.  She made the announcement Tuesday.  Harris was once considered by many observers to be one of the top tier candidates in the race, including managing to get 20 thousand people to her campaign announcement speech, a number not matched until Senator Bernie Sanders managed to turn out 25 thousand people for a rally in New York in October.  Harris is one of many candidates to drop out of the race this week including former Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Navy Admiral Joe Sestak. 

Brown County Commission discusses snow removal following 16 inches of snow

The Brown County Commission at its Tuesday meeting discussed complaints commissioners had faced over the weekend following 16 inches of snow being dumped on Brown County.  County highway superintendent Dirk Rogers chose not to send the plows out until Monday in an attempt to better deal with the snow. 


Rogers gave his thoughts on his decision...





Commissioners did not criticize the decision made by Rogers after listening to his reasoning, instead expressed a desire to have better communication between all decision makers so they can better inform the public seeking information. 


Other Brown County residents complained that the job the snow plowers did was not adequate.  According to Rogers, that is because of the amount of snow northeast South Dakota received and the kind of precipitation it was…




This was a unique situation according to Rogers as northeast South Dakota hasn’t seen this kind of snow at one time in almost 10 years…


Rep. Dusty Johnson says he feels attacked following impeachment hearings

(WNAX - Yankton, SD) Representative Elise Stefanik of New York was a strong defender of President Trump during the initial impeachment hearings before the Intelligence Committee. Because of that she was widely attacked on social media.


South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson mentioned her in a tweet saying “We have both been under attack.” He then asked for donations.


Johnson says the attacks ramped up during the hearings...





Johnson says he can’t say where the attacks come from...




Johnson says it was a way to tell people he has been working with Stefanik...




Stefanik was first elected in 2014, Johnson was elected to Congress last year.



Men's basketball league now accepting rosters

The Men's City Basketball League is now accepting rosters for the second half of the 2019-2020 season.  The fee per team is $312.50 for the half season from January to March.  Rosters and entry fees must be received by 5:00 p.m., Monday, December 16.  Roster forms are available at the Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Office or online at and should be returned to the office.


If you would like further information or to pick up a roster, please contact the Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, 225 SE 3rd Avenue, or call 626-7015.

Minnehaha County state's attorney McGowan to resign

Minnehaha County state’s attorney Aaron McGowan has announced he is stepping down from his position following public criticism of his job performance.  South Dakota Governor earlier this year had issued an investigation into McGowan’s conduct, but did not find enough evidence to charge the sitting state’s attorney.  According to the Argus Leader, this resignation may come from new allegations of sexual harassment by McGowan of a female coworker in the office.

One person killed in Beadle county fatal crash

One person died early Friday morning in a one-vehicle rollover that occurred south of Cavour.


Names of the three males involved are not being released pending notification of family members.


A 1992 Dodge D250 pickup was southbound on 409th Avenue when the driver lost control on the ice-covered road. The vehicle went into the east ditch, rolled and came to rest in standing water in the ditch.


Both passengers had to be extricated from the vehicle. The 37-year-old passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. The 31-year-old passenger received minor injuries and was taken to the Huron hospital. The 31-year-old driver was not injured.


None of the occupants were wearing seat belts. Charges are pending against the driver.


South Dakota’s Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash. All information is only preliminary at this point.


The Highway Patrol is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

Former Montana gov. Steve Bullock drops out of Dem presidential primary

Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced Monday morning he is ending his presidential campaign.  Bullock a popular Democratic Governor for two terms, failed to garner traction in the large field and qualified for just one televised debate.  His theory for his candidacy was that he was the governor of a red state, one of the few to win re-election in a state President Trump won in 2016.  He also favored himself a moderate looking for compromise to overcome America’s challenges. 

Idaho family killed in plan crash near Chamberlain

KIFI has identified the victims of a small plane crash which killed nine people in Brule County South Dakota.  The victims were members of an Idaho family visiting South Dakota on a hunting trip.  The Pilatus PC-12 plane they were in crashed shortly after takeoff around 12:30 p.m. from Chamberlain on Saturday.  Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board believe weather was likely the main reason for the accident.  Idaho news outlets have identified three prominent Idaho Falls businessmen in the crash including Jim Hansen, Kirk Hansen and Jim Jr.  Six other family members passed away as well while others are currently being treated at a local hospital.    

Sobriety checkpoints announced for December

Sobriety checkpoints are scheduled for 14 counties statewide during December.


The checkpoints, announced by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, are done each month in different counties as a way to discourage drivers from drinking and then driving.  The checkpoints are funded by the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety and conducted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol with the help of local law enforcement.


Counties that have checkpoints scheduled for December are: Beadle, Brown, Brule, Clay, Codington, Custer, Douglas, Hutchinson, Kingsbury, Lawrence, Minnehaha, Pennington, Roberts and Stanley.


Both the Office of Highway Safety and the Highway Patrol are part of the Department of Public Safety.

Brown county burn ban extended to Dec. 17th

The burn ban put into effect by the Brown County Commission will remain active through midnight on December 17th.  Brown County Emergency Management Director Scott Meints spoke in front of the commission Tuesday, revisiting the ban and says there is still need.  The ban remains in effect due to how wet Brown County is and that moisture can prevent first responders from reaching certain areas of the county.  Exceptions of the ban include campfires in camp fire rings or pits, burning barrels 55 gallons or less that are equipped with a screen or bbq grills. 

State DPS urges safe travel over Thanksgiving holiday

Thanksgiving is a time for traveling and the South Dakota Department of Public Safety wants citizens to get to their destinations safely.


The Thanksgiving Day holiday period is expected to be a busy travel period. DPS officials encourage motorists to obey all the rules of the road – especially to slow down, don’t drink and drive, don’t get distracted by electronic devices and for all vehicle drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.


“Alcohol and speed remain the top reasons for motor vehicle crashes in South Dakota and almost 54 percent of this year’s fatalities involved people not wearing seat belts,” says Col. Rick Miller, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “It just takes one bad decision to impact many people and families.”


This year’s 102-hour Thanksgiving Day Holiday Period for reporting motor vehicle traffic crashes starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, and ends at midnight Sunday, Dec. 1. Last year during the same safety period, there were 279 motor vehicle crashes resulting in three fatalities and 35 injuries. Two of the fatalities were not wearing seat belts.


As is tradition, the Highway Patrol will conduct an “Operation Safe” Wednesday in an effort to encourage those already out on the roads to be careful. Col. Miller says troopers also will be out on the roads through the holiday weekend as well, enforcing traffic laws and encouraging people to be careful.  


“We know people are anxious to get where they are going; but it doesn’t mean anything if something tragic happens along the way,” Miller said. “It is not just about being safe drivers getting to your holiday destination, but also when you are traveling to other activities during the holiday period and  then returning home. Whether traveling just a few blocks or several hundred miles, staying safe is a must.”


Weather also could be a factor this year. The latest forecasts calls for snow Tuesday and Wednesday and even more snow after Thanksgiving and into next weekend. Col. Miller encourages motorists to watch for possible changing weather conditions and to pack a winter safety kit. Travelers should stay updated with the latest forecasts and check road conditions by calling 5-1-1 or clicking onto


So far this year, there have been 94 motor vehicle fatalities compared to 116 at the same time last year.